Our Town

8/29/2013

Historical society wraps up series

By BRITTANY TATE The Brunswick News

1 From mixes of late medieval and renaissance architectures to old tabby-covered structures, the architectural history in Coastal Georgia is something to behold. That is why the Coastal Georgia Historical Society will end its summer Chautauqua Lecture series today on the architectural heritage of the Golden Isles.

"We do a different topic every year. The reason we chose architectural heritage was because a member (of Coastal Georgia Historical Society) donated a book on architecture from the 1920s, and it made us think that we had really prominent architects that worked in this area," said Rogers, curator for the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.

Rogers says the group chose the topic because of its relevancy. "Over the years, we've always tried to pick a topic that's related to what's going on even outside of St. Simons Island. It has some relation with our history and relevancy with the larger world," Rogers said.

And like every other Chautauqua Lecture series, the speakers examine more than just the history of the area. "They talk about the life stories of the architects and the people involved in their projects. It's like social history as well as a deeper look into their architectural designs," Rogers said.

In true fashion, the series - "Our Architectural Heritage: Coastal Designs by Visionary Architects" - focuses on four different styles on St. Simons Island. The first three lectures explored the bodies of work of nationally and internationally renowned architects John Portman, Addison Mizner and John Russell Pope.

"John Portman designed an unusual cottage on Sea Island in that it was sort of related to how he designed his hotels. It's very modern architecture," Rogers said.

Described as a mathematical and logical purity of design expressed through mid-century modernism, Portman's Sea Island home, which is called Entelechy II (1986), is reminiscent of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta with its vaulting interior courtyards, gardens, reflecting pools and atriums.

Addison Mizner, on the other hand, explored Spanish-colonial revival architecture as exhibited in the original Cloister Hotel on Sea Island. "He was really influential in this region with his style and how he (emulated) houses that were designed during the 19th century," Rogers said.

John Russell Pope took the Italian villa approach to his designs and it can be easily identified in his design of Villa Ospo on Jekyll Island.

The last architect, James Hamilton Couper, who will be discussed at 6 p.m. today, is much different than the other well-known designers. "James Hamilton Couper was a plantation owner during the 19th century and was not a professional architect. He designed the Christ Church in Savannah, but he lived here in the Golden Isles and we wanted to talk about him and why, as an amateur architect, he was chosen to design such a beautiful church," Rogers said.

Though the series includes some who are not from the Golden Isles, Rogers ensures the "series is relevant to our local history and interesting to people who don't know about our history."

Check it Out

Coastal Georgia Historical Society will present Justin Gunther's presentation, "James Hamilton Couper: Planter, Architect, and Renaissance Man of the Golden Isles," at 6 p.m. at A.W. Jones Heritage Center, 610 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island, as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series. The cost is $15 per lecture for non-members and free for historical society members. Registration is required. Details: 634-7090.