History of the Pelican Inn in Pawleys Island

By ˙ July 18, 2019

The Pelican Inn on Pawleys Island may be a quaint 8-room beachfront bed and breakfast that is great for a family vacation to the lowcountry, but it’s so much more than that. This historic inn is a big part of Pawleys Island history and one of the very few original homes left on the island.

The Pelican Inn wasn’t originally a bed and breakfast, but rather a summer home for Plowden Charles Jenrette Weston from Hagley Plantation. The land for the home was purchased in 1844, and by 1858 the beach residence was habitable.

The Weston’s continued to use the beach home until 1864 when the property was sold to William St. Julien Mazyck. Mazyck went on to sell the home to the Atlantic Coast lumber Company in 1901. Lumber company employees were permitted to use the property as a vacation home for many years. Then, after a change in ownership, the property came to be known as The Pelican Inn.

As one of the original homes of Pawleys Island, it’s no surprise that the appearance of the Pelican Inn has been kept the same throughout time. The architecture of the Pelican Inn represents the style of the original homes of Pawleys Island, with features like cypress lumber siding, wooden pegs, handcut nails, mortise and tenon joints, as well as doors and windows that allow the ocean breeze to flow through.

But what about its coastal location? Does being so close to the ocean pose a threat to the Pelican Inn during hurricane season? The Pelican Inn was strategically built behind the highest dunes on the island, and is also protected by a barrier of live oak trees. This was helpful when Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989 came through Pawleys Island and destroyed many other buildings on the island, but left Pelican Inn in tact.

If you’ve heard of the Pelican Inn before, then you may have heard rumors of a ghost story attached to this property. In fact, the ghost lore at the Pelican Inn is quite famous, as the story has been feature in books, television, and more.

The story of the Gray Man goes like this: the original owner of the Pelican Inn, Mr. Weston, succumbed to tuberculosis. Not long after his death, visitors to the Pelican Inn reported seeing the ghost of a man in a Civil War uniform, who was believed the be Weston since he fought in the Civil War. Visitors have also claimed to have seen the ghost of Weston’s wife, Emily. It is said that her ghost leaves a lingering scent of perfume in the air.

In addition to the ghosts of the Westons, guests also started reporting encounters with a “Gray Man” along the beach. However, seeing the Gray Man has become known as a warning of impending hurricanes. Locals take Gray Man sightings seriously and believe that those who see him should heed his warning and flee the island before a storm hits.