Jim Morrison graffiti, U. S. Picric Acid Plant, Brunswick
Known as “The Factory that Never Was”, this place looks more like something one would encounter under a freeway in New York or Los Angeles than in Coastal Georgia.
As America entered World War I in 1917, construction began on a factory at the site with the purpose of manufacturing picric acid, then vital to the manufacture of explosives.
It was to employ 5000 during the construction process and 6000 during operation and promised an economic boom for the community.
But the signing of the Versailles Treaty on 11 November 1918 put an end to the war and an end to the U. S. Picric Acid Plant in Brunswick.
Construction was halted immediately and the site was abandoned, just a month shy of completion.
It’s been suggested that the remains seen here were multi-level, built for the separation of chemicals used in the process.
Over the years large sections were demolished and this is all that remains, to my knowledge.
A partial chimney, visible from I-95, was also part of the operation. (Not pictured).
It’s suggested by some that another section remains nearby in the woods, overgrown to the point of obliteration, but I’m not looking for them so I cannot confirm either way.
Though it has been expanded during its history, the original circa 1869 core remains in this venerable church, built by Freedmen. Enslaved men and women established this congregation circa 1859 and when they were able, they built their own house of worship, which still serves their descendants to this day. If you’re driving to Christ Church or Fort Frederica, don’t overlook this important part of the island’s history.
Thanks to Paul Meacham for bringing this house to my attention. Check out his amazing finds @waywardsoutherner on Instagram.
This small house is one of the most intact survivors in the historic African-American community of South End.
Historic cottages and bungalows on St. Simons Island are such an endangered resource that they can’t be documented fast enough. This one is in the historic African-American community of Harrington.
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting and photographing the wonderful Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters at the 2020 African-American Festival at Fort Frederica National Monument. Visit this link to learn more about the history of the ring shout and the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters. As I’ve told nearly everyone who will listen, the Shouters are a real treasure and I encourage all to attend one of their performances if they have the opportunity. I’m presenting these photographs as a gallery, without captions, as I think the photographs speak for themselves.
This modern marina on the Hampton River serves the north end of St. Simons Island.
The Hampton River, sometimes referred to as Hampton Creek, is a 12 mile tidal river that forms the channel between St. Simons Island and Little St. Simons Island.
There is a small section of an original tabby wall on the right of the drive into the modern gated community at Hampton Point Plantation. Owners at some point incorporated tabby fencing (the lower section to the right).
On the left of the entrance to the gated community is a much larger section of tabby wall. (Detail below)
Major Pierce Butler (1744-1822) purchased Hampton Point near the northern end of St. Simons Island in 1774. Butler served South Carolina in the American Revolution, was a member of the Continental Congress, a Signer of the Constitution, and the first United States senator elected from South Carolina. Since he divided most of hist time between Charleston and Philadelphia, he hired Roswell King to manage his plantations in Georgia. After the death of Butler’s wife in 1790, his South Carolina plantations were sold and his primary focus shifted to Hampton Point and other Georgia Sea Island plantations. Hampton Point was his largest cotton operation with the largest slave population.
n 1805, Major Butler retired from politics and spent most of his time in Philadelphia. Upon his death his namesake grandson inherited Butler’s vast holdings in Coastal Georgia. The younger Butler did not prove as good a businessman as his grandfather and to remain financially solvent sold off his slaves in 1859. Approximately 436 human beings were auctioned near Savannah in what has come to be known as The Weeping Time, for its separation of numerous families. It is believed to be the largest single sale of human beings in history. The plantation burned in 1871, leaving only traces of the tabby structures built by those enslaved on the property.
Ruins of Slave Dwellings at Hampton Point Plantation
The ruins of four slave dwellings are visible today. While only two retain significant architectural features, all are important to the story of the enslaved people of St. Simons Island. I have no way to date them as I only had brief access and have not located documentation regarding dates of construction. If I were to venture a guess I’d estimate 1800-1830. They appear to have nearly identical floor plans to the slave dwellings at Hamilton Plantation.
The ruins are located on private property and I visited with a resident. Though I photographed all four visible dwelling sites, I’m only sharing the two which retain the most significant architectural features. For identification purposes, I’m calling one North Dwelling and the other South Dwelling.
The North Dwelling retains a small section of its northeastern wall and the scattered remnants of its hearth.
The South Dwelling is the most intact of the four sites, retaining sections of all four walls, a defined window, doorway, and hearth.