Edisto Beach has long been known as a quiet beach perfect for families who want to spend time enjoying the simplicity of a no-frills beach vacation. But back in the 1950s and 60s, Edisto was a happening place.
Edisto local Henry Collins and his family owned the establishment for years before selling it a few years ago, but he said it seems like yesterday that the pavilion was at the center of a hotbed of excitement on the beach.
According to Collins, the pavilion started off as a restaurant with a 1,200 foot fishing pier.
Everyone was always down at that pier, Collins said. It was the only place to go and hang out.
But the pier didnt last long. In 1959 Hurricane Gracie stirred up off the coast and while significant damage wasnt done to the majority of Edisto Island, the pier was destroyed and had to be rebuilt. This was the beginning of the tribulations that would plague the pier throughout its history.
During this time, the pier and the pavilion provided some of the best entertainment on the island. Young people would come out every weekend to have dinner, shag in the dance hall, and walk out on the pier. This was also when Edisto Beach had a small hotel and a bowling alley where the Horizon gas station stands now.
Nowadays, Edisto is about the only place in the whole world without a hotel, Collins said.
Collins said people would spend the day at the beach and then get cleaned up and come down to have dinner, dance, bowl, and socialize.
We had all the big name bands at the dancehall, Collins said. It was a real good time for everyone. It was nothing to have more than 1,000 people come out for a good time at the dancehall back then.
Collins said the good times lasted a long while before another hurricane came through in the 70s and took out the pier once again and damaged the pavilion. Everything was rebuilt except for the pier.
It doesnt take a bad storm to do a lot of damage in a resort town, Collins said. Edistos been real lucky a bad storm hasnt come through . None of the storms weve had have been that bad. But we usually get one every 20 years or so.
As time went by and peoples tastes changed, Collins said people quit wanting to spend time at the bowling alley and the dancehall, so they were torn down to make room for a gas station.
We tore it all down, Collins said. The kids quit coming in and dancing. Theyd sit outside and listen to music, but thats it. So we tore it down and built a gas station and a convenience store and thats what it is today.
Although the bowling alley and dancehall faded away and became nothing but memories for Edistos locals and vacationers, the pavilion and what was left of the pier remained and continued to be one of the most visited locations on the beach.
Much like it is today, the pavilion provided locals and vacationers with a place to have dinner, shop, and offered an arcade for the kids. But in 1984 what Collins referred to as a severe fire caused by a lightning storm cause the pavilion and remnants of the pier to go up in flames. Collins said it was rebuilt in 1985 and has remained mostly unchanged ever since.
The pavilion and the pier have always been something people love about Edisto, Collins said. Things change over the years, but its pretty much still the same as its always been. It gives people something to do. Ive always told people that there are only a few kinds of people that really enjoy doing nothing so if you dont like your family then dont come down to Edisto.