Category Archives: Brunswick GA

Oak Grove Cemetery, 1838, Brunswick

Oak Grove Chapel, or Wake House. Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III writes: For the record, recent research has revealed the true story of Oak Grove Chapel which was completed in April 1902 by the Ladies Oak Grove Cemetery Society. The chapel [originally thought built in the 1880s] was built in one year with donations of materials, cash, and labor.  The chapel had a 1902 value of $400. Three purposes for the chapel were to provide a place: for funerals in the cemetery; to hold Oak Grove Cemetery Society meetings and to store their garden tools.  That Society was founded on March 2,1901 and is not to be confused with today’s Oak Grove Cemetery Society founded on March 18, 2014.  In fact, when today’s Society chose the name, we knew nothing of the earlier group founded 113 years earlier.  Their work is today our work.  The ladies found Oak Grove in exactly the same condition as did today’s Society. 
The chapel was restored in 2017.

Oak Grove was established by the city of Brunswick in 1838 as its first public cemetery and was originally designed to encompass ten acres. I received a nice message from Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III and he updated some of the history of the site: The cemetery was finally reduced to the size we see today in 1901 to make way for the new Brunswick and Birmingham Railroad roadbed. This greatly altered the western boundary of Oak Grove, moving the fence 50 feet eastward. Fifty graves were exhumed and most of those were brought within the new cemetery boundary. Were all exhumed? Recently, OGCS, using Ground Penetrating Radar, identified hundreds of unknown graves.  We have added those to our electronic map found at: www.oakgrovetour.com identified by beginning with letter U and a blue dot.

Oak Grove contains a nice variety of Victorian funerary monuments and is one of Brunswick’s most fascinating public spaces. It shouldn’t be overlooked.

The memorials that follow were randomly selected and appear in no particular order

Eula L. Brown Dunwoody [1862-1890].
Nightingale Family Plot
Frances Nicolau Nightingale [1871-1948]. Founded in 1920, with Maya Stevens Bamford, Miss Nightingale’s School for Girls (Nightingale-Bramford School) in Manhattan. Graduates include Millicent Fenwick and Gloria Vanderbilt.
James D. Kenny [1828-1885]. Irish-born sailor.
Cornelia M. W. Boone [1847-1876]. Yellow fever victim.
Captain Douglas G. RIsley [1838-1882]. Captain Risley served the Union in the Civil War and founded the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick in 1870.
Major Urbanus Dart, Sr. [1800-1883]. Upon his death in 1883, Major Dart was the oldest known citizen of Brunswick. He was associated with the first railroad chartered in Georgia and served in the state legislature.
William Harvey Anderson, Sr. [1837-1896] & Alethia I. Williams Anderson [1839-1904]. William Anderson, Sr., was a prominent contractor and builder in Brunswick and was responsible for the construction of Brunswick’s City Hall.
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Hirsch & May Mausolea. Benjamin Moses Hirsch [1840-1927]. Bertha Elizabeth Hirshfield Hirsch [1842-1912]. Julius May [1863-1915]. Emma M. Hirsch May [1870-1946]. The Hirsch & May families were prominent Jewish merchants in Brunswick.
Samuel Bruce Moore [1835-1857].
Joseph Florence Lasserre [1844-1919] & Family. This monument was likely erected upon the death of Lasserre’s daughter, Ida, who died in 1898. Lasserre was a native of France and served as Captain in Harris’s Independent Co. Brunswick Riflemen, 26th Infantry Regiment of Georgia.
Satilla G. Brown [1857-1901]
Sir Rosendo Torras [1851-1929]. Rosendo Torras was a native of Spain who was knighted by King Gustaf of Sweden for service to the crown. He came to Brunswick in the 1890s as captain of a sailing ship. His son, Fernando J. Torras, was an engineer and the builder and namesake of the causeway to St. Simons Island.
Unidentified Brick Crypt
William Williams [1800-1885]. Demis Broad Williams [1814-1877].
O’Connor Family Plot
William Walter Watkins [1841-1885].
James Alexander Clubb, Jr. [1827-1889]. Clubb was the lighthouse keeper on Little Cumberland Island and was the pilot of the slave ship The Wanderer.
Townsend Plot Starburst Finial
Annie Louise Blain [1884-1891].
Annie Elizabeth Scranton Blain [1845-1880].

Oak Grove is open from dawn until dusk. Parking is free, on the street beside the cemetery.

National Register of Historic Places

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Boblo Studios, Brunswick

This unassuming commercial storefront, now little more than a shell, was home to the Boblo Records Studio, an obscure label which actually churned out a few recordings in the 1970s. Chet Bennett designed the studio for owner Bobby Smith, and is credited as producer, as well. One of the best known artists to record here was Jimmy “Orion” Ellis. Two of the first records to bear the Boblo Records label were “Mr. Boogie Man” and “Feel Like Being Funky” by Avalanche.

The studio was relatively short-lived, but its mere presence in Brunswick was quite amazing.

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National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 313, Brunswick

It appears that this structure is no longer in use. The National Association of Letter Carriers is a labor union of city mail carriers, if my understanding is correct.

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Queen Anne House, Brunswick

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Queen Anne House, 1889, Brunswick

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Folk Victorian House, 1895, Brunswick

It’s obvious that the porch, in its present configuration, is a later addition to this house. I’m unsure as to its original style; the date of 1895 is from a resource survey and may only be a guess. I hope to learn more.

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Shotgun Houses, Brunswick

With the growing popularity of small houses, shotgun houses have become hot properties in the broader real estate market. Quite a few survive in varying states of repair throughout Brunswick’s historic African-American neighborhood and instead of being seen as blight should be an opportunity for affordable historic housing. They were likely built from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Central Hallway House, 1890, Brunswick

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Colored Memorial School, 1923, Brunswick

In 1870, the Freedmen’s School was established as the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick. Colored Memorial High School, designed by Cloister architect Francis L. Abreu, was built adjacent to the Freedmen’s School in 1923* and named to honor African-American veterans of World War I. The Freedmen’s School was replaced by Risley High School in 1936 and served the community until 1955 when a new Risley High School was built elsewhere. It was named Risley School, for Captain Douglas Gilbert Risley, who advocated for the school as the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

*- The 1922 date on the building is the date the cornerstone was laid by Dr. H. R. Butler.

National Register of Historic Places

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Ahmaud Arbery Mural, Brunswick

Today, Ahmaud Arbery should be celebrating his 27th birthday with his family and loved ones, but on 3 February 2020, while jogging in a “white” neighborhood, he became yet another needless victim of racial violence. Unarmed, he was killed in cold blood by a retired law enforcement officer who apparently took offense to the mere presence of an athletic young black man in his neighborhood. This man presumed that Arbery’s race made him a suspect in a spate of recent robberies and acted as judge, jury, and executioner. To make matters worse, the local district attorney didn’t even think Arbery’s death met the definition of murder and charges weren’t brought against the perpetrators until it became a national news story. At this writing, the killer’s son and another man have also been charged not only with murder, but with hate crimes. As a white man, I am disgusted by the racists who committed the crime and the legal system’s abject but unsurprising failure.

The whole affair makes me angry but it’s nice to see this mural in the heart of Brunswick’s African-American community, on Albany Street. It was painted by Brunswick-born Miami artist Marvin Weeks and aims to educate and bring together all who deplore this inexcusable crime. The structure on which it is painted will soon become an African-American cultural center.

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