Tag Archives: Endangered Places of Coastal Georgia
I was recently contacted by some friends in McIntosh County about the opportunity to photograph a slave cabin on their property. Of course, this immediately piqued my interest and when I learned it was of wooden construction, I was even more intrigued. Most slave dwellings on the coast are of tabby construction and nearly all are documented, so to have the opportunity to see an undocumented wooden example was extraordinary. The owners have shared its history, which I will update soon. The property is not publicly accessible.
The structure has been preserved by a couple families for at least 150 years and likely housed black domestics well into the late-19th/early-20th centuries. It’s presently in vulnerable condition, but the owners have expressed an interest in having it properly restored to historical specifications.
Since stories of slave cabins are nearly as abundant as those relating “Sherman’s troops slept in Granddaddy’s barn” and “George Washington slept here”, it’s important to “read” the structure to validate its age and history. There were myriad variations as to style in slave dwellings, so that alone can’t be used to confirm such a structure’s use. Most were very simple single- or double-pen cabins. Some were saddlebags, with a chimney in the middle, while others had the chimney located on one side (as in this example). Nails are a good way to make general assumptions as to age, and this one features Type B cut nails, which were in common use between the 1810s and 1900. The lack of glass windows is also a good indicator, though not definitive.
Designed at the behest of Mayor P. W. Meldrim by Eichberg & Witcover, the architects also responsible for Savannah City Hall, the municipal powder magazine was built by John R. Eason. On average, it provided safe storage for 96,000 pounds of black powder and 8,500 pounds of dynamite. The 15-acre property originally contained a keeper’s cottage, as well.
Abandoned since 1963, it’s the last surviving municipal powder magazine in Georgia. Because of its fortress-like construction, including 3-foot-thick walls, it’s considered the sturdiest structure in Chatham County. This has insured its survival over the years, but today its future is uncertain.
Though concealed in overgrown woods, it is located in a busy and rapidly growing area of the city.
Homeless people have been known to use the facility for shelter and there always seems to be some amount of debris inside.
A Powder Magazine Park Commission was created by Tommy Holland to explore viable alternatives for the preservation of the property, and after years of neglect, it appears serious work is being done to move forward. Mr. Holland notes that the Savannah Powder Magazine Facebook page is the best source for updates on the project.