|Jack L. Thompson is considered the keeper of the Grand Strand’s photographic history. For more than 50 years, Jack has been consistently recording local history—focusing his camera on people, events and landmarks. He has captured on film countless subjects frozen in time that outline the growth and development of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, and most especially the Myrtle Beach area. A sample of his extensive pictorial collection is documented in his book Memories of Myrtle Beach (2003).
Thompson’s early childhood years were spent in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina. At the age of 13, on a dare, he and two friends hitchhiked to Myrtle Beach. He immediately got a job working at the two-minute photo booth inside the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Under the guidance of Dwight Lambe, owner of Skips photography studio, his career path was set in motion. In the off-season Thompson worked at Skips while attending Myrtle Beach High School, where he helped produce three yearbooks with his photographic skills. Upon graduation in 1954 he was presented the National Honor Society’s coveted Quill and Scroll diamond pin for his journalistic accomplishments.
In 1959, at the urging of Mr. Lambe, Thompson rented the former Chamber of Commerce building and opened Jack Thompson Studios. Coming from a family of journalists, he soon discovered the ink in his own blood and in 1964 published the first local news magazine, Insight into the Grand Strand, followed with the area’s premier golf magazine, The Grand Strand Golfer. In 1998 he joined his brother, Joe Thompson of Greenville, to publish Growing Up with Shoeless Joe, a book about the life of baseball great Joe Jackson, who was a close friend to the Thompson family in Greenville.
In 2004, the City of Myrtle Beach asked Thompson to chair the All-Aboard Committee, which was credited with saving and restoring the City’s 1937 train depot, a site now on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. For his pivotal role in this project, Thompson was presented with a special proclamation from the City.
Jack Thompson has been widely recognized for his continuing efforts to catalog and produce ongoing documentation of the Grand Strand, Horry County and Myrtle Beach. For the past 10 years he has served on the Board of Trustees of the Horry County Museum. In 2005 he was presented the Silver Medal by the Coastal Advertising Professionals for his lifetime achievements in the advertising industry. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from Coastal Carolina University, followed by resolutions from the South Carolina House of Representatives, the Horry County Council and the Greater Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.
2009 marked the 50th anniversary of Jack Thompson Studios. Today, Jack continues to work from his studio in the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach at 915 Broadway—not far from the ocean where it all began.
© 2016 Franklin G. Burroughs • Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum
Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.