Tag Archives: Recreation in Coastal Georgia

Hanover Square, 1771, Brunswick

Laid out in 1771 with a modified version of Oglethorpe’s “Savannah Plan”, Brunswick has worked hard in recent  years reclaiming as many of its historic squares as possible. Hanover Square is the jewel in the crown, being the least altered of the original squares. A non-profit preservation group, Signature Squares of Historic Brunswick, actively promotes these public parks and is engaged in ongoing research to restore them.

Of Hanover Square, they note: [It] is one of the two large squares in Old Town Brunswick that retains its original size and shape. It was named to honor Britain’s ruling House of Hanover during the reign of King George II, when the Colony of Georgia was established. Initially, Hanover Square was the hub of official city and county business. The county courthouse, jail and stockyards were located in the square until the late 19th century.

As Brunswick grew and prospered, its citizens began to feel that the muddy, trampled stockyard and shabby wooden buildings did not represent an up-and-coming city properly. In 1882, the Ladies Park Association campaigned for the removal of the courthouse from Hanover Square and raised funds to purchase materials to beautify the area, which was referred to as “Hanover Park.” The city drilled a deep artesian well, topped with an ornate fountain, that yielded water rich with minerals that were thought to be therapeutic for certain diseases. When the projects were completed in 1885, the park’s title was returned to the city.

For decades, Hanover Square was the heart of public gatherings in the city. Church socials and concerts in the bandstand filled the evenings with laughter and music. The gardens were expanded and modified to reflect landscape tastes of each era. Brunswick’s residents stood guard over Hanover Square numerous times when transportation projects threatened the integrity and boundaries of the historic space.

In the mid-20th century, the city’s population growth trended northward and Hanover, like other original squares, fell into decline. As Signature Squares was organized to save the parks and squares within the Historic District of Brunswick, Hanover Square became its first project. The fountain was restored, walkways were replaced and the rose garden was replanted. More work is planned for the future to return the square to its full glory.

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Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Skidaway River, Isle of Hope

Views of the Skidaway River from Bluff Drive are among Isle of Hope’s most appealing qualities, emblematic of the slower pace that residents enjoy.

Bluff Drive and the surrounding little streets are truly among the most idyllic neighborhoods in Savannah.

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Isle of Hope Marina

Noel Wright’s fascinating history of marine operations at Isle of Hope confirm their central role in the community for the better part of the 20th century. The Hallman family were among the first commercial operators in the 20th century, bolstered by Joe Hallman’s reputation as one of Savannah’s best shipbuilders. The Brady and Barbee families were also important to this early industry. Bill Brady, brother-in-law of Willie Barbee, bought Hallman’s Fish Camp circa 1939 and renamed it Brady’s Boat Works.

Mr. Wright recalls: Over the years, the marina added numerous floating docks and large covered boat wet storage sheds. They installed benches in front of the over-the-water office for customers and kibitzers, and the marina became the center of activity for the entire island. Many of today’s Isle of Hope adults worked for the marina in their youths as their first paying job. In 1962, Isle of Hope was filled with excitement! Gregory Peck, Polly Bergen, and Robert Mitchum were in Savannah filming the movie, Cape Fear. Several of the important scenes were filmed at the marina under the gaze of thrilled crowds of Isle of Hopeians. Isle of Hope lads Malcolm Harbison and Jim Sickel both had bit parts in the movie! Bill Brady retired in the middle 1970s and Neil Mingledorff became the next owner.

In the mid 1980’s, real estate investors became interested in buying the marina and the houses on the Bluff that had been acquired over the years with plans to close the marina and build condominiums and develop the marina land for commercial uses. When the developers realized the strong opposition to their plans from the Isle of Hope residents, David Johnson stepped forward and purchased the marina operations, and the IOH Historical Association purchased the residential properties across the Bluff. The Association immediately resold the residential parcels to individuals who agreed to rehab the existing homes or construct new homes on the few vacant lots in compliance with guidelines established by the Association. Jack Oliver became the manager, and peace returned to the island.

Today, Charlie Waller and his sister Kathryn Waller II, are the marina owners. They have recently completely rebuilt and modernized the facilities to transform it into the most up-to-date, desirable, and sought-after marina on the Georgia coast.

Mr. Wright has lived on Bluff Drive since 1944 and his history is worth reading. This is just a small part of it.

 

 

 

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Sunset Cruise, Jekyll Island

Sunset and dolphin cruises are a great way to see Jekyll Island from a different perspective. They’re affordable and allow you to see more than just the beach. Check with Captain Phillip or other providers for details.

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Morgan Indoor Tennis Center, 1930, Jekyll Island

By the early 1900s, tennis had eclipsed hunting in popularity among members of the Jekyll Island Club. In 1930 this shingle-sided facility was completed and named in honor of Club president J. P. Morgan, Jr. A renovation was completed in 1986 but a public-private partnership between the Jekyll Island Authority and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel led to its full restoration as a conference center in the mid-2010s.

Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark

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Croquet at the Jekyll Island Club

Croquet was a favorite of the millionaires who were members of the exclusive Jekyll Island Club in the late 19th century, and in honor of that tradition a beautiful croquet law is still maintained for visitors of the Jekyll Island Club Resort.

Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark

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Savannah-Ogeechee Canal, 1830

The sign pictured above, in the parking area, illustrates the method of towing a barge in the canal.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal is a national landmark of early engineering located on the edge of Savannah. The 16.5-mile canal, conceived by turnpike owner Ebenezer Jenckes, was constructed by slave laborers and Irish immigrants between 1826-1830 to expedite transportation of cotton, lumber, and other valuable market products from the Ogeechee River to port at Savannah. It also served as a means of moving consumer items from Savannah to the state’s interior. DeWitt Clinton, Jr., son of the New York governor associated with the Erie Canal, was the first chief engineer. In 1827, he abruptly left the project, likely due to investors’ refusal to incorporate a feeder canal. His assistant, Edward Hall Gill, briefly assumed engineering duties, but was replaced in 1828 by Loring Olmstead Reynolds.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal (originally known as the Savannah-Ogeechee-Altamaha Canal) was the first and most ambitious of three built in Georgia during the Canal Era and is the only one retaining significant structural components today. Plans to connect it to the Altamaha and eventually the Flint and Chattahoochee were never realized.It was beset with problems from the beginning and at least three local newspapers dubbed it “the Folly”. In 1826, Peter McIntyre, a local subcontractor, paid the passage for one hundred Irish laborers to work on the project. They worked for about a month but by December began to riot. McIntyre and another subcontractor, Eze Baldwin, absconded with their payroll, leaving the workers “in deep distress” and a “state approaching starvation.” They were aided by members of the local Hibernian Society before returning to Ireland or dispersing elsewhere. Such unexpected labor disputes lead to cost overruns and heavy debt. Nonetheles, work on the canal was completed by December 1830.

By 1836, the canal was bankrupt, and sold at a sherrif’s sale. Investor iterest in canals had been replaced by the promise of railroads. The new owners set out to improve it, replacing wooden locks with more substantial brick locks, and the canal began to turn a profit, albeit not the margin expected. Portions of all the locks survive, some nearly in their entirety. Five of the locks also featured a keeper’s house.

In the days leading up to the capture of Savannah in 1864, Union and Confederate troops were encamped near the canal and were involved in several skirmishes. Damage was done to the canal but by 1866, it was operational once again. In 1876, Captain Charles Sheftall lead weekly excursions along the canal that included music, dancing, dining, and other reccreational activities. Heavy rains in June 1876 did serious damage to the canal. A yellow fever epidemic that followed claimed over a thousand lives and officials blamed the canal’s stagnant waters, overflowing banks, and inadequate drainage.

After years of losing business to the railroads, the canal was purchased by the Central of Georgia in 1888 and officially ceased operation.

The walking trail begins at Lock No. 5 (Young’s Lock).

Much of the 1.6-mile trail follows the historic towpath.

A heavy stone bearing associated hardware bears the date of 1830, the year the canal was officially opened.

Lock No. 6 is located at the point where the canal meets the Ogeechee River.

Details of the architecture are visible from the south side.

The bricks were made on site.

This important resource is an amazing survivor and its accessibility as a public recreation area is the result of the work of the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society, who oversee the property and offer interpretive background.

The boardwalk follows the shoreline of the Ogeechee and offers great views of this historic river.

 

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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