Good Day Atlanta viewer information: May 22, 2023
ATLANTA - Jekyll Island's Hollybourne Cottage:
More than 30 structures make up Jekyll Island’s National Historic Landmark District…but there’s only one Hollybourne Cottage.
"Hollybourne just keeps telling us things that we knew nothing about before," says Jekyll Island Authority Historic Preservationist Taylor Davis.
The district was once the site of the Jekyll Island Club, an opulent Gilded Age winter getaway owned by the wealthiest and most powerful families in the world.
"William Rockefeller, William Vanderbilt, Vincent Astor, J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, Marshall Field," notes Tom Alexander, Jekyll Island Authority’s director of historic resources.
Also on the list? Noted bridge builder Charles Stewart Maurice, who built Hollybourne Cottage in 1890. According to Davis, the Maurice family immediately fell in love with the history and the natural landscape of Jekyll Island, which is why they made the unusual choice to construct their home out of tabby, a kind of concrete made using oyster shells.
"Originally, during the Colonial Era, we had no clay for making bricks, we had no stone for building permanent structures. So, they wanted to build structures of a permanent nature, and we had lots and lots of oyster shells," says Davis.
Another extremely unusual feature of Hollybourne Cottage is its bridge-inspired interior support structure.
"We have a massive bridge truss…with the tie rods going all the way up into the third floor," explains Davis. "And that actually is what creates the large, expansive rooms, which are very large for an 1890s structure."
After the state took over Jekyll Island in the 1940s, transforming it into a state park, Hollybourne Cottage sat vacant and fell into disrepair. But today, thanks to the painstaking preservation work being done by Davis and his team, the "tabby temple" is experiencing a resurrection. And with every step in the preservation process, Davis says Hollybourne Cottage releases more of its long-held secrets … like in 2018, when a teenager ventured up the stairs to the third floor.
"A 15-year-old grandson of one of the contractors helping us … mentioned to me that he found some drawings on the third floor," recalls Davis. "And we went up, and sure enough, there were drawings from 1902, by Emily Maurice, daughter of the builder of the home."
Davis says when the preservation space is complete, Hollybourne Cottage will be used as an active venue space, and that several rooms will be used to interpret the story of the Maurice family and the cottage’s history.
For more information on visiting Hollybourne Cottage, click here.
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