52 Weeks Of Donna's Life

Donna's Photo Challenge

22. It’s A Mystery


Panoramic photo showing burned remains of the Carnegies' "Dungeness"

Panoramic photo showing burned remains of the Carnegies’ “Dungeness”

Cumberland Island is one of the barrier islands along the coast of Georgia and has long been a playground for the rich and famous. James Oglethorpe, reported to be one of the founders of Georgia, built a hunting lodge there in 1736 and named it “Dungeness”. The next “Dungeness” was built on the island by Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene who acquired 11,000 acres of the island’s land in exchange for a bad debt. His widow, reputed to be a beauty who enjoyed the social scene, built a four-story tabby mansion over a Timuouan (native Indian) shell mound and delighted in entertaining her friends there. During the War of 1812, the British occupied the island and used this house as their headquarters.

Henry Lee III (a.k.a. Lighthouse Harry Lee and father of Robert E. Lee) stayed at the house in his later years until his death and was buried there in the family graveyard. During the U. S. Civil War, the house was abandoned and was later burned in 1868.

During the 1880’s, Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of Andrew Carnegie, purchased this property and began building a 54-room Queen Anne style mansion on Greene’s original site. However, the mansion and accompanying buildings were not finished until after Carnegie’s death in 1886. His wife, Lucy, continued living at “Dungeness” mansion and built other estates for her children resulting in 90% ownership of the island by members of the Carnegie family.

The Carnegies vacated “Dungeness” in 1925 and the mansion stood vacant. In 1959 the Dungeness mansion was destroyed by fire. Many in this seashore community say the cause was arson. It remains a mystery. The ruins of the mansion and its accompanying buildings and property are now preserved by the National Park Service as part of Cumberland Island National Seashore.

1880 Painting of Dungeness

1880 Painting of Dungeness


Author: donnagf1

An enthusiastic amateur photographer, I enjoy picturing the events, people, animals and things in my life. And so joining in the "52 Week Challenge" of interpreting life through a lens sounds as if it will be a lot of fun -- presenting my view through the lens and seeing how others in our photography group interpret their views concerning a given subject.

5 thoughts on “22. It’s A Mystery

  1. How interesting. Looks like it would have been a splendid mansion in its day.

  2. Would have been nice to visit it in its heyday.

  3. Thanks for the history lesson, Donna. I am a native Georgia girl and although I have visited nearby Amelia, Fernandina and Jekyll Islands, I have never been to Cumberland Island. I pulled up some Internet photos and it looks like a photographer’s paradise.

  4. I can imagine how grand it was in it’s day. Very nice.

  5. Thank you for the history Donna. Very informative.

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