“Georgia has a new claim upon the attention of the American people.”
So begins an ambitious article about Brunswick in “Harper’s Weekly, A Journal of Civilization.” The advertorial appeared in the December 1888 issue of the Harper’s, which was one of the nation’s most popular magazines of the late 19th century.
By this time, Brunswick had emerged nicely from the ashes of the Civil War as the port of call for Georgia’s bustling timber boom. Ships from up and down the coast and around the world docked here to take on naval stores and lumber, products of the tall pines that floated down the Altamaha River after being felled in Georgia’s interior.
Its industry is a feature the article makes a point of noting. “Brunswick has profited greatly by her harbor; in fact, the present prosperity of the city is due to its unsurpassed shipping facilities. Great quantities of cotton, pine lumber, resin, turpentine and other products are shipped from Brunswick to all parts of the world ... The people of Brunswick have awakened to the fact that their city has within its reach the making of a great shipping-point, as well as a popular resort.”
Promoting Brunswick as a resort destination for winter weary northerners was the point of this well-placed, paid article in Harper’s Weekly. Coastal Georgia was just then establishing itself as a balmy retreat from the bitter cold of northern environs. The Jekyll Island Club already had become an exclusive playground of the Vanderbilts, Morgans and other movers and shakers of the Gilded Age.
As the lumber mills churned away at Gascoigne Bluff on the river side of St. Simons Island, the St. Simons Hotel catered to vacation-minded visitors on “9,588 feet of magnificent sea-beach front,” the article noted.
The article cautioned discerning readers not to overlook Brunswick. “The visitor has no need to confine his attention to Jekyll Island alone, for the mainland and the Brunswick peninsula have attractions enough to keep one busy the whole season.”
Diversions galore for the outdoor enthusiast as well.
“To say nothing of the splendid fishing in St. Simon’s (sic) Sound, the Brunswick River, and the Jekyll Sound, or the exciting sport of deep-sea trolling off the coast close at hand ...”
On land, “there are the wide-stretching pine forests almost within easy walk, that not only give health to the ailing and renewed strength to the wearied, but provide the best of sport for the gunner and constant occupation and pleasure for the botanist or artist. The great pine woods have wonderful health-giving properties.”
But the article’s author did not think it too much of a stretch to draw comparisons between Brunswick and that big city up north. No, not Atlanta. The big city way up north.
“Brunswick is not unlike New York in its water and harbor facilities. St. Simons Sound and the Brunswick and Back rivers will float vessels of the largest class, and that, too, up to the streets of the city, as in the case of New York. Navigable water flows on three sides of the city, while in the bay toward the sea is water enough, as well as room enough, to float the navies of the world.”
All this, and within easy reach of those northern cities, thanks to a dependable railroad service.
“The journey from the Eastern resorts to Brunswick is an easy one, as the time between New York and Brunswick is only about 24 hours. The car service into Brunswick is of the most elegant obtainable, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad Company, the Brunswick and Western Railroad ... having in operation rolling-stock second to none in the entire country.”
That premiere transportation system would drop the uninitiated into the lap of luxury in downtown Brunswick.
“The Northern visitor will naturally pass his first season at the Oglethorpe Hotel, which is said to be second only to the Ponce de Leon of St. Augustine as a winter hotel.”
And thus the sales pitch for a community of luxury living on that peninsula tucked away in the section of Brunswick we know today as the Old Town Historic District.
This 19th century snowbird would “pass his second season in his own villa in Windsor Park. The assumption is that he will be so well pleased with Brunswick-by-the-sea that he will make it his permanent home. For such a purpose he could not find a better or more beautifully situated spot in the entire south than this same Windsor Park. It lies on the Brunswick peninsula, between the city and St. Simon’s (sic) Sound.”
Only the most reputable would be admitted to this elite neighborhood, readers are assured. “There are certain restrictions connected with the sale of the Windsor Park villa sties, which are to be sold this year, that secure only the most desirable purchasers.”
The article culminates in a flourish of commas, gasping for a period, and collapsing in audacious hyperbole.
“With such a spirit dominating the social life of Brunswick, and with the close proximity of the famous Jekyll Island Club, there is no reason that this Brunswick-by-the-sea, which is so fresh and new, and yet at the same time as ancient as the oldest families of the country, should not become in reality, to all the world, what it now is in the minds and affections of its friends, the Newport of the South.”
Lucky for us, Brunswick’s Windsor Park neighborhood instead became something so much more charming than the “Newport of the South.” Whatever that is.