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Community celebrates opening of West End Heritage Center in Georgetown

Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber, left, stands with visitors of the West End Heritage Center in Georgetown as they watch a video interview discussing the history of the area. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

By Clayton Stairs
Tourism Manager
Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce/Discover Georgetown

After sitting vacant for more than a decade, a building in the heart of Georgetown’s West End will now serve as a place to celebrate the history and champions of that community, while also providing educational programs.

Dozens gathered Aug. 20 for a reception and grand-opening ceremony for the new West End Heritage Center at 1610 Hawkins St. The event was hosted by the Howard High School Alumni Association, Habitat for Humanity Georgetown County and the City of Georgetown, which all had partnered for renovations, fact-finding and creating displays to bring the center back to life.

The center features photographs and videos of many of the community’s notable citizens, as well as memorabilia from Howard High School and the West End community.

Howard High School Alumni Association member Viola Holmes-Greene, left, gets a hug from Harold Jean Brown, who is the state human affairs commissioner. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

“We have been trying so long to get this building together and make it presentable.” said Janette Becoate-Graham, president of the HHSAA, which owns the building. “It has just been tremendous how the community has come together to finally open this center.”

The building was previously called the Dreamkeepers Center, which was owned by the Committee for African-American History Observances. Before that, it served as a kitchen and band room for the former Howard High School, Georgetown’s black high school during the years of segregation in the second half of the 20th century.

Marilyn Hemingway, president of the Gullah-Geechee Chamber of Commerce, is a former director of CAAHO. She said opening the heritage center will be the beginning of wonderful things happening in the West End.

“It will allow more people to understand the significance of this community’s history,” she said. “This is a good example of a community doing for itself and turning things around.”

Three of the champions of the West End, whose photos are featured on the center’s walls are state Rep. Carl Anderson Sr., Georgetown County Clerk of Court Alma White and Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber. Also present at the event were other influential African-Americans of Georgetown County, including Georgetown County School Board member Randy Walker, City Councilmember Sheldon Butts, County Council members Lillie Jean Johnson and Everette Carolina, and State Human Affairs Commissioner Harold Jean Brown.

State Rep. Carl Anderson Sr., who grew up in the West End community of Georgetown, stands proudly with his photograph displayed on the Community Leaders wall at the newly opened West End Heritage Center. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

“Today is a great day for Georgetown and the West End,” said Anderson, who was raised on Gilbert Street. “I applaud the committee and the community for making this possible.”

White, who is also a West End native, said she is proud to be one of the people featured on the center’s Community Leaders wall.

“I had the opportunity to grow up in this community and I’m a product of the West End,” she said. “This is the kind of recognition that most people don’t receive until they have passed away, so I am honored to be part of this.”

Barber, who is Georgetown’s first black mayor, told the crowd gathered for the center’s opening that he’s a “Howard High School brat” who can still sing the school’s alma mater. He thanked the HHSAA for creating this center that will “serve as the foundation of the West End community.”

“This (building) has such a purpose, a meaning with this particular community,” the mayor said. “With partnership, with love and passion for community, this center could be the start of what we need to do, not only in this state, but the rest of the country.”

Project coordinator Julie Emory, who is a Coastal Carolina University graduate in the Georgetown RISE Internship Program, and Laura Gassler, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Georgetown County, were also on hand to thank everyone involved and urge people to be a part of the center’s future.

Laura Gassler, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Georgetown County, and project coordinator Julie Emory, who is a Coastal Carolina University graduate in the Georgetown RISE Internship Program, stand with Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber as he speaks about the center opening. (Photo by Clayton Stairs)

“This is just one successful example of how the community came together to bring the heart back to the West End,” Emory said. “There is so much history here, and we are really only at this point touching on the surface.”

Looking around the center, Gassler said she was amazed it had only been three months since the start of the project. She said she contacted the alumni association after deciding to help revitalize the West End community as part of Habitat’s international mission of neighborhood revitalization.

“I want to thank the Howard High School Alumni Association for allowing Habitat for Humanity to be part of this project and having faith we could pull it off in three months,” Gassler said. “I hope that the former Howard students, alumni and graduates, and community residents enjoy what you are seeing here.”

She said there were several stores that donated product or gave discounts for the West End Heritage Center project, including the Habitat Restore, J&S Carpet and Baker Glass.

“This whole project was a community effort. Everyone came together,” Gassler said. “I just want you to know we are not stopping here.”

The HHSAA is asking the community for donations to continue adding to the center, including kitchen appliances, bathrooms, meeting room equipment and repairs, desks for the office and classroom, landscaping, a permanent sign, lighting, window repairs and more.

The West End Heritage Center was dedicated on Aug. 20.

Plans for the center include after-school homework help for students, college life workshops, game nights, Black History Month celebrations, and back-in-the-day West End and Howard High School storytelling. Also planned are classes for healthy eating and living, gardening, anti-bullying, basket weaving, Gullah language, dancing, Spanish and basic computer coding.

“Everyone here has a worthy story to share, so I want everyone here, whether you want to give to the museum and tell us about your story about what you went through, or if you’re on the outside just now learning about the champions of the West End, we want to hear you,” Emory said during the ceremony. “If you want to share anything that you don’t think we’ve covered at the center, tell Janette or myself, because we are only going to grow and get bigger from here.”

Anyone who would like to donate or contribute yearbooks, photographs or an interview for the center, can contact Janette Becoate-Graham by email at, Julie Emory by email at, or call 843-546-5685, ext 2.

Huntington Beach State Park Camping

Phone:  1 (866) 345-PARK or (843) 237-4440

16148 Ocean Hwy.
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina  29576

Located within Huntington Beach State Park. Beach access. Open all year. Tent and RV camping with 107 sites; 66 with full hook up; each site, except tent sites, has water and electrical hookup. WIFI. Dog friendly, leashes required.

For primitive group reservations, call (843) 237-4440.


Georgetown Nabs A Top Ranking in USA Today’s Annual “Best Coastal Small Town” Contest

Historic Front Street in Georgetown is illuminated by a double-rainbow. USA Today and has once again named Georgetown one of America’s Best Coastal Small Towns. (Photo Courtesy of Mark Roberts)

Once again, historic Georgetown has earned one of the top spots in an annual USA Today/10Best readers contest to determine America’s “Best Coastal Small Town.”

Top finishers were announced by USA Today this morning, and Georgetown, a working waterfront community, finished in fourth place.

Georgetown, which took first place in the “Best Coastal Small Town” contest in 2018, was matched this year against 19 other communities. All the 2019 nominated communities, tapped from 17 states, are near major bodies of water, ranging from the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. 

Sandusky, Ohio, took the top spot in this year’s contest, followed by Rockport, Texas, Chincoteague, Virginia, and Georgetown. To see the full list of top finishers, go here: Best Coastal Small Town Finalists. In announcing its Top 10 list, USA Today and 10Best said: “Move over L.A., Miami and Honolulu! Our 10 winners for Best Coastal Small Town – each with a population of fewer than 25,000 people as of the last census – offer uncrowded, unpretentious and affordable seaside fun in small packages.”

Nominations were announced April 8, and communities across the nation had the opportunity to vote every day through noon on May 6 for their choice for America’s “Best Coastal Small Town.” In announcing Georgetown as a nominee once again, the contest said Georgetown “is what Charleston used to be – 200-year-old homes (more than Charleston, in fact) … lots of Southern charm and none of the crowds.”

Georgetown, which is South Carolina’s third oldest city, boasts a thriving waterfront historic district along Front Street, which features the popular Harborwalk, myriad restaurants and shops, as well as five museums. Residents and visitors enjoy the opportunity to partake in Georgetown’s shopping, dining and rich history. The Sampit River links the town with the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, providing stunning natural beauty.

“It’s an honor to be named among America’s best coastal small towns once again,” said Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. “The results of the vote are a reflection on Georgetown’s abundant charm and the area’s appeal for residents, vacationers and retirees.

“We appreciate that USA Today made Georgetown a part of its 10Best readers contest again, but, most of all, we thank everyone who diligently voted every day to help Georgetown, once again, rank among the very best in the nation.”

Georgetown is one of six communities that make up South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, joining Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, Pawleys Island and Andrews.

For more information on the Hammock Coast, go to For more on living in Georgetown, go to

Nominees for the “Best Coastal Small Town” contest were chosen by a panel of experts made up of editors from USA Today; editors from; and relevant expert contributors. All voting was digital and the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest is accessible on the website.





About South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

Georgetown County’s casual charm and Southern hospitality earned it the nickname Hammock Coast. Adventure and relaxation blend together in perfect harmony, like the flowing and ebbing of waves on the county’s famed beaches. With six communities – Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, Pawleys Island, Georgetown and Andrews – comprising the pristine coastal area between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, visitors can experience South Carolina’s Hammock Coast like never before.

Georgetown, named one of America’s Best Coastal Small Towns two years in a row, offers an abundance of accommodations for guests, including hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts. Georgetown marinas welcome boaters from around the globe.

For more information about Georgetown and the Hammock Coast, visit

Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, Bassmaster tourney bring in the crowds Saturday

Duck calling, sheep herding and retriever demonstrations.
A magic show.
Thirty-five arts-and-crafts vendors.
All of the above were among the highlights as the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival kicked off Saturday in Georgetown.
Many Georgetown County residents who love the outdoors, as well as people from out of the area, descended upon Georgetown for the event on Saturday. It is being held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Elite Fishing Tournament, also being held at the marine complex, and a country music concert with Jason Michael Carroll, held Saturday on Front Street and sponsored by the Georgetown Business Association.
Another day of fun is slated for Sunday, with a South Carolina Duck Calling Championship and the Bassmasters Championship as the main events. Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said the events have already drawn a record turnout.
“This is predicted to have an economic impact of over $1 million for the county,” Broach said. “It draws a lot of visitors, and there is a lot to see and do. It is a wonderful thing for our county on so many levels.”
Kayla Palaniuk of Idaho, Melanie Pipkens of Michigan and Kellye Duvilla of New Jersey were giving love to a black Labrador puppy from St. Frances Animal Center during the event. They were in town to support their husbands who were fishing in the tournament, but the men were cut before Saturday when the top 35 were named.
“We have enjoyed the whole event, especially all of the great vendors,”  Palaniuk said. “It is good to see the town come together to put on a show for everyone.”
Stephanie Cissa of Georgetown, who was with her 11-year-old daughter, Ella, agreed.
“My favorite thing is that it brings the community together,” Cissa said. “It spotlights our town and our county.”
Shannon Thompson of Tega Cay was visiting her mother, Tammy Morales, who lives in Georgetown. The wide variety of activities drew Thompson and her family to the festival.
Morales said she enjoys the event every year.
“It promotes a lot for Georgetown,” she said. “I love all the vendors and booths.”
Andrews resident Gracyn Reeves, who was one of the local vendors at the event, was showcasing her wooden bead necklaces. Her mother, Christy Reeves, was there with her for support.
Gracyn said she started making the necklaces for fun and posted photos of some on her Facebook page. Soon, though, it had turned into something bigger.
“Everyone went crazy over them, and I said, ‘Hey, I can make a job out of this’,” Gracyn said.
The festival and Bassmasters tournament conclude Sunday.
— Story by Clayton Stairs

Waterside Retreat

Phone: (704) 408-3477
Address:  385 Waterside Lane, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina  29576











Waterside Retreat is a quaint waterfront Bed & Breakfast in the Heart of Murrells Inlet.   All of our guest rooms have stunning waterfront views, and we are a five minute walk to the Marshwalk, one of the most popular destinations in the Grand Strand area. Come relax on the front porch and take in the gorgeous views, or enjoy the saltwater pool. Your stay includes access to Huntington State Park for beach days, or feel free to take a kayak or paddle board around the Inlet! Full breakfast provided. Each room has full private bath, Wifi and Apple TV. We are the perfect romantic, relaxing getaway for couples! 

Litchfield Beach on the Hammock Coast named a top Spring destination.

Today’s Parent magazine and website just named Litchfield Beach as one of the top  spring destinations for family travel.

“This quiet community, built around seaside activities is tops for active bikers and golfers. Here, you’ll find an uninterrupted paradise as the beach stretches for miles in either direction, making your only challenge figuring out where to plop down for the day.”

The entire article is here.

The Hammock Coast featured in Southern Living Magazine

Georgetown, February 18, 2013:  Hammock Coast, the brand name adopted by the Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission to identify Georgetown County, SC to visitors, is the featured travel road trip in the March issue of Southern Living magazine.  Highlights of the two page feature include Hopsewee Plantation, Georgetown’s Harborwalk, Limpin’ Jane’s Restaurant, The Original Hammock Shop and the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk.

After visiting the area, writers from Southern Living worked with Lauren Cobb, of the Georgetown County TMC and Sally Hogan with the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce to finalize details and make connections with local businesses. “It is always exciting to work with national writers and have the opportunity to share local stories that we are so passionate about” said Cobb.  Hogan added “the Southern Living writers really made an effort to get to know what makes the Hammock Coast special, they do their research and then reach out to us for the final details.”

The Tourism Management Commission (TMC) was formed by Georgetown County Council in January of 2008. It is charged with marketing tourism in Georgetown County. In 2009 the TMC, in a cooperative effort with Rawle Murdy Associates, conducted consumer research which resulted in branding Georgetown County as the Hammock Coast. This area includes Murrells Inlet (Seafood Capital of SC), Pawleys Island (oldest summer resort on the East Coast), the Litchfield Beaches, Garden City Beach, the Historic Waterfront city of Georgetown, and Andrews.

7th Annual Shag Festival

        Georgetown Rotary Club 

        7th Annual Shag Festival  

April 6th, 2013

King Street – Downtown Georgetown Historic District 

7:00 pm til 11:00 pm 


 Shag Lessons – 6:00 – 7:00 pm (included in ticket price)


food and beverages available for purchase on site


Dance the night away with the world renowned band

 The Sensational Epics


In Advance $20 

At The Door $25

Proceeds Used to Support Alzheimer’s Research and other community service projects


New Year all New Memories! Oceanfront Litchfield Inn

New Year all new memories!  Start your year off right by planning your winter getaway to Pawleys Island with rates starting at only $59.00 per night.  Guests will enjoy an array of amenities including a complimentary extended continental breakfast and breathtaking ocean views in a serene setting just minutes from the heart of Myrtle Beach and historic Georgetown.






We love living on the Hammock Coast of SC and we love for you to visit!

We also love to help you save money on your visit – check out our specials, and bookmark our site because new specials are added almost every day!

All Specials

Huntington Beach State Park

This picturesque oceanfront park is a coastal escape of natural beauty. Amenities include RV and tent sites, ocean swimming and fishing, nature trails, daily nature programs and a gift store. “Atalaya,” the former winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, is the site each year for the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival. Atalaya’s Special Day and the Huntington Beach Surf Fishing Rodeo are other events held here.

16148 Ocean Hwy.  Murrells Inlet  South Carolina  29576

Open M-Su daylight until dark.