The main historical attraction of Huntington Beach State Park, Atalaya was the 1930s home of Archer M. and Anna Hyatt Huntington. They were an influential industrialist and artisan couple from New York. Archer, who was an architect, designed this as a warm-weather retreat. The subtropical climate and sea breezes of South Carolina's coast were good for Anna's health, who suffered from tuberculosis for a time. The Huntingtons were scholars of Spanish art history, and Archer chose to revive Moorish architecture in the design. From this culture borrowed the Arabic word for watchtower, atalaya, and so named their home after the famous Atalaya Castle in southern Spain; however, he used an original design, local workers, native flora from South Carolina, and furnishings from New York to make their house a home.
Anna was a renowned sculptor, so at one time the courtyard would have been filled with her statues and the live animals she kept as models. Today the property is mostly empty except for the large palmettos and other greenery. The rooms are mostly empty but the layout of the quarters are preserved, and a self-guided tour lets you imagine what life would have been like in this unique mansion. To see Mrs. Huntington's sculptures, visit Brookgreen Gardens, which is a nearby park and wildlife preserve, also founded by the Huntingtons and located on part of their former property.
Atalaya is next to beach access and the visitor center, and it is not far from the campground, so it makes an interesting addition to any time spent in the park. Entrance is an additional $3 on normal days. During special events, the fee may be more or less depending on the occasion.