When Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser envisioned the Harbour Town Lighthouse, it’s clear he was intent on giving Hilton Head Island a sense of place. As if a world-class Yacht Basin were not enough. As if the architecture of Harbour Town, patterned on Portofino of the Italian Riviera, had somehow not done enough to convey the feeling of occasion imparted by just coming here. Still more focus, Charles considered, was needed to become an emblem. If that was his goal, then surly he succeeded.
Still, we wonder if even such a visionary as Charles could have foreseen the power of the lighthouse to inspire. For more than half a century now, the Harbour Town Lighthouse has prompted people to see things differently. “We came here feeling one way, and we left here different,” is how one couple put it. They decided to be married here.
The sight of the lighthouse itself, and the incomparable view of everything good that surrounds it to the far horizon, has proven to fill people with new perspectives and to give them the desire and confidence to pursue them.
Especially Grateful Now
Uncertainty came with the precautions of a global health concern. Families and friends and loved ones faced even the most reliable traditions with doubts. When and where and whether we could gather to renew the nourishing relationships that sustain us and remind us of who we are and what life expects from us – those traditions were re-framed in light of the precautions we were practicing. The uncertainty lasted for a couple of years or more.
We are grateful that so many found Hilton Head Island to be a place they could rely upon and the lighthouse to be an essential part of their visit. Last summer, in fact, we had the opportunity to greet a record number of visitors here at the lighthouse. We know for certain, from experience, that this gratitude opens the door for even more blessings to come. Sharing those blessings, those moments of inspiration, is what we do.
A Turning Point for Many
As we begin a new year, we are reminded how often the lighthouse has been a turning point, the opening of a new chapter in people’s lives. Our friend and colleague Jeff Keefer is just one example. And yet, the way Jeff discovered, to share the good that came from this turning point, serves as a fascinating example.
Jeff’s work is exhibited here, as well as at his own VIVID Gallery in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, and that’s only fitting, because Jeff says he discovered right here at the lighthouse that he is a photographer. Although Jeff is too modest, we would add that we discovered that he is an artist.
An Unexpected Path
What makes that turning point particularly remarkable is the path that Jeff walked to becoming an artist. He was chief financial officer of DuPont, one of the largest corporations in the world. When Jeff retired to Sea Pines, he made time for his love of images. “I was producing some videos of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, and Lighthouse Keeper Nadia Wagner needed a still image to display,” Jeff said. “When I saw the freeze frame, I was struck by the beauty and power it brought as a photo.”
Jeff saw here that still photography was versatile, memorable, and perfect for recalling the experiences people discover on Hilton Head Island, by displaying it in their homes. The distinctive style of Jeff’s photography seemed to emerge almost instantly. According to one art aficionado, “Jeff’s unique statement seemed to burst out from the very beginning. This is not an artist who developed through phases or took many years to mature. It is as if a sense of urgency was right here in Jeff’s unusual use of color, right from the very first.”
To Capture the Colors
Even the finest photographs fall short, usually, when someone tries to capture the colors of Calibogue Sound, the waterway here at the foot of the lighthouse. From sunrise to sunset, the palette of colors here changes from moment to moment, and in different places – all across the sky, the lush grounds, and the waterways below. From blazing oranges and magenta to glowing gold, from the softest blues – sometimes tinged with periwinkle – to the deepest, most dramatic, blue-black ink, the colors of Calibogue Sound seen uniquely from the Harbour Town Lighthouse quite simply defy description.
Thanks to the relentless dedication of Lighthouse Keeper Nadia Wagner and her tight, like-minded team at the lighthouse, you can look forward to being welcomed here as part of the story. Yes, you, your family, loved ones, and guests, are as important to the story of the lighthouse as any other part. Do come and visit, and claim your own story of inspiration, here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse.