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.

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