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ON A MAGNIFICENT COASTAL ISLAND IN SOUTH GEORGIA, a stately home looks upon the North Newport River. Along this tidal river, rice plantations once flourished and a ferry landing provided crossing for travelers along the state’s oldest road, a simple trail built by James Oglethorpe in 1736. This rich heritage and natural beauty inspired the creation of Hampton Island, part estate, part preserve. Conceived in the 20th century but steeped in the past, a vision for Hampton Island was first drafted by the client in an eloquent letter to Historical Concepts. In it, he outlined his dream of re-creating an antebellum estate, an aspiration that began a most creative and collaborative design process. To create an authentic sense of place, the river became a primary influence, and the structures that evolved not only frame its beauty but respect its power. The setting called to mind the Louisiana and Mississippi plantations along the Natchez Trace, and these nineteenth century Greek Revival homes became the inspiration for the “Big House” at Hampton Island, while the more humble structures of the region served as historic precedent for the estate’s ancillary buildings, which include a sporting lodge, caretaker’s residence, and summer house, as well as imaginative waterfront guest quarters.
The Big House is a study of scale and proportion.
FLUTED COLUMNS WITH DORIC CAPITALS, square pilasters of generous scale and four-by-ten-foot windows play tricks with scale.
These elements veil the home’s stature until you step upon its porch and enter its doors, where the proportions and grandeur are fully realized.
TAPERED ARCHITRAVES IN CLASSICAL GREEK REVIVAL STYLE frame the windows and doors of the Receiving Room.
The Receiving Room fills the depth of the home and leads to four flanking rooms.
FOUR ROOMS RADIATE OFF THE RECEIVING ROOM at the outer corners:
a Dining Room, Kitchen and Keeping Room, Gentleman’s Study, and Master Bedroom.
WATERWAYS SERVED AS THE PRIMARY “ROADS” to island plantations in the antebellum South, and many of the earliest homes had formal entries facing the rivers. The late Robert Marvin, regarded as the father of southern landscape architecture, designed the formal approach from the river to the Big House’s large veranda. From the formal river landing, brick walks signal a destination to be discovered. Meandering under Live Oaks and along the river’s edge, the brick yields to oyster shell pathways that reveal the Oyster House, a spacious guest lodge with indigenous character.
The Oyster House is a riverfront sporting lodge.
TRUE TIMBER-FRAME CONSTRUCTION and the sturdy simplicity of
post and beam carpentry are evident in the Oyster House.
A CAMP STYLE DWELLING, The Oyster House shelters a crowd. Guests overnight in its three private bedroom suites and six primitive bunk rooms fitted with berths from old ships.
A SHORT STROLL ALONG THE RIVER LEADS TO THE DOCK, where a permanently moored mahogany sports fisherman, first christened in 1928, serves as a guest room at water’s edge. Just beyond sits the Summer House, a rustic screened pavilion that hosts lively, fresh-off-the-dock shrimp boils and fish fries.