Tag Archives: Georgia Tabby

Greater St. Matthew A. M. E. Church, Camden County

This is located in the Sandhill community.


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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY

Cannon’s Point, St. Simons Island

Acquisition of the Cannon’s Point property (608 acres) by the St. Simons Land Trust (SSLT) in 2013 has affected the preservation of the last contiguous wild maritime forest on the island. The peninsula, at the northeast end of the island, features over six miles of salt marsh, tidal creek, and river shoreline. Ancient shell middens, essentially the trash piles of Native American settlers, are also present. At the dock just beyond the parking lot is this idyllic view of a small tributary of the Hampton River, located at the former site of Taylor’s Fish Camp.

Free and open to the public Saturday-Monday 9AM-3PM, Cannon’s Point Preserve is staffed by volunteers who will give you a bit of history and information when you arrive. Be aware that the walk down Cannon’s Point Road, the main trail in the preserve, is 4.4 miles roundtrip. Bring water, bug spray, and good shoes.

The old camp store remains and has recently been restored.

The first structure you’ll likely notice as you begin the hike to the Couper house ruins is this tabby barn. Built circa 1925 by Charles, Archibald, Arthur, and Reginald Taylor as a storage shed, it’s a great example of tabby architecture. The Taylor brothers established a business in 1919, farming, raising livestock, and operating as fishing guides. This part of the Cannon’s Point Preserve was known as the Lawrence Plantation and the brothers purchased it from Anna Gould Dodge, widow of Christ Church rector Anson Gates Dodge, in 1921. The Taylors were the largest producers of  beef and pork in the area until the 1960s. In the early 1970s, the barn was used as a set location in the movie Conrack.

The road to the north end is characterized by palmetto and live oak, dominant species of the Atlantic maritime forest.

There are numerous “ancient oaks” throughout the preserve, some well over two hundred years old.

Holly (Ilex) is also found throughout.

Cannon’s Point is known to be a haven for the curious Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), a widely cultivated edible and medicinal variety.

The first site along the trail is the ruins of a slave cabin. All that remains is this hearth. From the establishment of the plantation in the 1790s until 1861, the cotton plantation at Cannon’s Point was wholly dependant on the labor of enslaved Africans.  Archaeological excavations undertaken here in the 19790s suggest that the slave cabins were built as 40×20 duplexes, with each family living in a 20×20 section. At this particular location, four cabins housing eight families surrounded a central well.

The site of the overseer’s house is beyond the slave cabin ruins. Research has indicated that overseers were very transient at Cannon’s Point, staying on average just a year and a half. They were paid between $200-$400 per year. The ruins confirm that it was unusually large when compared to other such structures on the coast. Most were two-room affairs, similar to slave cabins. The Cannon’s Point example was comparable to the owner’s house on small plantations. It’s thought to have been built in the 1820s.

Upon their acquisition of the property, the SSLT determined that the chimney was in danger of collapsing. They stabilized it using loose bricks found at the site.

The hearth remains, as well.

At the end of the long walk over the peninsula are the extensive ruins of John Couper’s Cannon’s Point House (built circa 1804). The human history of the area dates back at least 4500 years, when the first native people are thought to have been present. In the 1660s Spanish missionaries established Santo Domingo de Asajo to minister to the Guale Indians. Pirates drove missionaries and the Guale from the island by 1684, but the Guale returned over time. Daniel Cannon, a carpenter at Fort Frederica, was the first English owner, having been granted property here by the Trustees of the Georgia Colony in 1738. He didn’t stay long, though, and was in South Carolina by 1741.

John Couper, who came from Scotland to America prior to the Revolution, acquired Cannon’s Point in 1793 and with James Hamilton made Sea Island cotton the dominant crop of St. Simons Island. Couper served as a representative to the Georgia constitutional convention of 1798 and in 1804 gave the land known as Couper’s Point for construction of a lighthouse on St. Simons Island.

John Couper built this house by 1804 and lived here with his wife Rebecca and their five children throughout the antebellum era. Vice President Aaron Burr was among the first visitors. The labor of over 100 slaves kept the plantation running. (This image is from a painting by Couper’s grandson, John Lord Couper, circa 1850). Rebecca died in 1845 and John in 1850, at the age of 91. They’re buried in the cemetery at Christ Church, Frederica. Couper’s oldest son, James Hamilton Couper, managed Cannon’s Point until 1861 and it passed out of family hands in 1866. Several owners attemptd to maintain it over the next few decades with little success. The house burned in 1890.

A chimney with ovens and its tabby foundation are all that remain of the detached kitchen, which was built in the late 1790s. The slave cook Sans Foix produced wonderful meals for the Coupers and their guests, drawing acclaim from far and wide.

Beyond the kitchen are these ruins, which are presently unidentified.

Beautiful views of the Hampton River and Little St. Simons Island abound at Cannon’s Point.






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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

Horton Brewery Ruins, 1730s, Jekyll Island

This was identified as Georgia’s first brewery when the property was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, but like many of Georgia’s tabby ruins, it has an ambiguous history. Signage at the Horton House Historic Site identifies it as  the ruins of a warehouse. If it is the brewery ruins, it’s one of Georgia’s first industrial sites. Major Horton’s Brewery fueled the troops at nearby Fort Frederica throughout the late 1730s.

Specific dates for the brewery and/or warehouse are as difficult to pin down as they are for the house, but considering the connection to Fort Frederica and its likely need for alcohol from the outset, it was likely operational before 1740. Taylor Davis, who wrote his masters thesis on tabby in Georgia, also identifies the ruins as the brewery ruins.

National Register of Historic Places


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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island 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

Hollybourne Cottage, 1890, Jekyll Island


Superlative in appearance and history, Hollybourne is the only tabby-walled house to have been built in the cottage colony and the Maurices were the only family associated with the Jekyll Island Club from its inception until its disbanding in 1948. Charles Stewart Maurice was a Union midshipman in the Civil War, seeing service on several ships. After the war he took a job with the Lower Hudson Steamboat Company and was involved for a time in a tannery business with a childhood friend.


Around the time of his marriage in 1869, Maurice worked as a timber supplier to the Oswego Midland Railroad for the construction of bridges. He entered into a partnership with Charles Kellogg in 1871 to build railway bridges and soon, the firm of Kellogg and Maurice was pioneering the construction of iron bridges. In 1884 the firm merged with several others to form the Union Bridge Company. Union Bridge built some of the best-known bridges of the era and made Maurice a very wealthy man. The Maurices lived in Athens, Pennsylvania, during much of this time.


When Maurice became one of the first members of the newly formed Jekyll Island Club he enlisted architect William H. Day to build his cottage. Day’s design for the house is of a style referred to as Jacobethan. The term was coined by Sir John Betjeman in 1933 to describe a Renaissance/Tudor Revival form blending Jacobean and Elizabethan elements.


The Maurices spent all but two Christmases at Hollybourne from 1890-1942 and had a great love for the home and the island. Joan Hall McCash notes in The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 1998) that the family was generous with others on the island at Christmas, and from about 1900-1920, Hollybourne was  the center of life during the club season.


Hollybourne is the most architecturally interesting home on the island and its preservation should be commended.Though there has always been a desire to save it, its future was uncertain for many years.


Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark



Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA

Jack Nelson Ford, Darien


This has been remodeled and now serves as the Darien firehouse. Its Streamline Moderne architecture suggests it was likely built from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s. The ‘modern” tabby walls have been replaced by stucco. In transferring materials from one website to another, I have lost the comments, but someone noted that the dealership had another owner besides Jack Nelson. I’ll add that information, as well as photo of its present appearance, as soon as possible. (These photographs were made in 2011).





Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA

Ashantilly, Darien


Now known as The Ashantilly Center, a non-profit educational and cultural historic site, the focal point of this property is “Old Tabby”, which was the mainland home of early Georgia planter and legislator Thomas Spalding. Originally built around 1820, the home burned in 1937. The present structure was built by William G. (Bill) Haynes, Jr., incorporating what remained of the original structure. I made these photographs in 2011 at the invitation of Harriet Langford, Ashantilly’s most ardent advocate and chairman of its board of directors.


This is a section of the original tabby.


Bill Haynes worked hard to preserve the historical integrity of the property, though additions were necessary to make the house livable.


Period furniture collected by Haynes over the years can be seen in the parlor and in other areas of the house, like the dining room, seen below.


Bill Haynes was a man of many talents. He made the oil painting below in which Old Tabby can faintly be seen in the background, as it appeared before the fire of 1937.


His interest in Southern subjects is evident in this watercolor of a sweet potato harvest.


An avid bibliophile, Haynes’s collection fills library shelves throughout the house.


The attic served as a workshop for Haynes. It’s presently being cataloged and organized.


Because the house faces Black Island Creek, the rear elevation is what many people see first.


National Register of Historic Places






Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA