At first, it was the farm and home of John Eugene duBignon. But, with the help of his brother-in-law Newton Finney, it became what Munsey’s Magazine called “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” That Club was the Jekyll Island Club.
Club members included notable names such as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field, to name a few. Members prized the island for its “sense of splendid isolation,” as well as its beautiful landscape and moderate climate. At a time when the idea of a modern seaside resort was a novelty, members experienced unsurpassed levels of luxury and service that were remarkable, even by today’s standards.
Members and their guests enjoyed hunting, horseback riding, skeet shooting, golf, tennis, biking, croquet, lawn bowling, picnics, and carriage rides. Several members built “cottages” which, though fully elegant, were simple in comparison to their other home estates. Designed simply yet with a regal touch, these winter retreat homes certainly met the comfort levels to which Club members were accustomed.
In 1972, the Jekyll Island Club was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additional recognition was gained in 1979 when the National Park Service awarded Landmark status to former Club grounds, creating the Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District. By placing the 240-acre site and 33 historic structures into the National Historic Landmark program, the importance of Jekyll Island’s place in American History was recognized and solidified.
Today, the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest, ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States, and attracts curious guests from around the world, all eager to have a look at this island of luxury.