There is a rich history behind Pawleys Island and the Pelican Inn. For this post, we will focus on the origins and architecture of the Pelican Inn itself.
Originally built as the summer house for Plowden Charles Jenrette Weston of Hagley Plantation in the late 1840s, the architecture of the Inn is representative of the majority of the island’s original houses.Houses were often made of cypress lumber, as was Weston’s, and utilized wooden pegs, mortise, tenon joints, and hand cut nails. They sat atop high brick foundations, which protected against high tides.
The Joseph Blyth Allston House
Families came to Pawleys for their summer retreats during the May-November months, so doors, windows and piazzas were carefully designed to maximize ventilation and utilize ocean breezes to cool the houses. Breezeways at the rear of the houses led to the kitchens. Servants’ quarters, usually two-room cabins with fireplaces, were located on the grounds. Boardwalks extended both into the creek and over the dunes.
The dunes have protected structures against coastal storms, but a more effective buffer is the live oaks. The Pelican Inn has the advantage of not only sitting behind the highest dunes on the island, but also benefits from the protection of a small “forest” of live oaks that stand between the Inn and the dunes and line the boardwalk to the beach.
Live oaks lining the boardwalk at the Pelican Inn
This has spared the structure from serious damage from storms that destroyed other houses on the island, including Hurricanes Hazel (1954) and Hugo (1989). Of course, it is said that if you heed the Gray Man’s advice your house and family will be safe, but more on that later…