The millionaires that comprised the group "made up 1/6th of the world's wealth" at that time. Among the members were J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Richard Crane (Crane plumbing fixtures), William Struthers, George Macy (President of A&P), Henry Kirk Porter, John Claflin (merchant and world traveler), Gordon McKay (inventor and industrialist), Theodore Vail (President of AT&T) , Frank Goodyear (lumber baron from Buffalo, NY), Walter Jennings (capitalist of NY), Edwin Gould, Joseph Pulitzer, Charles Maurice (Internationally known bridge engineer) to name just a few. After WWII the succeeding generations of the "club members" did not return to the quiet little island, preferring instead the gaiety of the Riviera and other spots. As a result the island started to fall into disrepair. In 1942 the State of Georgia opened negotiations with the owners to purchase Jekyll Island. While they really didn't go there all that much, the Club Owners descendants weren't all that interested in selling. Finally after some negotiating and getting nowhere the then governor of Georgia condemned the island thus forcing the owners to sell for $675,000 in 1947. At this point most of the buildings on the Island were pretty much in disrepair. The State was required to spend a good deal of time and money in restoring some of the original "cottages" of the club members as well as the Jekyll Island Club itself. Today the State allows 35% of the Island to be either homes or businesses. They are not permitted to own the land only lease it from the State on an agreement which will last until the year 2004.
Today, you can stay at
the Jekyll Island Club as well as the San Souci (one of the first
condos in existence). It is also possible to take Historical or
Architectural tours from the visitors center. The visitors center
also features a very nice film giving the history of the island
and a museum and gift shop. After we took the historical tour we
went back later on to photograph the outside of the mansions when
we had more time. The insides of the houses, as you might well
imagine are just lovely. The furnishings, while not the original
furniture in some houses, are pieces which would have been found
in that era. One of the interesting features of the Indian Mound
Cottage which was purchased in 1904 from Gordon McKay by Wm.
Rockefeller was a walk-in, cedar lined safe off the main salon.
I will briefly try to cover some of the "cottages" we viewed:
The Moss/Macy cottage is a green cypress shingled house. It was built in 1896. It has six bedroom and two baths on the second floor, and seven bedrooms and two baths on the third floor. Macy was President of the Union Pacific Tea Company which later became known as the A&P. Restoration on this cottage was completed in the spring of 1997 after 5 years of work.
The Goodyear Cottage: Frank Goodyear commissioned to have this stucco Georgian cottage built in 1903. It was actually completed in 1906. Transoms above the French doors took advantage of river breezes. There are seven rooms and a half bath on the first floor, five bedrooms and three baths on the second floor and four bedrooms and one bath and storage rooms on the third. Goodyear was a lumber baron from Buffalo, New York and died in 1907. This cottage was restored in 1974 and is now home of the Jekyll Island Arts Association where monthly exhibits by area artists are open to the public at no charge.
Mistletoe Cottage - Known as the Claflin/Porter Cottage: This house was built in 1900 for Henry Kirke Porter, manufacturer of light locomotives. He was a graduate of Brown University and studied theology. He was associated with many social and charitable organizations, among them the Y.M.C.A. The cottage is basically a Dutch Colonial Revival house. In 1924 John Claflin purchased the cottage from the Porter estate.
Indian Mound Cottage: Built in 1892 for Gordon McKay of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and inventor and industrialist, it was purchased in 1904 by William Rockefeller, younger brother of John D. Rockefeller. It has 25 rooms, including three bedrooms and four baths on the first floor, six bedrooms and five baths on the second floor and seven small servants rooms and two baths on the third floor. There is a beautiful stained glass window on the main stair landing, an elevator, a cedar lined walk-in safe off the main salon and taps for hot and cold salt water on the bathtub in the master bedroom bath. The cottage was nicknamed "Indian Mound" because of the mound on the front lawn. Thought to be an Indian mound, it was found to contain only shells left by long ago inhabitants of the Island. The interior of this cottage was extensively redecorated in 1996/97.
As near as we could find out, at the end of WWII the younger generation was more interested in the Riviera and gayer spots and did not return to this quiet secluded little island.
The Island is a beautiful place for romantic carriage rides or long walks along the beaches. All in all, Jekyll Island proved to be a very interesting place, filled with a lot of history. We had a great time and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves old houses and history.
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