When US 17, the Coastal Highway, was the main artery on the Atlantic seaboard from Virginia to Florida, the Brunswick Board of Trade & the Sea Island Company commissioned Francis L. Abreu to design this welcome center at the entrance to the St. Simons Causeway. Abreu, a famous architect in his own right, had collaborated with Addison Mizner on the original Cloister Hotel.
It was originally advertised as “Brunswick’s Greeting to Vacationists-Georgia’s Gateway to the Road to Romance and Recreation”. The building is in immediate need of preservation. We can only hope that Brunswick will recognize its importance and not have the same dismissive view of it that they’ve had of the historic Dart House, just down the road.
Abreu was born into a privileged Cuban-American background in 1896. His parents owned a sugar plantation and also kept a home in upstate New York. He was a member of the track team at Cornell University and served in the U. S. Navy in World War I. After earning a degree in architecture, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, where his parents had relocated, and was one of the most active early builders in the city’s first real estate boom. He met his future wife, May Patterson on Sea Island in 1938. They later settled in Atlanta where they were active philanthropists.
This is arguably the most prominent public building he designed still standing in Georgia. It should be preserved and National Register of Historic Places recognition sought.