This is now the office for Cumberland Island National Seashore.
St. Marys Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Though the specific date for construction has been lost, Orange Hall is believed to have had its origins as a much smaller structure (possibly incorporated into the present one) in the late 1820s. [I’m only using the 1830 date because that’s the present “accepted date” settled on by St. Marys. As a matter of full disclosure, I don’t believe it can be accurately assigned]. It was named for the sour orange trees which were once planted around the lawn. Oral tradition suggests it was built for Jane Wood Pratt (first wife of the Reverend Horace Pratt), by her father, John Wood. Mr. Wood was a Loyalist who fled Savannah during the Revolution and likely began building the house upon his return to America, circa 1826. John Wood and his daughter both died in 1829, which is why the date for the house is fixed around the time, according to research completed in 1973 for the nomination of the property to the National Register of Historic Places. The key to the history of the house as it is known today, however, can be traced to its purchase by James Smith from the Pratt estate in 1846. By 1856 when Smith sold it to Francis Adams, its tax value had risen sharply, indicating improvements which likely gave Orange Hall its present appearance.
One other note of historical significance: the house is said to have been the headquarters of the 9th Maine Regiment during raids in the area in early 1863. A regimental history of Company H of the 9th Maine by Lieutenant Aaron H. Chase mentions St. Marys but not Orange Hall. As many of the raids in this area were clandestine in nature, it is unclear what role the house actually played in these exercises. Like the date of the house, this bears further research.
Orange Hall is now a house museum and event space.
National Register of Historic Places
Built circa 1825, this sugar mill and arrowroot starch factory was the industrial component to John Houston* McIntosh’s New Canaan Plantation. McIntosh was born in 1773 in what is now McIntosh County. After living for a time in Florida and involvement in a plot to annex East Florida, McIntosh came back to Georgia. He acquired two plantations in Camden County. Marianna was one and New Canaan, site of the sugar works seen here, was the other. Thomas Spalding of Sapelo Island is thought to have been his mentor in this enterprise. It’s located across from the entrance to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in a publicly accessible park on Charlie Smith Sr. Parkway (Georgia Highway 40 Spur).
*The Georgia Historical Society marker placed on the site over 50 years ago uses the spelling Houstoun for McIntosh’s middle name. I’m not sure why the discrepancy exists, but Taylor Davis has done more recent research, notably exposing the long-held “Spanish mission myth”, so I will defer to his his spelling.
Taylor P. Davis writes in his thesis, Tabby: The Enduring Building Material of Coastal Georgia (Athens, 2011):”The Houston McIntosh Sugar Mill, built during the 1820s, contains probably the most intact and expansive plantation era tabby ruins in this…area. This two-storied, sprawling complex, complete with columns, is the remainder of John Houston McIntosh’s sugar processing mill in connection to his New Canaan Plantation sugar cane production. The mill consisted of three main sections: a milling room, a boiler room, and a curing room. This sugar mill also led local and visiting authors and intern local historians to reinterpret this area’s history. It was here that W. J. Hoxie, contributor to the Savannah Morning News, wrote of his imaginative thoughts of the harrowing tales of Spanish friars defending themselves against a “great siege” or fiercely battling off “pirate bands” all while trying to save the souls of the “savage natives”. It was hard for him to believe that such a well-built structure could have been used for agricultural purposes. In his article, Hoxie is quoted as saying “I have yet discovered any published work that throws any light on the origin and history of this building.” But the damage was done. Savannah Morning News readers were taken by this fictional idea. This helped to start and spread the “Spanish Mission myth” regarding tabby construction. This myth was perpetuated by James T. Vocelle’s book, History of Camden County, where he states as fact that these tabby ruins were that of the Spanish missions. For decades it was thought that all of the plantation era tabby ruins were that of the lost Spanish missions. Later this error in the chronology of tabby would be corrected, and the literature on the subject from then on would reflect the annotation.”
Images of the Sugar Mill & Arrowroot Starch Factory
For researchers interested in the Houston genealogy, G. Cole notes: The name is properly spelled “Houstoun.” John Houstoun McIntosh was born to George McIntosh (son of John Mohr Mackintosh) and Ann Priscilla Houstoun (dau. of Sir Patrick Houstoun and Priscilla Dunbar.)