A couple of weeks ago we were reminded that our everyday workplace, the Harbour Town Lighthouse, is not something the rest of the world takes for granted. It was brought to our attention that here we are fortunate to take part in a story that people come from everywhere to share. As we prepare for a new season of visitors from around the world, it helped to glance back and appreciate the story of where we came from. Within our own memory, the lighthouse transformed from a symbol to an experience that hundreds of thousands of people come here to share.
Behind the Shoppe at the Top
At first, the lighthouse was simply an imposing tower with 114 steps leading up to an observation deck, offering spectacular views of the surrounding Calibogue Sound, the Harbour and the famous 18th hole of the Harbour Town Golf Links. Realizing that the lighthouse should be staffed for security and safety reasons, a talented area entrepreneur, Mark King, conceived the idea that the top floor of the lighthouse would make an excellent spot for an aerial gift shop.
The Shoppe at the Top became reality because of an extraordinary woman who is known as the lighthouse keeper, Nadia Wagner. Nadia is hard to miss. She has a smile that could serve as the lighthouse beacon itself, an infectious laugh and a delightful, welcoming manner. As if that weren’t enough, consider that for several years Nadia was solely responsible for stocking and restocking the gift shop – 114 steps each way – with armloads of boxes and supplies.
Keepsakes – More than Souvenirs
Nadia and Club Group founder Mark King more recently opened The Maritime Gift Galley on the ground floor, to offer books, nautical artifacts and memorabilia to visitors. The Maritime Gift Galley is a place where captains of industry and technology mingle with visitors and guests. Where children and grandparents mix with yachtsmen and connoisseurs. It is quintessential Hilton Head Island.
Here on the ground floor, the selection includes items that become part of people’s homes, mementoes they are proud to display. In recent years, this began to include the remarkable art photography of Jeff Keefer. We met Jeff has he began to answer a calling to create images. At first his work was videography, yet when we asked him for a still image we could use for display, Jeff discovered the power he could capture in the image of a moment.
Another Beginning at the Lighthouse
From this beginning Jeff Keefer’s work became the subject of VIVID Gallery in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, where far more can be displayed than here at the foot of the lighthouse. Jeff devotes all the proceeds from his art photography to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for research to relieve Parkinson’s Disease. To us, this is another cherished story of beginning here, in the inspiration of the lighthouse.