Let’s say you are William Vanderbilt, J.P Morgan or William Rockefeller…where do you go to get away from it all?
Same place as the Vermillion Family—Jekyll Island, Georgia. You can too since there is a wonderful hotel here–The Jekyll Island Club Hotel. We have been staying here since we got married and although the trip has changed a bit since we had the Beans, we always return home refreshed and happy.
The history is incredible–basically the financial and industrial powerhouses of the 1880′s got together and bought the island as a winter retreat in 1886. It would become a place where the likes of Joseph Pulitzer, Marshall Field and Edwin Gould would not only hunt, enjoy lavish Gilded Age meals and take in the Golden Isles breezes but also a place where these empire builders could meet over brandy and cigars in the club. Between visits from President McKinley and other dignitaries, to the first meeting to form the Federal Reserve, Jekyll Island boasts a rich and spirited past.
After the Great Depression things weren’t the same for the descendants of the original members and by World War II the club had fallen into disrepair and the entire island was sold to the state of Georgia. Sad for them, but fantastic for us little people who now get to enjoy what they created.
The first time I came here I about fell over and then fell in love. See, these millionaires wanted spaces of their own. So they built some cottages for their families, their servants and their guests. The club was built to not only host dinners and events but also for overflow guests and members who didn’t build their own cottages.
When you think of “cottages”….do you think of this?
The Moss Cottage- Built in 1896 in the shingle style, by William Strothers and eventually owned by George Henry Macy, president of Union Pacific Tea (A&P stores later).
This is Cherokee Cottage built in 1904 in Italian Renaissance style by the Shrady family. The Beans and I stayed here last year when we took a girls’ getaway–just the two of us. It is incredibly beautiful and the accommodations are lovely but when the lights dimmed several times in the bathroom, I was really wishing Mr. V had come with us–if you know what I mean.
Sans Souci (“Without a care”) was built in 1896 and was owned in part by J.P. Morgan. It is considered to be the first condo complex in the U.S. with six apartments. You can stay here as well and it has a beautiful view of the river. Legend has it that you can smell Mr. Morgan’s cigar in the top right apartment in the early morning. He liked to get up, smoke a cigar and read the paper while watching the ships bring his friends in from Brunswick.
That is Mr. V riding the Beans around the driveway. One of my favorite things to do on Jekyll is ride through the maritime forests, down the long path to the beach and around the historic district. They rent bicycles (or you can bring your own) and I lose myself for hours while tooling around.
I actually took this picture mid ride! I cannot express to you how much I love this place. It restores my soul and makes me happy right down to my toes. Sometimes we go in the summer but it was absolutely heavenly riding through during spring. The jasmine and honeysuckle mixed with the pluff mud of the marshes transported me to a different planet. You can hear little creatures scuttling through the forest bottom and many times you can see brilliant birds perched in the mossy limbs of the giant oaks.
Lookee here! Gator Boy has been swimming in this remote pond for decades. I turned the corner and came upon the rangers putting away their equipment in trucks. They had just tagged him and he was meandering back to his lady love on the other side of the pond. Gator boy is about 35-40 years old and 10-1/2 feet long. I have seen him once or twice in the past but it was nice to find out his history.
Mr. V and the Beans checking out the egrets taking flight above the pine canopy.
This is the home to Jekyll Books which is one of my hang outs. I adore this place. It’s filled with several floors of wonderfully diverse books, gifts and Southern must haves like Sweet Fire pickles. You can perch on the porch and have some ice cream or spend hours cruising the stacks. I have never not found an entirely interesting tome. This time I picked up Erskine Caldwell’s, “God’s Acre” which was banned in the 1920′s for its scandalous political and sexual content. Which, trust me, is tame compared to the stuff today.
It was built by Joseph Pulitzer for his guests and servants in 1903. He had a separate 26 room residence that didn’t survive. Rumor has it that Pulitzer was invited to join the club so he wouldn’t trash it in one of his many papers. Rumor also has it that a little girl named Phoebe haunts the book store by mischievously moving things around. One of the ladies who works there told me that she is happier now that they moved the toys upstairs. Yikes!
Back to the architecture…
The most lavish of all…Crane Cottage was built in 1917 for Richard Teller Crane Jr. (plumbing magnate from Chicago) in Italian Renaissance style. It has sunken gardens, fountains and courtyards. You can not only stay here but many couples marry on the lawn or the sweet church behind the cottage. Pictures don’t do this justice. It is without a doubt one of the most magnificent homes I have ever seen.
Mr. V doesn’t know it yet but we will be renewing our vows here…just saying.
The Goodyears built this one in 1906:
How’s the view?
Here is haunted Hollybourne Cottage…the only cottage that hasn’t been renovated or restored. ”Things” keep happening here including workmen’s tools moving about. The Maurice Family built it out of tabby in 1906 and the sisters lived here until Georgia bought the island in 1940′s. It did not go well and the sisters left unhappily. Apparently the ladies still want their house.
Because I couldn’t resist we went for a walk one evening…Beans had a potty 911 so Mr. V took her back to the club. I shot this as the sun was going down…
And those are vultures. No photoshop. I swear on everything dear to me. I heard a weird noise and walked around the back and saw them inching across the ancient roof ridge. It must have been their talons that I heard on the shingles. I have never seen a vulture anywhere near Jekyll Island in 7 years. And yet here they are all Scooby Doo and what not. I laughed for a minute, snapped the picture and then made my way pronto back to the club.
I almost missed this guy. He is one of the two lions that guarded the Gould’s former mansion. All that is left of the house is the crumbling foundation behind him.
When we are done riding bikes or kayaking or beaching it you will find us here….the pool bar staff brings your drinks and your lunch right to your pool chair. That’s EXACTLY what I am talking about.
Or you can find me here on the porch with a treasure from Jekyll Books…
Or having tea with the Beans…
Or napping in a chair…
Your accomodations are waiting for you…
You can get a room with an attached sunroom if you like…
Or a room with a balcony overlooking the river and pool. We were in a suite in the turret (on the right) this time–it was great. And Beans thought the best thing that ever happened was when she got to sleep on the pull out sofa in the living area! I have learned it’s all in how you “sell” something to a five year old.
And did I mention that some of the staff know us by name and actually remember us when we pull up to the club? Yeah. It’s that kind of place.
Just get down here…you won’t regret it! So much to do…or not to do…
I am off to Florida this week to install a client’s project. Thank goodness for memories made at Jekyll with the two people who mean the most to me…
I am grateful for the soul restoring times when the busy takes over.
Thanks for reading…I know it was a long one but there is so much to say about one of my favorite places…I hope you find a place like this too.