Wormsloe Plantation on the Isle of Hope, Georgia, is one of the richest cultural landscapes in the state, a place shaped over the centuries by Native American, Anglo-American, and African-American inhabitants. Part of the oldest chain of marsh islands on the Atlantic coast, the land was inhabited first by Native Americans for thousands of years before the arrival of Noble Jones, one of the original founders of the Georgia Colony in 1733. Jones established Wormsloe as a farm and fortress to protect the newly-established port of Savannah from would-be Spanish invaders from the south. Jones and his heirs developed their property as an outpost of horticultural experimentation, and by the time of the American Civil War Wormsloe had become an important sea island cotton plantation. During the twentieth century, Wormsloe became an important tourist attraction, and one of the first landscapes in the region to be protected by a conservation easement. Today, the Wormsloe landscape survives as an intricate tapestry of prehistoric shell middens, remnants of colonial buildings and roadways, magnificent live oak avenues, an imposing estate house and formal gardens, antebellum slave quarters, cemeteries, Civil War earthworks, forests, and marshlands—a site that offers innumerable avenues for research and inspiration.
During summer 2010, the UGA Cultural Landscape Laboratory began an in-depth study of the cultural landscape at Wormsloe Plantation. The Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History is the lab’s primary partner in this venture, although the lab also is working with other UGA academic units, including the Department of Geography, the Department of History, and the Odum School of Ecology. These partners have come together to ensure the long-term stewardship and sustainability of Wormsloe as a nationally-significant historic, natural and cultural resources, and as a laboratory for research in landscape ecology and environmental history.
Currently, UGA-CED faculty and graduate students are conducting a comprehensive inventory of cultural landscape features at Wormsloe. Working with the UGA Department of Geography’s Center for Remote Sensing and mapping Science, we are building the inventory as a computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS). The inventory and GIS will guide future management plans, and inform landscape research and interpretation. faculty and graduate students affiliated with the Cultural Landscape Laboratory also are collecting oral histories from members of the greater Wormsloe community. The information gathered from these histories will help us understand how people have valued and used the landscape in the past, and it will help us define appropriate landscape management strategies.
UGA Research Partners
Private Research Partners
Mr. and Mrs. Craig Barrow