Isle of Hope Real Estate
Situated on a bluff at a horseshoe bend in the Skidaway River, the Isle of Hope Historic District is a unique coastal riverside community dating from the early nineteenth century. It is located eight miles from downtown Savannah and is bounded by the Skidaway River to the east and non-historic development to the north, west and south. Its popularity as a summering spot increased with the addition of a railroad line connecting it to the city after the civil war, and by the early twentieth century it had become a suburb of Savannah with year round residents.
Despite the title, this area is not an island. Early maps refer to Isle of Hope in French as L’Isle Desperance (modern French: L’Île d’Espérance). Legends abound of pirates using the island to hide their booty, and generations of children have gone digging for this treasure. Legend also says that French Huguenots used the island as a place of refuge for fleeing persecution. In 1733, when General James Edward Ogelthorpe founded the Georgia colony, a surveyor named Noble Jones was granted a tract on the island that was eventually named Wormsloe, possibly after an English estate but more probably due to the mulberry trees that were grown there, the worms of which, it was hoped, would form the basis for a silk industry. A revolutionary-era earthwork fort was built at the Skidaway Narrows and today can be visited as part of Wormsloe Historic Site. Jones, along with James Fallowfield and Henry Parker, settled permanently on the island. A small African American settlement in the district dates from the post-Civil War era when freed slaves from Wormsloe Plantation settled in the town. With its foundation built in 1828, the residence remains private. But visitors are welcome at Wormsloe Historic Site, which boasts a stunning 1.5-mile drive canopied by 400 year old live oak trees. Hiking trails lace the grounds’ lush maritime forest.
Eventually established as a nineteenth century retreat for the elite of Savannah, Isle of Hope provided a refuge from the intense heat and outbreaks of malaria prevalent throughout the summer months. As greater numbers of people discovered the island, the former plantation lands were subdivided and the lots sold, and it became a fashionable summer retreat. Several homes from the antebellum period remain, including the 1820 former caretaker’s cottage of Carsten Hall plantation. Originally owned by Henry Parker, the land was divided into lots in the 1850s and 1860s. These were sold to prominent Savannah families who built palatial homes along the water. In the early twentieth century, with better transportation options, the summer resort became the year-round home of many, and the terrapin farm at Barbee’s Pavilion became world famous for the export of terrapins for stew, including to the major restaurants of New York City and to the Czar of Russia. It was also the destination of dashing race car drivers from around the world for the International Grand Prix races. The island’s beauty and history has attracted a number of Hollywood film productions, including the Oscar-winning Glory, the original Cape Fear, The Last of the Belles, Forrest Gump, and The Last Song.
This roughly crescent-shaped area is comprised of a varied collection of residences ranging from small cottages to imposing mansions, richly landscaped with magnificent live oaks, palms and other shady trees. Architectural styles represented include Greek Revival, Victorian Eclectic, Neoclassical and Craftsman/Bungalow as well as examples of vernacular cottages and a few antebellum houses. The district also includes two historic wood-framed churches dating from the 1870’s.
Isle of Hope Marina is nestled in the middle of this scenic Historic District. Its amenities include 4,000 feet of new concrete docks, including 600 feet of deep-water face docks capable of accommodating mega-yachts as well as new water, electrical, pump-out and fuel systems and many of the luxuries today’s yachters have come to expect – digital TV connections and high-speed wireless internet access at every slip. A somewhat quirky personality prevails in the adjacent community of Sandfly which offers dining and shopping choices ranging from chicken and waffles, to yoga, to a coffee shop and more. Access to Downtown Savannah is easy via the nearby Truman Parkway and Savannah’s booming Southside is close by as well.
It’s just a short trip across a narrow river bridge onto Isle of Hope. But it’s “a quarter mile and a world away from the continental United States,” a long-term resident once said. A sense of community thrives here, and Isle of Hope is that rare place where parents still feel comfortable sending their kids out to play early in the day and signaling them home at dark by ringing a bell. Youngsters ride bikes to the marina―the island’s only commercial establishment―to buy Popsicles and ice-cream sandwiches. Boaters traveling along the Intracoastal Waterway often stop there as well. More than a few decide to stay.
Where The Locals Go
Pearl’s Saltwater Grille – Waterfront Seafood, say no more.
Sandfly – The perfect neighborhood village with shops and resturants including Fiore Italian Bar and Grill, Cutters Point Coffee, Sandfly BBQ, Driftaway Cafe, Great Great Harvest Bread