Harrington Community St. Simons Island, Georgia
Located at the northern end of St. Simons Island, Harrington Community is an historic African-American community that developed when the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished in America. During the colonial period, this land was granted to Captain Raymond Demere who served in Oglethorpe's regiment. Captain Demere had served under Lord Harrington at the Battle of Gibraltar and named the area in his honor. At the close of the Civil War, freed slaves from St. Simons' north end plantations settled here. Working as gardeners, mill workers, fishermen, general laborers, waiters, cooks and housekeepers, they created a rich community life. In the 1930s, the Georgia Writers Project interviewed many of the older inhabitants and recorded the oral traditions detailing their rich culture. Harrington Community is in the shape of an "H" off of Frederica Road. Driving north on Frederica, take a right at South Harrington Road and you enter Harrington Community. As you drive, on your left you will pass the Harrington Graded School. Established in the 1920s, it soon became the center of activity for the Harrington Community. Hosting grades 1-7, the students from all three of the African American communities on St. Simons were educated here. Upon desegregation in the 1960s, students left Harrington Graded School to attend St. Simons Elementary. In 1968, Harrington Graded School became a daycare center and was open until 1970. At this time the school was abandoned and the physical structure has been deteriorating. Currently, local historical societies are hoping to add Harrington Graded School to the National Register of Historic sites. As you continue down the road, you will pass original home sites and a former skating rink. On the right is what is left of the Sunrise Cafˇ where diners could eat and listen to the piccolo (jukebox). Passing the "Do Drop In" store, you will finally reach a dead end. Here, residents of Harrington Community would conduct baptisms when the high tide was turning to go back out so as to carry sins away with the tide out into the ocean. Currently, this location is Village Creek Landing and across the marsh is Sea Island. Going back the way you came, take a right onto Harrington Lane. On the left is the Old Plantation Supper Club which recently closed its doors in 1999. If you look across the street, you will see a "Don't Ask, Won't Sell" sign. These signs are placed on the property of many Harrington residents around the community to dissuade realtors from harassing residents to sell the valuable land. This area was a thriving site until about twenty years ago, when residents began to sell their homes and move away. Since then, several subdivisions have been added to the area. The bright yellow signs serve as a reminder of Harrington's residents commitment to their past as well as their future. Continuing farther, there is an old barber shop and store from the 1930s or 1940s on the left. This land is owned by descendents of Bilali whose story is one of much dispute. At the end of Harrington Lane, take a right onto North Harrington Lane. You will pass the Trocadero on the right which used to be a hopping club during Harrington's heydays. At the end of this lane is another baptismal site referred to as "the Camp." Not only a site of baptisms, "the Camp" was also the place to go during the summer for oyster roasts, boat races and even to see movies. In the 1960s, Alan Lomax filmed the Georgia Sea Island singers here because they were not allowed access to the "whites only" beaches at the south end of St. Simons Island. If you look south along the marsh, you may be seeing the site of Ebo landing. Please remember as you drive through the area, that this is the home for many residents of St. Simons Island and that you are a guest. All of the historic sites of Harrington Community are in disrepair and none have signs marking their location or importance, plus the fauna has hidden much. However, the St. Simons African-American Heritage Coalition is very helpful in answering any questions you might have and would be delighted to share Harrington's culture with you.
Related Sites: Obligation Pond Gould Cemetery First African Baptist Church Old Glynn Academy Building Needwood Schoo
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