Folly Beach Brief History

“Folly” is an Old English word meaning an area of dense foliage

1600’s Settlers encounter the Bohickets, inhabitants of the Island

1696 William Rivers deeded the Island of Folly

1744 Sold to Henry Samsways who held the Island under the name “Coffin Island”; a map during this time displays Folly as a Coffin.  However, dated 1800, a map displays Coffin Island was actually just the Western end of Folly Island, at the State Park.  Coffin Island became the mantra of the island due to the fact that plague, cholera victims were left there by ships before entering the Charleston harbor.  Before setting back out to see, they picked up the survivors and buried the dead.

1832 The now famous ship Amelia washed up on Folly while on its course from New York to New Orleans, leading to 120 passengers in total dying of cholera.  This was largely due to Charleston cutting off communications and supplies fearing the Island would infect and spread inland into Charleston

1838 Scottish captain Thomas Gillespie dies on Folly Beach; his marker still can be found on the SE end of Folly

1860’s First shots of the American Civil War fired by Citatel Cadets on Morris Island; In 1863, the Union took Folly and Morris Island before finally taking Charleston.

1920’s Bootlegging gossip stirs on the Island; Pavillion (the original) was established.

1930’s Atlantic Pavilion, Boardwalk, Pier and Oceanfront Hotel were finalized; Oceanfront Hotel stood where the Holiday Inn currently stands

1934 While staying at 708 W. Arctic, Gershwin penned Porgy & Bess; he also found time to judge a beauty contest

1937 15,000 plus people attend the 4th of July Celebration at the Pier

1940’s Home and improvements to the infrastructure were made including roads and utility upgrades

1955 While renting a cottage on Folly, Elmer “Trigger” Burke (the man who killed Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe of the $1.2 million Brinks robbery) was arrested by the FBI at the corner of Erie & Center Street

1956 A new concrete bridge replaces the old wooded Folly River bridge

1957 Oceanfront Hotel & Pavillion, Joe’s Restaurant catch fire, burn down

1960’s First surfboard was introduced by Pat Thomas during what was known as the golden era of Folly Beach, SC.  This was the same time the Ocean Plaza was opened with 1700 feet of boardwalk, pier, rides and shops.

1964 Folly Beach bans palm reading

1967 Folly Beach bans horseback riding

1977 Arson suspected as the Pier burns again

1985 Holiday Inn built where Oceanfront Hotel

1989 Destroying many homes and beaches, Hurricane Hugo sweeps over the Island

1995 The current day Pier and tackle shop built