Historical Stops of Interest
In addition to the
Homes on St. Simons and Sea Island, the Tour of Homes includes
historic stops of interest as listed below.
St. Ignatius Mission Church
Wesley Memorial Gardens
Christ Church Frederica
Hamilton Slave Cabins
Morning Prayer is held daily at 8:00 am
(except Sundays) and Holy Eucharist is celebrated at 5:30 pm on Saturday
and 5:00 pm on Sunday.
ST. IGNATIUS CHURCH
2906 Demere Road
SAINT IGNATIUS CHURCH was built in 1886, as a Mission of Christ
Church, Frederica, for the African-Americans living on Saint Simons Island.
Anson Dodge had Saint Ignatius and three other mission churches built on the
island and, under his direction other Episcopal missions were built on the
mainland. The hurricane of 1897 – recorded at the time as a cyclone – almost
destroyed the little church, and it was rebuilt. Originally located off a
little lane leading to Union Memorial (aka Stranger’s) Cemetery and facing
East, St. Ignatius was rebuilt in 1898 on Demere Road, facing South. It is
built in the traditional cruciform, of heart pine, which inside naturally
aged to its present color, the same as Christ Church, Frederica.
The Lectern, Bishop’s chair,
Priest’s chair, and Baptismal font were all donated by Lovely Lane
Chapel. They were placed here when that church was de-consecrated and
used as a recreation center. That building has been re-consecrated and
is now Lovely Lane Chapel at Epworth-by-the Sea Conference Center. The stained glass windows
behind the Altar were made in Philadelphia by the Willet Company. The
hand depicts God the Father, the lamb depicts God the Son, and the dove
depicts the Holy Spirit. The candlesticks on the Altar were brought from
England in 1858. The bell was installed in the 1980's and is from the
WWII Liberty Ship Henry Wynkoop. The reed organ was built
circa 1900 and installed at Christ Church, Frederica in 1933. The
original hand pump is still intact and the pipes are merely
decorative. For years, the windows in the Church were translucent,
jalousie-panel glass. Ten new stained glass windows were designed in
2000 by M.B. Keys, a parishioner of Christ Church Frederica, and made by
the Wippell Company of
Exeter, England. The Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit, Bishop of Georgia,
blessed the new windows April 29, 2001.
THE ORGAN was originally in Christ Church, Frederica; a gift of the
Berolzheimer family of Little Saint Simons Island and Stockton,
California. It is a reed action pump organ. The original pump handle can
still be seen on its side. When electricity came to the north end of the
island the organ was electrified. It was placed in Saint Ignatius in
Established in 1986 to commemorate the ministries of
John and Charles Wesley, the Wesley Memorial Garden offers a calm
retreat on Tour Day. Dedicated in 1988, the two acre garden has
as its focal point an 18 foot high Celtic Cross, sculpted from Georgia
granite. Gravel paths wind throughout the natural setting which
has been impeccably landscaped to showcase some 60 varieties of 4,000
azaleas and other native shrubs. The Garden is located directly
across the street from Christ Church and is easily accessible for a
The church traces its origin to General James
Oglethorpe’s landing with the first English settlers on St. Simons Island on
February 22, 1736. After breakfast, a group assembled and joined in reading
the Litany with The Rev. Benjamin Ingham. General Oglethorpe had established
the first English colony in Savannah and settled this second colony at
Frederica to protect the new colony of Savannah from the Spanish threat in
Three outstanding religious leaders of the 18th century
were associated with the establishment of the church on St. Simons Island.
The Rev. Charles Wesley, MA, entered his ministry at Frederica on March 9,
1736, two weeks after the landing of the first settlers. He served as
Chaplain to General Oglethorpe and as Secretary for Indian affairs. Services
were also conducted by The Rev. John Wesley, The Rev. George Whitefield and
other clergy appointed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
These ministers were ordained clergymen of the Church of England by whom the
Episcopal Church in the United States was planted and nurtured. After the
return of the Wesleys to England, the evangelical revival eventuated in the
origin of the Methodist Church in which John Wesley had the principal role.
In 1752, the Trustees surrendered their Charter to the
King, and Georgia became a Royal Colony. In 1758, the Province was divided
into parishes, and Frederica and St. Simons were designated as St. James
Following the Revolutionary War, the descendants of early
settlers petitioned for a charter and were incorporated by an act of the
State Legislature on December 22, 1808, as "The Episcopal Church in the Town
of Frederica," called Christ Church. Land from the town of Frederica was
also "Given, Granted and Secured To and For the Use and Benefit of the Said
The first church on the present location was erected in
1820, and the congregation worshiped in it until the outbreak of the Civil
War. The Reverend Edmund Matthews, DD, who became rector in 1810, was one of
three clergymen composing the Primary Convention for the organization of the
Diocese of Georgia in 1823.
The Rev. Anson Green Phelps Dodge, Jr., rebuilt the
church following its destruction during the Civil War as a memorial to his
first wife, Ellen. The church was consecrated on the Feast of the Epiphany
in 1886 by the Rt. Rev. J. W. Beckwith, DD, Bishop of Georgia. In addition
to establishing an endowment for Christ Church, Frederica, Mr. Dodge built
and endowed the Anson Dodge Home for Boys (closed in 1956), and established
the Georgia Missions Fund for the support of missionaries and teachers in
certain designated counties of the Diocese. This legacy still provides
college scholarships for young men in the Diocese of Georgia.
The present church building is cruciform in design with a
trussed Gothic roof. Stained glass windows, given as memorials, commemorate
events in the life of Christ and the early history of the church on St.
Simons Island. The Font was given to the church by the Sunday School of St.
Thomas Church, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1884. Part of the Credence Table
and an inset in the present altar are from the altar of the 1820 church.
In the surrounding churchyard are buried former rectors
of the church, early settlers and their families, people who lived in the
plantation era and island residents and church members from the early days
of the 19th century to the present. Georgia’s first State Historian, Lucian
Lamar Knight, is buried here. The oldest gravestone that has been discovered
dates from 1803.
Sixteen rectors have served the parish since its
beginning, ten of them since the building of the new church in 1884: The
Rev. Dodge, The Rev. D. Watson Winn, The Rev. Dr. Charles Lee, The Rev.
Joseph Walker, The Rev. Wiltshire W. Williams, The Rev. Lawrence M. Fenwick,
The Rev. Dr. Edwin Bethea, The Rev. Dr. Junius J.Martin, The Rev. Thomas
Fitzgerald and The Rev. Douglas Renegar. Serving for brief periods were The
Rev. J. Sullivan Bond as Vicar and The Rev. Frederick Cousins,
superintendent of the Anson Dodge Home for Boys, as supply priest.
The Florida Times Union, Jacksonville, Sunday, April 1,
St. Simons Island Church Dedicates A Lich Gate
THE LICH GATE
shown in the inset, an old tradition of
the Church of England, will be dedicated today at Christ Episcopal Church,
Frederica, St. Simons Island, Ga. Along with the wall built of old bricks in
front of the church property, it will add color to one of the nation’s most
The beginning of Christ Church coincides with the arrival
of Gen. Oglethorpe at St. Simons in 1736. The congregation was established
as a mission of the Church of England On Feb. 15 that year.
BROUGHT with him an ordained clergyman of the Church of England, the
Rev. Charles Wesley. The board of trustees had 300 acres of land set aside
for the support of the minister and the church. Christ Church today stands
on some of that. land. The first building for services was a combined chapel
and storehouse built within the walls of Ft. Frederica.
Bibles, vestments, altar linens. Communion vessels and
copies of the Book of Common Prayer were sent by the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel, a missionary organization. The society also sent
the Rev. John Wesley, also an ordained clergyman of the Church of England,
to Savannah. After Charles left Frederica, John visited there five times. It
was after their return to England that John conducted the revival that led
to the founding of the Methodist Church.
AFTER THE Revolutionary War, Christ Church and other
churches that had been served by clergymen of the Church of England, formed
the Protestant Episcopal Church, of America.
Christ Church was incorporated as a parish by the Georgia
Legislature and given 108 acres of glebe land. The first church on this
property was built in 1820. It was almost totally destroyed during the War
Between the States. In 1884 the remains of the old church were torn down and
the present building erected on its site by the Rev. A. G. P. Dodge Jr. in
memory of his first wife, Ellen Ada Phelps Dodge.
THE LICH GATE was made possible by Ruth Reed
Robbins, a faithful parishoner. Lich is a Scottish word which means corpse.
A lich gate is a covered gate to a churchyard through which the corpse is
carried to the church or burial place and where the bier is placed to await
the clergyman. There are many lich gates in England, but only few are found
in the United States.
It was the custom for pallbearers bringing the
casket from the home to the church for last rites to pause at the gate.
Staves were placed across two benches within the gate and the casket laid on
them while the pallbearers rested until the minister arrived to lead the
procession to the ‘church.’
The Harrington School
last African-American school on St. Simons Island, the Harrington School
represents the most viable and valuable venue to interpret the Gullah/Geechee
heritage of St. Simons Island. The building formerly served as the
Harrington Grade School from the 1920s until its desegregation in the
1960s, when it was converted to a daycare facility and served as such
until the 1970s.
In 2004, Glynn County and the St. Simons Land Trust,
Inc. acquired ownership of a tract of real estate, containing
approximately 12 acres of land, known as the Harrington Tract and
located on South Harrington Road on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The
Harrington Tract includes a parcel of land containing approximately 1.7
acres, on which is located the last remaining African American school
house on St. Simons Island.
The Harrington Tract was acquired by the Land Trust
and the County pursuant to the Georgia Greenspace laws and the Glynn
County Greenspace program. Following that acquisition, the County and
the Land Trust executed and recorded various documents which restricted
the Harrington Tract for the use of the public.
After several unsuccessful attempts, over several
years, to find funding for the restoration of the Schoolhouse, the Land
Trust determined in late 2009 that the building was so deteriorated that
it was probably beyond the point that restoration was possible. The Land
Trust concluded that its best course of action would be to disassemble
the Schoolhouse and erect a “ghost structure” with suitable signage
memorializing the site.
In early 2010, members of the
St. Simons African
American Heritage Coalition and others interested in historic
preservation decided to seek a second opinion regarding the physical
condition of the Schoolhouse building.
consulted with Cullen Chambers, who is the Chair of the Technical
Advisory Committee of the Historic Preservation Advisory Council of the
Coastal Regional Commission. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Chambers and his
staff inspected the Schoolhouse and determined that the building was
structurally sound and worthy of preservation and restoration.
Once this determination was made, renewed enthusiasm
for the restoration of the Schoolhouse began to build. The restoration
process of preserving the Harrington School began in 2011 and is now
[Sources: The Georgia Trust; The Society for
Georgia Archeology - Rawson Gordon]
Located at South Herrington at Bennies Red Barn, St.
Simons Island, GA 31522
Hamilton Slave Cabins - Gascoigne Bluff
Hamilton Plantation, owned by James Hamilton, a native of Scotland, was
located on Gascoigne Bluff. The Bluff was named for Captain James
Gascoigne, Commander of the British sloop “Hawk,” which brought General
Oglethorpe to St. Simons Island in the early 1700s. The Bluff became a
storehouse for marine supplies, ship repair facilities and, in effect,
was Georgia’s first naval base. Hamilton Plantation (late 1790s) was a
working plantation producing long-staple Sea Island cotton along with
oak and pine timbers.
Of the long row of tabby slave cabins built near the plantation house
during the early 1830s, two remain today. They were constructed of
tabby, which is a concrete-like mixture of lime, sand, water and oyster
shells. The cabins were divided in the center by a wall and fireplace
creating two rooms that housed two families. The slaves who lived in
these cabins were likely the house slaves.
Cassina Garden Club began meeting in these cabins in 1932 and was deeded
the property by the county in 1950. Cassina Garden Club has just
completed a historically correct restoration of their cabins, one as it
was in the early 1830s when it was constructed and the other as it was
during the “Mill Days” of the 1870s to the 1920s. Not surprisingly,
this beautiful property was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1988 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.