The Jekyll Island Club : The Cottages

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The Founding Of The Legendary Club

It’s hard to describe the feeling one gets when walking along the street in front of the historical cottages adjacent to The Jekyll Island Clubhouse . From Christmas to Easter, during the coldest months of the year in the northern states, these homes were used as winter havens by the families of America's richest and most famous men.

As one walks along the riverside street, the ancient moss laden live oaks give an almost eerie backdrop to the now uninhabited cottages. While some of them now house museums or other related historical artifacts, others seem only filled with the ghosts of the most famous of America’s tycoons and industrialists.

Once called “Ospo” by the Guale tribe of Native Americans who hunted and lived on the Island, Jekyll Island's first colonist was William Horton. At only 20 years of age, he established a plantation which furnished grain and hops for Georgia’s first brewery. The ruins of Horton House are on display not far from the cottages..

In the late 1790’s the island was bought by a French family surnamed du Bignon who grew long staple “Sea Island” cotton on the cleared plantation land. After almost 100 years of ownership, John Eugene du Bignon sold the island to a group of wealthy northerners for a reputed $125,000. Six years later the Jekyll Island Club was formerly established.

Peaceful Winters

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The Clubhouse Of The Elite

Now offering lodging to the public
Now offering lodging to the public
The clubhouse with annex
The clubhouse with annex
The front of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse
The front of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse

Fifty Six Seasons Of Wonder

For over half a century this Golden Isle was host to America’s wealthiest families. From shortly after Christmas until the end of Easter, the island was home to the J.P. Morgan’s, the Pulitzer’s, the Macy’s, the Goodyear’s, the Vanderbilt’s, and the list goes on and on, including U.S. Presidents and many other noted people of the day.

Originally started as a hunting club for the elite, it became a family retreat during the cold northern winters. The docks were once lined with luxurious yachts owned by the members. Some of the guests arrived in Brunswick aboard a special railroad car from up north.

There never has been, nor ever will be, a more exclusive club than the Jekyll Island Club. I cannot imagine today's richest people getting along as these families did.

The members of the Jekyll Island Club sold the island to the State of Georgia in 1947 when air travel became common. More exotic locales, such as Europe and Asia, beckoned the younger generation. The club was disbanded and this wonderful and powerful alliance of industry and fame was history.

For the sum of $625,000--the Crane Cottage alone was estimated to have cost $500,000 to build--the island suddenly became the property of the State of Georgia.

Stay a while at the Crane Cottage if you like.
Stay a while at the Crane Cottage if you like. | Source

The Cottages and Lodgings

Sans Souci-Apartments built in 1899
Sans Souci-Apartments built in 1899
The river view
The river view
The Crane Cottage-1916
The Crane Cottage-1916
Villa Ospo-1928
Villa Ospo-1928
Cherokee-1905
Cherokee-1905

Island Life And Amenities

The Jekyll Island Clubhouse still remains as awe inspiring today as it did over 100 years ago. Completed in 1888 it later was added to as the membership rose and more lodging was needed for families and guests. The club had its own electrical plant built on the island in 1902. This plant furnished electricity to all of the houses and buildings included in the clubhouse membership.

Shell roads were built to connect the areas of travel and recreation and 46 stables constructed for the horses of the members. Artesian wells provided all of the necessary water needs while vegetable gardens added to the fresh food supplies imported onto the island. The members lacked for nothing on this subtropical isle.

During the three month season the members played golf on their own private course, with a golf pro brought in, of course. The island had gamekeepers to maintain the quail, turkey, and pheasant populations for the avid hunters, as most members were. The beaches were a favorite spot for picnicking and fishing during the mild winters of the Georgia coast.

Casinos, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, swimming pools, bicycle paths, horseback riding, all of these pastimes and more, were available for any member or guest. The island superintendent made sure everything ran smoothly as the members expected.

The clubhouse lodged over 100 members, family, or guests for the season. Up to a dozen private homes, called cottages by the members, were built over the 56 year reign of the Jekyll island club. The Sans Souci, meaning “without care” is considered one of the forerunners of today’s condominiums. J. P. Morgan and William Rockefeller owned apartments in the complex completed in 1899. The Clubhouse annex was added in 1901 containing eight apartments with rooms for staff and guests.

A Variety of Architectural Tastes

Hollybourne-1892-1st cottage and only one built of tabby
Hollybourne-1892-1st cottage and only one built of tabby
Indian Mound-built 1892-William Rockefeller-1905
Indian Mound-built 1892-William Rockefeller-1905
Moss Cottage-1896-E.V. Macy
Moss Cottage-1896-E.V. Macy
Mistletoe Cottage-1901
Mistletoe Cottage-1901
Faith Chapel-Simple yet inspiring-1904
Faith Chapel-Simple yet inspiring-1904

Peaceful and Lonely

Some members preferred building their own residences for housing their families, guests, and staff. The members referred to these lodgings as “cottages” as indeed they were, compared to the lavish and often palatial residences they were accustomed to.

But to the average American citizen of the day, they would have seemed quite grand, and some were. The Crane Cottage raised a few eyebrows when built in !916 because it was considered by some to be too lavish for the island’s ambiance.

The variety of  architectural designs and styles of these vacation homes make each a delight to admire.  The personality of each owner seems to be projected by the chosen building design itself. Whether bold, lavish,or unassuming, each one seems to hold varied mysteries and secrets, as some surely do.  Many important events took place on this island, some with world wide implications.

Some of these homes are still quite wonderful to see. To stroll among them on a quiet day can be slightly unnerving, especially when no one else is in sight. Even when there are people present they seem to talk quietly, as if they are merely guests and the former proprietors are still in residence.

But there is a certain sadness to these unique structures as they stand among the ancient trees. They gaze out toward the river, as if waiting for the return of the families who once filled them with light and sound. One can almost sense the longing.

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Comments 36 comments

Vanne Way 6 years ago

It truly is an amazing place to visit in any season. I like the element of personification you gave to the homes. It certainly does seem there is an air of sadness and loneliness coming from the homes left by their owners. Excellent article!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks much Vanne! The photos do not do justice to the entire feel of the place. I bet Beth and Holle would love to hold a séance there. See you soon, I hope!

Randy


ralwus 6 years ago

I don't know, I think I prefer my humble surroundings. The mansion life is, well, I shall hold my tongue. Beautiful stuff though. Thanks for sharing Randy. I need to thank you for your sentiments towards me on that thread concerning my almost demise. Much appreciated. Thanks my friend. CC


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I agree, Charlie! I feel much more at home in my swamps. I have to say though, sometimes I feel sorry for the extremely wealthy. They have everything already which gives them nothing to look forward to.

I figured you to be a survivor, as I am also, but still one never knows for sure. I'll be turning sixty this year and still have good health so far. Except for a little inherited glaucoma I take no medications so I feel extremely lucky. Well, except for the occasional blue pill, that is. HA!

Take care my man, and thanks for reading my junk.

Randy


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I thought what you take for your glaucoma is green??

Excellent hub, Randy, and great pics. I have a couple of Jekyll hubs posted. We should link them!


ralwus 6 years ago

Ahhh, the mighty viagra! haha I cannot use it, my heart will not allow it. Hmm, we are the same age I think. I do so love you and Holle. Lucky people for sure.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Sure, we can link them if you like, Holle.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

We are lucky, Charlie. Meeting people like you is proof of this. Thanks for everything!

Randy


kiwi gal profile image

kiwi gal 6 years ago

Great hub, thanks for sharing. Mmmm sixty is not old far from it. Am pretty sure there's a lot more life in you plus more interesting hubs yet to come. Age is irrelevant when it comes down to it, just my opinion anyways. Keeping busy keeps us all young.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

It always makes me shake my head when these are referred to as "cottages." I know that's not your doing - that's what they're called. But it's hard to think of a home with 13 bathrooms, like the Crane Cottage, as a cottage!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

You're right kiwi gal. I can remember when I thought 20 was old. I'm pretty satisfied with life so far. As far as keeping busy is concerned, I'm never bored. Thanks for looking at my hubs.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I feel the same way, Holle. But these were cottages, compared to the club member's permanent residences. It's hard to understand how they gave up this peaceful island. Wonderful vacation homes, no doubt!


ateenyi profile image

ateenyi 6 years ago from Chicago

Excellent hub!!!!!!

Place is awesome. It is a nice place to visit for. The best part which author meticulously formatted is element of personification to the home. The hub can be regarded as most intriguing hub.

Keep on Hubbing


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks for reading and commenting, ateenyi. The place is indeed "awesome."


Rick 6 years ago

Your well written article and accompanying photos capture the heart and feel of the Historic District. I've felt that lonesome feeling myself while wandering through the district, especially at night.

Hollyborune is said to be haunted, as is the Jekyll Island Club Hotel itself.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Hello Rick. My wife spent a night in the Jekyll Island Clubhouse and swears it is haunted. Visiting the site during the off season is the best time to capture the feel of the place. The feeling one gets is hard to explain, even though I do not believe in ghosts. Thank you for reading my article and for the nice comments.

Randy Godwin


MotherHubber profile image

MotherHubber 6 years ago from Southern California

I enjoyed reading this very much. Your well-written description now has my wheels turning about a possible short story using Jekyll Island as the setting. Thank you! Great piece.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I'm glad this story gives you inspiration to write about Jekyll Island, MotherHubber. It is a beautiful and historical island. Thank you for the comments and for reading my hub.


shinujohn2008 6 years ago

i would love to get to Jekyll Island Clubhouse as soon as possible


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I'm sure you would really enjoy seeing this beautiful place. Thanks for stopping by, shinujohn2008!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Beautiful writing style, Randy. I have long heard rumors about Jekyll Island. I am quite pleased that you educated me as to what it was all about. I very much enjoyed your article. Thank you.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks so much for the nice comments,James. Even though I've visited "millionaire's row" many times, I never fail to imagine it in its heyday. Thanks again!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Very interesting article. Enjoyed seeing the photos. Is it true that a herd of wild horses roams the island? I seem to remember hearing that.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks Peggy! I believe you are thinking of Cumberland Island, another of Georgia's Golden Isles. I have watched the wild horses on the beach there from across the inlet on the north end of Florida's Amelia Island. Jekyll is too small and to developed for them to run free there!


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 5 years ago from australia

Randy Godwin Hi. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this great article, with so much history and wonderful information.

All these homes are beautiful, The Moss cottage would be my favorite.

Living on 2 acres with my children and grandchildren, calls for gum boots,(its winter here), which I am sure, would not be suitable in any of these homes.:)

The photographs are absolutely wonderful

Thank you for sharing with us.Voted up. :) :)


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thank you for stopping in, Oliversmum. Yes, all of these "cottages" are beautiful and each have their own stories to tell about the most famous and richest families in the US.

I really enjoyed writing this hub but the photos I took do not do justice to the natural beauty of the place.

Thanks again for your time and great input.

Randy


Ercolano profile image

Ercolano 5 years ago from Vancouver, BC

I can see why you've had some travel stories published. As a lover of travel and history and culture, these are the kinds of articles I love to absorb when I go anywhere, NEED to know about. Very beautiful writing, and I especially loved the sentiment that the houses incited from you a sense of that history, poetically describing waiting for their previous occupants, an eerie, perhaps, presence about them. That's exactly what I see and feel in such places. Great job.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 5 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

Thanks for your kind comments, Ercolano. This place is indeed special in a mysterious sort of way. We recently spent time at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in exchange for my writing an article for the establishment and found the experience to be unforgettable in its sense of history.

Thanks again and congrats on your recent CW success in the contest.

Randy


SomewayOuttaHere profile image

SomewayOuttaHere 3 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky

kewl history....the Crane Cottage caught my eye right away....


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

I don't know how I missed your comment made so long ago, Someway! Yes, the Crane Cottage certainly catches one's eye. Hope you and Raven are doing well. :)

Randy


OhMe profile image

OhMe 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

Ok Now, I want to return to Jekyll and Amelia Islands. We don't travel much anymore but it sure would be fun to go back and revisit this beautiful place. Maybe I will have to continue to enjoy them through your Hubs. Thanks


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia Author

OhMe--We spend a great deal of time at Jekyll, Nancy. We camp at Jekyll Island campground and love it there. This tiny isle is full of history, not counting the millionaire's cottages and I am a history buff.

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this article. :)


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 10 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Gosh darn it, Randy. I knew I should have moved to Brunswick when I had the chance. Oh well. It looks just exactly like my kind of place!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia Author

Yes Lela, the Golden Isles are something to behold. Brunswick too has its share of wonderful old homes beneath moss shrouded live oaks. Ben Afleck was starring in a movie being filmed there while we visited Jekyll. Needless to say, Beth was all in that shit. LOL!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 10 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Hell yea!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia Author

That's what she said! :P

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