The Pawleys Island rope hammock has long been a symbol of Southern relaxation, and its latticed, heavy-cotton design was groundbreaking for its time. Before 1889, hammocks were made from canvas or low-quality hemp—hot, rough materials that did not accommodate muggy climates like that of South Carolina. These early hammocks also folded around the occupant’s body and were prone to tipping. Enter Georgetown, South Carolina, riverboat captain Joshua John Ward. Unable to sleep at night and tired of discomfort, “Cap’n Josh” designed a wooden spreader bar, placing one at each end of the hammock with holes through which he ran the rope. His innovation prevented the cocoon effect and allowed air to effectively circulate through the hammock. Today, it’s replicated worldwide.
- Each hammock is constructed of approximately 1,200 feet of thick cotton rope in a double-latch weave, which means the ropes pull against each other to produce a lattice-like design.
- Cap’n Josh’s brother-in-law, Arthur Herbert “Doc” Lachicotte, formalized the family’s business in 1935, opening the Original Hammock Shop in Pawleys Island, just south of Myrtle Beach along U.S. 17.
- The Hammock Shops Village, a quaint roadside hub, developed around the shop. Today the complex includes 21 shops, from clothing boutiques to specialty food stores, and two restaurants.
- Drop by the shop’s weavers studio Tuesday through Saturday for demos and stories from Marvin Grant, the shop’s legendary “weaver jockey.” Grant has been crafting hammocks for more than 30 years, with celebrity clients such as Michael Jordan. Kids can try weaving the top “clew” knot during an interactive session.
- The stretch of South Carolina coastline surrounding Pawleys Island is now nicknamed the “Hammock Coast” after the ubiquitous cotton hammock.
This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Southbound.