Category Archives: -LIBERTY COUNTY

Dorchester Academy Boys’ Dormitory, 1934, Midway

Dorchester Academy was founded as a primary school for African-American children by the American Missionary Association after the Civil War. The dormitory, designed by architect George Awsumb in 1934 to replace an 1890s structure lost to fire in 1932, is all that remains of a once-larger campus. After the school closed in 1940, demolition of the campus took place. The boys’ dormitory became the community center and still serves that purpose.

During the Civil Rights Movement it was the primary site of the Citizenship Education Program (CEP) (1961-70), an important initiative of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  This was seen as the basis for the highly successful Voter Education Project (VEP). One of the prime boosters of the CEP was Septima Poinsette Clark, a Charleston school teacher referred to as the “Queen Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”. The work of this and other so-called “citizenship schools” trained over 700 teachers and registered 50,000 voters by 1963.

Workshops were often held at the site with numerous civil rights icons in attendance, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, Wyatt Walker, and Dorothy Cotton.

National Historic Landmark

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA

American Foursquare Houses, Midway

These two houses, across from Dorchester Academy, are modified examples of the American Foursquare style.

Leave a comment

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA

Roselon Plantation, Circa 1870, Liberty County

Also known as the Cassels-Martin House, this stately Italianate landmark was built by Richard Baxter Cassels on his father’s (Thomas Quarterman Cassels) plantation not long after the Civil War. He reared a family of six here and the home remained in the family and was used as a summer home for many years thereafter.

It is relatively unchanged from its original appearance, as the vintage photo (circa 1900-10) below would suggest. The barn with the cupola to the east of the house is no longer present.

Photo Source: Virginia Fraser Evans, Liberty County: A Pictorial History, Hinesville, 1979.

2 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY

Sam Ripley Farm, 1926, Liberty County

Sam Ripley, who was born to Harry Ripley around 1900, built this house on a section of his father’s land in 1926. He used salvaged wood and lumber discarded from area sawmills. For many years he worked at the Whitland Saw Mill (no longer extant) so some of the lumber likely came from there. As was typical of African-Americans in Liberty County at the time, Ripley maintained a subsistence farm. In 1934, Liberty County counted 560 African-American farmers cultivating 23,000 acres of their own land.

Ripley retired from the sawmill in 1940 but continued to do odd jobs around Midway and Dorchester, all while maintaining his farm. He died in 1988. The property was sold in 1994 and was used as a bed and breakfast for a time. It doesn’t appear to be in use at this time, but the property is well-maintained and is still being used as a small farm. Please note that it is private property and can only be viewed or photographed from the road.

National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY

Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the Gathering, Riceboro

I drove down to Riceboro yesterday to see the wonderful work Jim Bacote (above, right) has done with Geechee Kunda and to check out his Gathering, an annual celebration of Geechee and Gullah folkways. Jim is passionate about preserving this history and it’s tangible. Geechee Kunda is the culmination of his lifelong fascination with this endangered way of life. I first met him a couple of years ago when he was still working on his museum and history center so I didn’t get to make any photographs. He invited me to come back and  I’m so glad I finally got to see it yesterday.

The highlight for me was a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters (not to be confused with the McIntosh County Shouters, who organized about a decade before the Geechee Gullah). This group of dedicated men and women share the ring shout with the world and aim for authenticity. They’re historic interpreters of the highest order and preserve a tradition that was thought to be extinct as recently as 1980. Historians believe the ring shout is the oldest surviving African performance tradition in North America. While “shouting” in the vocal sense is a part of the performance, linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, who spent a lifetime researching the Gullah language and culture, suggested that the term came from the Afro-Arabic word saut. This is a reference to the forward-moving shuffle, during which the feet are not to cross, associated with pilgrimages to the Kabaa at Mecca.

It’s hard not to come away from a performance by the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters with a better understanding of a culture that, especially as white Southerners, we have kept at a distance at best or dismissed altogether at worst.

One thing you’ll quickly notice when you’re around the Shouters is their charisma. They’re very passionate about what they’re doing and you can feel it. You not only learn but you’re uplifted, as well.

In 2011, the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters set the Guinness World Record for leading the largest recorded ring shout, during the “Word, Shout, Song” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D. C.

Besides the world record ring shout, the group is also proud to have among their performers Mrs. Butler (above, right), who at 90 is the world’s oldest living ring shouter. She’s amazing.

At the end of the performance, a narrative of Emancipation is re-enacted and is quite powerful. If you couldn’t already tell, I was very moved by these living historians and would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of their events.

 

4 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Riceboro GA

Remains of Sunbury Plantation

Sunbury Plantation Entrance Arch Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The grand two-story plantation home of Mr. & Mrs. Allen Stevens once stood at this site on the Medway River. All that remain are a few outbuildings. I’m not sure when the house was built.  I got the impression from the present owner, Allen Fillingame, that the site was never a working plantation in the historic sense and wasn’t even built until the late 1950s.

Sunbury Plantation Liberty County GA Blackbeard Creek Medway River Arch Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

From just inside the arched entryway there’s a nice view of the Medway River.

Sunbury Plantation Medway River Blackbeard Creek Beach Ship Boat Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

A beached boat, as well as a sunken barge, rest just off the property.

Sunbury Plantation Liberty County GA Creekside Landing Landscape Design Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The entrance was quite elaborate, among the most ornamental on the coast.

Sunbury Plantation Landing Side Remains Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The two enclosed terraces were once filled with oleander, surely a fantastic site when they were in full bloom.

Sunbury Plantation Liberty County GA View of Medway River Blackbeard Creek Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The view of the river harkens to a time of much grander properties, more akin to those on the Mississippi River than the Georgia coast.

Sunbury Plantation Liberty County GA Front Steps Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

The front steps are all that remain of the main house.

Sunbury Plantation Garage Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

A tractor is the only thing parked in the garage today.

Sunbury Plantation Kennel Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

A very nice kennel is located on the property, as well.

Sunbury Plantation Smoke House Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

A brick smokehouse is also still standing.

Sunbury Plantation Guest House Liberty County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

This simple frame structure served as the plantation’s guest house.

Sunbury Plantation Cold War Era Fallout Bomb Shelter Entrance Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

Also on the property is a Cold War-era fallout/bomb shelter.

Sunbury Plantation Cold War Era Bomb Shelter Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2016

I was unable to go inside, as it was quite wet.

 

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Sunbury GA

Gulf Station, 1930s, Midway

Gulf Station Midway GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Grady White’s garage on US 17 in Midway stays busy, so I was glad to get a shot on a Sunday. I’ve been told it dates to the 1930s and didn’t begin as a Gulf station, but I can’t confirm that.  I wish the sky had been more cooperative, but it seemed appropriate for the shot. There’s been one form or another of automotive service at this location for over 100 years. Amazing. And for many years, the station was the place to obtain the key to historic Midway Congregational Church, located just across Old Sunbury Road from the station.

Midway GA Liberty County Gulf Oil Station Neon Sign Circa 1930s Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

I can’t find a reference to the old station on the National Park Service’s nomination form for the Midway Historic District, but it probably wasn’t seen as an asset in 1973 when the form was compiled. Today, I believe it should be included in the historic district.

6 Comments

Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA