Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sapelo Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse road runs along high land that curves around the salt marsh.  The lighthouse was built by Winslow Lewis and activated in 1820.  The lighthouse served as a guide for ships headed to Darien, and was equipped with fourth-order Fresnel lens.  A hurricane and tidal wave in 1898 covered the lower 18 feet of the tower for several hours causing severe damage to the foundation.

A replacement 100-foot steel pyramidal lighthouse tower was built, and the old lighthouse was left to decay.  These black and white photos were taken back in 1983.  Trees and bushes had grown up around the lighthouse.  The windows were gone and the interior was open to the weather.  Most of the stairs were missing, and the few remaining ones were seriously decayed.

In 1998 the lighthouse and neighboring oil house and cistern were restored.  The internal spiral staircase was rebuilt step by step and the exterior was repainted with its distinctive daymarks of six alternating red and white bands.  Today the lighthouse looks much like it did in 1820.

If you climb the 77 steps up to the top of the lighthouse to the lantern room you are treated to a panoramic view of the south end of the island and Doboy Sound.  Beyond the Range Lighthouse which was built in 1877, marshes stretch out toward the beach.  From here you can just see the ocean beyond the tree line of the dunes. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sapelo Island traces of the past

The name Chocolate comes from a 16th century Native American town known as Chucalate.  There have been several owners of this part of the island, which was farmed at various times.  The area was in use from about 1815 until 1857 by several different owners.  Numerous tabby ruins can be seen here.

Some of the runes are from a plantation built between 1815 and 1819.  They represent nine slave quarters, a two-story plantation house, a ventilated cotton barn, and other outbuildings.  There are signs of recent work to shore up some of the buildings, but most of them are slowly falling apart.   Rain etches away the tabby blocks and chimneys and walls fall down.
Tabby is made from equal parts of shell, lime (made from burned salt-free shell), and sand.  It is estimated that about 37,000 cubic feet of shell was used to construct the buildings, and that some of the shell came from the local pre-historic shell rings on the island.  The 
shell, lime and sand is mixed with water and then poured into forms.  The resulting walls are very strong and durable.
There are two intact buildings at Chocolate.  A Sears Home that was assembled on-site sometime between 1929and 1940.  And a large two story tabby barn with stalls and a two-level loft which Thomas Spalding had built in 1837, and Howard Coffin had restored in 1927.   The barn's open windows look out onto the expansive marsh on one side and the quietly decaying tabby ruins on the other side.

On the western side of the island past Chocolate is a mostly intact, 15 foot high, 200 feet in diameter shell ring.  It was one of three rings, the other two having been used to create tabby for the Chocolate buildings.  The ring contains oyster, clam and snail shells.  It also contains some animal and fish bones, and pottery shards.  The pre-historic ring is a reminder of early human habitation on the island (2,000 and 5,000 B. C. ).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sapelo Island Marine Institute

Reynolds also replaced the nearby farm buildings with a quadrangle of much more glamorous buildings: Coach houses, dairy house and barns, and a theater.  This whole assemblage of buildings now houses the UGA Marine Institute.

In the center of the quadrangle is a large “turkey fountain”, that has three tiers.  The lowest allows dogs to drink, horses can drink from the next level and people from the top.
There are many stories about the turkey fountain.  Including one where Reynolds tried to blow it up.  The fountain survived and still occupies the center of the quadrangle.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Howard Coffin's Sapelo Island

In 1923, Howard Coffin designed a large water garden between the Big House and the buildings of the quadrangle (now the UGA Marine Institute).  It included seven islands, two of which are accessible by foot bridges.  The farther of the two has a large central tiled area under an arbor.  Plants for the islands and surrounding waters were grown in the island greenhouse.  Most of those plants are gone now, and the waters and islands have become haven for birds, alligators and other wildlife.

Howard Coffin purchased a Lutton “estate-style” greenhouse in 1925.  The building includes 13 individual rooms, a cisterns, a Lath House, two cold frames, and a water garden.  After the State of Georgia purchased the island from Reynold's estate in 1976 it was abandoned, and over the next 30 years much of the glass was lost and the structure was overgrown with trees.  Recently the Friends of the Marine Institute began a restoration project.

One of the Friends members took us on a tour of the greenhouse showing us all the work they are doing.  They removed all the trees and plants that were growing up inside the greenhouse.  Now the overhead glass panels are being replaced with modern safety glass panels.   They also have been working on the plumbing, electricity and other greenhouse fittings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Views of Sapelo Island Ga

I recently spent a weekend on Sapelo Island, at the Reynold's Mansion which is managed by the Georgia Park Service.  I always love spending time on Sapelo, it is a wonderful place to be.  I took my watercolor journaling kit and a camera to capture photos of the trip.

Thomas Spalding designed the original South End House, with 10-14 inches thick tabby walls and an architecture similar to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  This house was the Spalding's plantation manor from 1810 until 1861.  It fell into neglect and disrepair after the Civil War.  Howard Coffin purchased the Island in 1912.  He restored the South End House, adding indoor and outdoor swimming pools.  Which were decorated with full size statues.

Richard J. Reynolds Jr purchased the island in 1934.  Reynolds made several renovations to the South End House while he lived there.   The house today is very much like it was when Reynolds lived in it.

He hired Atlanta artist, Athos Menaboni to decorate three of the central rooms with murals.  The sitting room on the main floor, adjacent to the indoor pool has tropical plants and birds.  The large ballroom upstairs has a circus motif, complete with a tent ceiling.  The basement game room's walls have pirates.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

North Carolina Arboretum

We visit Asheville NC fairly often.  We enjoy the music and art events, and fly fishing in the nearby rivers.  During some of our recent trips I had the chance to spend time sketching at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Trilliums are one of my favorite wildflowers, and Toad Shade is one of my favorite Trilliums.  I was delighted to find some of them blooming at the NC Arboretum this past spring.  The large  leaves have wonderful irregular spots that form a great foil for their dark magenta flowers.