Saturday, March 13, 2010

Horton House Historic District - Jekyll Island, Georgia

The old Horton House on Jekyll Island has been one of my favorite historic sites since I first saw the picturesque ruins as a kid.

A relic of Georgia's Colonial past, the Horton House was built by Major William Horton in around 1740 as English settlement spread south through the Golden Isles following the establishment of Fort Frederica on nearby St. Simons Island by General James Oglethorpe. Horton was the major and second command of Oglethorpe's regiment and his settlement on the north end of Jekyll Island was a major part of Oglethorpe's plan for conquering the former Spanish territory along the Georgia coast.

The two-story house was extremely large for its day and was made of tabby, a concrete like material created by mixing equal parts of lime (made by burning oyster shells), sand, water and oyster shell. The fact that the walls still stand more than 270 years later reveals just how strong tabby was as a building material. In addition to the house, Horton built a barn and other structures, cleared fields and opened the first road across Jekyll Island.

The Spanish burned the Horton House during their raid on St. Simons and Jekyll Islands in 1742, but it was quickly rebuilt using the surviving stone walls. In fact, the house remained the centerpiece of an important plantation until the lands were sold to the Jekyll Island Club in 1886. The old walls witnessed not only the War of Jenkins Ear with the Spanish, but the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War as well.

The house and grounds are today maintained as a historic site and feature not only the old ruins, but interpretive markers, the nearby DuBignon (du Bignon) cemetery and spectacular views of the famed Marshes of Glynn. To learn more, please visit

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