From Millionaires to Commoners: The History of Jekyll Island State Park

From Millionaires to Commoners: The History of Jekyll Island State Park

by Nick Doms


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When Nick Doms first saw Jekyll Island State Park in October 2014, it was love at first sight.

He was stunned to discover that all the history books suddenly ended with the demise of the island as a private retreat for wealthy families in the 1940s, as if there was nothing more to tell after Georgia acquired the land for a state park.

The multitude of hotels, motels, picnic areas, roads, and trails certainly did not appear spontaneously, as if by the waving of a magic wand, and yet no one had told the story of how the island has become a state park that everyone can enjoy.

The author took it upon himself to research the island's story to learn about the people who designed, constructed, and managed the enormous transformation.

In this meticulously researched account, he tells the fascinating story of the island, sharing facts from history books, primary documents, and untold stories from locals who have lived on the land for several decades.

Discover how a private, secluded, and exclusive island came to be a state park with open and affordable access to everyone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546269151
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 03/01/2019
Pages: 502
Sales rank: 461,905
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.25(d)

About the Author

Nick Doms grew up in Belgium, where he initially studied nursing and medicine. He moved to Amsterdam in 1985 to pursue an MBA in international finance, which ultimately led to his career on Wall Street. He lived and worked in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong until 2001 when he retired and moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he lives with his wife, Teolita. He is the author of four poetry books: Inspirational for a Day (2003); Colors (2005); I am, Ik ben, Ich bin, Je suis (2008); and Symbiosis (2008). From Millionaires to Commoners is his first nonfiction historical publication.

Read an Excerpt

More than three hundred eager visitors, primarily from Glynn County but also from surrounding Counties and out of State curious people, board the Robert E. Lee steamer for the 45-minute boat ride to Jekyll Island. The round trip fare for a day of sightseeing costs $1.50 and there is room for 400 guests in the Jekyll Island Hotel, the Annex Building, the Sans Souci and even the Crane House. Guests are treated with dinner in the Grand Dining Room while a big band is playing in the background. Hotel accommodations for the grand opening are offered as an American Plan for $5.00, $6.00 or $7.00 depending on the choice of room, suite, or accommodations.

The State Park Department has even organized sightseeing bus tours on the island and for 25 cents, one can observe the splendid ocean view, the Club Golf Course, the Oceanside Course, later renamed Great Dunes, or the Horton House. Visitors can also rent scooters and bikes for a small rental fee and explore the island on their own or take a leisurely tour on horseback. The only thing missing from the attractions is golf. The original Club Golf Course built in 1898 and located on the riverside is still overgrown and not playable at the time. The Oceanside Course, designed by Walter Travis in 1927, and later renamed Great Dunes, is not cleared and ready for play either.

Imagine the sight the first visitors must have experienced when stepping off the boat and onto the wharf where once upon a time and not too long ago only the elite millionaires could walk, stroll, dine, and entertain. Despite some early shortcomings and maybe some disappointments as well, this is a dream come true for the average Georgian and curiosity is not in short supply.

Visitors stroll besides the millionaires-houses and everybody calls the humble abodes by name. They know which one the Jennings House is, or the Gould, Baker, Pulitzer, or James House. They know it all because it has been in the papers for such a long time. Now they can see it with their own eyes, touch it and even sleep in it. What a sight to see. So many things to do, so many places to see and so little time.

That most of the island is still largely overgrown and not accessible does not dampen the enthusiasm of the first visitors. This is heaven and paradise as far as they are concerned, and they absorb it all with every step they take.

Chapter 2: From Exclusive Island to Public Park (p. 37)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, ix,
Preface, xi,
Introduction, xv,
Part I: 1945–1986,
Chapter 1 The Search for Coastal Tourism, 1,
Chapter 2 From Exclusive Island to Public Park, 5,
Chapter 3 The Battle for the Bridge, 25,
Chapter 4 An Island Crippled by Political Monopoly, 59,
Chapter 5 The Growing Pains of an Island, 83,
Chapter 6 An Island Rises from the Marshes1, 19,
Chapter 7 The State Park-Island Resort Oxymoron, 143,
Chapter 8 The Signs of Historic Decline, 165,
Chapter 9 An Island at Crossroads, 193,
Chapter 10 The Road to Historic Preservation, 239,
Part II: 1987–2015,
Chapter 11 The Period of Stagnation and Hesitation, 275,
Chapter 12 The Financial Conundrum, 301,
Chapter 13 The Cosmetic Change Hides the Ugly, 321,
Chapter 14 The New Bridge to an Old Island Resort, 333,
Chapter 15 Setting a New Course, 343,
Chapter 16 The Hard Road to Reinventing Jekyll, 363,
Chapter 17 Jekyll Becomes Every Developer's Favored Child, 393,
Chapter 18 Island Development: Slower, Smaller, 413,
Chapter 19 The Final Cut, 429,
Epilogue, 451,
Addendum 1, 453,
Addendum 2, 457,
Addendum 3, 463,
Addendum 4, 467,
Addendum 5, 471,
Bibliography, 473,
About the Author, 477,
About the Book, 479,

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