Did you know that timber from St. Simons Island was used to build the frigate USS Constitution, a.k.a. “Old Ironsides”? Do you know why the St. Simons Lighthouse is painted white?

Explore the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum and learn about the history of Coastal Georgia through exhibits of rare artifacts, historical photographs, and interactives designed for the whole family. Topics include Native American customs, life on a 19th century cotton plantation, Civil War activity on the coast, and the development of tourism. The daily life of the lighthouse keeper is also described, as well as how the Fresnel lens at the top of the tower casts a beam that can be seen 23 miles out to sea.

On the 2nd floor of the Keeper’s Dwelling, period rooms will take you back to the year 1907 and show you how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived before electricity and indoor plumbing. Climb the 129 steps to the top of the Lighthouse and take in the spectacular 360 degree view. At each landing along the way, you’ll find a tidbit of history to read while you catch your breath.

Currently on Exhibit in the A.W. Jones Heritage Center
Our Coastal Heritage Lovingly Preserved: Images from the Margaret Davis Cate Collection

Layout 1Captivating images of local people and places from the mid-20th century are on display in the Gallery Hall of the A.W. Jones Heritage Center. They are taken from hand-colored glass lantern slides once owned by local historian Margaret Davis Cate (1888-1961).

In the 1940s, Cate joined forces with retired physician and amateur photographer Orrin Wightman to document vanishing coastal settings and the people associated with them. The project led to publication of the book Early Days of Coastal Georgia, with images by Wightman and historical interpretation by Cate. Included are rare photographs of African Americans known as the Geechee, who were descended from the enslaved workers on local cotton and rice plantations.

A native of Coastal Georgia, Cate was a teacher, principal, and school board member in the Glynn County School System. She was also a successful businesswoman, post mistress, and farmer, but her real passion was researching our coastal heritage and sharing it with others. She regularly gave history lectures, using the slides displayed in the exhibit.

Cate’s collection of lantern slides was donated to the Society by Sea Island Company.