The History Behind the Harbour Town Lighthouse
Originally built as a private aid to navigation, the Harbour Town Lighthouse is by far one of the most recognizable landmarks on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Its cheery red and white bands are visible for miles and act as an iconic site, favored by tourists and as a popular wedding destination. For a small admission fee, visitors may climb to the top of the lighthouse for scenic views out over the Harbour Town Marina and the Calibogue Sound. The lighthouse also features a museum and a shopping center.
The man behind the creation of this interesting and popular structure was none other than Charles Fraser. In 1949, his father was part of a timber syndicate that bought two thirds of Hilton Head Island. In the summer of 1950, so the story goes, Charles Fraser worked in his father’s logging camp on the island and fell in love with the area. This love inspired him to create what is now Sea Pines Plantation.
Charles Fraser’s vision for the area was the one that still endures today – a special, peaceful community with a tremendous respect for nature. He had the vision to develop much more than just the valuable beach front land and instead focused holistically on creating a real community that was more than just a beach resort.
Charles Fraser envisioned a landmark for the area, a community hub that would draw people to the island from far and wide. That is how the Harbour Town Lighthouse came into existence. Construction began in 1969 and the structure was completed by 1970, complete with the candy stripes that Charles Fraser chose, because he wanted them to be fun and memorable. The red color was chosen when Joe Fraser, Charles’ brother, saw the steel girders of the structure.
It’s important to note that the Harbour Town Lighthouse was not the first lighthouse on Hilton Head. The first lighthouse was built in 1863, with the aid of Union Troops. Charles Fraser paid homage to that first lighthouse with his own but also by moving two lighthouse keeper’s cottages to Harbour Town in 1969. (The cottages were said to be haunted!)
The Harbour Town Lighthouse may not be one of the oldest structures on the island and its history may not be that long in the great scheme of things, but it certainly is a fascinating history nonetheless and still stands today as testament to the vision of one man and the creation of a thriving community.
For more interesting facts about Hilton Head, cool pictures, and the many fun things to do on Hilton Head Island, visit us at www.h2osports.com or give us a call at (843) 671-4386 to book your fun-filled day on the water!