SGA leadership’s Winter 2010 retreat at Ashantilly

Submitted by Sammy Smith (

Main, east fascade of Ashantilly plantation house.

The SGA and its members owe a big debt of thanks to the wonderful, kind folks at the Ashantilly Center, an historic plantation house and grounds just north of Darien.

The SGA Board and Officers met on Saturday, February 6th, 2010, at the Ashantilly library, named after the home’s builder, Thomas Spalding, at the south end of the plantation house. Spalding owned land on both the mainland and on Sapelo Island (which many of us visited on Sunday), and Ashantilly was the family home.

SGA leadership, from left: Brian Floyd, President Dennis Blanton, Stephen Hammack, David Mincey, Thomas Gresham, Pamela Baughman, Sammy Smith, Tammy Herron, Catherine Long, Lynn Pietak, Carolyn Rock, and meeting organizer Kevin Kiernan.

Spalding named Ashantilly after his ancestral home in Scotland. The Ashantilly historical marker was dedicated in late October 2009. It is planted on Ridge Road “behind” the main plantation house. The marker reads:

Built ca. 1820, Ashantilly was the mainland residence of prominent antebellum planter Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), owner of the nearby Sapelo Island plantation. The house, likely built by Spalding’s slaves, was constructed of tabby, an equal mix of oyster shell, sand, water and lime. Ashantilly was named for Spalding’s ancestral home in County Perth, Scotland. He died at Ashantilly and is interred in the family burial ground adjacent to the property. William G. Haynes, Jr. (1908-2001), proprietor of the Ashantilly Press, was the last private owner of Ashantilly. In 1993 the Haynes family donated the property to the Ashantilly Center, Inc.

According to the Center’s website, William Haynes Jr., with his sister, Annie Lee Haynes established Ashantilly Center:

to organize and implement a program of conservation, including Ashantilly property and its legacy, to provide a vehicle for continuing education, scientific advancement and charitable endeavor which focus on the natural and built environments integral to the Georgia Coast.

The generous hosting included three tasty meals, culminating with a Low Country Boil. We also enjoyed a special tour of the upstairs of the house. Because Ashantilly is primarily an educational institution and not a museum, it is not open for tours.

Ashantilly Center members also kindly hosted SGA attendees in their homes, which meant attendees did not have to pay for hotel rooms. (The SGA does not pay the leadership’s expenses to attend Board meetings.)

All meeting participants, many of whom travelled for hours to attend this retreat, agreed that our day at Ashantilly and our time with the Ashantilly Center people was extra-special.

[nggallery id=16]


The Ashantilly Center’s website is here.

The Ashantilly Center’s blog is here.

Where to find it