917 Egmont Street | Historic Downtown Brunswick
In this issue, we continue guest writer Ellis Long’s feature about architecturally interesting buildings in the Golden Isles. Readers will be introduced to two striking downtown Brunswick homes, both in the SoGlo neighborhood, and both more than 100 years old, and both with impressive porches that encourage gathering. This is especially appropriate with the upcoming Brunswick PorchFest on the horizon. From noon to 5 p.m. on Nov. 13, folks will gather in the neighborhood south of Gloucester St., in Brunswick, to enjoy live music, food and fun – all for free. Musicians donate their time to perform and residents volunteer their porches for this fun annual event.
We’ll also check out one commercial building on St. Simons Island, which has its own interesting story.
To read more about Ellis’ interests in history and architecture, visit his website at archivedgoldenisles.org and his Instagram @archivedgoldenisles, both of which celebrate the rich history of our home in the Golden Isles.
The Bungalow is one of the best examples in Glynn County of the Craftsman bungalow, the early 20th century residential phenomenon.
917 Egmont St. was built in 1920, the peak of the Craftsman bungalow surge. It is a one story, grayish-white building shaded under ancient oak trees. It features original windows made of wavy glass, often called cylinder glass. This type of glasswork has an undulated and bubbling surface, and often distorts our perspective. The house checks all the boxes for the characteristics of a Craftsman bungalow: a low and wide base, slightly pitched roofs overhanging a front porch, an open floor plan, and no long hallways. Outside of these characteristics – the Craftsman bungalow has a very loose definition – one that can only be understood through its history.
At the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851 London, the Arts and Crafts movement was born – sort of. The exhibition was organized by Queen Victoria, and as a result, the extravagant ornamentation of the Victorian style was ever present and now on the world stage. The Arts and Crafts movement, founded by Renaissance man and socialist William Morris, sought to go against this industrialization of the Victorian influence. The fundamental principle behind the Arts and Crafts movement was to design more simply and cleanly, and value craftsmanship. This movement inspired a man named Gustav Stickley, and in the early 1900s, Stickley released a magazine entitled, “The Craftsman.” The first issue was dedicated to William Morris and his Arts and Crafts Movement. The publication was a massive success in the United States, as it appealed to working class people who couldn’t afford the popular Victorian style homes but still appreciated beauty and quality. In time, entire house plans began to pop up in the magazine, showing readers how they could build in the Craftsman style. In 1903, the magazine released an article called, “How to Build a Bungalow,” and the Craftsman bungalow was born.
Outside of the short, wide structure, large front porch, and open floor plan, there were little constraints to building a Craftsman bungalow. This furthered the style’s popularity, and helped it spread to all corners of the country. Craftsman bungalows began to sprout in places ranging from California to South Georgia, and because the Craftsman bungalow was simply an idea, not a product, it could be built anywhere. In 1927, Sears bought “The Craftsman” publication, where they began selling house kits and other things, like tools (Yes, this is where the Craftsman tools come from).
The Craftsman Bungalow is one of the early examples of real estate trends being spread through the use of media. And while trends come and go, the bungalow is a reminder of the interesting stories we can find when looking at buildings through a historic lens. Who would have thought that the impact of a socialist’s repulsion to industrialized architecture and manufacturing could be seen in our very own backyards?
905 Union Street | Historic Downtown Brunswick
This eye-catching gingerbread-esque house sits on a corner lot. The house, often referred to as the Wright House, and later as the Violett House, is one of the best examples of Queen Anne Victorian architecture in the area.
The Queen Anne Victorian style is a sub-genre of Victorian architecture, and the largest of the group. The movement began in the 1870s and lasted into the 1910s. Houses typically feature large turrets, clapboard siding and wrap-around porches. It is also known to include steeply pitched roofs, pediment porches, bay windows, patterned shingles, decorative trim and overhanging eaves – all of which this house has. The Wright House also features intricate spindle work, an upper balcony, a decorative front gable, and ruffled shingles painted in muted purple and green tones.
Around 1890, the house was built for James B. Wright. James’ relative, Major Samuel Wright, was one of the original settlers of Fort Frederica alongside Gen. James Oglethorpe. Mr. Wright was a successful businessman, and was the manager of the St. Simons Transit Co., as well as a director of the bank. He lived in the Queen Anne house until the 1920s, and the house stayed in the family until 2004.
Pane in the glass
1219 Ocean Blvd. | St. Simons Island
While this building is hard to miss since it stands so close to the road of the busy intersection, it’s also easy to look past with the way it blends perfectly with the local flora. This building in which Pane in the Glass sits is an example of vernacular architecture. Vernacular architecture is architecture of the common man – it has no academic tradition, typically built without a professional architect and contains local materials. It is a two-storied commercial building built around 1940. Covered in wooden shingles on all sides, a metal shed roof awning supported by wooden posts lines the front. The wood that the beams and shingles come from were likely timbered nearby.