Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
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1) 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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3) Tabby Ruins

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.

 

The Wormsloe house contained five rooms. Room 2,4, and 5 had tabby floors, Room 3 a wooden floor, and the main room (1) had flooring of square brick tiles. A later frame addition was probably made to the west wall and this addition likely housed kitchen activities.

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4) The Gravesite

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.

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5) The Narrows

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 fledgling colony.

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6) 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 to cooking.

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7) Interpretive Trail

Visitors will want to tour the grounds on a NATURE WALK that allows
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 the LIVE OAK.

 

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 make soap.

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Museum Tour

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.

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