Melanie & Peter Birch divider Birthplace | North Carolina & London, England
Image of Melanie & Peter Birch

Q Where are you from?

A I’m from New Bern, North Carolina.

And I’m from London, England.

Q But you’ve spent most of your life in New York?

A I spent over thirty years in New York before moving back down south.

My father was in the Air Force, so my early years I spent in Germany, but most of my school years were in England. I moved to New York in my mid-twenties for a job.

Q How did you meet?

A We were in the same business—the commodity business—and Melanie worked for a brokerage company that I did business with.

Q And you were friends for a long time?

A We were friends through different relationships, for about twenty-five years. Great friends—the best of friends. Peter and his family came to my house for Christmas, and the kids went to pool parties at his house. Later we both found ourselves available at the same time and…it just worked.

Q Why Kiawah?

A I always wanted a beach house. I started at the Florida Keys, and pretty much every weekend for a year I went to a different place. All the way up to North Carolina. In the end, Kiawah was the nicest place I visited.

Q So you decided to buy. Then what?

A I bought the lot twenty years ago. I didn’t build on it for ten years. I’d visit and stay at the Old Inn. A couple of times I rented a place on Surfsong. I was trying to pick the right time to start, I suppose.

Q What was it like transitioning from New York?

A I don’t think we did it consciously. Peter built the house thinking he’d come for a month once or twice a year. It was not with the intention of living here.

No, not originally. I anticipated being here in the winter. But the more we came, the more we liked it.

The kids went off to boarding school and college, and we came for a month in the fall, and we thought, Why
would we go back? We made the transition to full-time within five years.

And now we have a house in Charleston, too. We sold our main house in New Jersey, and now we’re based here.

Q What is your life like on the Island?

A May through August we’re pretty much booked with kids, friends, and guests. We host a lot of people, so I find the spring and the fall extremely quiet and pleasant. I also volunteer with an organization that uses horse riding as therapy. It serves vets, children with disabilities, and people with mental disabilities. It’s called Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (CATR).

Q And what about your kids?

A The children are really into the amenities. William loves Blue Heron Park. The pool is a whole social scene for them. They have a consistent group of friends who come to Kiawah every summer, and we are the go-to house for the kids. We’ve adopted a lot of peripheral kids.

Our eight-year-old grandson spent the month of July with us and went to Kamp Kiawah. He learned to golf, play tennis, canoe…everything. I see that we are going to have him every summer. And he has two younger sisters. So for years to come, we’ll have grandkids visiting. That is the beauty of Kiawah.

Q Do you ever see any wildlife?

A We have three dogs, so we keep an eye on the wildlife. I’ll play golf in the early morning, and it’s like Jurassic Park. It’s amazing.

Many mornings Peter and I see dolphins. They come close to the shore. And the deer! We’ve actually seen them on our boardwalk to the beach. They go right up to the water, right at the sea break.

Q Tell me what you love about Kiawah.

A It would be the house for me. I really love our house. The view. I just love to stand there at dusk and watch the sun go down over the water. There are wonderful starry nights.

We’ve lived in the fast lane—commodity markets, New York City, traffic, raising families, working full time. Kiawah allows you a certain calm. We’ve shifted gears. And even when we go on holiday to some other scenic place, we think, This is nice, but Kiawah’s pretty great!

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