Brunswick and the Golden Isles – Family for which the AW Jones Heritage Center Is Named

March 20, 2008


SAINT SIMONS ISLAND, GA -- It is most appropriate that the new A.W. Jones Heritage Center be named in honor of three men–the late A.W. Jones, Sr., his son, the late A.W. (Bill) Jones, Jr., and his grandson A.W. (Bill) Jones III. These three generations of one remarkable family share more than their name. They share an extraordinary commitment to coastal Georgia that spans 80 years.
In sequence through the years, each has led Sea Island Company to ever-new heights among the world’s most successful and respected residential and resort operations. And each, during his era of leadership, has shaped a legacy of leadership in the preservation and betterment of coastal Georgia’s environmental, cultural and historical resources. Sea Island Company has donated hundreds of acres of land (for the airport, churches, roads, schools, parks and community services) that today benefit thousands of residents.
Much of what we take for granted today–roads, utilities, green spaces–were begun by Sea Island Company in the 1920s. As part of that gradual development, the Company is also responsible for preserving some of the priceless historic sites that residents and visitors enjoy. And while it is difficult to fully convey the depth and breadth of this far-reaching and community-enriching family touch, the following are a few highlights.
From the beginning, decisions made by the Company have been strongly influenced by a keen sense of history. As early as 1927, historic preservation was a Sea Island Company cornerstone with the preservation of the 19th century Corn Barn at Retreat Plantation, along with protection of its cemetery and, later, restoration of the ruins of its hospital. In 1936, Mr. Jones, Sr., took the lead in efforts to have Fort Frederica declared a national monument; and in the 1970s, he aggressively supported efforts that placed Cumberland Island under the protection of the National Parks Service as a National Seashore.
After purchasing the Cannon’s Point property on St. Simons Island’s north end, the Company immediately commissioned an archaeological study of the land. Artifacts from 2,000 B.C. were cataloged and building ruins were preserved and protected. Similar efforts were made in the company’s newest community, Frederica.
After the Company donated much of the land for McKinnon Airport on St. Simons Island, it stepped in and purchased the former slave cabin near the site (now The Tabby House) to save it from demolition. In 1940, Sea Island Company provided to the state of Georgia the land in McIntosh County on which Fort King George stands, enabling the site to become a popular state park.
A.W. (Bill) Jones III, Chairman of Sea Island Company, is due the most individual credit for the new Heritage Center becoming a reality. The Company’s hosting of the 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit led, at his urging, to the host committee’s selection of the Society’s “Lighting Our Way” capital campaign as the G8 Legacy Project. This substantial financial contribution, along with Bill Jones III’s generous, personal financial support and the Company’s providing of the Center’s exterior landscaping, were all instrumental in creating the Heritage Center that now honors his, his father’s and his grandfather’s legacy.

# # #
Merry Tipton, Vice President
Sea Island Company
Ph: 912-634-4359

Pat Morris, Executive Director
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
Ph: 912-638-4666

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