The Hermitage Plantation
The earliest plantation in this vicinity was "The Hermitage" owned by Colonel Mark Carr. It was located amidst vast live-oak trees on the corner of First and Union Streets in Brunswick facing the river. One afternoon in 1736 while Colonel Carr was out in the patrol boat with General James Oglethorpe, some Spanish pirates landed and burned down the house while Carr's wife and children hid themselves in the corn crib. Carr and Oglethorpe spotted the fire from their vessel and rushed to the scene but when they arrived, the pirates had departed, taking with them some farm animals. Thus, his family was brought to Fort Frederica for safety. After the war was won with Spain (1742), Colonel Carr was granted hundreds of acres in Liberty County for his valiant service. It was in Liberty County that he built a new plantation and established the port city and resort town of Sunbury. Carr owned at least two other plantations, Carrsfield and Blyth. Here is the description he gave to the trustees of Georgia on May 12, 1752-
"...that all sorts of garden stuff grow extremely well, and particularly asparagus, all the year round without dunging the lands...That he himself (Col. Heron) occupied one field on St. Simons four years. That on three or four acres, he had 53 bushels of Indian corn cleared, besides a third more at least spoil or lost at the time of the invasion (Spanish). That vines thrive extremely well and that he himself grafted European vines on the wild ones on the island. And that in one year, there have been shoots of twenty seven feet from the grafting as big as his finger. That cotton grows on the land by one great necessity...that he has while mulberry trees which grow very well, but they are not the natural product of the country. That he thinks silk, wine oyl, and cotton may be raised very well there...that the wood of St. Simon's is chiefly Live Oak...." Just as Oglethorpe planned and laid out Savannah, he also planned Brunswick. The original squares remain intact, although the city has suffered many long years of economic depression.
A Tour of the Downtown Historic District
825 Egmont Street, Brunswick. This two-storied home was built in 1881 by Major Columbus Downing. The Major was a commission merchant doing business on Bay Street. Located on the corner of Egmont and Prince Street, the house contains twelve rooms and many stained glass windows. Later additions include a greenhouse and patio which were floored with "Augusta Block" brick from Bay Street, in Brunswick. The home was later owned by Dr. and Mrs. Marvin Engel. 1001 Egmont Street, Brunswick. This home was built in 1901 by Mr. Benton. Later, Mr. L. T. McKennon purchased the home, and his daughter, Mary Alice Lord, inherited the house after his death. Then, Nelson Westbrook purchased the house. The two-storied home has 13 rooms in all, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 sitting rooms and 1 parlor. The fireplace mantle in the parlor is made of bird's-eye maple, and all of the other mantles in the house were made of white ash brought from Tennessee by Mr. Benton.
716 (later 908)Union Street, Brunswick. This home was transported down the Savannah River from Charleston, South Carolina in the 1890 by John R. Cook who owned Cook Bros. Sawmill & Lumber Company, whose office was on Bay Street. In 1890, the address was 716 Union Street. My tour of this home discovered an inscription on the back the back of one of the homes 6 fireplaces "1860, Charleston, South Carolina". It is three-storied, with tall windows, wooden floors, ornate carvings and pillars throughout. It has a wooden staircase, ornately carved going to the second and third floors; also a backstaircase for the servants. From 1914-1915, Isaac Max resided there. In 1923, it was the home of L. D. Oldham. In 1939, Mrs. Marietta Odham lived there. And, in 1949 must have been a boarding house, having the following residents: Gibson J. Riley, Jr., Richard R. Tucker, Charles T. Gine, David Flanders, and James H. Colson. Lester White resided in the home in 1939.