< UNITED STATES | JEKYLL ISLAND: Jekyll Island Club Hotel
The Jekyll Island Club was founded in 1886 when members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugune
du Bignon. The club was envisioned as an exclusive winter hunting retreat for America’s wealthy elite including J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer, as well as the
Vanderbilts, Goulds and Astors.
Ground was broken in mid-August 1886, and on January 21st, 1888, the Jekyll Island Clubhouse officially opened its doors. Designed by Charles Alexander of Chicago, the original clubhouse reflects the Queen Anne style, incorporating into its plan the characteristic turret, extensive verandas, bay windows and extended chimneys. The historic Georgia Club was described in the February 1904 issue of Munsey’s Magazine as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.”
Between 1888 and 1928 wealthy northern families built their winter homes, or “cottages” as they were called, designed to house entire families with staff. Two of these have been restored and are part of the Jekyll Island Club’s historic accommodations. Among them is Sans Souci, meaning “without care,” which was built in 1896 and owned in part by J.P. Morgan. This six-unit building is considered to be one of the first condominiums built in this country. The floors, leaded art glass, stairway and skylight are all original. Crane Cottage, in the style of Italian Renaissance, was built in 1917 for Richard Teller Crane, Jr. and his wife. It is the largest, most lavish of the cottages and has a landscaped formal sunken garden with fountains and upper terrace.
Built in 1904, the Cherokee Cottage is also designed in Italian Renaissance style. It was originally constructed for the Shrady family. Several other cottages that have been restored, but are not part of the Hotel, are open to the public. The Indian Mound Cottage, built with twenty-five rooms for the Rockefeller family, and the Goodyear Cottage completed in 1906 by the firm of Carrére and Hastings are two examples.
With the advent of the first “season” on Jekyll, the elite club members gathered their families and boarded their yachts, all with expectations for having a grandiose time. Morning hunting trips, lawn parties, carriage rides, leisurely afternoons on the beach…the likes of the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers passed their summer days in a state of lavish splendor on their Southern playground. For years there was unofficial competition among the yachting members to see who would arrive in the most impressive vessel. Dinner each evening, however, was the high point of the day as the dining room grew rich with white-clad waiters, bow-tied gentlemen and stately women.
The Jekyll Island Club flourished into the 1930s, but world events took their toll. With the advent of World War I, several members offered their personal yachts to the war effort as well as financial assistance. The Great Depression began to change people’s priorities, and in two year’s time, half the Club’s membership dropped away. The final blow to the life of the Club, however, was World War II and the threat of enemy submarines just off the coast, inducing the U.S. government’s order to evacuate the island. The Club’s president hoped to reopen after the war, but in 1947 the state of Georgia entered the picture, buying the entire island for $675,000 in order to turn the once prestigious and influential island retreat into a public state park. Several Club properties, leased from the state of Georgia by an investment firm, have been restored and transformed into one of the finest luxury getaway hotels in America, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
Because of the concentration of internationally prominent business leaders, the Jekyll Island Club has been the scene of some important historical events, such as the first transcontinental telephone call placed by AT&T president Theodore Vail on January 25, 1915.
Today, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is Jekyll Island's only four-star resort and presents 157 rooms and suites in five historic settings. Guests can choose from the Clubhouse (Main Hotel), the Annex, Sans Souci, Crane Cottage or Cherokee, and more than fifty activities are available: historic tours, croquet, carriage rides, tennis, golf, airplane fly-ins, yacht docking, private beachfront, sea shell and bird walks on deserted beaches, horseback riding, and walks in the live oak forests. Restored to its original splendor in 1986, the complex was designated a historic landmark in 1978. Hotel was featured in several movies including the: Glory (1989), Camilla (1994) and The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000).
#June McCash, William McCash: The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America's Millionaires
University of Georgia Press, 1989 | ISBN-10: 0820310700; ISBN-13: 978-0820310701
English language | 264 pages | Hardcover
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