A wrecking ball is coming to a piece of Myrtle Beach's past. The historic Chesterfield Inn will be torn down this summer.
By next spring, the nearly 70-year-old Ocean Boulevard motel will exist only in photographs and memories. In its place will be an entertainment complex, including a miniature golf course and oceanfront restaurant.
Owner Karon Mitchell said the original inn, with 27 small rooms and only four of them facing the ocean, just couldn't keep up with the times.
"When people come to Myrtle Beach now they want the oceanfront balconies, they want the swimming pools and water parks and everything," Mitchell said.
At the studio of longtime Myrtle Beach photographer Jack Thompson, hundreds of photos chronicle the Grand Strand's colorful tourism history, including the Chesterfield.
He said it's sad to lose another local landmark, but Myrtle Beach is evolving into a new era for a younger generation.
"So it's time to move on and tears will be shed, but that's progress," Thompson said.
Thompson said in today's economy, the old inn just wasn't working. "Most of the new motels that have all the wonderful amenities are capturing all the business."
Mitchell said she knows that people will argue Myrtle Beach doesn't need another miniature golf course, but she said her family took a long look at what they ought to put on the property and decided that the Grand Strand really didn't need another high rise hotel, either.
"Myrtle Beach is already overbuilt and so we looked and did a lot of study, 2 to 3 years on what to do, and the highest and best use of it."
The Chesterfield property includes a 21-room annex built in the early 1960's. It will also be torn down.
Mitchell said the original inn opened in 1943. It was the oldest surviving oceanfront motel in Myrtle Beach, before it closed last year.
Losing it will be a bittersweet moment for the Mitchell family.
"We are gonna miss it," she said.
The Chesterfield will have an open house Friday and Saturday, so people can take a good look at it, before the furnishings go up for auction next Monday.