5 Sites to Experience Eugenia Price's Golden Isles
Celebrated Southern author Eugenia Price dedicated much of her literary career to capturing the sights, sounds, charm, and history of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Through her novels, she brought to life a stunning setting that many readers had never experienced before. With her St. Simons trilogy as our guide, we’ve compiled a can’t-miss list of landmarks for the novelist’s most loyal fans.
Live Oak Shop
Start with a visit to the Live Oak Shop in the Golden Isles Welcome Center to pick up each of the books in the St. Simons Trilogy: “Lighthouse,” “New Moon Rising,” and “The Beloved Invader.” Despite the decades that have unfolded since Price penned these pages, her intoxicating descriptions of the following spots feel timeless, and characters feel like lifelong friends.
St. Simons Lighthouse Museum
A true hallmark of St. Simons Island is one that pays homage to Eugenia Price herself. The St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum is settled along the south end of the island in Pier Village. The museum and gift shop are housed inside the lighthouse’s old keepers’ dwelling, a picturesque red brick abode that, from behind a white picket fence, anchors the lighthouse. Inside, you’ll find an exhibit that highlights “Lighthouse,” the first installment in the trilogy. There’s also a bevy of rare photographs and artifacts on display around the museum. The lighthouse itself is as majestic as the author paints it to be. It is the second iteration of the original lighthouse — the one that was born from the vision of James Gould, Price’s main character in “Lighthouse” — which took shape in 1810 but suffered total wreckage during the Civil War. The current tower was reconstructed and reignited in 1872. Crafted in Savannah gray brick, the tower stands 104 feet tall and is among only five lighthouses that remain in the state of Georgia. Get your camera ready and climb the 129 steps to the top. You’ll enjoy unparalleled views of the Island’s south end, nearby Jekyll Island, and Brunswick. Tours of the lighthouse and museum are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Christ Church, Frederica
When you take in the full glory of Christ Church, Frederica, it’s hard not to gain a sense of this Episcopal haven’s deep-rooted history. Beyond its postcard-like presence, the quaint white chapel, bordered by brilliant greenery and patterned in stained glass, is a window into the St. Simons story. The parish’s first worship service dates back to 1736, when English colonists, led by James Oglethorpe, settled here. Christ Church makes many appearances in each of Price’s novels. Given her reverence for the setting, it’s only fitting that she was laid to rest in the same cemetery as so many of her characters.
Cannon's Point Preserve
From there, journey with character James Gould from the lighthouse on the south end of the island to Cannon’s Point on the north end. Once a Native American homestead, the treasured land on Cannon’s Point was purchased by John Couper in 1793. He transformed the sandy plot bordering the Hampton River into a cotton plantation. You can visit the plantation’s ruins by making a five-mile trek from the Cannon’s Point Preserve parking lot, where a kiosk provides maps. Among the ruins, you’ll find 19th century relics like fragments of the tabby sourced from Fort Frederica. Cannon’s Point Preserve is open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Afterwards, end your adventure at one of the most serene spots on St. Simons Island’s western side. Gascoigne Bluff, which overlooks the Frederica River, is truly a marvel of self-reinvention. It began as a Native American community, then as a port for ships entering the harbor. It’s been a naval base, the site of a Franciscan monastery, a slave plantation and cotton stronghold, and eventually, a hub for transporting lumber and timber. It was also here that James Gould felled oaks to construct warships for the Navy. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of Gascoigne Bluff’s public park. Make your way to the fishing pier, where marshland meets the Frederica River, to soak up a Georgian sunset. If you peer across the water, you can spy three small islands that formed from ballast discarded by ships dating back to the 18th century.