Live Oak Avenue and Entrance Gate
The picturesque roadway leading through the property is lined
with more than 400 live oak trees planted by Wymberley Jones DeRenne
in the early 1890s to commemorate the birth of his son, Wymberley
Wormsloe DeRenne. The earliest reference to the road dates to
1816 although it was probably in use much earlier. The grand masonry
archway at the entrance to Wormsloe was also erected by DeRenne
to commemorates his son's coming of age. Two dates are engraved
on the arch: 1733 represents the year Noble Jones arrived in Savannah;
1913 marks the earth arch was erected. On the left of the oak-lined
drive avenue are the 1828 family residence and several dependencies.
All buildings in the area are on private private property and
are not open to the public.
Farther along the road, an abandoned silo marks the location
of the dairy complex which began operation in about 1910. This
endeavor, which operated approximately 30 years, was the last
major agricultural use of the Wormsloe plantation. Although family-owned,
the dairy was leased to a commercial dairy and later to individuals.
Next to the silo are the remains of the cistern and the barn foundation.
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2) Monument to Family
Both family and land have changed since Wormsloe was first granted
to Noble Jones. Wormsloe was no exception. The soil proved far
less fertile than expected and farming was difficult. Almost all
of the 20 acres cleared by Jones has grown back despite drastic
changes in the forest. In 1974, the southern pine beetle epidemic
swept through Wormsloe, destroying the massive old-growth pines
that dominated these woods.
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Although a land grant for a working plantation of 500 acres was
given to Noble Jones by the Georgia Trustees, a significant military
task was given to the family, as well. They were to erect a fortified
home that would serve to guard the southern approaches to Savannah
at the Jones narrows. Later, Jones was given command of a company
of marine boatmen who patrolled the waterways.
This tabby house was begun in 1793 and its remains are the only
structural remains in the area from the time of Oglethorpe. A
reconstructed model of the home can be viewed in the museum.
The tabby ruins mark the location of Noble Jones' fortified
house, begun c. 1739. Located inside the walls, the house was
32' x 24' or double the size required by the earliest of houses
in Savannah. Jones Built the house in the newer roomier Georgian
style common to houses of contemporary Frederica. It was at least
1 1/2 stories high. The tabby portion of the structure was 8'
high (the same as the fort wall), while the remaining height probably
consisted of frame construction. The tabby walls were smoothed
with plaster and whitewashed.
A stone and iron fence mark the first family burial site at Wormsloe.
Originally, Jones was buried here in 1775 next to his wife, Sarah,
and later, their youngest son, Indigo. Jones' remains were moved
to Colonial Cemetery. Later, Jones' great-grandson, George Wymberly
Jones DeRenne, had his ancestor's remains move from Colonial Cemetery
to Bonaventure Cemetery near Thunderbolt, Ga. In 1875, a stone
monument was placed at the Wormsloe graveyard.
Jones was to erect a fortified home to guard the southern approaches
to Savannah at Jones Narrows. A company of marine boatmen were
placed under Noble Jones command to patrol the nearby waters.
So while a large land grant that would help develop into a plantation,
Wormsloe also was a site of strategic military importanceto the
Colonial Life Area
An area of the Wormsloe grounds are set aside for use during
the special events depicting colonial life in Georgia. Here is
a "wattle and daub" constructed cabin with furnishings
and items typical of a colonial frontier home. The area is used
to demonstrate various colonial activities such as spinning and
making wooden shingles with period tools. The area also is used
to depict Native American homes and activities of the period.
During special events, costumed reenactors demonstrate the skills
of these first Georgians from military service to ironworking
Visitors will want to tour the grounds on a NATURE WALK that
enjoyment of the unique ecosystems of the coastal salt marsh environment
at Wormsloe.Some of the native plants are particularly interesting
to those unfamiliar with the coastal area.
A "Nature Walk" obviously begins with the long drive
into Wormsloe flanked by 400 beautiful live oaks. Planted by family
descendant Wimberley Jones De Renne as he attempted to restore
the estate following years of neglect, the stately oaks figure
prominently in the valuable resources Georgia provided throughout
the early years of her history. Click here to learn more about
Closely associated with the live oak
is Spanish Moss. Despite popular belief, Spanish Moss is not a
parasite; it does not harm the trees from which it hangs. A relative
of the pineapple family, this moss is an epiphyte, receiving its
nourishment from the air and the rain. Another plant that has
a relationship with the live oak is the Resurrection Fern. This
fern is found covering the limbs of live oak trees. Also an epiphyte,
this fern grows in the organic matter found in the deep cracks
of the trees' bark. It gets its descriptive name from its reaction
to wet and dry periods of weather. When there is no rain, the
plant curls up and turns brown. In wet periods, the plant is "resurrected,''
becoming green until the next dry spell.
The coast of Georgia has always been a nature lover's delight.
The earliest of several naturalists to travel and document this
region was Mark Catesby in the 1720s. Best known for his paintings
of birds, Catesby published Natural History of Carolina. Florida
and the Bahama Islands in 1747. During Georgia's early years,
another naturalist, Von Reck traveled to Georgia with a group
of settlers, the Salzburgers. Von Rek's sketchbook and diary
vividly detail the plants, animals and Native Americans in the
region. Never published at the time, his materials were discovered
in 1976 at the Royal Library at Copenhagen.
Finally, famed naturalist John Bartram visited the area in 1765,with
his son, William. Their journals describe visiting a plantation
near Bethesda where unusual fruits were grown, including pomegranates,
oranges, figs, peaches and apricots. The extensive garden cultivated
by Noble Jones at Wormsloe was the obvious choice. His interest
in plant experimentation and native plants had created a local
stir when a Savannah newspaper reported in 1756 a twenty-seven
foot blossom on a century plant at Wormsloe.
The Century Plant, a member of the Amaryllis family, only blooms
upon maturity-some 50 to 60 years of age-and during the months
of June and August. Native Americans used the plant for soap,
food, fiber, medicine and weapons. The sap from the young flower
can be fermented and distilled into tequila, too.
The Chinese tallow tree, commonly called a popcorn tree, now grows
extensively along the coastal marsh regions of Georgia. A specimen
is located between the parking lot and the museum courtyard. Not
native to Georgia, the Chinese tallow was first grown from seed
given to the Jones family by Benjamin Franklin. During colonial
times, the tree was used to produce a tallow-like substance to
A visit to Wormsloe State Historic Site offers a number of options.
The most obvious of these is a visit to the site Museum
where the story of the estate and its family is told through visual
displays. An interesting sidelight to explore is the significant
use of archaeology to uncover the story of life at Wormsloe. Download an educational pdf booklet of Wormsloe archaelogoy.