Coastal Dicovery Museum gets a New Home!
Author: Natalie Hefter
This fall, the Coastal Discovery Museum will celebrate its 22nd year of continuous educational service to thousands of school children, residents, and visitors regarding this wonderful place that we call home. This year will also mark an important landmark in the museum’s history—moving into its new home at Honey Horn.
The Coastal Discovery Museum has completed a comprehensive plan to create a first-class cultural education center at Honey Horn. This beautiful 69-acre site will serve as the museum’s base for programs, highlighting the cultural heritage and natural history of the Lowcountry. And, it will provide a signature venue for community events for people of all ages.
Honey Horn is a name that has existed for over two centuries, possessing a cultural and environmental legacy known by few. The name is said to have come from a pronunciation of the name “Hanahan,” one of the early owners of the plantation. Consisting of 69 pristine acres, the Honey Horn property is filled with salt marshes, mudflats, stands of live oaks, open fields, and a unique collection of some of the oldest structures on Hilton Head Island. Honey Horn is recognized as the last significant undeveloped parcel of open space on the island.
Indian tribes hunted and fished here. The first planters in the area grew indigo and Sea Island cotton. The Graham family began constructing the main house at Honey Horn in 1859; it was completed some years later. Many alterations have been made to the house over time.
After the Civil War, the land was used for farming and hunting by many native islander families. Beginning in the 1890s, northern businessmen purchased large sections of Hilton Head Island, including Honey Horn, for hunting, fishing and other sporting activities. During this hunt club era, Honey Horn took on the appearance it has today. Most of the structures on the property (as well as the major additions to the main house) date from the 1920s and 1930s. The property was purchased by Hilton Head Island developer and lumberman, Fred Hack, in 1950, and was used as a private residence and farm.
Through the wisdom of the Town of Hilton Head Island’s elected officials, the property was bought in the late 1990s as part of the town’s ongoing land acquisition program. This action, followed by the 95-year lease to the Coastal Discovery Museum, ensures that the property will be preserved in its natural state for generations to come. For the past 13 months, the museum has been renovating and revitalizing the site to serve as its base of operations, and concurrent to this, the museum has been engaged in a $4 million building campaign to fund phase one of this project. As of September, 2007, the campaign has raised $3.7 million.
The completion of phase one of this multi-phase project will be celebrated at the grand opening on October 27. The opening includes the renovation of a 6,000 square foot former hunting retreat renamed the “Discovery House,” containing the museum’s new interactive exhibits, temporary gallery space and community meeting rooms. Visitors to the Discovery House will also enjoy a new terrace overlooking Jarvis Creek with direct access to a series of educational boardwalks. The new Mary Ann Peeples Pavilion (for programs and special events), exterior interpretive signage and trails round out the offerings available this fall. Future phases of the project include the construction of an enclosed native butterfly habitat, and renovation of other structures to be used for classroom space, administration and public uses.
In addition to its cultural education mission, the Coastal Discovery Museum will continue to work closely with local organizations and businesses to provide a unique setting for special events, whether they are private affairs/receptions, or community-wide activities such as the Kiwanis Chili Cookoff, Hawkfest, and Concours d’Elegance. Each year, the museum also hosts the Art Market Fine Art and Craft show, Winetime and the Community Festival. The capital improvements at Honey Horn, coupled with the new educational programming planned for the property will make it one of the most attractive and unique venues throughout the Lowcountry.
Honey Horn is an ideal location for the Coastal Discovery Museum to continue its role as educator for our area visitors and residents. For more information regarding its ongoing building fund campaign, programs, events and future plans, visit www.coastaldiscovery.org or call 843-689-6767.
Saturday, October 27
9:30 a.m.: Ribbon cutting at the Discovery House
10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Activities, programs, tastings and more at various times and places around Honey Horn.
Activities scheduled include:
“Artists Influenced by the Gullah Culture”—temporary exhibit opening
Marsh Tacky horse display
Sweetgrass basket-making demonstration
Loggerhead Sea Turtle season wrap-up and display
Archaeology Society display and artifact table
Panel discussions on various historic and natural topics
Nature journaling demonstration
Walking tours of Honey Horn led by museum docents
Boardwalk/salt marsh programs
Hudson family members at the Honey Horn cemetery
For more detailed scheduling information, visit www.coastaldiscovery.org.
Food and beverages will available for purchase throughout the day.