Lorillard Fountain & Pool, Harris Neck

Fountain at Lorillard Estate

The following history of the site is taken from the interpretive panel at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge: Various plantations occupied this site from the 1740s through the 1870s. One of the earliest Harris Neck landowners was a man named Dickinson, and his property was known as Dickinson’s Neck. John Rutledge owned fifty acres on neighboring Bethany Plantation. He sold the tract to Ann Harris, who married Daniel Demetre in 1752. Her son, William Thomas Harris (Demetre’s stepson), acquired 350 acres on Dickinson’s Neck in 1758, and in 1759 he inherited an additional 750 acres on the “Neck” from his stepfather. Demetre’s will identified Williams’s residence as Bethany. This reference is the first documentation of a white landowner’s dwelling on the “Neck”.

Ruins of wading pool at Lorillard Estate

Early in the 1830s, another family gained prominence on Harris Neck. Jonathan Thomas acquired most of the Demetre-Harris holdings. Thomas’s 3000-acre Peru Plantation covered the eastern half of the present Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. The plantation produced sizeable cotton crops.

Ruins of wading pool at Lorillard Estate

The Civil War ended the plantation era on Harris Neck. The Thomas family subdivided Peru Plantation. Many small tracts were sold to former slaves or their descendants. From the 1870s through the 1930s, a community of primarily African-American developed on and near the current refuge land. By the 1940s, 171 tracts existed in the area now managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Details of a painting of the Lorillard Lodge: Courtesy Leftwich D. Kimbrough

 

During the 1880s, several large tracts bordering the South Newport River (the site of one Peru Plantation home) were acquired by Pierre Lorillard, the tobacco magnate, Eleanor Van Brunt Clapp, and Lily Livingston. Lorillard’s estate featured a lavish lodge, an indoor swimming pool filled from an artesian well, and formal gardens with reflecting pools and fountains.

Fountain at Lorillard Estate

The lodge was used during World War II as the officers’ club for Harris Neck Army Airfield. The deteriorated building was sold at auction, when Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1962.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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Harris Neck Army Airfield Bunker, 1942

This structure served as the munitions bunker for Harris Neck Army Airfield. Earthworks surround three sides. A review of contemporary U. S. Geological Survey maps indicates that this was likely the only one ever built on site. It’s a fascinating relic of World War II.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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Back River & Hammock, Glynn County

This is the Back River marsh [at high tide] on the north side of the F. J. Torras Causeway heading to St. Simons Island from Brunswick. I tried to find a name for the hammock, but couldn’t locate one. At this location, the Back River flows into Terry Creek and some of the residential marshlands of Brunswick.

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Baiting a Crab Trap, St. Simons Island

This gentleman [known on the island as The Original Crabman] was getting his crab trap ready when I was walking out to the end of the pier to photograph the progress on the Golden Ray cleanup effort. As is typical, he was using a chicken neck and fish head as bait. After dropping his trap in the water off the pier for just a few minutes, he brought it back up with several crabs.

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Huie House, 1928, St. Simons Island

This early example of the International Style, designed by Macon architect Fred Stroberg, uniquely employees the local building material known as tabby to make a bold statement about the past and the future. It has also been referred to as “Mediterranean House” and the outline of a shed roof on the side indicates it may have had such a decorative element at one time, but it’s decidedly International in appearance and spirit, making it an even more significant landmark.

The house is primarily associated with the late Mildred Weigle Nix Huie (1907-2000). A native of Augusta, Mrs. Huie received a degree in Classical Education from Florida State University. She and her husband Carl purchased the house in 1967 and it remained Mrs. Huie’s home and studio until her death. Mrs. Huie was an accomplished Impressionist painter, sculptor and historian, and upon establishing the Left Bank Art Gallery in 1962, became an integral part of the St. Simons cultural scene, through the fostering of other artists and the free access she provided to her own collection as well as philanthropic pursuits.

Mrs. Huie’s daughter, Millie Wilcox, maintained the home as the Mildred Huie Museum for more than a decade after her mother’s death.

The property was the first site acquired by the St. Simons Land Trust in 2018 and though the museum itself is closed, the grounds are a welcome respite from the busy commercial area of Frederica Road, open and free to all.

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, St. Simons Island GA

Bungalow, 1940s, St. Simons Island

The property surrounding this front gable bungalow has recently been cleared, suggesting it’s likely to soon be redeveloped. This is one of just a few surviving vernacular structures in the scattered community known as Jewtown. The community got its name from the Levison brothers, who had a thriving store about a mile east of Gascoigne Bluff. They called it Levisonton but the name didn’t stick and residents referred to the area as Jewtown. Like the other two historic African-American communities on St. Simons, Harrington and South End, Jewtown is largely indistinguishable from the rest of the island today. I believe the cottage dates to circa 1940-1945, making it a relatively late construction for the community.

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Front Gable Cottage, 1930s, St. Simons Island

 

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Ferrell House, The Ridge

The Ridge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Blount House, 1880, The Ridge

This home has been expanded over time but is typical of the Georgian Cottage style so popular in Darien in the late 19th century. It is known as the Blount House and the old Methodist parsonage for a minister active in Darien over a century ago. I believe nearby Blount’s Crossing is named for him.

The Ridge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Ethington-Harp House, Circa 1849, The Ridge

The Ridge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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