The red-and-white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse has long been a symbol of Hilton Head Island. William Brooks “Bill” Whalley, 89, the man who built it, died Monday at his Bluffton home.
Here are some thing to know about Whalley’s best known work.
▪ It’s actually a museum, filled with relics, photographs and maps that tell the story of the Lowcountry.
▪ That’s why it costs money to climb the lighthouse.
▪ It’s a popular spot for weddings and engagements. Lighthouse keeper Nadia Wagner said there are an average of 12 weddings and 30 proposals there each year.
▪ People have been climbing it since it was completed in 1970.
▪ It was the first lighthouse built on Hilton Head Island since 1863.
▪ It was never used for navigation, but two real lighthouse keepers’ houses were moved to Harbour Town from Hilton Head’s last working lighthouse. One was where Signe’s Heaven Bound Bakery was founded 45 years ago.
▪ It is similar in size and shape to a stone tower built by the grandfather of builder Whalley. That structure was built in Lancashire, England, in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
▪ It almost had vertical stripes. Lighthouse architect Kenneth DeMay preferred that, but was overruled by Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser.
▪ A design consultant on the lighthouse and other early Sea Pines projects was Elizabeth Gordon, called by The New York Times “the influential editor of House Beautiful magazine for more than 20 years, a missionary of taste to the American homemaker and an indefatigable supporter of Frank Lloyd Wright.”
▪ The lighthouse was not in the original plans for Sea Pines, but the area was labeled “marina.”