Location: Savannah, Georgia
Webpage: Georgia State Park
General Description: Entering though the world’s longest live oak entryway of over 400 large live oaks, visitors to Wormsloe State Historic Site will be able to explore Savannah’s oldest tabby ruins and grounds of historic Wormsloe Plantation. Trails also take the visitor through the young mixed forest that has grown since farming was ended in the 1950s and by the remains of the Civil War earthworks of Fort Wymberley, one of the defensive forts manned by the Confederacy in the defense of Savannah. Wormsloe Plantation is the south’s oldest continuously family owned plantation, beginning when Noble Jones was granted a lease of 500 acres on the Isle of Hope south of Savannah. Noble Jones was one of the original families that arrived with Ogelthorpe in 1733 to establish a new British colony, Georgia, with a new town on the bluff above the river named Savannah. Savannah was a planned community where the landless citizens in England, many of them poor, could receive food, land, and tools but had to agree to the Charter that did not allow slaves or liquor. Noble Jones was only a modest carpenter in England, but became an important citizen serving as the surveyor, treasurer, and for a while the physician for the settlement. Savannah struggled under the rules of the Charter with nearly all the settlers either dying or leaving until Georgia became a royal colony in 1750 when the Charter was revoked by King. This opened up the opportunity to own slaves that were necessary for the labor intensive demands of growing rice, indigo, or cotton. Noble Jones was granted ownership of Wormsloe in 1756 and along with a few slaves he began the cultivation. Wormsloe was known for its experimental plantings of many crops including cotton, grains, vegetables, fruits, and berries. His cultivation and landscaping made Wormsloe a byword in the South. Noble Jones also built a home and surrounded by fortified walls for defense made out of tabby. The location of Wormsloe protected the southern approach to Savannah from the Spanish. As a principal military officer of colonial Georgia, Jones used Wormsloe as a guard post, and his residence served as a nucleus for a garrison of marines. Even though Noble Jones willed his estate to his son, Noble Wimberley Jones, and the property has continued in his family until today, his son and granddaughter made very little use of the estate and the tabby home fell to ruin. In 1830, George Jones built the first version of Wormsloe House, a two-story wooden house facing the river. His son, George Frederick Tilghman Jones expanded the home to three stories and changed the name from Wormslow to Wormsloe, as well as his name to George Wymberly Jones de Renne. Over the years the family has continued to own the house, expanding it over time and used the property as a dairy and cattle farm. This home is not a part of the State Historic Site. During the Civil War, the de Renne family abandoned the property and the Confederacy created earthworks named Fort Wymberly as part of the defense surrounding Savannah near the ruins of the tabby house.
1) The Visitor Center includes a good movie about Noble Jones that provides a good overview. However, the museum itself was a disappointment. It includes only a few exhibits that focuses more on the history of the family up to the present.
2) The drive to the Visitor Center through the very large live oak trees is really impressive. With over 400 live oak trees lining both sides of the road, it is worth a visit.
3) The tabby ruins of the house are still in amazing shape for being over 275 years old. This is also the grave of Noble Jones’ son, Noble Wymberly Jones.
4) The have reconstructed a few outbuildings at where they believe they would have been and they are set up for live demonstrations of carpentry, cooking, and blacksmithing. Visiting during the summer when these activities are going on would make the visit very worthwhile.
5) The walk to the Confederate earthworks is well maintained and a pleasant hike through a Maritime forest overlooking the salt marshes.
6) The Confederate earthworks of Fort Wymberly are impressive, however, if you stay on the trail you only get a single glimpse of them at one end. The interpretive sign includes an infrared photograph that show an extensive earthwork. It would have been nice if they included a trail outside the earthworks to give more opportunities to see them.
7) At $10 a person, I am not convinced it is worth the cost. Even with the 2.3 mile hike to the earthworks it only took us a couple of hours to visit the site.