Wednesday, December 31, 2014


We've been lazy over the holidays, not doing too much. We have been on some walks though. This morning, we saw these ducks in the neighborhood pond. One white one and three wild ones. Oops, four. I didn't see the little one till the group realized he was missing and headed back to pick him up!

And these blackbirds were down by the pier. Perched on the wires, they almost looked like a tree!

Tomorrow it will be 2015 so I'll wish everyone a happy new year today. I hope 2015 will be better for everyone whose 2014 wasn't so great. I can't complain about last year, so if  my 2015 is as good or better, I'll be happy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


The entire island is owned by the state of Georgia except for Hog Hammock, the only community left of the several on Sapelo settled by former slaves.  Reynolds moved the people on the north end here so, I've heard, he could expand his hunting preserve.

Anyway, Hog Hammock has its own post office, store, cemeteries, churches, et cetera. Even a night club, tiny as it is! No school or hospital though. The four or five children have to ride the ferry to the mainland schools, and if anyone's too sick to take the ferry to a doctor, a helicopter has to fly them out.

Besides the University of Georgia Marine Institute, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources works here. (The Marine Institute came about in 1953 because Reynolds pushed for it; his widow sold the rest of the island to the state in the sixties.)

This is the lighthouse.

It's been renovated and the light works. People can go up to the top, but not outside on the balcony. Several in our group climbed it. This is what the steps look like from the bottom looking up. 

And this is one of the last working range beacons on the east coast. There was another across the way, but it's gone. They were used in conjunction with the lighthouse for navigation.

And here's the beach. We visited one summer and even in the great weather, there was no one on the beach. Not even a footprint. How I'd love to stay for a few days!

And I'll leave with the turkey fountain story. Reynolds brought in Fritz Zimmer, a noted German-born sculptor who resettled in Atlanta, to create the fountain for his third wife. She detested it (During the later messy divorce, Reynolds accused her caring only for money.) and must have let him know in no uncertain terms because one night, he got drunk and decided to blow it up with dynamite. He only succeeded in knocking out the windows of the surrounding buildings (now used by the Marine Institute). The turkey survived!

And he's a fine specimen despite its attempted murder. A shame there's no water in the fountain part. I wouldn't mind having a fountain like this.

And that's it for Sapelo Island. If you ever have the chance, be sure and visit it. Or if you know a bunch of people who can afford it, rent the mansion!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Bet everyone's tired of the mansion/lodge, but this'll be the last post before we go on another part of the island.

This is the upstairs ballroom.  Reynolds wanted a circus motif so Menaboni gave him one. The red and white striped ceiling is actually canvas stretched up like a tent.

Here you can see the trapeze chandelier. The docent said it and the two monkey chandeliers on either side (one shown in next picture) were built by hand in the garage of the man who later founded Georgia's Lithonia Lighting.

In this photo, you can see one of the benches in the inglenook by the fireplace. The walls were painted with two figures on either side of the fireplace. One was this snake charmer (you can just almost see the weightlifter between her and the fireplace) who I've heard had the face of Reynolds' wife at the time.

Across the fireplace is this warrior. Beside him, (backing up another bench that you can't see in the picture) is a blank space. From oral history, it was a rather macabre skeleton. Reynolds was on a trip when the painting was going on, but when he returned there was a big scene. In the end, he had it painted over.

Menaboni may have been miffed or Reynolds may have fired him. Anyway, there's a space where a figure should be.

The huge room is delightful. You feel better just being in it. The space would have been great for children's parties, but evidently Reynolds hosted adult parties here, too.

Friday, December 19, 2014


In the last post about our visit to the Reynolds Mansion/Lodge on Sapelo Island, we left off with the basement. The original house had no basement and is the brainchild of Howard Coffin.

Coffin, a prosperous automotive person from Detroit, came down to Savannah in 1911 for automobile races and heard the island was for sale. He bought the plantation ruins, added a top story, and had a full basement dug out from beneath the house. It had to be done without machines since the house was already built. Can you imagine those poor workers, digging up the sandy soil and trucking it out by hand?

Nowadays, a pool table, ping-pong table, and bowling alley (there were once two lanes but now only one) are housed down there along with the gun room. Also there's a large bar that I'm sure was well-appointed in Reynolds' time.

Menaboni, the artist known for his birds, did murals down here for Reynolds as well as upstairs. Unfortunately, the humidity all but destroyed them. The only way to save them was to take them up, copy them, and hang them back in frames like this one. The ship reflects something of the pirate theme Reynolds seemed to have liked. There are other pirates and ships all along the basement walls.

There is also a surprise for anyone needing a restroom while partying down in the basement. Open the bathroom door and this confronts you!

A bit of whimsy that had our group jostling each other to get to where they could see her.  The actual john is behind the screen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A couple more shots inside the Reynolds Mansion/Lodge:

This is a closeup of a grate over a door in the sun room overlooking the indoor pool. If I understood correctly, it was one of several inside that had to be moved when the house was air conditioned. Anyway, they are very lovely. Oh, and the bird at the bottom? The room (along with others in the mansion) is decorated with murals by Athos Menaboni, a Italian artist in Atlanta noted for his bird paintings.


The area below adjoins the sun room and was an indoor swimming pool. It was open to the house before a glass wall was put in place to keep the humidity. Or maybe air conditioning it?

Anyway, after the state took over, the pool began to leak into the basement and had to be emptied and covered. It will hopefully be filled again when the Mansion supporters have enough money to repair the leak. Like every other historic site, they're having trouble keeping up with the cost of maintenance.

I love the shaded glass roof. And you can see one of the statues that stood around the pool to the right.

And here's a different statue up close.

Finally, going down to the basement, I wanted to be sure and show the gun room. This is where guns, powder, ammo, and reloading equipment was kept. If you look through the door closely, you can see the cubbyholes where the different ammos were stored.

See the wall leading into the room, how thick it is? About five feet, if I remember correctly. All the walls are that thick, I guess so that an ammo explosion wouldn't bring the house down!

Monday, December 15, 2014


The Reynolds Mansion/Lodge on Sapelo Island was first built about 1802 by Thomas Spalding after he bought the island. He used a different formula for making tabby that allowed the walls (two feet thick) to stand through two hurricanes. When he died in 1851, his family held on until the Civil War when they fled to the mainland. The mansion was left to vandals and pretty much ruined after the war. The freed slaves originally imported to work the plantation remained and formed their own communities.

In 1912, Howard Coffin bought the island, excepting for what the slave descendents owned. He and his wife put in roads, reclaimed fields, and also renovated and enlarged the house. The restored mansion hosted Presidents Hoover and Coolidge as well as notables like Charles Lindbergh.

In the thirties, money was tight and Coffin sold it. A story goes that he invited a group of hunters for a sales pitch. Among them was R.J. Reynolds, Jr. When told the asking price, R.J. turned to the other hunters and said, "Hell, we ought to have enough pocket change among us to buy it," and started emptying his pockets. I don't know it that's true or not, but by 1934, he was the owner!

Here are a couple of pix of the library, a pretty room with a curved outside wall; even the windows are curved. The first shot shows one of the docents who took us around. Oh, and the books belonged to Reynolds; some of them even have his nameplates in them.

This is one the curved windows. I really like this room!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


A few days ago we went over to Sapelo Island, to the Reynolds Mansion/Lodge for a holiday luncheon. After going over on the ferry, about fifteen of us got on a bus. Before and after lunch, we toured the island. After lunch at the house, we had an hour or so to go through it. My guy took some nice pix so I thought I'd post some of them in the next few days.

R.J. Reynolds, Jr. was one of the tobacco Reynoldses from North Carolina. He had houses in several cities, but this was his "man cave" as one of our tour group put it and seemed to be his favorite.

Here's a picture of the front of the house. You can't see it from this viewpoint, but there's one path from the driveway that divides into two paths to circle round the outdoor pool before it re-merges to go back to the house. The pool is empty, but I understand that for additional fees, lodgers can have it filled.

The Mansion/Lodge, like most of the island, belongs to the state of Georgia. It can be rented out for special events such as weddings, business conferences, family reunions, et cetera. With 13 bedrooms and eleven baths, it can accommodate up to 29 people, but the minimum requirement is 16 people. Any fewer are still charged at the 16-minimum rate of nearly $200 per person per night.

Below is a picture of the statue in the middle of the outside pool. You can see the leaves and stains in the pool bottom. That's my hand peeking out from the Christmas cape.

More later.