Current Projects

1. Digitization of Fort San Marcos

Thanks to a grant from the Felburn Foundation, the Santa Elena Foundation is working with 3D AC Models and archaeologist Dr. Chester DePratter to create a digital rendering and experience of Fort San Marcos, the most recent fort to be discovered by archaeologists, Chester DePratter and Victor Thompson, in field studies funded by Santa Elena Foundation.  Click to read more on the discovery.

This dynamic new interpretation of Fort San Marcos will bring history to life in a new way!  The experience will allow visitors to travel back in time, to the Santa Elena site in 1578, as Inspector Flórez examines the fort for the Spanish government.  His report, now almost 450 years later, will provide a firsthand account of life at Santa Elena for the settlers.

This new lens into our past will bring an exciting new exhibit to visitors, and is set to open in Fall 2019!

Artist's conception of Fort San Marcos based on historical documents and archaeological evidence

Artist’s conception of Fort San Marcos based on historical documents and archaeological evidence

2.  The Search for Le Prince

In early 1577 a French corsair, Le Prince, struck the shoals off Santa Elena at present-day Port Royal Sound, South Carolina.  Had she not stumbled upon the shoals, Le Prince would have been another of the countless and nameless corsairs that successfully traded and raided the towns and ships in Spain’s New World possessions during the sixteenth-century.

In 2001, underwater archaeologists from the Maritime Research Division (MRD) of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina launched an on-going marine remote sensing survey to locate the physical remains of the corsair on the shoals at the entrance to Port Royal Sound.

Previous searches have excluded areas where Le Prince may have lain, and there is new energy to continue scanning the ocean floor to find her location and explore her artifacts.  The Santa Elena Foundation is supporting upcoming research by James D. Spirek, State Underwater Archaeologist, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and grants to make this fascinating discovery and learning opportunity as history is uncovered!

Underwater archaeologist and researcher, Jim Spirek

Woodcut of Armed Four-Master Putting Out to Sea, circa 1555


3. La Florida: Interactive Digital Archive of the Americas

In addition to scientific research at the National Heritage Landmark site and in the depths of Port Royal Sound, historian Dr. Michael Francis is compiling information learned through archival research. He and his team created an interactive database at with thousands of names and personal stories of America’s earliest settlers from Spain.

The Santa Elena Foundation would like to support his work to build the database with Santa Elena settlers and interpret their stories with videos.


4.  Living History and Upcoming Events!

Save the date in October 2019 for a FAIR with Historic FLAIR in downtown Beaufort!

To fulfill our mission, we will regularly host history-related events for the public, including re-enactments, replica ships, scholar conferences, and special programs.

Check our calendar for more programs, activities and events hosted by the Santa Elena Foundation throughout the year.

To inquire about the Santa Elena Living History Company, please email