By Kristy Gustafson
Did you know over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots? Take the Latin word mare, meaning “sea” or “seawater,” the Greek kolpos for “gulf,” and Latin bellitās for “beauty.” When we dig a little deeper we see that names are more than just names, but a glimpse into history and the tale of how they came to be. Which leads us to another thing each of these words just so happen to have in common: Alys Beach (pronounced ‘Alice’ Beach).
Though “Alys Beach” isn’t exactly derived from Greek or Latin origins, its name offers a unique story all on its own. But to tell you, we’d have to go back to the very beginning.
In the late 70s, a man by the name of Jim Stephens attended an auction alongside his wife Julie and his father Elton B. Stephens. Up for bidding that day was 154 acres of beautiful white sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico. But the area wasn’t yet how we know it today. Back then, places like Seaside didn’t exist yet. There was no Watercolor or Rosemary, only scrub oak, sand, and, of course, that emerald blue water. Still there was a lure to this place that became a significant part of the Stephens’ lives.
Since 1949, their family had owned a string of small cottages near Seagrove, which is where their love for 30A’s beautiful beaches came to be – and why they knew they had to do this.
It was Saturday, September 9th and the auction would begin at 11:00 sharp. Shortly after lunchtime, the property was theirs and the seed of the family’s dream was planted. Having started his company, EBSCO, from the ground up, Elton B. Stephens was a strong businessman through and through, but above all came family.
Driving home that day, one could rest assured that an important thought was on his mind. “I hope my wife, Alys, likes it.”
Decades later in 2004, the dream finally came to fruition and Alys Beach was born.