History

Like historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina’s oldest city, Seabrook Island harbors its own rich history, from the Colonial era and colorful pirate tales, through Revolutionary skirmishes and the Civil War to contemporary times. The island is named for a storied family descended from Robert Seabrook, a successful businessman, landowner and politician who landed at Charles Town from England in 1679 and was once convicted of trading with pirates. Despite generations of subsequent fortune, his descendants sold the island for worthless Confederate paper in 1863. It changed hands several times more before town incorporation in 1987.

Early History (1666-1970)

  • 1400 BC: Inhabited by coastal Indians – the Kiawah, Stono, and Bohicket tribes
  • 1666: Col. Robert Sanford arrived on the island in 1666 as an explorer working on behalf of Britain’s King Charles II
  • 1684: Stono Indians were persuaded to cede their lands to the Lords Proprietors, who eventually sold the property to English settlers
  • 1732: Island named Jones Island after its first owner, Thomas Samuel Jones
    • Indigo and rice established as its first cash crops
  • 1753: Island’s name changed to Simmons Island after new owner, Ebenezer Simmons
    • Cultivation of cotton as next crop cash
  • 1816: Island sold to William Seabrook, and renamed Seabrook Island
    • Seabrook pioneered the use of salt marsh mud as fertilizer and was one of the first to successfully cultivate Sea Island cotton, which replaced rice and indigo as Island’s main cash crop
    • Seabrook never cultivated a large part of the island and it remained wooded for use as source of timber and as a home for free-roaming hogs, cattle, and horses
  • 1863: Family of William Gregg, a textile magnate active in promoting the industrialization of the South, assumes ownership
  • 1881: William Andell assumes ownership and refuses to allow the island’s trees to be logged
  • 1938: Victor Morowitz acquires a large portion of the island, allowing part of the property to be used for the Episcopal Church’s Camp St. Christopher
  • 1970: Church sells all but 230 acres (the current Camp St. Christopher) to the Seabrook Island Development Corporation
    • Seabrook Island Development Corporation purchases an additional 600 acres from the Andells
    • Seabrook Island Development Corporation begins extensive planning for a community that would combine residential and resort living in a secure, gated community

Development of Seabrook Island (1972-1998)

  • 1972: The Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) is formed, but is completely under control of the developers; property owners had very little say in the operation of the island
  • 1973: Ocean Winds golf course, designed by William Byrd, opens for play
    • Tennis Center (original location, next to current Club House) opens
    • Major roads, sewage and water available throughout most of the island
    • Major building of private homes, condominiums and villas begins
  • 1974: Seabrook Beach and Cabana Club (the “Beach Club”) opens
  • 1976: Seabrook Island Equestrian Center opens
  • 1980: Bohicket’s Lounge (first half of Island House) officially opens
  • 1981: Crooked Oaks golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., opens for play
  • 1984: Developer turned control of the SIPOA over to the property owners in a cooperative arrangement, and protective covenants were recorded
  • 1986: Developer sold Club amenities to The Seabrook Island Ocean Club (SIOC) and the Club established independence of its operations from SIPOA, making SIPOA totally free of developer influence
  • 1987: Seabrook Island property owners vote in favor to become a Town
  • 1988: Tennis Courts opened (current location)
  • 1991: ​The Club at Seabrook Island is formed as 900 property owners came together to purchase the amenities from the principal mortgage holder
    • Roads, rights-of-way, beach trust and other amenities were now owned and controlled by the property owners
  • 1992: First USTA Senior Clay Court Championship (now known as “Alan Fleming Tournament”) is held in October
  • 1996: Club becomes fully certified member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program
  • 1998: Fitness Center opens

Seabrook Island Today (2008-2020)

  • 2008: Club members vote in favor of a $31 million dollar “Horizon Plan” and construction begins to significantly upgrade the Club and Island’s amenities
  • 2009: Official opening of new Pelican’s Nest at Beach Club, Island House (dining, golf pro shop, etc), and Lake House (community and fitness center)
  • 2010: Official opening of renovated Racquet Club and Equestrian Center
  • 2019: Club members vote in favor of a $10 million dollar “New Horizons Plan” to again upgrade the amenities and facilities
  • 2020: Renovated Beach Club opens (May)
    • Renovation of Ocean Winds golf course (September)
    • Renovation of Island House dining (September)