If you stick around long enough you’ll notice a theme to our adventures….they almost always involve the residence of some rich person who died mid-century. We don’t plan this. We don’t literally scour the internet for abandoned/neglected homes of the rich and famously dead. It just kind of works out that way. My mom actually suggested we visit Atalaya when we told her we were going to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. She and my dad lived in MB when they were first married…and I was born there!
To be fair…while Atalaya was built and owned by the very wealthy Archer Huntington…it’s not opulent in any way. In 1927 Anna Huntington, his wife and a famous sculptor, contracted tuberculosis and Arthur purchased four adjacent rice plantations near Myrtle Beach to build a winter home for her. Arthur was a brilliant industrialists by day and a scholar of Spanish culture by night. Atalaya (AH-tuh-lie-yuh) means “watchtower” in Arabic, and is designed to resemble the real Atalaya Castle in Spain.
“The house is dominated by a square tower, which housed a 3,000 gallon water tank. Rising nearly 40 feet from a covered walkway, it bisects Atalaya’s inner court…..The living quarters consist of 30 rooms around three sides of the perimeter, while the studio, with its 25-foot skylight, opens onto a small, enclosed courtyard where Anna Hyatt Huntington worked on her sculptures. Pens for animal models, including horses, dogs and bears, are situated adjacent to the open studio. The building also features hand-wrought iron grills designed by Mrs. Huntington, which cover the exteriors of windows. These and shutters were installed for protection against hurricane winds”
The entire structure is made of stone and there’s a fireplace in nearly every room because the house was situated just a hundred feet or so from the water’s edge. Winter winds whipping inland from the Atlantic had to be unbearably cold. It was relatively warm when we were there and I still couldn’t help but think how cold the house felt. Imagine stepping onto the icy stone floors in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom!!!