Category Archives: -MCINTOSH COUNTY

Harris Neck Army Air Field, 1942

Today, it’s nothing more than weed-choked concrete and asphalt, but these barren strips within Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge played a part in civilian and military aeronautical history. Before its association with the military, Harris Neck was the site of an emergency landing strip featuring two sod runways and an 81′ beacon. It was built in 1930 and leased by the Department of Commerce. Serving the Richmond-Jacksonville air route, it was officially known as Harris Neck Intermediate Field Site #8. On 7 December 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, guardsmen from Hunter Field in Savannah took over operations of the property. The site was already being used for aerial gunnery training. In 1943, Harris Neck became an auxiliary-base of Dale Mabry Field in Tallahassee and was assigned to the III Fighter Command.

Pilots at Harris Neck were trained on two types of fighter craft: the P-39 “Airacobra” and the P-40. The P-40 was known as the “Kitty Hawk” and was associated with Chenault’s “Flying Tigers” in China. In 1944, a hangar, warehouses, repair shops, barracks for 125 men, and a non-commisioned officers club were constructed from pre-fabricated material on site.

In September 1944, there were 575 enlisted personnel at Harris Neck, along with 129 officers, but by November, the number was greatly reduced, leading to its deactivation on 31 December 1944. The property was given to McIntosh County after the war for potential use as an airport, but this was never realized and mismanagement by the county led to its reversion to the federal government. It was acquired by the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (now the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service)  in 1962 for use as a refuge. It’s now known as Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge and the federal government has had a contentious presence ever since*.

*When the government expropriated the site in World War II, landowners were given two weeks to leave their properties. African-Americans owned 1102 acres of the original property while whites owned 1532. Families of both races felt their land was stolen, though token compensation was given. Many descendants believe the forced removal was mishandled and have mounted legal challenges for years.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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First African Baptist Church, 1974, Harris Neck

First African Baptist Church of Harris Neck was organized by Reverend Andrew Neal in 1867.

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Sallie M. Davis Chapel, 1910, Townsend

This is now a private residence.

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Columbus Square, 1805, Darien

Darien traces its origins to 1736, though throughout the 18th century, settlement was sporadic and the town was practically abandoned at times. Oglethorpe and later Lachlan McIntosh made plans for the layout of the city but due to its transient nature, these were never fully implemented or were lost to other uses. In 1805, the city was resurveyed by Thomas McCall and a system based on Oglethorpe’s “Savannah Plan” was adopted, incorporating twelve wards anchored by squares. Two of the original wards from that era, Vernon and Columbus, remain, and their squares now serve as green spaces in Darien’s historic residential area.

In 1895, Vernon Square became the terminus of the Tattnall County-based Darien & Western Railroad, who built a passenger depot near the location of the present-day gazebo. The line was purchased by the Georgia Coast & Piedmont Railroad in 1906, who extended service south to Brunswick in 1915, at which point the depot was moved to the waterfront. It burned in 1971.

Vernon Square-Columbus Square Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Gable Front House, McIntosh County

“Unimproved” [read authentic] houses of this character are getting rare and I think it’s fortunate that a small handful of owners maintains them in their original state.

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Gable Front House, Darien

Gable front houses are common in the Mentionville neighborhood. This was a widespread vernacular style throughout Georgia in the early 20th century.

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Gable Front House, Darien

This is one of my favorite houses in the Mentionville neighborhood.

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