Here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse, we live in the legacy of a powerful idea. Sea Pines Founder Charles Fraser insisted on a landmark. To his colleagues, it didn’t seem like a modern enough idea – what would be the purpose of a lighthouse that wasn’t put here for navigation, after all? The purpose was to give Hilton Head Island a sense of place.
His idea succeeded exactly as he imagined. The Harbour Town Lighthouse serves as a landmark, a signal that you have indeed arrived. It serves as a symbol, the image people have in mind all over the world, before, during, and after their visits here.
And it serves as a signal to gather.
The Importance of Getting Together
Our ability to share ideas, to communicate about things that haven’t happened yet, is what makes us human. Scholars who make a career of thinking about such things conclude that stories are what bind us together, and together is how we achieve. Gathering, then, might be the turning point for making human life as we know it. A landmark, a sense of place, and a signal that here is where we can gather – this turns out to be more practical and less symbolic than some originally thought.
And by the way, the Coast Guard designated the lighthouse an official Coast Guard Museum site, so even the experts know there are larger purposes than navigation at work here.
The Fun of Getting Together
We have a vantage point for seeing how much people enjoy gathering here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse. People gather here when they return, if they are seasonal Sea Pines residents, to find out what’s going on. People come here during the first day or two, if they are visitors, to get the inside scoop on what’s happening that they’d like to take part in. People make the lighthouse a pilgrimage of their relationships, because so many life-changing moments have been shared here. Even full-time residents drop by now and then, because here they find a lot of what makes this way of living so particularly enjoyable.
The People Who Get Together
The lighthouse is one of those ideas that succeeded so well that it seems normal now, and we forget how visionary this gathering spot was in the beginning. This success is even more remarkable when you consider the people who were first to gather here.
The people who were drawn to this new kind of resort were no rookies. They had achieved something in life, experienced a lot of travel and entertainment, and they had a wide variety of options to choose from in how to spend their well-earned leisure. An old-timer here has referred to the first Sea Pines residents as “people who could have gone anywhere.” So why would they choose Sea Pines?
The founders put art and nature close together and made outdoor enjoyment easy all year. They saw a resort that nestled in the natural world rather than one that overshadowed it. For the people who would find this attractive, the Lighthouse was designed to stand as the marker, the flagpole, the center-post of that idea. Every day we see the smiles of satisfaction that result.