CNHI News Service

Features

December 6, 2012

TRAVEL: Dunham Farms gives visitors a big view of coastal Georgia

Imagine exquisite dining and restful sleeping on a plantation loved by the same family since 1755. Dunham Farms in Sunbury, Ga., is that place - with 10,000 lush acres of live oaks, long views across riverbanks and marshes that feed seacoast ecosystems, all wrapped around a bed and breakfast inn.

The same family now sharing these woods, waters, gardens and Colonial trails started with a Kings’ grant in 1755. Official family records from the British crown can be traced in Atlanta.

Laura and Meredith Devendorf - a passionate, knowledgable mother-daughter-team - carry on a tradition, as they say, “of preserving this section of Georgia’s coast for perpetuity, and for everyone.” You'll find them walking the groomed trails, cooking in the gourmet kitchen or guiding kayakers on the waters.

The Devendorfs recently donated 2,300 acres called Melon Bluff for public access, scholarly research, conservation and education.

Visitors to Dunham Farms choose the 1840 Palmyra Plantation Cottage with its heart pine, high ceilings, twi bedrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms. Or they might stay in one of nine elegantly furnished rooms with private baths in the barn. Some are in former stalls on the ground floor, some are upstairs in the hayloft.           

You’d never know you were in a barn if the Devendorf women didn’t tell tales about their horses when they were growing up. You can hear their passion for the undisturbed upland forests, the marsh grasses and mud, and the vast species of birds.

These innkeepers are historians, arborists, culinary artists and storytellers.

They're also good guides to a range of experiences within a 15 minute drive of the farm. Sunbury, 30 miles south of Savannah, is a happening place. Choices include:

Fort Morris State Historic Site (Revolutionary War and War of 1812): Fort Morris also tells the tale of Sunbury, a thriving cultural center 200 years ago. Laid out in city squares, Sunbury was a busy port that rivaled Savannah.

Seabrook Village: The African American living history community received one of 12 Cultural Olympiad awards when the Games were held in Atlanta in 1996. It features vernacular architecture and furnished buildings from the late 1880s, when people leaving plantations formed an enduring community they called Seabrook.   

“They had nothing,” says volunteer Florence Tate Roberts, a direct descendent of former slaves who built Seabrook with creative problem-solving skills, or what she calls “making do."

Geechee Kunda: The Gullah Geechee Center exudes passion, too, about a culture within a culture. This former 4,000-acre plantation of rice, indigo and cotton is filled with cultural treasures.

Jim and Pat Bacote are passionate about protecting, researching and sharing the heritage of the African people who lived here.

“As we teach the true history of the African presence here,” Jim says gently, “healing can come about."

“We Gullah/Geechees are African people with a distinct culture and language created by our ancestors,” he says. “We value the importance of gathering and handing down the knowledge."

Other excursions in Sunbury include the Melon Bluff Nature and Heritage Reserve; Colonial Coast birding trail sites; as well as marinas, a fishing pier, a small boat launch and boat tours.

Some visitors arrive seeking knowledge - such as the archeologists examining the Devendorf land.

David Hurst Thomas, a curator of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, documents a silver coin found at Dunham Farms to be from the Spanish reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, predating St. Augustine by 30 years.

Thomas has already spent 30 years exploring nearby St. Catherines Island and discovering the Spanish mission Santa Catalina de Guale.

Now he’s also working with the Devendorfs to determine what history awaits under their pristine land. Spanish missionaries settled as early as 1526, it seems.

These are all fine incentives for nights and meals at Dunham Farms.

Or perhaps one might choose from a big list of special events and guided hikes.

Full-moon kayaking anyone?

---

Christine Tibbetts covers travel destinations for The Tifton Gazette. Contact  at www.TibbettsTravel.com and @TibsTravel.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 4.02.29 PM.png VIDEO: Nebraska prom mishap goes viral

    A group of 22 high school students from Pierce, Neb., all decked out in prom finery, took an unplanned dip in a four-foot-deep pond when the bridge they were posing on for pictures gave way. Photos from the incident have gone viral on social media.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.43.57 AM.png VIDEO: Amazing dance moves at NCAA title game

    Eye-catching action wasn't confined to the court at AT&T Stadium Monday night during the NCAA Championship game between UConn and Kentucky. This pair -- apparently a father and son -- delighted the crowd during a timeout with some synchronized dance moves.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 3.36.06 PM.png 3 apps to make your flight easier

    Whether you fly once a week for work or once a year for a vacation, you can bet that all areas of your trip are being monitored by smart phones. While it isn't hard to find an app with your flight info, some apps make the process of flying a lot simpler.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • watching-tv.jpg Cutting the cord on cable TV, and not missing it a bit

    Three years ago, Royse City Herald Banner reporter Chris McGathey and his family decided to ditch pay TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and other cheaper web-based services. It's a decision they haven't regretted.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_amazonfiretv.jpg Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

    Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • how-i-met-your-mother.jpg Legendary? Breaking down the HIMYM finale on social media

    After nine years and more than 200 episodes, the landmark CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" wrapped up Monday night with several twists in the story that left its fans sharply divided. Here is a sampling of viewer reaction.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

News
Sports

Opinion