Tag Archives: Architecture of Coastal Georgia

Harrington Graded School, 1920s, St. Simons Island

The recent restoration of this historic African-American schoolhouse is one of the greatest preservation successes on the Georgia coast and should serve as a model for similar projects. After the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation economy, the descendants of enslaved persons remained on St. Simons and lived in the communities of South End, Jewtown, and Harrington. They were the dominant population on St. Simons until development in the early and mid-20th century changed the racial makeup of the island. Only remnants of their presence remain, and among them, the Harrington Graded School (thought to be a Rosenwald school), and Hazel’s Cafe, are the most significant.

The school served all three African-American communities until desegregation in the 1960s and was briefly used as a day care center until being abandoned in the early 1970s. It was eventually purchased by Glynn County and the St. Simons Land Trust but due to deterioration, it was slated for demolition in 2010. The Land Trust and the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition formed the Friends of Harrington School and saved the school house. Serious work began in 2015 and by December 2016, the school was restored to its former glory.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Reagin Cottage, 1930s, St. Simons Island

With all the new construction on St. Simons it’s easy to miss places like this, but they represent the first major wave of construction and development on the island and they’re important historic resources. Most are located on Ocean Boulevard and nearby. This English Vernacular cottage was built sometime between 1935-1939.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Bungalow, Circa 1937, St. Simons Island

Though it’s been modified, this bungalow is one of numerous historic dwellings on Ocean Boulevard.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Mary Ross Waterfront Park Pavilion, Brunswick

Mary Ross (1881-1971) was born in Camden County but grew up in Brunswick. After receiving her teaching certificate from the State Normal School in Athens in 1906, she taught in Brunswick and then in Tuscon, Arizona. Furthering her education at the University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkley, she received a B. A. in History in 1916 and completed her M. A. in History under Professor Herbert Bolton in 1918. She collaborated with Bolton on The Debatable Land: A Sketch of the Anglo-Spanish Conquest of the Georgia Country, . published in 1925. The focus of the scholarship was Spain’s claims on Georgia dating to the 16th century but the misidentification of tabby ruins on the Georgia coast tarnished the reputation of Bolton and lead to Mary Ross’s never publishing again. She moved back to Brunswick in 1953 but continued researching Spain’s presence in Georgia. Despite the controversy related to her early work, she was nonetheless an important early woman historian from Georgia. Her vast archive is now held by the Georgia Department of Archives and History.  More about Mary Ross can be found here.

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Brunswick GA

Stebbins-Martin House, Dorchester

A 1914 photograph of this house (not posted here) indicates that the present portico is a later addition, replacing a lower porch roof.

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Dorchester GA

Gable Front House, Sunbury

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Sunbury GA

Horton-duBignon House, Circa 1736, Jekyll Island

Dates on these ruins range from circa 1736 to 1742. Built by Major William Horton, General James Oglethorpe’s second-in-command, the structure employed the preferred building material of Coastal Georgia, tabby. While Oglethorpe was at Fort Frederica, Horton kept a small military outpost on Jekyll. The vast fields around the house were planted with rye, barley and hops for use in Horton’s brewery, and the area around the house was originally known as Rye Patch. Beer was the only alcoholic beverage allowed in the colony at the time and Horton’s brewery supplied the soldiers at Fort Frederica. In 1742, after the Battle of Bloody Marsh on nearby St. Simons, Spanish troops burned the house. Upon Oglethorpe’s return to England in 1743, Horton became commander of military forces in the colony. He died in Savannah in 1748.

Fleeing the French Revolution in 1791, Le Sieur Christophe Poulain de la Houssaye duBignon and family purchased Jekyll Island and restored this house, adding wooden wings. The duBignons raised Sea Island cotton and indigo, but the Civil War brought their economic model to an end. Union soldiers destroyed most of the house, as well.

Upon their purchase of the island in 1888, the Jekyll Island Club reinforced the ruins of the Horton-duBignon House and placed a wall around the old duBignon Cemetery. Taylor Davis notes that a 2004 stabilization has resulted in the “splotchy” appearance of the structure. Like many of Georgia’s tabby ruins, the Horton-duBignon House has had multiple identities over time. As late as the 1940s, tourist postcards were identifying it as the site of an “old Spanish mission”.  This was apparently a widely held belief about most such ruins on the coast until modern scholarship confirmed historic identities in the last half of the 20th century.

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA