Wick Scurry: Businessman giving new life to many Daufuskie landmarks

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Wick Scurry

For decades, Wick Scurry drove his ferry past the Bloody Point Lighthouse on Daufuskie Island and wondered what was inside.

Now he knows.

That’s because he bought it.

“The main reason we purchased it was because it’s among the most historical things — if not the most historical thing — still standing on that island,” he said. “It was not open to the public and really hadn’t been. You couldn’t go into the old lighthouse and view it. So that was the driving force behind getting it.”

It is one of several recent additions to Scurry’s enterprises on an island where he has shuttled visitors and residents since the 1970s. Along with the historic lighthouse, which he turned into a museum, he is giving day travelers a taste of old plantation crops that were once staples of the South Carolina economy. He grows Sea Island Cotton, indigo and Carolina Gold rice. He has also planted a vineyard, and expects to bottle the first fruits of his labor next fall.

His business interests on Daufuskie began in the 1970s, when he started a barge operation between it and Hilton Head Island. He later added a ferry to shuttle residents, vacationers and visitors. He still runs the barge and has expanded his fleet to three ferries. His other Daufuskie enterprises include the Freeport Marina, the Old Daufuskie Crab Company restaurant and the Freeport General Store.

In 2015, he bought the lighthouse, which was built in 1883. He renovated it for use as a local history museum and gift shop. The brick “wick buildings,” which housed the oil to run the lighthouse, were used by the former Silver Dew Winery. Arthur “Pappy” Burn, the island’s last lighthouse keeper, started the winery in the 1950s. It closed in 1956. Scurry decided that 60 years to long for Daufuskie to go without a winery, so he planted 100 scuppernong plants. He expects to harvest enough of the grapes next fall to bottle his own version of the sweet, fruity wine and sell it in his shop.

Scurry also wanted to educate people about the crops that were grown on plantations in the Lowcountry; cotton, indigo and rice were the top moneymakers. He chose crop varieties specific to the region, even reaching out to the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation for help. Last fall’s harvest yielded 250 pounds of rice, which he sells on the island.

Scurry plans to keep adding to his offerings. He wants to erect a replica of the 93-foot-tall lighthouse tower that was toppled by a hurricane in 1897. He recently expanded his store and will expand the restaurant. A week before Hurricane Matthew hit, he held a harvest festival for his crops — something he plans to make an annual event.

Scurry says he believes the future is bright for Daufuskie tourism. Though the Bloody Point Lighthouse no longer shines the way for boaters, he is committed to serving as a beacon for travelers seeking a unique island getaway.