Made from the ash of burned oyster shells, sand, water, and crushed shells, tabby was once a foundational building tool for early inhabitants along coastal Georgia. Developed in the 13th and 14th centuries on the North African coast, settlers from South Carolina brought the historic concrete “recipe” to Georgia when it became a colony in 1733 to build forts, chapels, lighthouses, homes, and other structures. 

The tabby was often poured in layers using wooden forms and extreme levels of craftsmanship, which is evident from holes left behind in the structures that still stand. Before the first layer was dry, a second wooden form and more tabby was poured on top until the structure reached the desired height. This was followed by a coat of lime-based mortar, a lime-based whitecoat with crushed shells, and a final coat. Lime is a material made from burnt limestone that is often used in construction. 

The tabby structures still standing today not only are an important piece of Georgia history, but they show us the skills of those who came before us and remind us of today’s advancements in technology. Take a step back in time discovering the remnants of authentic tabby found across the Golden Isles. 


Tabby on St. Simons Island 

Cannon’s Point Preserve 

Cannon's Point PreserveConsisting of 608 acres of greenspace open for public exploration, Cannon’s Point Preserve boasts maritime forest, marshes, wild native species, and is also linked to the Altamaha River. The site contains middens dating back to 2500 BCE. You’ll also find plantation ruins made of original tabby dating back to the 19th Century, which were left behind from John Couper’s sea island cotton plantation.  

Hours: Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays from 9:00am-3:00pm 

Cost: Entry is free 


Fort Frederica National Monument 

Fort FredericaFort Frederica was stablished by James Oglethorpe to protect his southern boundary in 1736 after Georgia was the epicenter of centuries-old conflict between Spain and Britain. The fort was once a thriving village of 500 citizens and is now protected by the national park service. The archeological remnants of Frederica, consisting of tabby structures, still stand today for exploration. 

Hours: Daily from 9:00am-5:00pm 

Cost: Entry is Free 


Christ Church, Frederica Cemetery 

Christ Church Cemetery

Nestled under huge live oak trees on the island’s north end, and adjacent to Fort Frederica, you’ll find Christ Church, which was built in 1884 after the original structure was destroyed during the Civil War. The site contains historic burial grounds, made up of gravesites with tabby structures and mausoleums. Burials in the Christ Church Cemetery began in the 1700s, however the earliest tombstone dates to 1803. The cemetery contains graves of soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary war, writers, historians, priests, and more. 

Hours: Services held daily at 5:00pm, Fridays at 11:30am and Sundays 8:00am-11:00am 

Cost: Entry is Free 


The Historic Tabby Slave Cabins at Gascoigne Bluff 

Slave CabinsLocated at Gascoigne Bluff near Fort Frederica are the two remaining Historic Tabby Slave Cabins from Hamilton Plantation, which historically produced sea island cotton, oak, and pine timbers. To construct the cabins, tabby was poured into wooden frames to harden. Glass windows and wooden outside doors tell us that these cabins housed slaves with high privileges. 

Hours: Tours are held Wednesday 10:00am-noon 

Cost: Tours are free 


Tabby on Jekyll Island  

Horton House 

Horton House on Jekyll IslandOne of the oldest surviving tabby buildings in Georgia, the Horton House, is what remains of the 1743 home that once belonged to Major William Horton, who once owned 500 acres of land on Jekyll Island. Horton was a military aid, in charge of the troops at Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, and farmed Jekyll Island to produce crops. Horton also brewed Georgia’s first beer at his plantation, so this is also the site of the rumored first brewery in Georgia. Across from the house is a tabby wall and cemetery, the resting place of both family members who lived in the home and employees of the Jekyll Island Club. 

Hours: Open to the public for viewing 

Cost: Free 


Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District  

Jekyll Island Historic DistrictThe Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District is a 240-acre site made up of 33 historic structures on Jekyll Island. Only one structure on the property was made of tabby, a long-abandoned cottage located on the western side of the island called Hollybourne Cottage. The cottage was built in 1890, and is a nine-bedroom property that was once a gathering spot for members of the Jekyll Island Club. It is said that the cottage is haunted by the ghost of Margaret Maurice, the daughter of the Hollybourne’s original owner. 

Venture a mile or so north of the district to find ruins of a tabby tower, which was once a silo and is all that’s left of the dairy farm that supplied products to the wealthy members of the Jekyll Island Club. The farm was also historically used to house state prisoners who were brought to the island for labor. 

Hours: Open to the public for viewing (you may not enter the cottage)  

Cost: Free 


Tabby in Brunswick 

Oak Grove Cemetery 

Oak Grove Cemetery in BrunswickThe historic Oak Grove Cemetery was founded by the City of Brunswick in 1838 as the first public burial site, and is now preserved and maintained by the Oak Grove Cemetery Society and the City of Brunswick. Originally ten acres, the Cemetery was reduced to three acres in 1871, and contains over 1200 graves, around 200 which belong to Civil War soldiers. 418 of the graves are unmarked, and over 60 are unknown. The cemetery contains remnants of the past, including tabby structures and gravesites. Guided tours are available for booking, or take a self-guided tour anytime during the cemetery’s open hours. 

Hours: Open daily 7:30am-sunset 

Cost: Guided tour costs $20/person for 1 hour, otherwise entry is free 

To begin planning your trip to discover the history of the Golden Isles, order a free Golden Isles Visitor Guide