Santa Elena


As the entry sign to Parris Island indicates with its display of the Ribault monument along with the Marine Corps logo, there is rich heritage on this island in Port Royal Sound. Spend a day at Parris Island to learn about its 100+ years of history as a Marine Recruit Depot and its earliest history as the first European capital of North America 450 years ago!

Then, in the afternoon, enjoy a golf tournament at The Legends course, just steps away from the Charlesfort-Santa Elena National Heritage Landmark site!

Schedule for November 15, 2019:

8am Meet at Golf Clubhouse to sign-in
9am Attend Graduation of female and male recruits
10:30am Enjoy a Parris Island Museum Visit
11:30pm Lunch and Ceremony at Charlesfort-Santa Elena site with group photo
1pm Arquebus firing for shotgun start of Golf Tournament
5pm Awards and Closing Ceremony at the Clubhouse


Support this experience as a SPONSOR! To inquire about levels and opportunities:


Join the Santa Elena Living History Company!

Announcing a new season of re-enactments and interpretation of the 16th Century with our own Santa Elena Living History Company! Join other enthusiasts to bring history to life at community events and special programs.

Two meeting dates announced: Friday, August 2 and Friday September 6 — both at 4pm at the Santa Elena History Center.

The Company will work on a special showcase event, “Omnium Gatherum,” for the Fall and the annual Lowcountry Fair with Historic Flair in the Spring, along with other outings, including mingling at downtown Beaufort’s First Fridays!

Come check it out …. it’s a BLAST (literally!)
Email for more information

Beaufort Heritage Explorers SuMmEr CaMp!

Sign up for a week of exploring Beaufort History with lots of dynamic activities and presenters at the Santa Elena History Center!

Proceeds benefit participating non-profits:
Historic Beaufort Foundation, Reconstruction Beaufort Inc. and Santa Elena Foundation

At the Santa Elena History Center

Hosting organizations:  Santa Elena Foundation, Reconstruction Beaufort Inc, and Historic Beaufort Foundation

Immerse your child in a week of interesting local history from 1500s-1900s!
July 29-August 2 9:00am-1:00pm
Each day concludes with lunch from 12:15 until pick up, lunch provided on Friday

$150 per child, proceeds benefit participating non-profits

Rising 3rd grade – Rising 5TH and Rising 6th grade – Rising 8 TH grade
Bring to Santa Elena, Email to,
or mail to PO Box 1005, Beaufort, SC 29901

Schedule and topics


How did early settlers get to the New World?
  –Videos about galleons and 16th century ships, navigation tools and techniques, Recreating the true size of a caravel ship, Name and color your galleon! And make your own rope!

How did maps evolve during Age of Discovery?
  –Slideshow of maps from 1492-1607, Create your own map, Understanding Port Royal Sound     history, walk along the bluff, observe the Beaufort River


What were the early settlers like?
  –“Imagine” presentation, Tour exhibit and find crossword clues, Meet Domingo Duramano at his   “soldier’s bunk”

 What was it like to live at Santa Elena?
  –Food and cooking demonstration, Salt-making demonstration, Weaponry program, live fire!


Beaufort is now home to the Reconstruction Era National Park. Camp Reconstruction Beaufort will explore the deep history of this period and why Beaufort was so significant. Not only important to Beaufort, there’s a new wave of interest in this period spreading nationwide, acknowledging that Reconstruction is still shaping today’s narrative.

(ELEMENTARY AGES)  Campers will be transformed back in time and will learn what life was like for children their age in Beaufort. Camp counsellors will use the experiential style approach of learning and explore this deep period of history. Campers will create a Reconstruction Board game exposing them to the many historical landmarks, buildings and homes that have shaped history. Learning history will be relevant and fun!

(MIDDLE SCHOOL AGES)  Campers will dig deep into the history of what was happening during this time in Beaufort but will also explore the significance of the 13th, 14th and 15th Constitutional Amendments, all introduced and passed during Reconstruction. Campers will be encouraged to explore this period of history through conversation learning in exciting and relevant ways. Campers will create a large canvas mural of their interpretation of Reconstruction Beaufort, which will be displayed in the Beaufort Reconstruction gallery.


TOUR THE ONLY PLANTER’S HOUSE IN BEAUFORT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  Enjoy this special program and activity: “The Mystery and Magic of Indigo and Its Role in Antebellum Beaufort”.

Campers will learn about blue dye in early cultures and how it was made. The session culminates with the participants creating their own dyed bandana, scarf or bookmark.


–Walk to St. Helena Church Cemetery (tour), Walk around downtown park/playground, Return to SEHC to make paper flowers, Pizza Party!!


Friday presentation of a plaque to the Santa Maria commemorating Beaufort port of call

The final days to tour the Santa Maria docked in downtown Beaufort are ahead. The ship and crew will welcome visitors through Sunday, April 14, 10a-7p. Tickets are for sale as you board the floating museum. Departure is set for early Monday morning with the high tide.

The presentation of a special plaque by the Beaufort Sail & Power Squadron – Americas Boating Club-will be held at noon, Friday, April 12th, onboard the Santa Maria to honor the crew.

Beaufort’s Sail & Power Squadron was instrumental in providing chart data and guidance for the Santa Maria including piloting the vessel through St Helena Sound to Beaufort. Led by Master Navigators Doug Nelson and Howard Heckrotte, five local boats and twenty Power Squadron volunteers conducted local soundings to survey and chart twenty-three nautical miles for the Santa Maria in advance of its journey to Beaufort.

Prior to this, the last depth survey was conducted in 1983, and numerous storms and shifting sand over the long time span since the last survey made it prudent to check out the route and update charts to inform the captain of the safest route.

Careful timing for the tides along with the excellent seamanship of the crew allowed for an uneventful and successful passage of the ship through St. Helena Sound, the Woods Memorial bridge and into downtown Beaufort.

Many thanks to all volunteers who helped make this first east coast visit by the Santa Maria a great success!

Special thanks to Beaufort Sail and Power Squadron, US Coast Guard, SC DNR, City of Beaufort, Beaufort Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Beaufort Area Hospitality Association, O’Quinn Marine, Shugart barges, and United Infrastructure – all of whom provided a crucial piece of the puzzle to bring and host the Santa Maria vessel and crew.



Santa Maria arrives in Beaufort, Shipwrecks of America’s Lost Century shared at Scholars Symposium, Legendary Dr. Eugene Lyon to be honored
March 27, 2019 – Before Jamestown, before Plymouth Rock, before America’s early settlers carved out the colonies, there was Santa Elena. The story of Santa Elena, and America’s First Century, are shared today with visitors at the Santa Elena History Center in Beaufort and often outside of the museum walls, like the three events announced here.

Settled by the Spanish in 1566, Santa Elena is acknowledged to be North America’s first European capital. It was founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spanish Naval Captian who went on to become a renowned explorer and then South Carolina’s first governor.

Bolstered by funds from King Philip II, who sought to secure the land called La Florida for the Spanish and to protect Spain’s lucrative treasure routes, Menendez and a brave band of 400 settlers established Santa Elena along the coast of South Carolina in present-day Beaufort. At its height, the settlement housed hundreds of men, women and children who battled disease, hunger and storms to eke out a perilous living. After more than two decades after it was founded, Santa Elena came to a sad ending. When Sir Francis Drake attacked St. Augustine in 1586, Santa Elena’s settlers consolidated with St. Augustine, Havana and other Spanish settlements.

Four hundred years later, the 16th century site of Santa Elena was discovered through archeology conducted by the South Carolina Institute of Archeology. From 1979 through the present, active projects have uncovered evidence of the story researched in historical record. The scientific proof of this history tells much about “America’s First Century” as archeologists continue to find artifacts that provide a window into how the early settlers lived.


Tour the Santa Maria in downtown Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The Nao Santa María is one of the most famous ships of humanity. On October 12, 1492, captained by Christopher Columbus, the Santa Maria led a fleet to the discovery of America and the western hemisphere, launching an age of discovery.

The modern-day replica offers a self-guided tour through the 4 decks of the Santa María, where you can find informative panels with the history of the ship, ornamental elements of the time and understand Spanish sailors from 500 years ago. Meet the crew and hear their stories! Making its first east coast stop in Beaufort, the flagship is open to the public March 29 (Weather may delay arrival) to April 7, 10a-7p.
Special thanks to City of Beaufort, Beaufort Convention & Visitors Bureau, O’Quinn Marine, United Infrastructure and the Nao Victoria Foundation.

Pay tribute to a legendary 16th Century scholar, Dr. Eugene Lyon. Integral to the slate of activities is recognition of Dr. Eugene Lyon, perhaps the pre-eminent historian of Spanish exploration and colonization efforts of North America before the arrival of the English.
The Santa Elena Foundation will culminate the Shipwreck Symposium with a dedication of the Eugene Lyon Center for Scholarship at the Santa Elena History Center on the afternoon of April 6. Aside from his work at the better known Saint Augustine, Dr. Lyon’s work with National Geographic, Spain’s Archives of the Indies, and archaeologists in the 1970’s unveiled the story of America’s First Century that is being told today at the Santa Elena History Center, where his work and a bronze Columbus statue commissioned by National Geographic is on display.

Hear latest research on Shipwrecks of the 16th century. Now, in the newest chapter of the saga of Santa Elena, South Carolina underwater archeologist James Spirek will be joined by ten eminent maritime historians and nautical archeologists at a symposium entitled, “Shipwrecks of America’s Lost Century,” April 5 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the USCB Center for the Arts, 805 Carteret St.

Sponsored by SC Humanities and presented by the South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, and the Santa Elena Foundation, the symposium will explore Spain’s colonization attempt along the South Carolina-Georgia coast in 1526, the wrecked 1565 Ribaut fleet, and the 1576 French corsair Le Prince now resting at the bottom of Port Royal Sound, just to name a few.

Sixteenth century sailing ships fell victim to shipwrecks for a variety of reasons: sometimes just pure carelessness or accidents. Other times, they were overcome by storms, by enemy warships, by scuttling and more. In fact, barely two months after discovering an island in the New World, Columbus lost his ship, the Santa Maria, on the north coast of Hispaniola, the island shared today by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Presenters at the shipwreck symposium represent a virtual who’s who of revered subject authorities:

• James Spirek, the symposium organizer and moderator, is the State Underwater Archeologist at the South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology.
His presentation is entitled, “He who has weapons in his fist, and who is the strongest, carries the day.” – French Corsairing and the Final Voyage of Le Prince.

• Carla Rahn Phillips, Ph.D., Union Pacific Professor, Emerita, in Comparative Early Modern History, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her presentation is entitled, “Iberean Seafaring and Naval Operations during the Sixteenth Century.”

• Don Keith, Ph.D., president, Ships of Discovery, and research affiliate, Turks & Caicos National Museum. Dr. Keith has more than 45 years of experience in prehistoric and historic terrestrial and underwater archeology. His presentation is entitled, “Early 16 Century Shipwrecks in the New World.”

• Paul E. Hoffman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of History, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge The title of his presentation is “Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón’s discovery of Southeastern North America, 1521-26.”

• Barto Arnold, B.A., M.A., director of Texas Operations, Institute of Nautical Archeology, Texas A&M University. His presentation is entitled, “1554 Flota Wreck, Padre Island, Texas.”

• Roger C. Smith, Ph.D., state underwater archeologist (ret.), Florida Division of Historical Resources. His presentation is entitled, “The Old Spaniard: Exploration and Analysis of the first shipwreck to be discovered from the 1559 expedition to colonize Florida.”

• John R. Bratten, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Anthropology department at the University of West Florida. His presentation is entitled, “Ballast and Timbers Beneath the Sand: Exploration and Analysis of the Second and Third Shipwrecks to be Discovered from the 1559 Expedition to Colonize Florida.”

• Chuck Meide, B.S., M.S., director, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. His presentation is entitled, “Jean Ribault’s Lost French Fleet of 1565: The Search for and Discovery of the Earliest French Shipwrecks in Florida.”

• Corey Malcom, Ph.D., director of Archaeology, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, Key West, Fla. His presentation is entitled, “On the Eve of La Florida: The Wreck of Santa Clara and the Tierra Firme fleet of 1563-1564.”

• Brad Loewen, Ph.D., professor of Contract Period Archaeology, Post-medieval Archaeology, and Maritime Archaeology in the Anthropology department, Université de Montréal. His presentation is entitled, “The Wreck of the San Juan, a Basque Whaler at Red Bay, Labrador (1565).”

Local Tradition Continues with the Santa Elena Regatta

3/6/19 – The Santa Elena Foundation and the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club will sponsor the Santa Elena Regatta for PHRF sailboats on March 16 and 17, 2019. This event is the major big boat sailing event in Beaufort each year and commemorates 453 years since the founding of Santa Elena on Parris Island in the spring of 1566.
This Regatta is a combination of the Jean Ribault Cup which will be sailed on March 16, and the Pedro Menendez Cup on March 17. The Ribault and Menendez Cups are sailed as separate events and the results from them will be combined to determine the winner of the Santa Elena Regatta and the recipient of the Founder’s Cup.

The Founder’s Cup trophy is unique and quite an honor for the winner. Their name will be etched on the base of a bronze statue of Pedro Menendez, Santa Elena founder, which was donated by Count Alvaro Armada of Spain, the 20th generation descendent of Menendez.
Geography not only plays a major role in the historical references but also in the race logistics. The plan is for the Ribault Cup to be sailed in Port Royal Sound and the Menendez Cup in the Beaufort River starting at the Waterfront Park. JOIN US IN THE PARK ON SUNDAY AT NOON FOR A CANNON FIRING TO START!

“What a great partnership. The Regatta is a wonderful tradition for the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club and, now, the Santa Elena Foundation,” says Megan Morris, Foundation Director. “Its significance is further realized as we think back 450+ years ago… when earliest European settlers too sailed into Port Royal Sound to establish their settlements in the New World.”

The Regatta is open to boats with a PHRF rating that are at least 22” LOA. Boats that are 18’ LOA and over will be considered on a case by case basis. Trophies will be awarded for both the Ribault and Menendez Cups as well as to the overall winner of the Santa Elena Regatta.
There will be several social events associated with the Regatta including a kickoff Skippers Meeting and cocktail party on Friday night before the racing starts, an Awards Dinner on Saturday night and an Awards Presentation on Sunday after the racing is over. All social events will take place at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club.

For more information about the historic, local significance of Pedro Menendez and Jean Ribault, and to learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation visit

Full details of the Regatta are in the Notice of Race which can be found on the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club web site at or by contacting Regatta Chairman, Jim Thomas through the Beaufort Yacht & Sailing Club.

Party Like it’s 1519! Commemorate Pedro’s 500th Birthday at the Santa Elena History Center

February 6, 2019 —  The year 2019 is a big one for Santa Elena founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, born in Spain in 1519! Join in a community commemoration of his 500th birthday with an all-day, family-friendly fiesta brimming with Spanish inspiration in downtown Beaufort at the Santa Elena History Center.

From 11am – 5pm on Saturday, March 2, regular-priced admission to the History Center will afford visitors extra special ways to enjoy Spanish culture and learn about the man who oversaw the first European capital in America. In the courtyard of the Santa Elena History Center, visitors will meet members of the Santa Elena Living History Company in an authentic 16th Century Spanish Encampment, where weapons demonstrations and flint knapping will add extra flavor! Take a step back to a time when living was much simpler, yet surviving was uncertain.

The festivities of the day kick off with a special lecture by distinguished professor emeritus Dr. Lawrence Rowland at 11am. Then, performances highlighting authentic, 16th century Spanish and Renaissance music will feature classical guitar virtuoso Ulyana Machneva and the Taylor Festival Choir of Charleston, at 1pm and 4pm respectively. All of this is included in the admission price and seating is a first come, first served basis.

Visitors will also explore the newly-enhanced main exhibit, “America’s First Century”, with dynamic new features and perspectives. Knowledgeable docents will guide you through the many displays including the debut of videos from the La Florida interpretive digital archive, the Evolution of 16th Century Maps, a display of Native American information, and a chance to don your own armor and weapons for a photo!

Another neat display for the birthday party will be birthday cards from students. All ages are invited to send in their artwork for display in the main corridor through the Spring for all to enjoy! Contact us to arrange and let your creative juices flow!

And what’s a birthday party without cake or a Spanish fiesta without sangria? Guests can have both during their explorations of the Santa Elena story and its leader Pedro Menendez! Additionally, local food trucks will be onsite for those seeking lunch fare, or you may hop on the free shuttle for a ride to the delicious downtown restaurants.

“We are excited to host the community for this birthday party – 500 years is quite the occasion!” says Megan Morris, Director of Santa Elena Foundation. “Whether you’re visiting Beaufort and looking for a local experience, have not yet explored our exhibits, or have not visited recently – this is the perfect time to come downtown to experience the Santa Elena History Center.”

The logistics of the day are simple – plenty of activities, entertainment and treats throughout the event, and parking is plentiful and free of charge too! The “Free Shuttle” will run its route through the Beaufort Cultural District all day, so hop on! hop off! to get to other destinations around town.

A fun time is ahead as we wish Feliz Cumpleanos a Pedro Menendez!

Main contact for the 500th birthday Party is Tedi Light,

Santa Elena Archaeology Updates in Post & Courier Article

Click here to see the original article by the Post & Courier:

Special Thanks to Author Robert Behre and Photographer Andrew Whitaker


PARRIS ISLAND — As archaeologist Chester DePratter walked toward the tall stone pillar on this island’s southern tip, he underscored how much our knowledge of one of South Carolina’s most historic sites is subject to change.

The impressive monument is an enlarged copy of the one French explorer Jean Ribault erected here more than four centuries ago when he founded Charlesfort in 1562, an early French outpost in the New World.

“This is not Charlesfort,” DePratter said. “The monument is in the wrong place.”

The misplaced monument may be the most prominent example of how this site’s history is being rewritten, but DePratter later points toward a large oak tree not far away for a more recent example.

It was here, under the oak, that he and archaeologist Victor Thompson recently used remote sensing devices — special equipment that detects soil disturbances underground — to find the location of Fort San Marco, one of several Spanish fortifications built shortly after Charlesfort.

This Spanish fort is just a small part of a larger story only recently coming to light, at least in a public way.

It’s a story of South Carolina’s first European settlement, one that took root a century before the English established Charles Towne — or Jamestowne or the Plymouth Colony, for that matter. It’s also a story of the former Spanish capital of La Florida.

Dr. Andrew Beall, chairman of the Santa Elena Foundation, said the young organization spent 18 months figuring if there was a story here, who knew something about it, and how to present it to the public. The work is picking up speed.

“It’s a lost century that’s not known by many,” he said.

‘One common story’

When Ribault arrived in 1562 with 27 men he considered Port Royal Sound the finest harbor in the world. Its breadth made it easily navigable and it was routinely flushed by a nine-foot tidal swing.

From the tip of Parris Island, one can look toward the Atlantic Ocean, framed by modern day Hilton Head Island on the right and Bay Island on the left.

His Charlesfort settlement would not last long. Ribault returned to France for supplies but never made it back. The remaining settlers abandoned the site.

Meanwhile, the Spanish considered this territory part of their New World claim, part of La Florida, which covered everything north of Mexico. A surviving document shows they had named this area Santa Elena as far back as 1526, said Foundation member retired U.S. Army Col. Chris Allen.

“Santa Elena is one of the oldest European place names in continuous use in the New World,” he said, surpassed in age only by Florida and Corpus Christi.

The Spanish first staked their claim by creating a garrison in St. Augustine in 1565, then a permanent settlement in 1566 at Santa Elena, building atop the abandoned French fort. Santa Elena served as the Spanish capital of Florida from 1569 to 1587.

“This was the first European capital in all of North America.”

“Nobody knows that,” Allen said. “It’s an amazing milestone in America’s evolution.”

A third European power, England, ultimately sealed the fate of Santa Elena.

Prompted by Sir Francis Drake’s attacks on Spanish holdings in the Caribbean in 1586, Spain — stretched thin financially — decided to retrench in St. Augustine.

“It dwarfed St. Augustine at the time,” Allen said. During its peak, Santa Elena had about 400 residents and dozens of buildings, including homes and churches.

Allen said the story complements, not competes with, St. Augustine’s.

“There’s no value into getting into, ‘we’re first, they’re first,’ ” he said. “It’s all one common story.”

What was learned

After the Spanish abandoned Santa Elena to retrench in St. Augustine in 1587, the site never again became a town.

More than a century later, the land eventually became part of a plantation. After the Civil War, the Marine Corps arrived here. While the corps once had an active encampment near the historic settlement, relatively little land was disturbed. In the mid-20th century, a golf course was built over part of it.

Previously, archaeologists, including DePratter and the late Stanley South, had gridded off 34 acres and conducted 1,383 shovel tests.

“What we found was the town of Santa Elena covers 15 acres,” DePratter said.

But there are few surviving structures, aside from remnants of a kiln discovered during a previous dig. The kiln, which dates to about 1585, may be the oldest surviving European kiln in North America. Little else is left over.

“The forts were made out of wood, and you know how wood rots around here, so they would rebuild them,” DePratter said. “They couldn’t fire their guns anymore because they were afraid the fort would fall down because of the rot.”

Thompson, who directs the University of Georgia’s Center for Archaeological Sciences, recently worked with DePratter on the site, using remote sensing equipment to try to create a map.

“The conditions at Santa Elena were just ideal for this type of remote sensing survey,” Thompson said. “We simply could not ask for better circumstances.”

They sent pulses and electric currents into the ground and measured differences in local magnetic fields in order to discern the locations of two missing forts, a church, shops and houses, as well as streets and a plaza.

Their work also pinpointed the likely location of native council houses from the 17th century, sites of former slave cabins, and circular figures that appear to reflect Native American occupation from about three or four millennia ago.

Among their biggest discoveries: the location of Fort San Marco, the third Spanish fort built on the site.

“As it turns out,” DePratter said, “It’s right here under this oak tree.”

Meanwhile, 12 miles away

The U.S. Marine Corps gradually has opened up the Charlesfort-Santa Elena site as more of its history has become known.

In 2007, the Marine Corps reconfigured its Legends Golf Course in 2007, moving a few of its holes further away from the most historic acreage.

The site reopened to the public Aug. 20, after restoration work was done after Hurricane Matthew damage from two years ago. Those visiting will find a trail with a series of markers explaining not only highlights about Charlesfort and Santa Elena but also its Native American, plantation and Marine Corps past.

Meanwhile, the story of Santa Elena also is told in a small exhibit inside the Marine Corps Museum, where several artifacts from past digs are on display. These include assorted pottery shards, a small crucifix, a thimble, a tiny dice made of bone and other small bits. Together, they show the primitive, frontier-like conditions of the early European presence.

But the story is best explained inside a new museum about 12 miles away in Beaufort.

The Santa Elena History Center opened in April 2016 inside the former federal courthouse at 1501 Bay St., and it has expanded its exhibits several times since. The nonprofit running it is interested not only in presenting the story but also with funding research.

Inside, its displays, video and living history try to explain both the 16th century history and the 21st century efforts to rediscover it.

Beaufort County Councilman Stu Rodman serves on the foundation’s board and helped it secure the courthouse space to rewrite the area’s history in a more expansive way.

“History is written by the victors, and the British were the victors, so the history started 50 years later in Plymouth,” Rodman said.

“Santa Elena is a pretty amazing story, and it kind of went undiscovered for a long time,” he added. “It really has renewed interest in the county and many locals about building on a lot of heritage tourism things. … We probably don’t do as much as we could to convince people to stay for an extra day or two days or a week.”

The known and the unknown

As the detailed site map takes shape, archaeologists can plan future excavations on individual structures, such as the church, a house or a fort.

“We know enough now that we can focus on small, specific targets,” DePratter said.

Before any digging begins again, DePratter and others must reprocess (wash, weigh, reanalyze and rebag) the vast trove of artifacts already uncovered since archaeologist Stanley South began work here almost four decades ago.

“Things he identified in 1979 are different than what we’d identify them as today,” DePratter said.

He estimated that only about 5 percent of the site has been explored, meaning that there is much more to discover.

As those mysteries are probed and solved, that will continue to thrust the story of Santa Elena into a more public light.

Megan Meyer, executive director of the foundation, said, “Just as fascinating as what we know is what we don’t know.”

More Information  (From the National Historic Landmark documentation of the site, approved in 2001)


Announcing inaugural HISTORY DAY FOR STUDENTS at the 2018 Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair

10/5/18 — Santa Elena History Center is putting the “FIELD” in “Field Trip!” This year the Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair is opening a day early, exclusively for a STUDENT HISTORY DAY, to allow local students the opportunity to experience the unique culture and heritage of South Carolina first hand on the grounds of Cotton Hall Plantation.

Although the annual Lowcountry Fair and Marsh Tacky races are open to the general public on Saturday, November 3 from 11am – 5pm, students and their teachers are invited to take a field trip to see living history re-enactments, weaponry demonstrations, and selected other educational (and fun!) activities on Friday, November 2, from 10am to 2pm. The richness of our Spanish, French, English , Scottish and Native American history will be the focus of the day’s activities, along with exploring the plantation colonial sugar mill, walking through the petting zoo, and learning about Marsh Tacky horses.

As students meet and greet the gentle marsh tacky horses, they will learn about South Carolina’s heritage horse, an activity led by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. Other organizations on display include National Park Service with their Junior Ranger program, Coastal Discovery Museum with information about nature and their own Marsh Tacky “Comet,” Lowcountry Raptors, Morris Center for Heritage, Mitchelville, and more.

An on-site picnic area is perfect for packing a lunch to enjoy on the plantation, and there is plenty of bus parking within the 50 acre field. Many local schools have already signed up, but the more the merrier! Check with your child’s school to make sure he or she is taking part in this unique opportunity. Home school students are also welcome.

For Friday and registered school groups only, a nominal $3 admission is charged per attendee for History Day admission. LINK TO REGISTRATION FORM FOR SCHOOL HISTORY DAY!

The public is invited for the full Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair on Saturday, which will include all these activities and much more — including the only Marsh Tacky horse races of 2018!

Cotton Hall Plantation is located off Route 17 in Northern Beaufort County. Please email Megan Morris at the Santa Elena History Center for more information at

Marsh Tacky Horses, Historical Demonstrations, and Festival Fun at the 2018 Lowcountry Fair

9/19/18 — What could be more fun than an old-fashioned country fair, filled to the brim with historical flair? With the arrival of crisp fall air, the Santa Elena Foundation hosts the second annual Lowcountry Fair on Saturday, November 3 from 11am to 5pm at the beautiful, privately-owned Cotton Hall Plantation, only 5 miles from Interstate-95 in Northern Beaufort County.

It’s the perfect way for the entire family to spend a fall day in the Lowcountry! And the event is the host of the ONLY Marsh Tacky Horse Races in 2018!

With Hargray Communications and several other generous sponsors, plans are in place for a community event unlike any other! Moderately-priced tickets and family ticket packages allow visitors of all ages to enjoy special activities and events throughout the day at no extra cost. The fun, family-friendly atmosphere will showcase Marsh Tacky horses from around the region in obstacle courses, meet-and-greet areas and several racing heats.

“At the end of the day, we will awarding a grand champion of the horse races, but with a great community event like this – everyone wins!” said Megan Morris, executive director of the Santa Elena History Center. “This fall’s Lowcountry Fair will be a stand-out event for the community to experience local heritage mixed in with plenty of good fun, food and friendship. This continues our efforts to highlight Beaufort County’s unique history and collaborate with others in the region.”

The events featuring the Marsh Tacky horse will be the perfect complement to other headline activities, like Living History. Across a 50-acre field, over 500 years of local history will be on display with historical re-enactors showing family life, living conditions, and times of war, sacrifice, and change. From 16th century colonial times when Santa Elena was founded by the Spanish, through the American Revolution, the Civil War/Reconstruction era and up to WWII — men, women and children will demonstrate history in period costume. They will mingle with spectators, tell fascinating stories of life in days gone by, fire their weaponry, walk in a parade and engage visitors in fun, educational activities.

The most delicious local food concessions will be available for purchase throughout the day. Do you love oysters or barbecue? Why choose? Enjoy the day’s activities with a lowcountry lunch, a sweet treat, and perhaps even a local brewed beer or Spanish wine. Sip and see throughout the area with music playing and artisans displaying their original products from iron-welded signs, to local honey, and everything in between.

Children will also enjoy the exotic petting zoo, pony rides, and other fun activities. They can meet friends at the National Park Service and participate in a Junior Ranger program, or head over to see the critters brought by Coastal Discovery Museum, who have their own Marsh Tacky on site, named Comet.

And just when you think you’ve seen it all, follow a trail down to the plantation’s original operating sugar mill, still in use today. Enjoy a walk back in time to see how “sugar” was made in the antebellum South, thanks to the plantation owners who have preserved this art for decades and now welcome us to their home.

Tickets are available online ( and at the gate.
Patron Level ($100), General Admission ($20), Children 7-17 ($5)
Family Package (two Adults and 2+ Children) — $50
Active Military Families (two adults and 2+ Children) — $40
Food Vendors: Plums & Saltus, Q on Bay, Sea Eagle Market, Lady’s Island Single Oysters, and more
Craft Beer Tastings: Salt Marsh Brewing Company
Musical Guest (Before the races): Chilly Willy Band
Broadcast Company: Beaufort County Channel

Organizations participating: Santa Elena Living History Company, Carolina Marsh Tacky Association, National Park Service, Coastal Discovery Museum, Mitchelville, Coastal Heritage Society, Charleston Few, Men of Menendez, Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot

Lead Sponsors: Joe and Allyson Harden, Quarforth Family Foundation, Hargray Communications

MCRD Parris Island completes restoration of Charlesfort-Santa Elena historical site

Aug. 31, 2018 — Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island personnel have completed restoration work on the Charleston-Santa Elena National Historic Landmark, which was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

On Oct. 8, 2016, the site, which is located on the depot, suffered considerable soil displacement caused by the uprooting of trees during the storm. MCRD PI officials conducted surveys on the site Oct. 12 and 18, and discovered the tree damage and accumulated vegetation from salt marsh over-wash had created a public safety issue, and the potential to put archaeological and anthropological resources at risk, leading to the temporary closing of the site.

Despite several budget and funding difficulties, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic which provides services to Parris Island, contracted with environmental engineering and services company TetraTech to conduct damage assessments of the site, as well as take conservation measures to protect historic resources while observing environmental and safety requirements. In December 2017, January 2018, and July 2018 contractors and MCRD Parris Island personnel oversaw restoration of the site, ensuring the work followed guidelines set by the state of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Restoration work was completed July 25, 2018 and reopened to the public following a safety review on August 20, 2018.

In 2001, the Charlesfort‐Santa Elena archaeological site complex was designated a National Historic Landmark. Charlesfort (1562 to 1563) was a French site established by Jean Ribaut and Santa Elena, founded in 1566, was the first capital of Spanish Florida. The importance of the site transcends the 16th century, with the oldest artifacts dating from 8,000 to 6,000 BC. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Charlesfort/Santa Elena site was cleared and used for plantation agriculture, and after the Civil War, it was home to families of freed slaves.

Spanish Naval Cadets Make Port of Call in Lowcountry, Visit Santa Elena to Understand Significant, Linking History

7/20/18 — Throughout its year-long, global sailing voyage, the magnificent Spanish Navy Training Vessel, ELCANO, made strategic Ports of Call with one single stop in the United States – Charleston, South Carolina. The vessel is named after Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan’s last exploratory fleet and the man who completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522.

During the crew’s time in the Lowcountry, Spanish Embassy and Military leaders thought it imperative for the young men and women to spend a day at Santa Elena to learn about our Spanish – American connections from the 16th Century.

Both the Santa Elena History Center and the Santa Elena historic landmark site on Parris Island gave the sailors an understanding of what their 16th century predecessors endured and accomplished as they explored and settled the New World, notably Santa Elena (1566-1587).

Informative sessions and tours led by Dr. Larry Rowland and Dr. Chester DePratter shared insight into the navigational challenges, settlement efforts, and conflict/hardships faced by the soldiers and settlers who put their lives on the line to claim the New World for Spain. Today’s Beaufort, SC and Port Royal Sound were Santa Elena, and North American land north of present-day Mexico was Spain’s La Florida. The cadets learned that Santa Elena served as the capital of La Florida, and Spanish Naval Captain Pedro Menendez built his home here with his family in 1571.

The cadets stood on the ground where their ancestors once stood, and observed the natural harbor that made it possible for ship fleets to sail in from the Atlantic Ocean. Without a doubt, the same harbor today, Port Royal Sound, could accommodate the present-day training vessel, ELCANO. The four-masted vessel is 371 feet long, making it the third-largest tall ship in the world. First launching in 1927, it has sailed the furthest, covering more than 2,000,000 nautical miles in its history.

The Santa Elena Foundation is proud to help host the Spanish Military Attache, Captain and Officers of ELCANO, and her crew. Both Mayor Billy Keyserling and Mayor Sam Murray granted keys from the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal for the sailors to display aboard ELCANO, which is now en route back to Spain.

Award for Partnership and Collaboration bestowed upon Santa Elena Foundation, USC-Beaufort

April 19, 2018 – The Santa Elena Foundation, along with the University of South Carolina Beaufort, is proud to announce statewide recognition for a progressive partnership.

The prestigious “Engaged Community Partner” honor comes after three years of working together during the establishment and ongoing growth of the Santa Elena History Center thanks to USCB Administration, Professors, and Student support.

As stated in the official press release from the University of South Carolina, the South Carolina Engaged Community Partner Award is presented to a community partner that has worked to support the civic mission of their partnering campus and enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways.

“Our working with many departments and levels of USCB is creating a dynamic work-study opportunity for local students. From Heritage Tourism studies to History and Spanish enrichment, and even computer programming, both the Foundation and University have benefited greatly from this partnership. The potential for more collaboration knows no boundaries,” says Megan Meyer, Foundation Director. “Santa Elena Foundation want to be a vibrant cultural resource for the community, especially local students.”

Examples include, Dr. Brian Canada, associate professor of computational science, and his students worked to establish an “Education Station” at the Santa Elena Museum with computer games to educate the public on the history of the Spanish settlement of Santa Elena in Beaufort in the 1500s. By serving on the Board of Directors, Martha Moriarty, Ph.D. associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and institutional effectiveness and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Larry Rowland have also been instrumental in this partnership.

“We are grateful to SC Campus Compact for the recognition of the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff, students and community partners,” said Eric Skipper, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at USCB. “These recognitions also serve as a model of exemplary service for the entire USCB community.”

Archaeologists work to create detailed map of 16th-century Spanish town on Parris Island

March 7, 2018 — Less than two years after discovering the location of an elusive Spanish fort on present-day Parris Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, archaeologists have begun mapping a complex and vast array of archaeological features that can provide insight into over 4,000 years of history in the region, including a focus on the 21 year occupation of Santa Elena (1566-1587) to paint a picture of what life was like during the once-capital of Spanish La Florida. (Click here for the full report:

In 2016, University of South Carolina archaeologist Chester DePratter and Victor Thompson, an archaeologist from the University of Georgia, pinpointed fort San Marcos at Santa Elena, founded in 1577 by Pedro Menendez Marquez, the governor of Spanish La Florida.

Archaeologists began excavating the remains of the Charlesfort and Santa Elena site since 1979, but they have never had a good map of the settlement. In a recent paper published in the journal, “Remote Sensing,” DePratter and Thompson discuss how they used remote sensing technology to map the various significant occupations of the site including those of Native Americans, French, Spanish, plantation owners, Freedmen, and World War I era U.S. Marine Corps.

“By combining traditional shovel testing with remote sensing using radar and other instruments, we are well on the way to constructing a detailed map of the Spanish settlement,”
says DePratter, who conducts research through the university’s South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s critical to gather the data necessary for putting together a comprehensive tool that will help us better understand what happened not only during the Spanish settlement of Santa Elena 450 years ago but throughout history.”

The team’s most recent work provided new insights into the Spanish presence at Santa Elena occurring between 1566 and 1587. During its early years, the settlement went from military outpost to capital of Spanish Florida, but it was abandoned in 1576 due to a Native American attack. It was reoccupied in 1577 with the construction of fort San Marcos, but a decade later the town was again abandoned. At its peak, Santa Elena covered nearly 15 acres and had about 400 residents.

Under the sponsorship of the Santa Elena Foundation in the summer of 2016, Thompson and DePratter worked with a University of Georgia archaeology field school to look beneath the surface of the 15-acre site. They sent pulses, and electric currents into the ground and measured differences in local magnetic fields in order to map the remains of Santa Elena. They worked to pinpoint locations of some of the lost Spanish buildings, including two missing forts, a church, shops, and houses, as well as the town’s streets and plaza.

While the “focus” of the work was to test the viability of using modern remote sensing methods in conjunction with previous shovel test data to provide comprehensive distribution data on all of the components of the site over 4000 years of occupation, the work also led to important new discoveries, including:
1) “the probable location of the remains of two native council houses that date to the mid-17th century”;
2) areas that represent “rows of dwellings for enslaved peoples. and,
3) circular features in the northern portion of the site dating to the Late Archaic/Early Woodland period of Native American prehistory, 2750-1360 BC. are roughly the same diameter of “shell rings” of the region and possibly represent a “Stallings period Circular Village”

“There are few sites in country that afford the kind of window into the past, such as we have at Santa Elena,” says Thompson, who directs UGA’s Center for Archaeological Sciences. “The conditions at Santa Elena were just ideal for this type of remote sensing survey. We simply could not ask for better circumstances.” DePratter says Santa Elena is the best preserved 16th century town in the country, in part because of its location, which is underneath a former military golf course that has no standing structures on it. Currently, the site is closed to visitors while the Marine Corps finalizes restoration from the recent hurricanes which caused safety hazards from fallen trees. Analysis, assessments, and protection of the resources were necessary before downed trees could be removed. The Marine Corps plans to re-open the site to visitors in the next few months.

No archaeological excavations have been conducted at Santa Elena since 2008, but the mapping project will likely provide the impetus for more detailed work on the site in the coming years. “Now that we have collected all the data with three instruments, we will move forward with detailed interpretations of our results to create the final site map,” Thompson says. “Once it is completed, it will be one of the best and most completely mapped sixteenth-century sites in the United States.”

“Once we have a detailed site map, we can focus on individual structures—a church, a house, a fort—rather than just having to open large excavation units in the hope of finding something interesting,” says DePratter.

SCIAA archaeologist Stanley South, who died in 2016, found the remains of Santa Elena in 1979, with DePratter joining the project in 1989. The Charlesfort/Santa Elena National Historic Landmark is located on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. The current remote sensing work is funded by the Santa Elena Foundation and SCIAA’s Archaeological Research Trust and supported by the University of Georgia’s anthropology department.

About Chester DePratter:

Chester DePratter is a research professor at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. He has worked on a variety of Native American sites, primarily in South Carolina and Georgia, and written numerous articles on prehistoric archaeology, exploration routes of Spanish explorers and the early European presence in the southeastern United States. Since 1989 he has focused on 16th-century Spanish site of Santa Elena and the search for the French site of Charlesfort and on the archaeology of Yamasee Indian sites in South Carolina. He is curator of the exhibit at the Santa Elena History Center in Beaufort, South Carolina.

About Victor Thompson:

Victor Thompson is a professor of archaeology and the director of the Center for Archaeological Sciences at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on applications of archaeological science to the study of colonialism, socio-political complexity and the historical ecology of wetland and coastal environments. He uses a number of specialized methods in his research, including the analysis of monumental architecture, shell midden archaeology, stable isotopes, remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS).

About the Santa Elena Foundation:

Established as a 501(c)3 in 2014, the Foundation’s mission is to discover, preserve, and share America’s first – and lost – century through the rise and fall of Santa Elena. In addition to supporting research, the Foundation operates the Santa Elena History Center in downtown Beaufort, SC where visitors can learn about 16th century history and the 21st century re-discovery through exhibits, videos, programs, and living history.

‘Historic Collaboration’ Launches Free Shuttle for all in Downtown Beaufort

Experience Beaufort History Badge

‘Historic Collaboration’ Launches Free Shuttle for all in Downtown Beaufort

For Immediate Release
February 28, 2018

Beaufort, SC – A collaboration between downtown organizations focused on Beaufort’s history — Beaufort History Museum, Historic Beaufort Foundation, Santa Elena Foundation, and Spirit of Old Beaufort — is established collectively as “Experience Beaufort History.” In addition to creating a single avenue for convenient, custom ticket purchases, the effort will now help visitors travel to each destination and around downtown.

The Experience Beaufort History partners see great value in launching a free shuttle that will loop the main areas of downtown Beaufort to improve mobility, lessen the burden of parking, and serve customers of all businesses in the downtown area. The effort has full support from the City of Beaufort, Beaufort Cultural District, and downtown merchants.

The free shuttle will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-5pm in an ongoing loop that includes Bay Street, Carteret Street, Craven Street and Scotts Street. The route will stretch from the Santa Elena History Center to the USCB Campus, including stops at Beaufort History Museum, Verdier House, City parking areas, and the Waterfront Park.

“How wonderful that all organizations came together to create a strong history network and offer a special service in the free shuttle. We all work hard to preserve and promote the rich heritage of beautiful Beaufort and want to make sure that everyone who comes downtown can enjoy it all too,” says Megan Meyer, Director of Santa Elena History Center. “May this trial service in the spring prove to be a great solution for residents, visitors, merchants, and our own organizations.”

The “Hop On! Hop Off!” shuttle model will allow users great flexibility to ride the shuttle, and stops will be identified with signage. Route maps will also be available at the Visitor’s Center, Marina, and each museum. And, yes, there will be no charge. The organizations, from their operational funds and Accommodations Tax Funds, are underwriting the shuttle for a trial period in March, April, and May.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


Contact:  Megan T. Meyer
Executive Director, Santa Elena Foundation

Historic Beaufort Foundation
208 Scott Street, Beaufort, SC 29902

Beaufort History Museum
713 Craven Street, Beaufort, SC 29902

Spirit of Old Beaufort Tours

New Year brings New Offerings, Lower prices, and Variety of Activities to Santa Elena History Center

January 26, 2018 — One of Beaufort’s newest historic destinations, the Santa Elena History Center, is offering great incentives for visitors in order to continue putting a spotlight on a “lost century” of American history – much of which happened in Beaufort County.

The main exhibit is expanded with multiple new panels and showcase elements, including replica 16th century weaponry and information about the creation of an overland passage that stemmed from Santa Elena to the Appalachian Mountains; the exhibit now also includes interpretation of significant archaeological discoveries such as the kiln and the well.

Updated admission prices to tour the History Center and the main exhibit will better accommodate families, students, and locals. Student price has decreased and children up to seven years old are free. The History Center continues to offer free admission to Active Military and First Responders. In 2018, locals who pay tour admission once may present their receipt when returning with out-of-town guests for no charge until year-end.

Additionally, the well-received program series continues with a variety of presentations developed to share the intriguing local, and often early, history from many perspectives each week for public enjoyment. The new year brings a significant reduction in the cost to attend programs at the Santa Elena History Center. Now, Annual Passholders are admitted at no cost and other attendants are requested to make a donation of their choice. Those who are interested in sharing their own presentations and programs are welcome to contact the History Center.

Other events on the docket for 2018 include the Annual Santa Elena Cup regatta with the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club (March 16-17) and the second Annual Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair at Cotton Hall Plantation (November 3). More events and activities will be announced regularly and posted on the website calendar at

This year, plans to explore and research new aspects of this relatively untold history will add dynamic programs, announcements and features to the History Center. The story will come to life as The Santa Elena Company, a growing group of 16th century re-enactors, plan training and activities throughout the year. Those interested are welcome to join the fun!

The Santa Elena Foundation would like to express gratitude to all who made 2017 a successful year — the Volunteers, Annual Passholders, Local Businesses, Partner Organizations, and all who visited – and may 2018 be another great year to gather around a community initiative as important as preserving our earliest history, Santa Elena. All are welcome to join is this incredible project and blossoming community institution!

To learn more about the Santa Elena History Center, becoming an Annual Passholder, school field trips, the calendar of events, and more visit


A community event unlike any other, sponsored by the Santa Elena Foundation!

October 18, 2017 — What could be more fun than an old-fashioned country fair, filled to the brim with historical flair, held at a beautiful, local plantation?

With the arrival of crisp fall air, the Santa Elena Foundation is hosting the first annual Lowcountry Fair on Saturday, November 18 from 10am to 4pm at Cotton Hall Plantation, off Highway 17 in Northern Beaufort County.

The fun-filled Saturday is headlined by Marsh Tacky Horse Races, providing an exciting show for all who attend.  The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association showcases this unique breed, originally introduced by the Spanish explorers of the 16th century. The Marsh Tacky is the SC State Heritage Horse and one of the most endangered breeds in the world.  Before they race in the afternoon, these beautiful horses will be on display in fun show demonstrations.  Be sure to bring your chairs!

The Lowcountry Fair will also showcase multiple living history re-enactments from the Colonial era Men of Menendez to Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactors and more, performing throughout the day, along with weapons demonstrations.  For children, petting zoo, pony rides, and sugar cane mill tours will bring delight. On stage, a variety of live performances – from The Chilly Willy Band to flamenco dancing demonstrations — will fill the afternoon.  Broadcasting by the County Channel and use of a Jumbotron display will keep fair-goers from missing any of the action on stage, throughout the fairgrounds, or on the racecourse. All of the activities and festive entertainment are included in the admission price for the day.

Come hungry for a special lunch and explore the local palate as many have throughout history. The finest local food will be for sale from restaurant partners Eat Local Beaufort (Plum’s, Saltus, Hearth), Q on Bay, Lady’s Island Oysters and Sea Eagle Market.  For dessert, the food truck “It’s Only Fair” will sell fair-themed goodies.  Beer, wine, and general refreshments will also be available for purchase.

One of the most significant events of the day will be a presentation by Count Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui, a descendent of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the founder of Santa Elena in 1566 and Governor of La Florida until 1574.  Arriving from Spain to attend the Lowcountry Fair, the Count will bestow the Foundation with an original 16th century medal and a letter signed by Pedro Menendez, dated in Santa Elena in 1571.

“Our Board and Volunteers wanted to give the community an event unlike any other – to commemorate our history and celebrate our local culture – and that’s just what the Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair will bring. Of course, none of this could be accomplished without the support of our local community,” remarked Megan Meyer, Executive Director of the Santa Elena History Center.

Special thanks Joe and Allison Harden who generously offered use of Cotton Hall Plantation and Ameris Bank, Gold Sponsor. These other community-minded businesses and individuals have also made this a stand-out event as sponsors: Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Dude Magazine, Grayco, Lowcountry Real Estate, Sheldon Plantation, Southern Palmetto Landscaping, TD Bank, Visible Displays, Adams Outdoor Advertising, Creative Interiors, Compass Rose Travel, Cuthbert House Inn, Spirit of Old Beaufort, Tacaron Trading, Eat Sleep Play Beaufort, Printology, Robinson Grant & Co, as well as Andy and Laura Beall, Greg and Sarah Dyson,  Dr. and Mrs. Larry Rowland, Russ and Sandy Dimke.

Tickets are available for purchase online ( and at the event admission gate. If purchased in advance, bring confirmation of your tickets to the gate for entry. Prices are: $20/adult and $10/child (5-17), $50 for families, and $40 for active duty military families (show ID).  Patron tickets, which include seating for lunch and finish-line seating for the races, are available for $100. Event sponsorships are also still available starting at $500.

To visit the website for Santa Elena’s Lowcountry Fair, visit learn more about the SC Marsh Tacky Association, visit

Marsh Tacky horses racing Santa Elena presents A Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair featuring Marsh Tacky horse races

Unique Collaboration Brings Together a Charity, University and Business

July 13, 2017 — A convergence of three local institutions – one with college coursework focused on local history, one a local business that supports educational initiatives, and one a new history center seeking dynamic ways to tell a story – have led to the establishment of the Education Station, sponsored by Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort, at the Santa Elena History Center.

Professor Dr. Brian Canada, of University of South Carolina Beaufort, challenged his students to create programming projects with a Santa Elena theme in mind. This resulted in a myriad of games developed around the story of Santa Elena,the Spanish settlement of 1566 on Port Royal Sound.

“From building puzzles of old maps to racing in ships across the Atlantic and conducting commerce throughout the village – the variety and quality of games produced by local students, about local history, is very impressive,” remarked Megan Meyer, Director of the Santa Elena History Center. “We’re so grateful that the team at Kinghorn Insurance believed in this project and made it possible. Furthermore, we are grateful to Dr. Canada and USCB students for contributing one-of-a-kind games to share with the public.”

These games are available for children of all ages to enjoy during their visit to the Santa Elena History Center, adding to the menu of child-friendly resources and showcasing the work by USCB student in a public institution. Due to success of this project, Dr. Canada will continue it with future classes, allowing the inventory of games in the Education Station to remain dynamic.

“Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort is honored and proud to partner with Santa Elena and USCB to help promote education for youth in the community. This new partnership will provide an opportunity to better understand the rich history, culture, significance and beauty of the Lowcountry. Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort would also like to thank the many individuals that have donated time, talent and money to develop the Santa Elena Foundation as it truly has become a gem of Beaufort.”