Pawleys Island’s charm attracts discriminating homeowners


This one-room-wide home, designed by renowned Charleston architect Mark Maresca, features Dutch gables as well as sitting porches on either side of the main entrance. The style is reminiscent of Medway Plantation, the oldest plantation of record in South Carolina.

A coffered wood ceiling and wide-plank pine floors unify the expansive central parlor. This comfortable seating area, one of several, is anchored by a grand fireplace and comfortable sofas.

In the coastal South Carolina county of Georgetown, sandy banks dotted with historic plantation homes line the lower course of the Waccamaw River. Just east of where the natural beauty of the river reaches its peak lies Pawleys Island, America’s oldest seaside community. This charming, three-centuries-old town offers a welcome respite from the high-energy resort city of Myrtle Beach, just to the north, and a relaxing prelude to the historic city of Charleston, the nation’s number one tourist destination, located an easy drive south.

From the Atlantic Ocean, the view of Pawleys captures the lingering essence of the tiny island’s late 17th-century origins. Famous for its row of “arrogantly shabby” cypress cottages, the community’s attitude remains devoid of any interest in “putting on airs.” These beachfront homes are backed by a picturesque saltmarsh estuary and connected to the mainland only via a limited access causeway, adding an extra measure of tranquility to life here.

Located near the southern tip of South Carolina’s famed Grand Strand, which stretches from Little River at the state’s northern border to neighboring Georgetown (recently named “Best Small Coastal Town” in America by USA Today’s 10 Best website), Pawleys is a sea of calm.

In this intimate room adjacent to the kitchen, shiplap walls and a stainedwood fireplace surround suggest earlier, simpler times. French doors open to the porch for an amazing view of the Waccamaw River.

A first encounter with the island always inspires a second look, since it offers a lifestyle unlike any other along the southeastern coast. It’s, in fact, one of the state’s most pristine barrier islands. Thousands of acres of land in the area have been preserved in perpetuity through conservation easements. As a result, it’s a natural destination for outdoor enthusiasts. An airport, golf courses, medical facilities and a full range of shopping venues are bonuses.

“There are a wide variety of lifestyles possible in and around Pawleys Island,” says Perry Peace, sales associate with Peace Sotheby’s International Realty. “We have a thriving market in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range for homes, well below what you’ll find in South Carolina’s bigger cities. This price range attracts young adults, families and retirees who are welcomed with open arms into our friendly, unpretentious community.”

According to Peace, Pawleys also includes a high-end market for discriminating buyers looking for a discreet location that’s not too far off the beaten path. He points to one amazing property that recently went on the market in exclusive Waverly Plantation. “On one side, this 59-acre estate overlooks pasturelands, complete with a small herd of cows, and, on the other side, a broad expanse of the Waccamaw River,” he says. “This estate’s perfect location ensures tranquility and privacy, and it doesn’t require a full-time staff for basic upkeep and maintenance.”

The gourmet kitchen, with its unique center island, offers amenities any chef would love. Soothing colors created by the architect make the kitchen a relaxing place to gather and cook.
Framed by ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss, the enclosed porch, with its bank of fans and comfortable sofas, has an expansive river view.

Designed by acclaimed Charleston architect Mark Maresca and constructed by BEC Construction of Murrells Inlet, this distinctive home is the result of the coming together of discerning owners and a great design and construction team.

The 5,900-square-foot estate home mimics the Dutch gable roofline of Medway, South Carolina’s oldest plantation house, built in 1686. With four spacious bedrooms and five bathrooms, the home also includes a large utility room, an attached garage with a spacious guest cottage above, and a private office overlooking a flourishing herb garden. A separate artist’s cottage and barn are located on the estate grounds, both an easy walk from the main structure.

A deep soaking tub occupies a paneled alcove with high windows. The room can be curtained off for privacy. His-and-her vanities flank either side of the bathing area.
Because it’s located at one end of the house, the master bedroom provides an extra measure of privacy to its occupants.

“The architect included innumerable design details throughout the construction of this estate,” notes Peace. “The previous home on this site was owned by Frances P. Bunnelle, a local resident and lifelong philanthropist. Her unremarkable house was carefully deconstructed and the bricks repurposed to build the exterior walls of the octagon-shaped office that’s attached to the main house. The result is quite remarkable, and I think it stands as a tribute to a woman who meant so much to this community.

“This is a modern 21st-century home that gives an architectural nod to its historic plantation neighbors. I expect this magnificent Waverly Plantation estate, surrounded by a 50-acre conservation easement, will stand the test of time.”

Patra Taylor is a full-time freelance writer in Mount Pleasant. Find out more at patrataylor.com.

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