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Tag Archives: –CHATHAM COUNTY GA–
There was a brick daymark (daytime navigational aid without a light) on Cockspur Island by 1839. Its location at the busy entrance to the South Channel of the Savannah River just west of Tybee Island dictated its importance and by 1848, the prominent New York architect John Norris was contracted to design an illuminated tower. Norris was best known for designing the United States Customs House in Savannah, as well as the Mercer-Wilder House and the Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman was headquartered while in Savannah. An 1854 hurricane destroyed this structure and it was rebuilt the next year. It was discontinued in 1909. Stabilized between 1995-2000 and relit with a solar beacon in 2007, it remains in critical condition.
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Built in 1927 as a retirement home for the Brotherhood of Railroad Conductors, the “main building” today serves as an educational center for the surrounding Oatland Island Wildlife Center. It is quite typical of institutional architecture of its era and subsequently served as a Public Health Service hospital in World War II. Until being surplussed in 1973, it was used as a development laboratory by the Centers for Disease Control. The Chatham County Board of Education has owned it since then and it serves over 20,000 students and visitors each year as a wildlife education facility today. To movie buffs, the building may be familiar to viewers of the John Travolta movie, The General’s Daughter, as it was used as a set location. And Martha Barnes adds this interesting bit of Savannah trivia: People who read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will remember the main building as where Luther Driggers worked and actually developed the chemical used in today’s flea collars, but in the book he was always about to poison Savannah’s water supply.
Carol Suttle, a Savannah native and Oatland’s most enthusiastic ambassador, contacted me several months ago about photographing the old water tower at the entrance to the center; it’s scheduled to be demolished and it’s one of her favorite structures on the island. Touring the island and its natural features with Carol and photographer Mike McCall was a real treat, and I hope to revisit in the future. Located just past downtown Savannah on the Islands Expressway, it’s often overlooked by tourists heading to Tybee Island but is well worth a visit! See the link at the end of this post for specifics about admission and other particulars.
Of particular interest to viewers of Vanishing South Georgia is the Heritage Homesite located on the nature trail at Oatland Island Wildlife Center.
David Delk, Jr., built this cabin in 1837 in the Taylor’s Creek community near Gum Branch in Liberty County. It was moved and reconstructed here by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1979. The layout is of the Scots/Irish or “shotgun” design (not to be confused with the more common and more recent shotgun “house”), a vernacular form common in early Georgia. The mud-and-stick chimney was a utilitarian design which employed the use of locally available materials.
Martha Phillips Youngblood writes that the corn crib pictured below was originally owned by her grandfather, Thomas Hilton Phillips, and was moved here from Treutlen County.
Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), as well as wolves and bison can be easily seen on the property, as well as this beautiful view of Richardson Creek.
More photos will soon be posted on Vanishing Coastal Georgia.
Now a bed and breakfast inn, the Kehoe House is a center of tourist activity on Columbia Square. Built by an Irish immigrant iron worker who became one of the most prominent businessmen in the city, the house has had a storied history. After the Kehoe heirs sold it in 1930 it served as a boarding house and funeral home before being purchased by football legend Joe Namath in 1980. He originally planned on turning it into a night club but those plans never materialized and he sold it in 1989. Many tourists believe it to be haunted, likely from its days as a funeral home.
Cited as the catalyst for Savannah’s nationally recognized preservation movement, the Isaiah Davenport house was spared from destruction for a funeral home parking lot in 1955 and has been painstakingly renovated over the years to its due place as one of Georgia’s architectural gems. Today, it’s open for tours and hosts numerous events throughout the year. Don’t miss it if you’re in Savannah; it’s on Columbia Square, as well.
Internationally-known environmental advocate Erin Brockovich (you may have heard of the movie…) held a press conference and public forum at Love’s Seafood on the banks of the imperiled Ogeechee River on 2 November 2012. Ms. Brockovich was there to voice her support of efforts by Ogeechee Riverkeeper to force Georgia’s increasingly ineffective Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to perform their constitutionally-outlined duties and stop or significantly deter pollution by the King America Finishing Plant near Sylvania. King America, you may recall, was implicated in the the deaths of over 35,000 fish in the Ogeechee last year. The river needs all the help it can get and since as taxpayers, we help fund the EPD, let’s force them to do their job.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Board Chairman Ann Hartzell introduced Erin Brockovich to the crowd.
Read Ann’s article at ConnectSavannah here:
Ms. Brockovich was presented the Key to the City of Savannah and generously met with supporters afterward.
Georgia’s historic and beautiful Ogeechee River just made the top of the list of the state’s “Dirty Dozen” by the Georgia Water Coalition. If you care about our rivers, please get involved with a Riverkeeper or other advocacy group in your area and let your elected and appointed officials know you’re tired of excuses. We can have jobs and clean rivers at the same time. As was pointed out during Ms. Brockovich’s press conference, King America is an Illinois company and they meet environmental standards there. The reason they’re in Georgia is because they can get away with more pollution and operate with fewer regulations here. We’re better than that, Georgia. It’s not a political issue. As I stated in my post about Rayonier’s pollution of the Altamaha River, I recall from my childhood pictures of rivers in the industrial North full of oil and pollution, even catching on fire. We falsely assumed that our politicians would never let our rivers look like that. They were places we spent time with our families and learned to fish with our grandfathers or fathers and places we could depend on for food from time to time. Where do you think all the bluegill and bream served up at church fish fries and dinners-on-the-ground came from? Not from fish farms in Thailand or Vietnam, I’d bet. I don’t know what motivates the EPD to protect polluters like King America, but I do know we will get sick and tired of it, and then we’ll just get sick. Perhaps a fish fry from a local catch downstream from Sylvania would help convince them…we’ll invite the EPD Board and the legislature!
EPD District Office Locations and Contact Information