The hotel, standing twenty-nine feet above sea level, with a ten-story wedding-cake tower flanked by two five-story wings, was South Carolina’s Statue of Liberty.
Myrtle Beach’s magnificent Ocean Forest Hotel opened formally on Friday evening, February 21, 1930. The hotel, standing twenty-nine feet above sea level, with a ten-story wedding-cake tower flanked by two five-story wings, was South Carolina’s Statue of Liberty. Together with its gardens, pools, and stables, the hotel occupied thirteen acres. Amenities such as marble stairways, Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers, Grecian columns, faucets that dispensed salt water to the 202 ventilated bathrooms, oriental rugs in the marble-floored lobby, the grand ballroom, and dining room all attested to the Ocean Forest’s inclusion among an exclusive list of world-class hotels. High standards of etiquette were the rule. Gentlemen never entered the dining room without wearing tuxedos. Ladies wore evening gowns. By the 1940s and 1950s patrons altered their lifestyles, and the Ocean Forest Hotel changed with the times. “Resort attire” was accepted, and in the late 1940s Governor Strom Thurmond played volleyball in his swim trunks.
During the 1960s the owners of the hotel declined to make much-needed improvements. The Ocean Forest showed signs of neglect. The hotel closed its doors in June 1974. On Friday the thirteenth of September 1974, explosives were placed around the hotel. The ten-story building that had taken a year and a half to build was reduced to a pile of rubble in six seconds.
The author Mickey Spillane said, “The Ocean Forest Hotel was a beautiful piece of architecture, and for down here it was actually superb.” Thurmond recalled the hotel’s “wonderful hospitality, and I consider the visits I made there some of the happiest and most enjoyable trips I have taken.”
Gragg, Rod. The Illustrated History of Horry County. Myrtle Beach: Southern Communications, 1994.
Lewis, Catherine H. Horry County, South Carolina, 1730–1993. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.
Monk, John. “Landmark Crumbles to Memory.” Myrtle Beach Sun-News, September 14, 1974, pp. 1–2.