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Discover Where History Was Made on St. Simons Island

The island may stretch a mere 12 miles in length, but St. Simons’ rich history runs longer than the Georgia coast on which it rests. 

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Photo: Johnson Pictures Inc.;

Cassina Garden Club Slave Cabins

A significant piece of African-American history resides on a former working estate at Casciogne Bluff on the western side of the island. There, in the late 18th century, James Hamilton built four slave quarters made of tabby—a mixture of lime, sand, water and oyster shells—as part of a planned community of slave dwellings to work the 500 acres that harvested Sea Island cotton and logged timbers. British troops later raided and looted the estate during the War of 1812, liberating many of Hamilton’s slaves. The Cassina Garden Club were deeded the property in 1950 and proudly took on the role of land stewards, restoring the two remaining cabins with as much historic accuracy as possible. Their work earned the cabins a place on the National Register of Historic places in 1988.

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Photo: Johnson Pictures Inc.;

Fort Frederica National Monument

James Oglethorpe built the fort in 1736 to protect the southern border of Georgia from the encroaching Spanish. Overlooking the Frederica River, the military outpost gave the British an important vantage point from which they could control the inland passage up the coastline and operated as a hub of military operations for more than a decade. Most notably, the fortified walls proved impenetrable by the Spanish during the Battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742. Shortly after that British victory, the fort disbanded.

Today, visitors walk among the fort’s archaeological remnants that include the ruins of the palisade walls, the magazine where gun power was stored and a soldiers’ barrack. The property, which is managed by the National Park Service, also includes burial grounds from the 1700s, with ancient tombs emerging from layers of natural overgrowth.

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Photo: Chris Bordeleau;

Christ Church

Built in 1820, Christ Church is the second oldest Diocese in Georgia and regarded as one of America’s most beautiful churches—and most photographed. The quaint chapel not only serves as a memorial to John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church who delivered sermons there under a magnificent oak, but also to a young man’s lost love. After Union forces nearly destroyed the church during the Civil War, 24-year-old Rev. Anson Dodge, Jr. financed its reconstruction in honor of his wife, Ellen, who died unexpectedly on their honeymoon. Anson had her buried beneath the altar. The peaceful and pristine grounds also bear one of the oldest cemeteries in the state, where a number of well-known Georgians rest, including novelist Eugenia Price.

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Avenue of Oaks

Many a country club boasts a grand entrance, replete with auspicious waterfalls and Roman statues, but few can compare to the natural, breathtaking beauty encountered upon the approach to the Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons. Formerly the entrance to the most prosperous estate in the Golden Isles, double rows of majestic 160-year-old live oaks form an expansive canopy. It’s said that at one time the property boasted so many flowers that sailors could smell their alluring fragrance before ever stepping foot on land.

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