For years I have been reading about group tours that included a visit to Jekyll Island, so when I read that Road Scholar ( www.roadscholar.org ) included a tour of Jekyll in their program called "Island-Hopping Adventure on Three Barrier Islands", I immediately signed up!
TheJekyll Island Club officially opened its doors in 1888, and the original clubhouse reflects Queen Anne style with extensive verandas, bay windows, extended chimneys, and asymmetrical design. The white-clad athletes pictured in the foreground continue the tradition of playing croquet on the front lawn. ( This caused my mind to go back to the last time I played croquet, which was on the expansive lawn of the Grand Hotel of Mackinaw Island, during which I was greatly outscored by my husband!)
The Victorian turret is the symbol of the Jekyll Island Club, and is an icon that is well known by seasoned travelers. You can learn more about its architecture and history, by visiting the websites at www.stateparks.com or www.jekyllisland.com .
The strands of gently waving Spanish moss that is so abundant in this area of the South, seemed to form a curtain that was playing peek-a-boo with the rounded sun porch.
There is only one thing better than a white wicker rocker on a wide Georgia veranda, and that is a DOZEN white wicker rockers on a wide Georgia veranda!
The lunch we had at the Jekyll Island Club exceeded my expectations with the elegant place settings, delicious food, and charming wait staff!
I was delighted our group was assigned to the "Federal Reserve" room, because I had been reading about the link between the Jekyll Island Club, and the Federal Reserve. The abbreviated version of the story says the Federal Reserve system has its roots here, because of a clandestine meeting in 1907 where leaders in the U.S. banking industry ( posing as duck hunters) met with the Secretary of the Treasury. Their meetings at the hotel led to a plan which called for a centralized banking structure for the country. The meetings were prompted by a virulent economic panic that caused a run on banks in 1907. The dining room walls were adorned with photos of those banking leaders of the last century, plus a current photo of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernecki in the same room where we were currently enjoying lunch!
After lunch, our group took a short walk to the nearby Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a combination museum, educational facility, gift shop, and turtle hospital/rehab center that provides a total immersion into the life of a turtle!
It allows you to see the environment through the eyes of a turtle!
As a way to encourage visitors to learn a turtle's entire life cycle, each person is given a long, blank "turtle passport" as they begin their tour. Then after you visit each station, you go to the designated stamper, and get your "passport" stamped to show that you have visited that station. At the end of the visit, you have a nice souvenir to show what you learned!
One area inside the center is a type of "turtle surgery unit" where trained medical personnel can be seen (on the other side of a glass viewing window) examining and treating injured turtles that are brought to their facility.
In a separate building adjacent to the "surgical center", is a facility that might be compared to a "rehab center" for injured turtles, after their initial examination. The building has numerous "turtle swimming pools" where the animals undergo hydrotherapy, under the watchful eye of their caretakers. Regular talks are given by the staff to the visitors lined up beside the tanks, so that they can get acquainted with the situations and treatment plans that each of the turtles is receiving.
Just like in a human hospital, if the patient census is high, it may be necessary to have a roommate---or in this case, a poolmate--- in order to accommodate all the patients.
After a visit to the Turtle Center, there is still LOTS of Jekyll Island to explore! This photo shows some of the ways this can be done---horse drawn wagon, white covered carriage, or a "fairy tale" pumpkin-shaped carriage. There are also bicycles to rent, and trolleys pulled by motorized vehicles. As a Georgia state park, the majority of Jekyll Island (65%) will always remain by law, undeveloped. It is the smallest of Georgia's barrier island, and was purchased by the state of Georgia in 1947. One of the reasons it wound up in the hands of the state is because during World War II, there was a threat of enemy submarines just off the coast, so the U.S. government ordered the evacuation of the island. Its numerous buildings were already on a downhill slide, but during its abandonment brought on by the war, the demise continued. After the state purchased the property, the Jekyll Island Authority was formed to operate it.
When Jekyll Island was thriving at its grandest (between 1888-1928), wealthy northern families built their winter homes (or "cottages", as they called them) on the island. This collage shows some of those homes. They have been refurbished, and are available for tours. In fact, some of them can be rented out as lodging, as part of the Jekyll Island Club's historic accommodations. Not surprisingly, the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the entire area is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Since the Jekyll Island Club was described as the "richest, most exclusive, and most inaccessible club in the world", I felt fortunate to get to tread in the footsteps of some of its famous members. Those members included the families of Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, Macy, Goodyear, Aster, Morgan and Gould!
Some of the smaller cottages have been converted to boutiques that sell items made in Georgia, souvenirs, specialty foods, and garden decor.
Our tour included a visit to Faith Chapel, which is built in the form of an early colonial meeting house. This stained glass window near the entrance is signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Most stained glass windows have a "theme", and the theme of this one is called "David Sets Singers Before The Lord", and is based on the Bible passage of 2 Chronicles 20:21. Our guide told us the interesting story of its "double meaning", in that it was commissioned as a memorial to Jekyll Island Club President, Frederick Gilbert Bourne. Since Bourne was head of the SINGER Sewing Machine Company, a theme with the word "singer" in it seemed appropriate! One thing for sure, this visit to Jekyll Island made my heart sing, and gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia