Jekyll Island Club

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Jekyll Island Club
Jekyll Island Club is located in Georgia (U.S. state)
Jekyll Island Club
Location Jekyll Island, Georgia
Coordinates 31°3′38″N 81°25′19″W / 31.06056°N 81.42194°W / 31.06056; -81.42194Coordinates: 31°3′38″N 81°25′19″W / 31.06056°N 81.42194°W / 31.06056; -81.42194
Built 1886
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Queen Anne
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 72000385[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 20, 1972
Designated NHLD June 2, 1978[2]

The Jekyll Island Club was a private club located on Jekyll Island, on the Georgia coastline. It was founded in 1886 when members of an incorporated hunting and recreational club purchased the island for $125,000 from John Eugune du Bignon. The original design of the Jekyll Island Clubhouse, with its easily identifiable turret, was completed in January 1888. The club thrived through the early 20th century with an exclusive limited membership consisting of many of the world's wealthiest families at the time, most notably the Morgans, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts. The club lasted 54 years, closing at the end of the 1942 season due to complications from World War II. In 1947, after 5 years of funding a staff to upkeep the lawn and cottages, the island was purchased from the club's remaining members for $675,000 during condemnation proceedings by the state of Georgia.

The State tried operating the club as a resort for some time, but this was not financially successful and the entire complex was closed by 1971. The complex was designated a historic landmark in 1978. It was restored and reopened as a luxury resort hotel in 1985.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[3]

The Founding of the Club[edit]

Jekyll Island Clubhouse

At the end of the plantation era of Jekyll Island, Newton Finney, John Eugene Dubignon’s brother-in-law, had big ideas for Jekyll Island. Finney had suggested to Dubignon the potential of selling the island to Northern businessmen as a winter resort. The two men received help from a New York backer to assist with the purchase of the entire island. By 1885, Dubignon was the sole owner of Jekyll.

During 1885, Newton Finney had also partnered with Oliver K. King who was an associate of Finney’s from New York. They brought together a group of men and petitioned the Glynn county courts, becoming incorporated as the “Jekyl Island Club” on December 9, 1885. They agreed to sell 100 shares of the Jekyll Island Club stock to 50 individuals at $600 a share.

duBignon Cottage
Rockefeller Cottage

Finney had no difficulty selling the shares. Six of the first seven shares went to the men who signed the charter petition: Finney, Dubignon, King, Richard L. Ogden, William B. D'Wolf, and Charles L. Schlatter. In all, Finney was able to find fifty-three individuals to join the Club, including such famous names as Henry Hyde, Marshall Field, John Pierpont Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, and William K. Vanderbilt.[4]

By 1886, financial preparations were completed and Finney, as a representative of the newly formed Jekyll Island Club, was prepared to sign paperwork. On February 17, 1886 Newton Finney signed an official agreement with Dubignon, selling Jekyll Island to the Jekyll Island Club for $125,000.

On April 1, 1886, a meeting was held in New York to create the constitution and by-laws, and to nominate officers for the club. The first president was Lloyd Aspinwall, vice president was Judge Henry Elias Howland, treasurer was Franklin M. Ketchum, and Richard L. Ogden became secretary. These men faced the difficult task of turning the undeveloped property into a social club for the wealthy upper class of America.

Lloyd Aspinwall only served 5 months as the club president before he died suddenly. Henry Howland then took up the position as president of the Club.

Committees were formed to get the club off the ground. Charles A. Alexander of Chicago was chosen to design the clubhouse, and Horace William Shaler Cleveland, a famous landscape architect, was chosen to design and lay out the grounds.

Ground was broken on the clubhouse building in mid-August 1886. After some setbacks the clubhouse was completed on November 1. The club officially opened its doors when the executive committee arrived for the 1888 season on January 21.

Several nationally important events took place on Jekyll Island during the Club era, including the first transcontinental telephone call made by Theodore N. Vail, president of AT&T, to Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas A. Watson and President Woodrow Wilson in 1915; and the development of the Aldrich Vreeland Act for the National Monetary Commission in 1908.

Recreation during the club era[edit]

The Jekyll Island Club was a unique resort, more family oriented than the Union Club or the Chicago Club. Women were encouraged to hunt, ride and camp.

When the club started out, hunting was a major recreational activity for both men and women. A gamekeeper was hired to keep the island well stocked with pheasants, turkeys, quail and deer.

All members were to report daily what they had killed and turn it over to the club. Wild game was a common sight on the menu of the clubhouse. A taxidermist shop was located within the club compound, specifically for mounting the prize game.

As the club grew, other recreations became popular. Golf eventually took over as the Club's dominant sport. The first course was located just to the north of the Club compound. Later, in the 1920s, an oceanside course was built. A portion of this historic golf course is still intact, and can be played.

Other leisure activities included carriage driving, tennis, and bicycling.[5]

Role in the history of the Federal Reserve[edit]

Jekyll Island was the location of a meeting in November 1910 in which draft legislation was written to create the U.S. Federal Reserve. Following the Panic of 1907, banking reform became a major issue in the United States. Senator Nelson Aldrich (R-RI), chairman of the National Monetary Commission, went to Europe for almost two years to study that continent's banking systems. Upon his return, he brought together many of the country's leading financiers to Jekyll Island to discuss monetary policy and the banking system, an event which was the impetus for the creation of the Federal Reserve.

On the evening of November 22, 1910, Sen. Aldrich and A.P. Andrews (Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury Department), Paul Warburg (a naturalized German representing Kuhn, Loeb & Co.), Frank A. Vanderlip (president of the National City Bank of New York), Henry P. Davison (senior partner of J. P. Morgan Company), Charles D. Norton (president of the Morgan-dominated First National Bank of New York), and Benjamin Strong (representing J. P. Morgan), together representing about one fourth the world's wealth at the time, left Hoboken, New Jersey on a train in complete secrecy, dropping their last names in favor of first names, or code names, so no one would discover who they all were. The excuse for such powerful representatives and wealth was to go on a duck hunting trip on Jekyll Island.

Forbes magazine founder Bertie Charles Forbes wrote several years later:

Picture a party of the nation’s greatest bankers stealing out of New York on a private railroad car under cover of darkness, stealthily riding hundreds of miles South, embarking on a mysterious launch, sneaking onto an island deserted by all but a few servants, living there a full week under such rigid secrecy that the names of not one of them was once mentioned, lest the servants learn the identity and disclose to the world this strangest, most secret expedition in the history of American finance. I am not romancing; I am giving to the world, for the first time, the real story of how the famous Aldrich currency report, the foundation of our new currency system, was written... The utmost secrecy was enjoined upon all. The public must not glean a hint of what was to be done. Senator Aldrich notified each one to go quietly into a private car of which the railroad had received orders to draw up on an unfrequented platform. Off the party set. New York’s ubiquitous reporters had been foiled... Nelson (Aldrich) had confided to Henry, Frank, Paul and Piatt that he was to keep them locked up at Jekyll Island, out of the rest of the world, until they had evolved and compiled a scientific currency system for the United States, the real birth of the present Federal Reserve System, the plan done on Jekyll Island in the conference with Paul, Frank and Henry... Warburg is the link that binds the Aldrich system and the present system together. He more than any one man has made the system possible as a working reality.[6]

Decline and closure of the club[edit]

The Great Depression in 1929 caused great changes on Jekyll Island. This depression touched even the very wealthy across the country and membership in an exclusive club became an extravagance. Membership dropped slowly through the 1930s as the depression continued.

With the financial situation of the club worsening, the executive committee decided to create a new level of club membership in 1933. A more affordable level of membership, the Associate membership was designed to fit the needs, and pocketbook, of anyone. It was an attempt to draw in new and younger people as well as to draw more members back to the clubhouse. This new membership did revitalize the club membership roster, although only for a brief period.

World War II was the final blow to the life of the Jekyll Island Club. The club opened as usual for the 1942 season. However, by the beginning of March it was announced there would be an early close to the season due to the club’s financial situation and the strain the war had on the labor situation. The 1942 season would turn out to be the final season for the Jekyll Island Club.

There was hope by the president that the Club might be reopened after the war with renewed interest. However, in 1946 the state of Georgia entered the picture. The Revenue Commissioner, M. E. Thompson, wanted to purchase one of Georgia's barrier islands and open it to the public as a state park. Finally, on June 2, 1947, the state purchased the island through a condemnation order for $675,000 (or approximately $5,563,416 in 2003 dollars).[7]

The club was turned into a public resort by the state, but closed by 1971, a financial failure. It was made a historic landmark in 1978 and restored and reopened as the Radisson Jekyll Island Club Hotel in 1985. Radisson ceased managing the hotel some years later, and it currently operates as the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

List of members[edit]

During the club's inception, a limit of 100 members was imposed to ensure the club's exclusiveness. During the financially difficult Great Depression period, the club began referring to its members as founders and created the new Associate Membership. This membership was purchased at a lower price, but with all of the benefits that the founders enjoyed, and limited to a total of 150.

This list is in no way exhaustive, but it does feature some of the more notable members.[4][8]

Member Biography Years
John J. Albright 1890-1931
Nelson W. Aldrich American politician, daughter Abby married John D. Rockefeller Jr. 1912-1915
Lloyd Aspinwall 1886-1886
Lloyd Aspinwall,Jr. 1886-1892
George Fisher Baker 1901-1931
Francis Bartlett 1886-1911
Frances Bartow 1931-1945
Anson Beard 1927-1929
John Eugene du Bignon 1886-1896
Cornelius Newton Bliss 1886-1911
Cornelius Newton Bliss Jr. 1912-1921
Matthew Chaloner Durfee Borden The "Calico King", owner of the American Printing Company 1892-1912
Frederick Gilbert Bourne President of the Singer Manufacturing Company between 1889 and 1905. 1901-1919
Marion Bourne 1919-1937
Marjorie Bourne 1920-1929
Robert Elbert Bourne 1926-1929
Robert Brewster Son of Benjamin Brewster (financier) an early Standard Oil Trustee 1912-1939
Charles S. Brown 1924-1935
McEvers Bayard Brown 1886-1926
John Claflin 1886-1912, 1921-1938
Charles Richard Crane Eldest son of plumbing parts mogul, Chicago manufacturer, Richard T. Crane 1916-1924
Florence Higinbotham Crane 1919-1940
Richard T. Crane Founder of R.T. Crane & Bro., a Chicago-based manufacturer of valves and pipes that would later become an aerospace and plumbing manufacturer. 1911-1931
Robert Fulton Cutting 1923-1934
William Bayard Cutting 1886-1912
Charles M. Daniels 1924-1932
Charles Deering 1887-1902
John Eugene du Bignon 1886-1896
Duncan Steuart Ellsworth 1895-1908
James Ellsworth 1915-1924
Nathaniel Kellogg Fairbank 1886-1903
Walton Ferguson 1887-1922
Walton Ferguson, Jr. 1902-1906
Marshall Field Founder of Marshall Field's department stores. 1886-1906
Newton Sobieski Finney 1886-1897
Michael Gavin 1924-1933
Ogden Goelet New York real estate developer and director of The Chemical Bank. He had residences in 608 Fifth Ave., New York and a seasonal residence Ochre Point in Newport, Rhode IslandI 1886-1897
Robert Goelet New York real estate developer and director of The Chemical Bank. He had residences at 591 Fifth Avenue, New York and seasonal residences at Tuxedo Park, New York and Ochre Point in Newport, RI 1886-1899
Frank H. Goodyear Chairman of the board of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad Co., Buffalo, New York and lumber business magnate. 1902-1907
Josephine Goodyear 1909-1915
Frank H. Goodyear Jr. 1916-1930
Edwin Gould Son of railroad financier Jay Gould 1899-1933
George Jay Gould I Son of railroad financier Jay Gould 1895-1916
Edward S. Harkness Philanthropist and one of four sons of Stephen V. Harkness, a harness-maker who invested in the forerunner of Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller's oil company 1911-1923
Edmund Hayes 1886-1921
James J. Hill 1888-1916
Mary Hill 1916-1921
Bayard C. Hoppin 1925-1931
Gerard B. Hoppin 1923-1938
Alanson Houghton 1919-1941
Henry Howland 1886-1901
Dr. Walter James 1917-1927
Walter Jennings 1926-1933
Morris Ketchum Jesup 1888-1908
John Stewart Kennedy 1898-1909
Thomas W. Lamont
Charles Lanier 1886-1911
Cornelius "Connie" Lee 1919-1947
Pierre Lorillard IV Heir of the Lorillard Tobacco Company 1886-1886, 1888-1891
John Magee 1893-1908
George Macy Founder of The Heritage Press 1902-1918
Valentine Everit Macy 1909-1927
Charles Stewart Maurice 1886-1924
Margaret Maurice 1924-1947
Cyrus Hall McCormick, Jr. 1891-1936
Gordon McKay 1891-1903
JP Morgan Financier, created United States Steel Corporation by buying Carnegie Steel and formed General Electric 1886-1913
J. P. Morgan, Jr. 1913-1943
William Fellowes Morgan 1925-1934
Richard Ogden 1886-1892
Rev. Charles H. Parkhurst 1894-1909
Henry Kirke Porter 1891-1921
Bernie Prentice 1928-1947
Joseph Pulitzer Today, best known for the Pulitzer Prizes. Pulitzer was a journalist. 1886-1911
William Rockefeller American financier, was a co-founder of Standard Oil with his older brother John D. Rockefeller. 1905-1922
Grant B. Schley 1903-1917
Dr. Frederick Shattuck 1912-1929
George Frederick Shrady, Sr. 1904-1907
Hester Shrady 1908-1916
Frederick Snow 1915-1918, 1925-1929
George Baker St. George 1925-1933
William Strassburger 1919-1924
Alexander Thayer 1929-1937
Theodore Newton Vail 1912-1920
Cornelius Vanderbilt The Commodore - an American industrialist and philanthropist who built his wealth in shipping and railroads.
William Kissam Vanderbilt The second son of William Henry Vanderbilt, from whom he inherited $55 million, and grandson of "The Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1886-1902
William Warren Vaughn 1919-1931
George Whitney 1928-1941

Associate Members: (This class of membership was adopted in 1933)

Member Years
William Truman Aldrich 1933-?
Lynford Biddle 1928-1933
John Foster Dulles 1933-?
Robert Gardner  ?
David Sinton Ingalls  ?
Julian Myrick  ?
George Herbert Walker 1933-?
A.J. Drexel Paul 1927-1933

Presidents[edit]

  • 1886–1887 — Lloyd Aspinwall
  • 1887–1896 — Henry Howland
  • 1897–1914 — Charles Lanier
  • 1914–1919 — Frederick Bourne
  • 1919–1927 — Dr. Walter James
  • 1927–1933 — Walter Jennings
  • 1933–1938 — J.P. Morgan, Jr.
  • 1938–1942 — Bernon Prentice

list of remaining resort homes[edit]

  • the Dubignon house, built in 1884 in the victorian stick style.
  • the Jekyll island clubhouse, built in 1887 in the victorian queen anne style.
  • Hollybourne, built in 1890 in the early mediterranian revival style.
  • Furness cottage, built in 1890 in the queen anne/shingle style.
  • Indian mound, built in 1892 in the victorian queen anne style.
  • San Souci, a early condiminium complex, built in 1896 in the victorian shingle style.
  • Moss cottage, built in 1896 in the victorian style.
  • the ruins of Chicota, built in 1897 in the early medditeranian style.
  • Cherokkee, built in 1904 in the late italian rennesance style.
  • Faith chapel, built in 1904 in the late gothic revival style.
  • Goodyear, built in 1906 in the early medditeranian revival style.
  • Crane cottage, built in 1918 in the medditeranian revival style.
  • Villa ospo, built in 1927 in the medditeranian revival style.
  • Villa marrianna, built in 1929 in the medditeranian revival style.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ "Jekyll Island". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  3. ^ Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a Historic Hotels of America member. Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Hutto, Richard Jay (2006). Their Gilded Cage: The Jekyll Island Club Members. Macon, Georgia: Henchard Press, Ltd.,. ISBN 978-0-9770912-2-5. 
  5. ^ McCash, William Barton and June Hall McCash (1989). The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America's Millionaires. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-1070-0. 
  6. ^ Griffin, G. Edward (1998). The Creature from Jekyll Island : A Second Look at the Federal Reserve. American Media. ISBN 0-912986-21-2. 
  7. ^ Bagwell, Tyler E. (2001). Images of America: Jekyll Island - A State Park. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 6–8. ISBN 0-7385-0572-2. 
  8. ^ Bagwell, Tyler E.; The Jekyll Island Museum (1998). Images of America: The Jekyll Island Club. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-1796-4. 

External links[edit]