Santa Elena Foundation Makes Great Progress

12 Oct Santa Elena Foundation Makes Great Progress

The Santa Elena Foundation is making great progress. Thank you Daryl Ferguson and Andy Beall, your Board and volunteers.  -Mayor Billy


Pieces of the past: Story of Santa Elena, a significant Spanish settlement, emerges in fragments



For years, no one knew one of the most significant archaeological finds in South Carolina history lay hidden under a golf course.


The Spanish settlement of Santa Elena — one of the most important sites of early Spanish exploration in North America — was a city lost to time for more than 300 years. While written accounts proved that the colony, built in 1566, had existed, its exact location had been a source of scholarly debate for decades.


That is, until a group of archaeologists began to dig at the golf course at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in 1979, a place usually reserved for golf carts and military officers dressed in plaid.


What they unearthed proved that the storied colony had existed right here in Beaufort County.


And today — four decades later — a group of residents are working to tell the settlement’s story. The Santa Elena Foundation has already raised more than $1.1 million in grants and donations to fund a history center and more archaeological work at the site.


Next month, the foundation will open the new center in the former federal courthouse in Beaufort. And in April the group plans to commemorate the colony’s 450th anniversary with a festival and the opening of an interactive historic exhibit.