‘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 www.experiencebeauforthistory.org.


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 www.santa-elena.org.

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 https://santa-elena.org.


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 (www.santa-elena.org/lowcountry-fair) 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 https://santa-elena.org/lowcountry-fair.To learn more about the SC Marsh Tacky Association, visit http://marshtacky.info/mt/

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.”


Lowcountry Fair & Marsh Tacky Races Coming to Beaufort in November 2017

A community event unlike any other, hosted by Santa Elena Foundation

 June 1, 2017— Mark your calendars for a unique community event on a local plantation this fall as the Santa Elena Foundation presents “A Lowcountry Fair with Historical Flair.”

The fun-filled day will include Marsh Tacky Horse Races, Horse Fun Shows, Living History Re-enactments, Weapons Demonstrations, music and special performances, children’s petting zoo and activities, festive refreshments, and much more on the private grounds of Cotton Hall Plantation in Northern Beaufort County on November 18, 2017 from 10am-4pm.

“The Lowcountry Fair will be a stand-out event for the community to enjoy and experience early local heritage mixed in with plenty of good fun, food, and friendship,” remarks Megan Meyer, Executive Director of the Santa Elena History Center. “This furthers the promotion of our efforts to highlight Beaufort County’s unique history and collaborate with many organizations and individuals throughout the community.”

Headlining the event are the Marsh Tacky Horses, whose races will provide an exciting show for the crowd. Led by the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association, the races will showcase horses from all parts of the southeast and bring awareness to the special breed originally introduced by the Spanish explorers of the 16th century. The Marsh Tacky is the South Carolina state heritage horse and one of the most endangered breeds in the world. They once roamed freely by the hundreds through the South Carolina Sea Islands and Lowcountry but their numbers neared extinction as tractors, trucks, and development took the place of horsepower. Today, only around 400 Marsh Tacky Horses remain.

“We are excited to bring the Marsh Tacky Race back to the Lowcountry – as we strive to save the breed, it’s important to celebrate their historical significance,” says Jackie McFadden, secretary of the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association. “By partnering with the Santa Elena Foundation the day of racing will be even more enjoyable with a myriad of other activities on the grounds of such a special place.”

Tickets will be available for purchase in advance (online) and at the gate on the date of the event. Levels include: $20/adult and $10/child (5-15), $50 for families, and $40 for active duty military families. Also available to help the event generate proceeds for the Santa Elena Foundations mission are Patron tickets at $100 and recognized sponsorship levels starting at $500.

The event is weather contingent and all donations will benefit the Santa Elena Foundation.

To learn more about the SC Marsh Tacky Association, visit http://marshtacky.info/mt/



Replica Columbus Ships ‘Nina’ and ‘Pinta’ to Sail Into Downtown Beaufort

April 4, 2017 — In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, leading to the discovery of a “New World” and marking the beginning of America’s earliest history. This earliest chapter of our nation’s history – and the local story of 16th century settlement Santa Elena – is shared with visitors daily at the Santa Elena History Center.

On Friday, April 20, the ‘Pinta’ and the ‘Nina’, replicas of Columbus’ Ships, will sail into Port Royal Sound and be open to the public for tours in downtown Beaufort on April 21-25 until departure on April 26.

The ‘Nina’ was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called the ship “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” In 2005, the ‘Pinta’, also a caravel, was launched in Brazil and is known as the first ship to sight land in the New World. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the fifteenth century.

Both ships tour together as a new and enhanced ‘sailing museum’ for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the ‘caravel’, a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers to discover the world. Before him, the Old World and the New remained separate and distinct continents and ever since their fates have been bound together for better or for worse. The ships allow visitors to see what it was like aboard the ships that carried Columbus and crew across the ocean.

“What a special activity for us to enjoy here in Beaufort this spring, a year after the Santa Elena History Center’s Grand Opening ,” remarks Megan Meyer, Executive Director of the Santa Elena History Center. “We hope many people will take advantage of this unique “sailing museum” to learn about the Columbus ships, and visit the Santa Elena History Center to learn what occurred during the next 100 years – much of which took place right here in Beaufort County.”

While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $6.00 for students 5 – 16. Children 4 and under are Free. The ships are open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No reservations necessary.
Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member should call 1-787-672-2152 or email columfnd1492@gmail.com. Minimum of 15 at $5.00 per student.

For more information about the replica ships and Columbus Foundation Inc., visit www.ninapinta.org.

To learn more about the Santa Elena History Center, visit https://santa-elena.org.

Newly Discovered Fort on Santa Elena Site Reconstructed for First Time in 440 Years

March 24 2016 – A special unveiling of a 3D Scaled Model of Fort San Marcos, which was built on the Santa Elena site in 1577, will take place Friday, March 24 at the Santa Elena History Center. This never-before-seen reconstruction follows the major announcement by Archaeologists Dr. Chester DePratter and Dr. Victor Thompson, who recently discovered the long-lost fort.

“The search for this fort lasted for 23 years, and finally, last year, we found it. Fort San Marcos was an important landmark in Spain’s attempt to reclaim and hold on to Santa Elena, its northernmost colonial outpost and former capital in the 16th century,” says Dr. DePratter. “Working on this model brought the past to life for me.”

By cross-referencing analysis from the non-invasive archaeology site work, maps found in Spanish Archives, and a detailed description of the fort by a Spanish Inspector General in 1578, Dr. DePratter worked with local model-maker Alex Coplo to build the structure and its contents. The model will be installed within the main exhibit, in the historic, former courthouse on Bay Street.

“The continuous emergence of information about a ‘lost century’ of American history, much of which occurred right here in Beaufort County, creates ongoing excitement and opportunity for our community,” remarks Megan Meyer, Executive Director of the Santa Elena History Center. “Thanks to our colleagues and community supporters who have made this project possible, efforts to create a first-class History Center and claim Beaufort’s chapter in early American History are forging ahead.”

The project launches the History Center’s plans to expand the main exhibit with new aspects of this significant 16th century history, along with models, replicas and artifacts to help bring the story to life, preserve the earliest local history, and create a must-see experience for residents and visitors.

The archaeological discovery of Fort San Marcos took multiple years and non-invasive methods by leading archaeologists. The announcement of its location ran in hundreds of news outlets internationally. In the attached press release from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), the University of Georgia, and the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot, further details of the finding are explained.

Local Quilters Master the “Santa Elena Challenge”

March 3, 2017

Beaufort, SC – The most recent product of the Santa Elena Foundation’s efforts to collaborate with the community may surprise you. This year the local Sea Island Quilters accepted a challenge to make quilts with a “Santa Elena” theme.

Now on display are dozens of handmade quilts – true pieces of art – at the Santa Elena History Center. Quilters used their imaginations to create original wall hangings with portrayals of scenes from our local, 16th century history.

“What a neat way to have our local history interpreted,” says Megan Meyer, Santa Elena History Center Director. “This project exemplifies the ripple effect that the increased awareness of the Santa Elena story is having on our great community.”

The unique display will be available for the public’s free viewing from March 1-March 15 on the first floor of the Santa Elena History Center.

To learn more about the Santa Elena History Center and upcoming events, visit https://santa-elena.org.

Tradition Continues with the Santa Elena Regatta

March 3, 2017

Beaufort, SC – The Santa Elena Foundation and the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club will sponsor the Santa Elena Regatta for PHRF sailboats on March 25 and 26, 2017. This event is the major big boat sailing event in Beaufort each year and commemorates 451 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 25, and the Perdo Menendez Cup on March 26. 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.

“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 Meyer, Santa Elena History Center 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 Melendez and Jean Ribault, and to learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation visit www.Santa-Elena.org.

To see the Regatta Information and other upcoming events on the Santa Elena calendar, visit https://santa-elena.org/event/the-santa-elena-sailing-regatta/?instance_id=2206.

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 http:www.byscnet.com/about/racing/santaelena.

Long-Lost Fort on Santa Elena Site is Discovered  

The Santa Elena History Center is commissioning a 3-D Scaled Model of Fort San Marcos to be prominently displayed in the the main exhibit.

To learn more about this project and make a gift of any amount toward the $15,000 goal, please click here.

July 28, 2016

Beaufort, SC – The Santa Elena Foundation is excited to announce that Dr. Chester DePratter and Dr. Victor Thompson located the long-lost Fort San Marcos, which was built on the Santa Elena site in 1577.

The Santa Elena Foundation supported the effort, which took multiple years and non-invasive methods to make the discovery. In the attached press release from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), the University of Georgia, and the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot, further details of the finding are explained.

“The volunteers, Board members and staff – this entire community who has helped bring this story to life – could not be more excited for Prof. DePratter and Dr. Thompson,” says Dr. Andy Beall, Chariman and CEO. “Days like today are the reason we established the Foundation with a vision to uncover this significant history.”

With plans underway for Phase Two of the Main Exhibit.  This emerging information can be incorporated to share more information. The Re-Elect Pedro Menendez Campaign is leading the marketing and fundraising efforts for this expansion of the story.

To learn more about the Santa Elena History Center, visit https://santa-elena.org.

Click here to read the article in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

The Santa Elena Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Beaufort County, South Carolina.  The mission of the foundation is to expand the story of European colonization of North America through discovery, preservation and promotion of Santa Elena, a 16th Century Spanish settlement and colonial capital in the present-day United States.

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry Awards Grant to Santa Elena Foundation

Exhibit2-960For Immediate Release
December 7, 2015

Beaufort, SC –The Board of Directors of the Santa Elena Foundation are excited to announce a partnership with Community Foundation of the Lowcountry – the newest member of the Santa Elena Founders Society – through their $30,000 grant to support the inaugural exhibit at the Santa Elena History Center.

Set to open in April 2016, the initial exhibit will occupy the second floor of the Santa Elena History Center, the former site of a District Federal Courthouse, at 1501 Bay Street in downtown Beaufort. The exhibit was originally developed by a Spanish Government Agency. A local team working with The History Workshop, a renowned museum design firm, will present an expanded exhibit to best tell the story of Santa Elena.

Visitors may learn many perspectives of Santa Elena and the 16th century settlement activity that occurred throughout the Lowcountry. The exhibit will focus on the race by Europeans to claim this territory, the Spanish town of Santa Elena for 21 years, and archaeology rediscovering this important, little-known history.

“Our wonderful
team spent months on the acquisition and planning for this extraordinary exhibit; generous support from Community Foundation of the Lowcountry helps with the final phases of this journey – construction and installation,” says Dr. Andy Beall, Santa Elena Foundation Executive Director. “Our community of supporters make this project possible, and this grant provides a big step toward our goal. We are very grateful to Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and excited to move forward with our plans.”

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, founded in 1994, has a mission to strengthen the community by connecting people, resources, and needs. During the current competitive grants cycle, over $157,000 was awarded to five local non-profit organizations.

The mission of the Santa Elena Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, is to discover, promote, and preserve the “Lost Century” of European colonization through the story of Santa Elena. The Foundation is focused on growing its family of volunteers and supporters to help bring this story and History Center to life.

To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation, see plans for the inaugural exhibit, register for programs, or offer support of this important cause, please visit https://santa-elena.org.

Casa of the Brave? (article by Island Packet)

Meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada in September

Beaufort, SC – The Santa Elena Foundation is excited to announce the unique opportunity for the general public to meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada, the current Adelantado of la Florida and direct descendent of 16th century founder of Santa Elena, Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Upcoming “Meet & Greet” events include:
Wednesday, September 9
-10:00 A.M. short program followed by Q&A
-Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head Island
Friday, September 11
-1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. drop-in and Q&A
-Beaufort History Museum, Downtown Beaufort Arsenal

The public is welcome to come during these times to meet the Count, learn about him and his lineage, and better understand the efforts to bring Santa Elena, the 16th century settlement on Parris Island, into the spotlight as an important aspect of the founding of America.

“This is only the second time in as many years that the Count has visited Beaufort, and we’d like to share this opportunity with the public,” says Dr. Andy Beall, Santa Elena Foundation Executive Director. “It is a critical time for our Foundation – we are working diligently to open the Santa Elena History Center and prepare for the 450th anniversary in April 2016. We are grateful to our partner organizations for hosting these exciting events.”

The Coastal Discovery Museum, a partner of the Santa Elena Foundation, is located at Honey Horn Plantation on Hilton Head Island and is a community based, educational institution dedicated to fostering greater knowledge and appreciation of the cultural heritage and natural history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. On site of the museum, visitors can also see a Marsh Tacky horse, a breed that descended from Spanish horses that were brought here in the 16th century.

The Beaufort History Museum, also a partner of the Santa Elena Foundation, is located in downtown Beaufort in the Arsenal on Craven Street. It is chartered by the City of Beaufort to share the deep and rich history of the Beaufort District. Among its many exhibits is an introduction to the story of Santa Elena and the 16th century settlement activity in the Beaufort area.

The mission of the Santa Elena Foundation is to discover, promote, and preserve the “Lost Century” of European colonization through the story of Santa Elena. The Foundation is focused on growing its family of volunteers and supporters to help bring this story and History Center to life.

Partnership with local school announced by Santa Elena Foundation

Beaufort, SC – The start of the new school year brought a partnership between the Santa Elena Foundation and Beaufort Middle School, an art-integrated school with Classical Studies program of choice led by instructors Dr. Brooks Thomas and Mrs. Melanie Blanton.

In the coming weeks, when students learn about the earliest years of American History and the explorations of the 16th century, Santa Elena will become a much more familiar term. The school itself is less than ten miles from the actual site of the 16th century Spanish settlement. And as the Foundation prepares to open the Santa Elena History Center in downtown Beaufort, the Classical Studies students will offer their perspective and insight on creating an interpretive center that captures young imaginations.

“The first week of school provided an exciting introduction to the relevant learning this partnership offers. The students are already deeply involved in the creative processes of planning how this history will be shared.” said Dr. Thomas.

The partnership will support the vision of both programs. Students at Beaufort Middle School will make connections with the community as leaders, thinkers, and good citizens while learning, promoting and preserving the history of the 16th century Spanish settlement of Santa Elena. Educational outreach is a key component of the Foundation’s efforts.

“This opportunity allows for hands-on, real world experiences for our students as readers, writers and historians,” Mrs. Blanton noted. Because the teachers collaborate on curriculum and weave key themes throughout a variety of subjects, the Santa Elena story will also engage students in their music, art, drama, English, Spanish, social studies, and science classes.

Forty Classical Studies sixth-grade students are immersed in this partnership, and the learning experiences have stirred excitement and commitment with eighth-grade teachers through their curriculum, South Carolina History. Additionally, academic arts teachers are planning ways students will integrate their learning through the creative process.

“Learning this missing piece of history has become a school-wide endeavor. By assisting in this local re-discovery of 16th century history, the Classical Studies program will build on the past to develop responsible, knowledgeable, creative 21st century citizens,” shared Carole Ingram, principal of Beaufort Middle School, “and the ripple effect will be felt throughout our school.”

In September, the students will have the unique opportunity to meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada, the current Adelantado of la Florida and direct descendent of 16th Century founder of Santa Elena, Pedro Menendez de Aviles. This also sets the stage for another learning opportunity as Spanish Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15.

“Together we are learning much more about our country’s heritage and the ‘lost century’ of American history,” noted Dr. Andy Beall, Foundation Executive Director. “To have these bright, young minds engaged in the process is simply sensational, and we appreciate the partnership with Beaufort Middle School. We hope that all schools and textbooks will eventually share more information about this important part of American history.”

The Foundation offers a lesson plan created by the National Park Service as a free resource for all teachers and is accessible via the Education section of the Santa Elena website. To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation’s education outreach and lesson plans, visit www.santa-elena.org/education.

Efforts target bringing Beaufort County’s past into the present

CaptureFrom the Beaufort Gazette:

“More than 30 people filled the meeting room at the Beaufort County Library last week in Beaufort to hear a presentation about progress at Fort Frederick.

After watching S.C. Department of Natural Resources videos, the group piled into cars and followed DNR archeologist Meg Gaillard down to Port Royal, eventually rumbling down a dirt path behind Beaufort Naval Hospital to an 18th-century fort, thought to be the oldest tabby structure in the state and built by the British to defend Port Royal Sound and the city of Beaufort from the Spanish.” Read More at the Island Packet / Beaufort Gazette

Notable new advisors commit to Santa Elena Foundation

Beaufort, SC — The Santa Elena Foundation has named three new members to its Advisory Board: Dr. Walter Edgar, Dr. Rex Garniewicz, and Dr. David Moore.

They join an esteemed group of advisors that participate in the development of the Santa Elena Foundation and offer insight and guidance as the Foundation prepares to open the Santa Elena Center, host the 450th anniversary symposium and commemoration events, and continue archaeology at the Santa Elena site. Their expertise on 16th century and local history, archaeology, museum management, and business development are valuable assets to the Santa Elena team.

Dr. Walter Edgar is a Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of South Carolina. He received his B.A. at Davidson College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at University of South Carolina. Throughout his career as a professor, Dr. Edgar received numerous awards and honors, including entry into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. Dr. Edgar has published dozens of papers, articles, and books; among them is The South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Dr. Rex Garniewicz received his B.A from Wesleyan University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Indiana University. He is currently President & CEO of the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. Dr. Garniewicz previously served as Deputy Director at the San Diego Museum of Man and as Vice President of Science and Technology at the Indiana State Museum. His interests in archaeology and museum work are wide-ranging.  He has published archaeological work from both Native American sites and early American forts, and he is currently curating a traveling exhibition on the history of beer for the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. David Moore received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He served as the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology’s Western Office archaeologist for 18 years before becoming a full-time faculty member at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Dr. Moore has directed the archaeological investigations at the Berry site since 1986. He is the author and co-author of numerous book chapters and articles. Dr. Moore is leading 450th anniversary commemoration events for the overland trail of Juan Pardo, which originated at Santa Elena.

The three new additions to the Santa Elena Advisory Board join these members: Dr. Daryl Ferguson, Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui, Dr. Eugene Lyon, Dr. Paul Hoffman, Dr. Chester DePratter, Dr. William Kelso, Dr. Michael Francis, Dr. Eric Emerson, Dr. Bruce Fryer, Dr. Mary Socci, Dick Stewart, Dean Moss, and Maggie Bertin.

To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation’s Board and Advisory members, visit www.santa-elena.org/about-us/board-members.

Santa Elena Foundation Featured In Dude Magazine

“Last issue I introduced you DUDE followers to the SANTA ELENA FOUNDATION and their ongoing fantastic efforts to bring this important story to the forefront of American history. Yeah, we know the story of Jamestown in 1607 as told and documented by our war winning English forefathers BUT, if the Spanish would have won, I think Santa Elena would certainly be documented as the first real European settlement in America. Of course, now, we’re really biased as this place is located in our very own beautiful Beaufort County, South Carolina, more particularly on Parris Island, Marine Recruit Depot. There is of course a WHY? and it was the battle to see who would conquer the New World: the French, the Spanish or the English. But there is no question about the WHO? of Santa Elena and it is none other than one bad ass DUDE named Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the first governor of La Florida. Let’s get to know this DUDE.”

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Dr. Larry Rowland to speak on The Story of Santa Elena: America’s Lost Century

For Immediate Release



Dr. Larry Rowland to speak on

The Story of Santa Elena:  America’s Lost Century


Larry Rowland (1 of 1)When and Where was America first settled by Europeans?  Was it Jamestown or Plymouth as we learned in grammar school?  Or was it really much earlier, right here in BeaufortCounty – in Santa Elena?   The  period, from 1492 when Columbus arrived in America through the end of the 1500’s are crucial years for Beaufort County but these one hundred years have been lost in our history books.

Dr. Larry Rowland, local historian and professor emeritus at USC-Beaufort,  will electrify the public as he brings to life  this “Lost Century” .  The lecture will be held on Sunday, October 19th at 4pm at the Center for the Arts on USC-Beaufort’s historic campus.   Admission is $25

Today, scholars agree that present day United States was first settled as a Spanish community at Santa Elena in 1569. Documents prove that Spain’s Governor-General of la Florida, Pedro Menendez, landed at Santa Elena in 1566 and established a military garrison; Menendez then brought 200 settlers to Santa Elena in 1569. He made it the Capital of Spanish la Florida and nurtured the settlement until his death in 1574. Spanish soldiers and settlers remained at Santa Elena until consolidated in 1587 to Saint Augustine and Santa Elena was abandoned.

The newly established Santa Elena Foundation, a non-profit organization based in BeaufortCounty is sponsoring the lecture in conjunction with the Center for the Arts.  The Foundation’s mission is to expand the story of European colonization of North America through discovery, preservation and promotion of Santa Elena.

For more information, please contact the Center for the Arts box office at 521-4145. http://www.uscbcenterforthearts.com/#!special-events/c1q2z