Now known for T-shirt shops and mini golf, the South Carolina beach town was once imagined as a star-studded stopover between New York and Miami. Its failure set a precedent.
By Nicole Jones, April 16, 2021
It glittered like a cursed diamond sculpted and set in a gold band of pristine beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A vision of one man’s utopia. A marker to guide planes and ships from miles away. A hurricane shelter during a once-in-a generation storm. A movie star hangout. A gambling den (allegedly). A military lookout during World War II when rumors of German U-boats cruising off the coast surfaced more than the enemy did. It was the Ocean Forest Hotel, a spare-no-expenses resort built halfway between New York City and Miami Beach to bring in the rich and famous and anyone who wanted to hobnob with them. In the tradition of ideas destined to become a marvelous success, it was a heartbreaking failure—transformed finally into a fading memory by a few sticks of dynamite.
The Ocean Forest Hotel was many things to many people over the span of its short life, but before it was anything—before it got blown up—it was the dream of one John T. Woodside. Imagine it is 1926, and a linen-suited, cigar-smoking, youngish millionaire aspires Gatsby-esque to the Champagne high life that may have eluded him and his wealth in the rural South. Imagine him a textile magnate turned banker turned hotelier turned real estate mogul turned full-time dreamer of big-time dreams.
–Article author’s book