“We’re from New Jersey,” begin the Browns, who are in town for a moment “working on the house,” out and about on a search for furniture and other home goods. It’s a familiar refrain on the island, specifically in a place like Callawassie where the community’s reputation proceeds it and draws future residents from all ports around the world.
“We live in a little town called Ortley Beach,” says Robert Brown about a spot officially described as “an unincorporated area of Toms River, New Jersey.” “We decided that we wanted to spend the winters some place warmer but we already live at the beach on the Jersey Shore, so we didn’t need to be right on the ocean.” They have family in Hilton Head and had “heard that Beaufort was a beautiful area” so they started with Spring Island but only Callawassie had the rental they were looking for.
Even coming down in the height of the covid onset in early 2020 it was still kismet. “We rented for six weeks and just fell in love with the place. The people were just so…”
“…Inviting and warm,” Rhonda Brown finishes his sentence, fluidly, two halves of the same excitement for a new but already rooted home.
“We looked…” she pauses with gravity, emphasizing the exhaustive effort to unearth just the right treasure. “I made Robert look in every community up and down – Berkeley Hall, Colleton River, Hampton Lake…”
“Oldfield,” Robert picks up, as they talk over each other trying to encapsulate and capture this newfound fascination:
Robert: “We visited 7 or 8 places and – don’t get me wrong they were all very nice but – none of them had that feel that Callawassie had. Maggie [Denison, Callawassie Island Marketing Manager] found out some of our interests and introduced me to the head of the shooting club, who immediately invited me. Rhonda joined the tennis program – and we were just renters!”
The Browns’ home is set to be finished in the spring, but the draw of “the-island-inland-of-the-island” isn’t subtle as they soon realize. Ticking off their itinerary between fall of this year and completion it dawns on them, “we’ll be here every month.”
“When we looked at the other developments,” Rhonda adds, “we came back to Callawassie, and the amenities were almost more appealing here.”
Robert agrees, “Callawassie felt more comfortable, a more relaxed environment, and the amenities matched all of them on quality and design – theRiver House, the gym, new Clubhouse, pools, and the people you get to know; we’ve become friendly with the bartender and the servers. You make connection so fast.”
It’s not just the Browns… it’s also Sophie the four-year-old Brittany Spaniel. “A hunting dog,” says Robert translating for her, “she loves it down here and was especially thrilled to find great bird hunting down here.” Which kicked up another round of counting club memberships and amenities, because on Callawassie you really can do a bit of everything. Rhonda clicks off kayaking, Blind Squirrels, wanting to learn new things.
“I play tennis already.” She pauses here for a moment – their fast and furious dialogue a celebration of all the island has to offer in relationships, resources, and recreation – and in true Jersey fashion she cuts through the fat and lands their mutually passionate spiel in two simple “finished” words:
“Yeah,” she says with a settling nod, “We’re in.”