Tag Archives: Restoration in 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

Smallest Church in America, McIntosh County

Built in 1949 by Agnes Harper and deeded to Christ, the Smallest Church in America has been a place of refuge for thousands who have traveled US17 over the years. While it isn’t actually the smallest church in America, it’s among the smallest. Such roadside chapels are scattered all over the country. It was lost to arson on 28 November 2015 but a reconstruction effort was in place immediately with contributions of money and materials pouring in from all over the world.

I made the first four photographs of the tiny 190-square-foot before the fire.

Visitors often leave prayers and messages to loved ones who have passed.

The following photos detail the reconstruction of the church, which reopened on 8 April 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, South Newport GA

Humphrey B. Gwathney House, 1823, Savannah

Built between 1822-23 and remodeled in 1883, the Gwathney House is the residential gem of Broughton Street, known as Savannah’s “main street”. It was restored by the Beehive Foundation in 1994-95. The nonprofit Beehive Foundation is one of Savannah’s greatest assets, publishing fine books about the history and culture of Georgia and the South. Founded by Mills Bee Lane IV as the Beehive Press in 1970, Beehive has been at the forefront of historic preservation for nearly five decades. Lane’s monumental 11-volume series, The Architecture of the Old South, has done more to bring attention to Southern architecture than any other source. And Lane wasn’t just a cultural observer, he was actively involved in saving and preserving landmarks throughout his life.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Joachim Hartstene House, 1803, Savannah

This house was rebuilt in 1964 incorporating many of the boards and other architectural features of the original. The only Joachim Hartstene I’ve been able to locate in Savannah records was born in Germany in 1732, with no date of death given. I’ll update when I have more information.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Henry Willink Cottage, 1845, Savannah

The home of Henry Frederick Willink is one of many early Savannah landmarks that have been moved to the vicinity of East St. Julian Street. Willink was the son of a successful German immigrant, Frederick Henry Willink. He was born in Savannah in either 1825 or 1827; the date and location of his death are unknown. After time spent at the Chatham Academy, the younger Willink apprenticed at his father’s shipyard before moving to New York to improve his skills. Willink returned to Savannah in 1851 to start his own shipyard. [His home, originally located near Oglethorpe Aveune at the intersection of Price and Perry Streets, is said to have been built in 1845, but since he didn’t return to Savannah until 1851, there is some debate about the date].

By the outset of the Civil War, his business, Willink & Miller, was in full swing garnering commissions to build the gunboat Macon, as well as the ironclads Savannah and Milledgeville. After the war, he did quite well with other shipbuilding projects, as well as a wrecking  business and a marine railway on Hutchinson Island. From at least 1864 to 1877-79, Willink served as a Savannah alderman, but it is unclear if he served consecutive terms. Little beyond this time is known.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA