The Myrtle Beach area has a long and proud history, which is reflected today in the long list of popular historical attractions found up and down the Grand Strand. For example, Murrells Inlet’s mesmerizing Atalaya Castle - a 30-room mansion inspired by Spanish architecture and built in the early 1930s - served as the winter home to industrialist/philanthropist Archer Huntington and his sculptor wife Anna Hyatt Huntington. Hopsewee Plantation, built in 1735 near Georgetown, was the birthplace of Thomas Lynch Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. And Georgetown’s wide and shaded Front Street is lined with stately, well-preserved homes and buildings dating back as far as the 1700s.
Local history also boasts its fair share of fun and interesting facts. Take a lighthearted ride through the Grand Stand’s past with us as we explore five fun facts about the Myrtle Beach area’s history:
A Place Known by Many Names: The first recorded name for the Myrtle Beach area was coined by its original inhabitants - the region’s Native Americans, who called the area “Chicora,” meaning “the land.” The first European settlers to inhabit the area called it “New Town.” The settlement was eventually dubbed “Myrtle Beach,” a tribute to the wax myrtle trees common to the area and, of course, the area’s beautiful beaches. The “Grand Strand” moniker is the handiwork of a local newspaper columnist, who in 1945 penned the name for the 60-mile stretch of coastline running from Georgetown on the southern end to Little River in the north.
The Birthplace of an Icon: In the early 1950s, Sports Illustrated Magazine was conceived at Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach. While not an especially big fan of sports, publisher Henry Luce was a force in the magazine business, called by some “the most influential private citizen in the America of his day.” The man behind the launches and early success of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, he ordered dozens of his writers and editors to attend a retreat at Pine Lakes with the goal of developing a weekly, sports-focused magazine he could sell, and Sports Illustrated was the result. Today, a plaque outside the golf course’s clubhouse commemorates the site’s place in publishing history.
Roots in Hospitality: Myrtle Beach’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn, was built in 1901 for just over $3,800 - materials and labor included. Initially hosting guests without the benefits of plumbing or electricity, the hotel charged a whopping $2 for an overnight stay, with three meals included. The area’s tourism industry has come a long way since. Today, Myrtle Beach hosts an estimated 14 million visitors each year, and the area’s 1,000-plus hotels offer more than 10,000 rooms to travelers. (We think you’ll find that the combination of beachfront location, luxurious accommodations and wide-ranging amenities at the Dayton House Resort put it in the top rankings on this list.) Further, more than 1,650 full-service restaurants serve up their tasty fare daily so that none of the Grand Stand’s many visitors go hungry.
Home to Country Music History: Iconic country music group Alabama, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, made an early and lengthy stop on the road to stardom on the Grand Strand. Starting in 1973, the band played for tips as the house band at The Bowery, located just off Ocean Boulevard in downtown Myrtle Beach. After landing a major record deal in 1980, the band left for Nashville in the early 1980s - but it remembered its Grand Strand roots and returned to open its namesake Alabama Theatre at North Myrtle Beach’s Barefoot Landing in 1993.
A Cover-Worthy Destination: A pair of Saturday Evening Post covers in 1957 and 1961 helped Myrtle Beach earn national recognition as a vacation destination. Both paintings were the work of artist Ben Prins and are now on display at Chapin Memorial Library in Myrtle Beach. The first featured utility linemen enjoying the beach and surf during a break from their work, and the second depicted a rainy afternoon at The Dunes Beach & Golf Club.
Whether your next visit to the Grand Strand sees you taking a jaunt through the area’s storied history or enjoying the modern attractions and amusements found throughout the Myrtle Beach area, we’d love to serve as your home away from home on the South Carolina coast. Book your getaway to Myrtle Beach and the Dayton House Resort today!