History of the Pelican Inn

By Marissa Polascak
May 8, 2018

Pawleys Island is an area that is rich in history, and the Pelican Inn knows that history well. This oceanfront inn is more than just an 8-room bed & breakfast, but rather, it is a piece of Lowcountry history that is one of the small number of original homes that still exist on Pawleys Island.

The Pelican Inn was built in the 1840s as the summer home for Plowden Charles Jenrette Weston from Hagley Plantation. In 1864, the property was sold to William St. Julien Mazyck, who then sold the home to the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company in 1901. The lumber company allowed their employees to use the house as a vacation home for many years. Eventually, after some change of ownership, the home became known as the Pelican Inn.

The architecture of the building is in-keeping with the other original buildings on the island, many of which are made with cypress lumber, mortise and tenon joints, wooden pegs, and handcut nails, as well as doors and windows that allowed the ocean breeze to flow freely throughout the house.

The Pelican Inn was built in a wise place, as it is placed behind the highest dune on the island and surrounded by live oak trees that offer protection from the elements and storms. In fact, this protection came in handy when Hurricane Hazel and Hurricane Hugo ripped through Pawleys Island and destroyed many other buildings on the island.

Of course, if you’ve heard of the Pelican Inn, then you may have heard about the haunted history of this charming bed & breakfast. The story of the Gray Man is quite popular along the Grand Strand, as most locals know this lore from word of mouth. The story of the Gray Man has also been featured on television, giving the ghost lore nationwide – if not worldwide- attention.

The story is this: The original owner and builder of the Pelican Inn, Plowden Charles Jenrette Weston died of tuberculosis, and shortly after his death, visitors to the Pelican Inn started to see the ghost of a man in a Civil War uniform, as well as a “Gray Man” on the beach. The first ghost is believed to be Weston, as he fought in the Civil War and was the commander of the Georgetown Rifle Guard.

No one knows for sure who the Gray Man is, but he is known to appear in front of people before hurricanes to warn them of the impending storm. Those who see the Gray Man take heed of his warning and leave the island, and are happy they did after the fact. Locals take Gray Man sightings quite seriously.

There are also stories of sightings of the ghost of Emily, Weston’s wife. Those who have seen her claim that her ghost leaves behind scents of perfume in the air.

Ghosts or no ghosts, one thing’s for sure; the Pelican Inn is a historic gem located in a scenic place that is perfect for a beach vacation in the Lowcountry.