Friday, July 11, 2014

Litchfield Beach SC; Rice Plantation resorts 7/10/14

     As we continue north on US 17 past Pawleys Island we arrive in Litchfield SC.  We observed a big transition going on it Pawley's, and it continues at a more exaggerated pace here.  There is the town of Litchfield and there is the beach.  The tidal estuaries that have been running 3 - 7 miles wide have now narrowed to a few hundred yards.  Here is a shot back from the spit of land the beach sits on toward Litchfield.

     Just past the tidal creek is a man made canal with houses on both sides.

     And immediately beyond - the beach.  A small section of beach retains some of the older hotels and a few houses, but abruptly the development shifts to the commercial tourism industry.

     The restaurant patios are about 100 yards from the surf.


     Back on US 17, I wanted to show the stark contrast here.  Below are a few photos taken of The Fish House, a local restaurant.

     Right beside it is this store - Eagles Resortwear it is called.

     There is another big dimension to Litchfield. I am going to back up a few miles, before Pawley's Island but north of Hobcaw Barony.  This is one of a number of rice plantations that have been converted into private neighborhoods here.  This one happens to have frontage on the Atlantic, and is significant since this is the first developed beach since Dewee's Island and Isle of Palms by Charleston.  That means there is a stretch we have passed of natural coastline running from Capers Island, past Awendaw, McClellanville and Georgetown - a stretch of about 40 miles.

     Debordieu Island is a rice plantation that has been developed into a gated community, and being the first development on the beach after that long stretch running north it is rather pricey.  There are 2,700 acres overall, including the tidal marshes and rice fields.  1250 homes fill most of the remaining area, but there is a golf course and tennis center as well as a community pool by the beach. 

     The southern end of the island that abuts with Hobcaw Barony is apparently eroding.  Places like this spend many millions pumping fresh sand onto their beaches.

     When we look to the north, we see that at the end of Debordieu is a vacant stretch of beach running about a mile. This land belongs to one of the descendants of the Vanderbilt fortune.  And on the far end of that open mile, if you look close you can see a few structures belonging to St. George.  More on that in a minute.

     Back on US 17 N, we see the entryway to this tract of land.  This land, called Arcadia Plantation belongs to "Lulu" Vanderbilt Pate.  It runs from US 17 to the Atlantic on one side and all the way to the Waccamaw River on the other.

      Lulu owned the property that Debordieu now occupies, and sold it in 1970 to Pate, her husband, who is credited with having developed it.  A few years back LuLu filed a lawsuit saying that many years ago a large portion (75 acres of ocean-front nature preserve) of Hobcaw Barony actually belonged to her family. At several million an acre the stakes were very high.  However, the suit was promptly thrown out of court.

     Here is a snippet from Google Earth showing Lulu's abode on the Waccamaw River side of US 17.

     Beyond Lulu's remaining mile of undeveloped beach lies the Prince George community which is an ocean and riverfront community of 1900 acres.  Development on this acreage is limited to 150 homes, giving a population density roughly equal to that of Brays Island SC.  Homes run to the $15,000,000 range, rivaling a select house or two on Kiawah Island.  For this part of the country, developed neighborhoods don't get any more exclusive than this.

     So now that we have filled in that small section we missed, we are back to Litchfield and its rice plantations.  There are a number of them - here are two of the nicest.  The first is Willbrook, a private gated community with golf course, tennis and the usual attributes.

     Being a rice plantation on the river, waterways abound on the property.  

     This place has a community feel that I have not seen since Dataw Island down by Beaufort.  The community has flower beds everywhere, and everyone waves as they pass you by.  

     Like Dataw, the residents have tried to carefully preserve the heritage of the place.  Informational markers abound - this one explaining a mound of dirt.

     The golf course is ample, and in many places there are either no houses on either side of the fairways or only on one side.  I wish I had more time to meet some of the residents here.

     And a total treat today - Caledonia Golf and Fish Club.  This place is not gated - it is open to the public.  Now, between articles reviewing resort golf courses and articles on this journey, I have been on a lot of golf courses.  I can tell you that Caledonia is the best maintained I have seen anywhere - amazing for a public course.

     A long avenue of oaks runs all the way to the river, and then parallels the river for the final stretch to the old plantation house. 

     Everywhere are centuries old oaks festooned with Spanish moss.  Flower beds are all about, and the grass in the rough, the fairways and the greens is impeccable.  Both players and staff were exceptionally friendly.

     Here is the old plantation house which now serves as clubhouse and restaurant.  The water is a tidal creek that runs out to the Waccamaw River.

     Alongside Caledonia is a small road - I love some of the Indian names that stay with us.  I wonder if the American Indians knew what a palindrome is.  

     And today's parting shot comes from Pawley's Island.  

Have an awesome Friday everyone!!

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