A historic look at Socastee brought to you by the Historic Preservation Commission

Historic Socastee

Socastee is an unincorporated community along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, stretching from Murrells Inlet on the East to the Waccamaw River on the West, and from the Holmestown Road and Bay Road on the South to SC Highways 544 and 137 (Forestbrook Road) on the North.

The origin of the word "Socastee" is Native American. The will of one Percivell Pawley, dated 1711, states that he received the original land grant for 200 acres of land in "Sawkestee." Most likely, communal development had existed for European settlers within coastal South Carolina since the early 18th Century. Land deeds are recorded as early as 1773.

The Socastee Community, located about three miles from Peachtree Landing on the "Sawkestee" Creek and the Waccamaw River, prospered during the economic boom from the naval stores industry that began in the first part of the 1800's. A mercantile business and turpentine distillery existed in the Peachtree Landing area after the Civil War. A plat dated 1875 showed two acres on Socastee Creek, indicating a tar kiln in existence. In the wake of the development of the turpentine industry, Socastee became a center for trade due to its prime location, access to shipping via the Waccamaw River and the vast resources of the primal pine forests.

Something around 1873, Samuel Sarvis and J.E. Dusenbury opened a store in the community. By that time there were at least three turpentine stills operating in the area as well as a cotton gin and a cooper shop. Burroughs and Collins also operated turpentine camps in the Socastee area along Peachtree Road adding to the mercantile development of the community. With the decline of the demand for naval stores after the turn of the century, the community turned to subsistence farming, fishing and timbering to provide a living. As the Grand Strand area grew, the Socastee community benefited from the proximity of the Myrtle Beach resort area as it continued to grow and develop.

The Socastee National Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. This historic district is one of the few remaining intact examples of post Civil War development. With no significant intrusions or alterations, the District represents the newly emergent small commercial enterprises, along with good examples of architecture prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in South Carolina. Two homes, a store and a pecan grove, dating back to the turn of the 19th century, are located on the western side of Secondary Road 616 and just north of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. A swing bridge and the Methodist Church share in historical significance.

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* The homes featured on driving tour maps are privately owned and should be viewed from public sidewalks.
Sarvis Ammons House

Sarvis-Ammons House

One of the oldest homes in the Socastee area, the Sarvis House is located on the corner of Peachtree Road and Dick Pond Road (Secondary Road 616). The house, built as a two section, cross "L" shaped structure, has a gable roof with wide overhangs and a natural unfinished board and batten siding. The main section is one and one-half stories with two chimneys. The entrance to the home has a hip roof, full front porch with a transom light door and delicate diamond lattice railing. The rear "L" portion has its own chimney and a wash porch with a well. Elegant peaked wood lintels adorn the windows and doors. Although the interior of the home has been modernized, the exterior remains in its original state. A lovely garden with a variety of flowers, shrubs and trees adds to the beauty of the home. Within the garden are a pecan tree and a magnolia tree that predate the house.

A Confederate Army veteran, Samuel Scarborough "S.S." Sarvis returned to his native land after the Civil War. In 1881, he had the Sarvis house built for his family; the home is still in the Sarvis family. Next door to the Sarvis home was the home for the Dusenbury family. Not only neighbors but also partners, S.S. Sarvis and J.E. Dusenbury owned and operated the Dusenbury and Sarvis store located across the road. Both men served as postmasters for the community. Captain Frank Sarvis, the oldest son of S.S. Sarvis, purchased a steam boat in New York and brought it south to use as a passenger and freight boat. The screw type propeller driven ship was the first of its kind in the area and traveled on the Waccamaw River between Conway and Georgetown.

TB Cooper Store

T.B. Cooper Store c.1905

The T.B. Cooper general store, yesteryear's answer to a one-stop shopping center is situated across from the Sarvis-Ammons House, just west of the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. The store served as a community nerve center of the early 1900's for a wide geographical area between Myrtle Beach and Conway. Built by Thomas B. Cooper, the store was in operation from 1905 until it closed around 1930. This shotgun style building served not only as a general store but also as the Myrtle Beach-Socastee post office. The wire mail cage remains today. Here, local citizenry collected their mail, purchased basic mercantile needs, and met to socialize while exchanging local news, gossip and political views. Behind the store is an historic Pecan Grove.

A cotton gin and a grist mill were located across the street. Nearby was a ferry at Peachtree Landing that transported people from the east side of Horry County to the west and back again across the Waccamaw River.

TB Cooper House

Thomas B. Cooper House, c.1908

Built by Robert M. Prince, Sr., the Thomas B. Cooper House had a two-tiered, turned baluster front porch with five bays. Square columns with flanking, sawn scroll brackets adorn the porch. The front portion of the house is two stories, one room deep with a pediment gable roof. The exterior is weatherboard siding with 2/2 double hung sash windows and wooden plank shutters. Two stepped corbelled chimneys anchor the gable ends of the front. One other chimney is located at the intersection of the two gable roofs. A two story cross gable section extends to the rear. Modifications to the home in 1935 enclosed the rear porch and repaired the stairs.

Thomas B. Cooper was appointed postmaster in 1908 for the Socastee area. Mail was distributed from the T.B. Cooper Store. The first bridge tender or operator for the swing bridge boarded at the house.


Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

A portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway runs through Horry County from the North Carolina / South Carolina state line and flows into the Waccamaw River at Enterprise Landing. The Socastee portion is part of a 24 mile cut made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to connect the Little River and Socastee Creek. Completed in 1936, the Waterway is 90 feet in width, 12 feet deep and approximately 30 miles long. It is the longest man-made ditch in the entire length of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. As roads were slow to be developed and paved, the Waterway added a much-needed dimension to the transportation in the area. Today, it is primarily used for recreation craft and as a protected means of transporting larger craft back and forth between Maine and Florida. The Socastee Swing Bridge crosses the Waterway on Secondary Road 616.

The community of Socastee predates the internationally famous coastal resort Myrtle Beach by many years. The Socastee Bridge paved the way for the tremendous growth of the vacation metropolis.


Socastee Intracoastal Waterway Swing Bridge, c.1935

The Socastee Intracoastal Waterway Swing Bridge opened in 1936 to supply an east-west route from the Horry County seat of inland Conway to the developing seashore resort of Myrtle Beach. It is located on Secondary Road 616 (formerly a portion of S.C. Hwy. 544) and crosses the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Warren through-truss bridge with rigid joints measures 217 feet in length and about 24 feet wide. There are two accounts as to who built the bridge. A 1936 account says it is the Tidewater Construction Corporation, while a 1981 South Carolina Highway Department survey says the bridge bears a plaque stating the bridge was built by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company. It was completed in 1935.

Metal works beneath the bridge have to be greased by hand. Local historians report that in the early years, the bridge had to be turned by hand. Local citizens, who highly prize the bridge, fought to preserve it for local transportation, as well as a vital part of the historic community. It underwent extensive renovations in 2003. Changes over the years included a new gatekeeper's house on top of the bridge. The bridge is operated 24 hours a day to allow passage of north-south boat traffic. An average of 40 boats a day, including all types of craft from luxury crafts to tug boats, navigate this bridge opening. Although approximately 17,500 vehicles a day cross the bridge, the newer high-rise, stationary Thrailkill Bridge located a short distance away bears the brunt of the heavier traffic load.

The community of Socastee predates the internationally famous coastal resort Myrtle Beach by many years. The Socastee Bridge paved the way for the tremendous growth of the vacation metropolis.

Socastee Church

The Old Socastee Methodist Church & Cemetery

The Socastee United Methodist Church and its cemetery are located on Dick Pond Road just east of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. One of the oldest churches in Horry County, the original church, a log cabin, was built in 1818 on what is now a corner of the cemetery. The second church, built in 1875, by W.T. Goldfinch of Conway was a classic design with a gable front and four columns. Originally lit by kerosene lanterns, the church obtained battery-powered electric lights in 1925.


The church was remodeled and enlarged in 1957 … as it stands today. However, in the ensuing years, the congregation outgrew this building and a new sanctuary was built in 1987 adjacent to the older church. The cemetery markers show dates going back to the early nineteenth century.