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Countdown to Savannah: Wormsloe State Park
Written by teaberry
In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.
With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.
900-acre Colonial Estate and Working Plantation
Wormsloe, a 900-acre colonial estate, was built by Noble Jones, an English physician and carpenter who came to Savannah in 1733 with James Oglethorpe. It is located on the Isle of Hope, one of many peninsulas around Savannah that lie along her intercoastal waterways. Wormsloe was originally settled by various Indian tribes prior to the Europeans’ arrival, and Jones was granted this tract of land nead Skidaway Island soon after he came to Savannah. He named it Wormslow, and developed it as a working plantation. It was strategically located as a military stronghold and to monitor shipping traffic.
His original home there that he built is referred to as a “tabby” residence. Tabby is made of equal parts of lime, water, sand, oyster shells, and ash – all local resources. Together, they created a kind of early cement that served as a strong fortification against enemy attack. Fortified residences made of tabby were not uncommon during the Colonial years in Georgia and Florida.
Noble Jones died in 1775, and is buried at Wormsloe. His descendants still live there today, and maintain its heritage. It was Jones’ grandson, George Frederick Tilghman Jones, who changed the name of Wormslow to Wormsloe.
During the Civil War, the Jones family (who had added DeRenne to their surname) fled Wormsloe, and it was occupied briefly by Confederate troops, and also experienced many acts of vandalism. It was then revitalized during the Reconstruction. In 1893, Noble Jones’ great grandson, Wymberley Jones DeRenne, made an extensive makeover and expansion of Wormsloe House and the surrounding estate. And with Wymberley’s death, his children expanded the gardens. They opened the estate to visitors in 1927, due to a big financial pinch, where it became a huge draw and popular tourist attraction, and has been so ever since.
400 Live Oaks
From the entrance, it’s a one-and-a-half mile drive, under the famous boughs of the live oaks, to reach Wormsloe’s museum. There are over 400 live oaks along this drive, planted in the 1890s. You may recognize this road from the Forrest Gump movie. On the grounds you can find the plantation house, a library, ruins of the fortified house, self-guided nature trails, live demonstrations, and picnic grounds. A 20-minute video is also offered, giving an overview of early Savannah history.
In your travels while you’re in Savannah, if you happen to visit Columbia Square, the fountain you will see in its center came from Wormsloe, and was donated by Wymberley DeRenne. It is referred to as the “rustic” fountain, decorated with vines, leaves, flowers and other woodland images.
All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)
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