Wormsloe Historic Site greets visitors with a long drive surrounded by live oak trees that create a scenic tunnel to Savannah’s past. It’s actually the longest live oak-covered road in the world, spanning a mile and a half long with over 400 live oak trees flanking the path. Ironically, the trees themselves are only a hundred years old, relatively young for a live oak. They were not planted until the late 1800s, but what they lead to is much older.
The tabby ruins of the original Wormsloe homestead are the oldest standing structure in Savannah today. Noble Jones built the fortified house in 1736 as both a home for his family and as a fort to protect against the Spanish approaching from Florida territory. While Jones would later fight in several battles with the Spanish during the War of Jenkins Ear, the fort itself never saw any action. The Spanish never made it that far north.
Noble Jones’ story is entwined with the birth of Georgia. Jones, his wife Sarah, and their two children were among the first colonists to immigrate from England to Georgia with James Oglethorpe in 1733. Eventually, of the 35 original families that traveled to Georgia with Oglethorpe, only the Jones family would remain as others died of sickness or moved elsewhere.
Noble Jones died on the eve of revolution in 1775, an Englishman to the end. His son, Noble Wimberly Jones, had different political ideals than his staunch loyalist father. Following his father’s death, Wimberly soon became a leading patriot in the American Revolution and later, a delegate in the Continental Congress.
The Jones descendants still live at Wormsloe today in a 19th century plantation home located on the grounds. Nine generations have lived at Wormsloe since 1736, making it the oldest continuously owned family estate in Georgia.
The plantation house itself has seen many changes over the years, and little of the original facade from 1828 remains. While the home is closed to visitors, guests can still learn the history of the house by visiting the museum and viewing images of the home and its family, generation by generation.
In a city rich in Civil War history, Wormsloe is one of the few Colonial historic sites in Savannah, complete with living history and reenactments. On the grounds are a replica Yamacraw hut, 18th century-style Savannah home, and blacksmithy that children especially enjoy. Currently Wormsloe workers are building a log fort of Spanish design on the property, to be open later this year. There is also a museum with a short video detailing the history of Wormsloe and the Jones family.
Miles of scenic walking trails are also welcome to visitors, and the live oak path is a perfect place for a photo. On rainy days, resurrection ferns growing on the oak trees come to life and color the path with bright green. Be sure to schedule a guided tour into your visit, as Wormsloe guides offer a wealth of information about not only the history of Wormsloe, but its environment.
Wormsloe Historic Site is home to one of the few protected salt marshes up and down the east coast, which, along with oyster beds, are important parts of the coastal ecosystem. Salt marshes clean the air and water as well as provide mainland protection from storms, and a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. Many sharks and dolphins take advantage of the secluded waters of the marsh to give birth, and alligators can sometimes be spotted along the shoreline.
A great opportunity to experience Wormsloe is the Colonial Faire and Muster on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9 from 10am to 4pm. Woodworking, blacksmithing, cooking and craft demonstrations, and food will be provided for guests. The militia will muster at 11am and a battle reenactment will take place at noon. Don’t let entry fees scare you away; the event is free to the public.
Wormsloe Historic Site is a short 30 minute drive from Tybee Island, located just southeast of Savannah’s midtown district near the Isle of Hope. For more information on Wormsloe, visit GeorgiaStateParks.org/Wormsloe.