2 coastal Georgia sites named ‘Places in Peril’

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Two coastal Georgia locations are featured on the 2022 “10 Places in Peril” list, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation announced Wednesday.

The goal of the list and the program behind it is to identify and preserve threatened historical sites. Examples of threats to historic sites include demolition, lack of maintenance and neglect.

The “Places in Peril” program began 17 years ago. As of 2020, 20% of historic sites highlighted by the list had been restored.

“The trust will work closely with representatives associated with each site and develop unique approaches for their preservation,” said Mark McDonald, in a video presentation revealing the sites that made the list. McDonald is the president and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

The first site is that of the Good Shephard Episcopal School, which stands beside the Good Shephard Episcopal Church in Brunswick. Founded in the early 20th century by the Anna Ellison Butler Alexandria, the school and church are all that is left of the historic Pennick community. Alexandria was a deaconess at the church and lived in a small apartment on the top floor of the schoolhouse.

In 1998, Bishop Henry Louttit Jr. named the deaconess a saint of Georgia. She was an integral community figure and through the schoolhouse, she helped to provide an education to the Black students of Pennick.

“Deaconess Alexander depopulated Pennick one carload at a time and drove them away to lives they could not have imagined,” Rev. Julia Sierra Reyes said in a documentary made about the deaconess that was published on Youtube in 2018.   

The Good Shephard Episcopal Church had a reputation for helping others and was known to contribute funds for those who were less fortunate.

“Good Shephard gave more to charities around the world than any other church in the Diocese,” McDonald said.

As years have passed, the financial resources for maintaining the schoolhouse have diminished.

“Recent hurricanes and weather damage have taken a toll on the building, leaving portions exposed to the elements,” McDonald said.

(Image Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

The second site, located in Darien, is the Thicket Ruins. These tabby ruins sit at what remains of the Thicket sugar mill and rum distillery that once stood there in the 19th century. This site also features the quarters of the enslaved people who worked at the Thicket.

Following a hurricane in 1824, the area was turned into a cotton plantation. After the Civil War, parts of tabby were eventually sold to the freed people who created a community in Carnigan — what is now an eight-minute drive away from Darien.

The biggest threat to this location is the Carnochan Creek that the ruins are built along. As the climate changes, the bank of the creek erodes and causes damage to the buildings lining it.

One building has already been lost to the Carnochan.

Now, these historic sites will get a second chance. The Georgia Trust is offering an escape from slowly eroding over time until nothing is left. With the help of the communities surrounding the sites, plans will be drawn up and executed to bring life back to these relics of Georgia history.

See how you can help with preserving Georgia’s historical sites by visiting the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s website here.

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