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South End Community

St. Simons Island GA 31522

1890.

South End Community St. Simons Island, Georgia

Of the three historic African American communities on St. Simons Island, South End has the most structures still intact. The South End Community was settled by former slaves from plantations on the south end of St. Simons Island. This side of the island was a hot bed for tourist activity in the 1920s and 1930s. During the Big Band Era, this side of the island was really jumping as famous musicians would play at clubs like “The Blue Inn,” “Melody Lounge,” and “The Atlantic.” Chick Morrison even had a house here.

The South End Community begins as you drive south on Demere Road and pass Skylane Drive. Many of the front and side gable bungalows, central hall and Georgian cottage type homes built here between the 1880s and the 1940s are still standing. As you drive down Demere, on the left you will see “Hazel’s Café”, built in1930, which is now privately owned and used for parties, on the right you will pass a boarding house and a two-story building, known as the Peter Joseph House, that contained a grocery store downstairs and an apartment upstairs. Continuing on, you will pass Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church. Built in 1890, it was a mission church from First African Baptist so residents of South End would not have to travel to the opposite side of the island for worship. They still hold worship services here every Sunday at 11:00 am. Before you arrived to the church, you passed Demere Park. Adrian Johnson, a teacher at Harrington Graded School, donated this land and there is a movement to have the name of the park changed to honor him.

Turn right on Johnson Road and follow this road until it dead ends. Here is St. Luke Methodist Church located next to where the South End School, Edgewood, was located- now only the chimney remains. Built for the black community at South End, Anson Dodge was responsible for its construction. Supposedly this school was as nice as the one provided for the white students- this is notable only because at the time of segregation it was extremely rare for school boards to devote an equal amount of funds or attention to black schools as they did for white schools.

Coming away from St. Luke’s take a left on Proctor Avenue. On your right you will pass row houses that boarded the black servants of white tourists who visited the island during the 1920s and 1930s. Accommodations, even for tourists traveling together, were segregated then. More information can be obtained from the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition- they have maps, stories and the names of famous people who lived here.

Sites within South End but not mentioned: Simon Bailey Store Willis Proctor Store Melody Lounge Sheppard Rooming House

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