Darien River Condominiums

HISTORIC RIVERFRONT LIVING

Darien, Georgia Riverfront
 

 

DARIEN, GEORGIA: A GOLDEN ISLES GEM

Halfway between Savannah and the St. Mary's River lies McIntosh County and the town of Darien, Georgia. Few places can rival the southern Atlantic coastline for its rare and compelling confluence of rewarding lifestyle and dynamic workstyle, of natural beauty and rich history. Here, the slower-paced, waterfront charms of Darien, are McIntosh County's essence and anchor with the appeal of tidal rivers, vast saltmarshes, bustling shrimp boat fleets, historic sites, quaint shops and seafood-inspired restaurants.

Here in Georgia's second oldest planned city, many new wonders await year-round attributing to Darien and McIntosh County's unique blend of history and natural beauty. Explore natural habitats abounding with many types of resident wildlife and birds as well as migratory species in Darien's rivers, estuaries, islands and beaches. These marsh and ocean views as far as the eye can see are home to what experts have called "one of the most important tidal estuarine environments in the world." It's no surprise that Darien is responsible for coining the term "Golden Isles."

Beyond the historic and naturally scenic atmosphere of Darien are many festive and cultural opportunities to experience the best of Coastal Georgia. Scottish Heritage Days, the Blessing of the Fleet, and the Darien Fall Fest are the most popular events, bringing thousands of visitors to the Waterfront Park and newly revitalized downtown area each year.

Discover the history. Explore the natural beauty. Enjoy your new home.

DARIEN, GEORGIA HIGHLIGHTS:

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Food:

Full-service restaurants: 21
Grocery stores: 2
Convenience stores: 11

 

 

DARIEN HISTORY

 

Waterfront Tabby Ruins

TABBY RUINS AT THE WATERFRONT IN DOWNTOWN DARIEN

 

Traveling along US 17, visitors who fail to explore this quiet town will pass by without the realization of its historical significance of this area and its role in Georgia's beginning history.

Colonial Period

In 1720, 13 years before Savannah and the colony of Georgia were founded, John Barnwell, a successful planter from the Carolina colony, persuaded the British government to allow building of a fort on the Altamaha to defend Charles Town (Charleston) from the Spanish in Florida. Building began one year later and the fort became Fort King George, the southernmost outpost of the British empire in North America at the time. After seven years, the garrison of the fort was withdrawn to Port Royal, over 140 soldiers died of sickness, and the fort was abandoned. Its remains constitute the oldest fort on the Georgia coast.

The Spanish threat to British colonies continued on the Southern coast, and in 1733 James Oglethorpe founded the town of Savannah and the colony of Georgia. Three years later, 177 Scottish Highlanders arrived at Barnwell's Bluff on the Prince of Wales and the town of Darien (originally known as New Inverness) was born. Named for the Darien Scheme, a former Scottish colony in Panama, Darien was laid out in accordance with the now-famous Oglethorpe Plan. Recruited by Oglethorpe, the Scottish settler-soldiers of Darien protected the frontiers of Georgia from the not only the Spanish in Florida, but also the French in the Alabama basin and the Indian allies of each colonial enterprise.

Despite the continuing Spanish threat, the arrival of the Scots flourished in the southern Georgia coastal areas of Darien and nearby Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, also established by Darien natives in 1736. War between Britain and Spain was formally declared in 1739. Oglethorpe summoned the Highlanders of Darien to assist in the defense of Fort Frederica during the attack of 1742, and they distinguished themselves in the Battle of the Bloody Marsh. The British victory would be the end of the Spanish treat to the English colonies in America.

In the peace following, the Scots built the thriving community of Darien. Lands were cleared for prosperous plantations and the colony was divided into parishes, with Darien being part of the St. Andrews Parish. The Revolutionary War wrote the name McIntosh in American history, as General Lachlan McIntosh commanded the first Georgia militia. His brothers William and John were also officers for the Patriot's cause. Lachlan McIntosh is best known for his duel fought with Button Gwinnett, signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also president of the Revolutionary Government of Georgia, a battle between men reflecting the times and Scottish clan structure of Darien. Gwinnett died of his wounds and McIntosh was sent north as a brigadier general to fight against the British.

The new state of Georgia, following the Revolution, was reorganized into counties, most of which were named for Revolutionary heroes. St. Andrews Parish became part of Liberty County, and in 1793, McIntosh County was split off from Liberty County and renamed after its most famous family. The county government seat was established at Sapelo Main (now Eulonia) and court was held in the home of John Houston McIntosh until a new courthouse could be built.

 

Civil War and After

The Altamaha River became the Highway for great rafts of pine, oak and cypress, and plantations produced cotton, rice, and indigo for world markets, making this a time of great prosperity for Darien. This growth of economic life in McIntosh county brought the seat from Eulonia to Darien in 1819, however during this same decade a few years early, a great fire ravaged the town in 1813 and a disastrous hurricane came a year later. The most severe threat to Darien, however, came in the year 1863 when the Union troops attacked from St. Simons and burned virtually every building down in Darien.

Following the Civil War, Darien was rebuilt with the financial aid coming in small part from the family of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who had been killed in the War but had written his family of his shame in participating in the destruction of Darien. The town was fully recovered when the era of lumbering reached its peak after the war, and Darien became one of the largest Southeastern ports of the 1890's. By 1900, the depletion of the forests brought the boom to an end. Darien was now a fishing village, known primarily for its Georgia wild shrimp and was once famous for its oysters.

In the 21st century, Darien has continued to grow as US 17 pushed south in the 1920's. With the formation of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 was constructed and passes six miles west of the city, resulting in the growth of businesses and residents away from the city center. Today, downtown Darien has continued to flourish with an emphasis on its historic heritage and the waterfront views. While much of the physical evidence of this colorful history is no longer present, the beauty of the countryside remains and business continue to open to reclaim the walking city center.

 

 

AREA RECREATION

Darien-McIntosh Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce

1111 Magnolia Bluff Way, SW Suite #410, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-4837 for Visitor Center
(912) 437-6684 for Chamber of Commerce

visitdarien.com

Location Map

Local restaurants

B&J's Steaks and Seafood (near Historic Downtown Darien)
bandjssteakandseafood.com
901 North Way, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-2122

Blue Bay Mexican Grill
facebook.com/BlueBayMexicanGrill
110 Screen Street, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 574-8016

Chile Peppers Dos (Next to Darien Outlet Mall)
13044 GA Highway 251, Exit 49, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-1220

China 1
802 North Way, Darien, GA 31305
(912)437-1222

Mudcat Charlie's
250 Ricefield Way, Brunswick, GA 31525
(912) 261-0055

Nautica Joes (Historic Downtown Darien)
facebook.com/nauticajoes
108 Walton Street, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-JOES

Old School Diner
oldschooldiner.com
1080 Jesse Grant Road NE, Darien, GA 31331
(912) 832-2136

Skipper's Fish Camp (Waterfront dining on Darien River)
skippersfishcamp.com
85 Screven Street, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-3474

Sweet Tee's Snack Shack
5231 US Highway 17, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-2018

Waterfront Wine and Gourmet
waterfrontwineshop.com
107 Broad Street, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-3410

Zio Carlo's Café (Historic Downtown Darien)
facebook.com/ziocarlocafe
106 Broad Street, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-2739  

Fort King George

Located 3 miles east of I-95 off Exit #49
302 McIntosh Road SE, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-4770
gastateparks.org/FortKingGeorge

Facilities: museum and film, gift shop, picnic area, Wi-Fi available in the Visitor Center

Things to do/see: film, nature trail, fully reconstructive fort, picnicking, birding, group primitive campouts, birthday parties, weddings, kayak and canoe rental

Overlooking vast expanses of coastal salt marsh over the delta of the Altamaha River, Fort King George was built by the British in 1721 as a strategic defense point against the forces of the French and Spanish encroaching on North America, particularly the Southeast. The fort was destined for trouble, as most of the group sent to protect it was hospitalized with scurvy and various ailments brought on by the journey to the fort or tropical diseases brought on by the marsh environment. Difficult living conditions and a fire destroyed most of the fort in 1726. It was rebuilt, but eventually abandoned in 1732. It was resettled in 1736 by General James Oglethorpe's Scottish Highlanders and eventually became the town of Darien, a community driven largely by the milling industry started by the Highlanders' sawmill at the Fort. Remnants of this sawmill still stand today at the historic site. Significant remnants of the original buildings among reconstructed versions including barracks, palisades and even a moat can be found at the fort. At the centerpiece is the blockhouse, constructed according to original plans, that towers over the marshes in three imposing stories. A museum educates visitors on the area's history, including that of the Guale Indian culture and the 16th century Spanish Missions, the 18th century colonial power struggles among the British, French and Spanish, and the lives of the colonial Scottish Highlanders of the area. The time to visit is during the site's popular "living history" events scheduled throughout the year with reenactments of the artillery drills, musket firings, battle reenactments and other activities providing insight to the lives of the soldiers and historical events of the British Empire's southernmost North American outpost.

Sapelo Island

sapelonerr.org/visit-sapelo-island

Once a prize for aspiring European colonists, a pawn in the struggle between Native Americans and European settlers, a grand plantation and a refuge for captains of industry, Sapelo Island is now carefully protected against the encroachment of development and a refuge for creatures of the marsh, forest and dunes. Among the live oaks, unspoiled beaches, unpaved roads and salt marshes are hints of human history providing a beautiful counterpoint to the Island's wild nature. Neo-classical statues watch over the grounds of a former plantation, crumbling tabby ruins lie at a once-grand 18th century estate and ancient shell middens hint at the lives of Sapelo's first inhabitants thousands of years ago. This Island is intensely focused on due its highly vulnerable, diverse and productive habitats that provide a rich feeding ground and nursery for microscopic life, shellfish, fish and birds.

Old City Jail Art Center and Museum

mcintoshartassociation.com

The McIntosh Art Center is located on North Way (Highway 17) in the heart of Darien, and is a wonderful place to visit for those who enjoy art and seek to find a special, one-of-a-kind artistic treasure. Much of the subjects by local artists show the lush scenery and exotic wildlife of Coastal Georgia. Once used as the county jailhouse, prisoners were kept incarcerated upstairs while the jailer and his family live downstairs.

Darien's Squares

General James Oglethorpe, philanthropist and founder of the colony of Georgia, planned the squares for the City of Darien in alignment with his layout of Savannah a few years earlier in 1733. Today the squares are sites of festivals, art shows, outdoor entertainment, family gatherings and leisurely walks.

Butler Island Plantation

US Highway 17
(912) 437-6686

Now a residence for the Department of Natural Resources, this former rice plantation is located on US 17 one mile south of Darien and was one of the largest plantations in the South. The story begins in the 1790s, when Major Pierce Butler planted the land on the Altamaha Delta, providing perfect rice growing conditions. The major's grandson, Captain Pierce Butler, married the famous and beautiful British stage actress Fanny Kemble in 1838 and arrived at the plantation for a six-month working visit. Kemble, who was not familiar with the reality of slavery, immediately was very opposed to the treatment of the slaves, and eventually published the notes in a book called, "Journal of a Resident on a Georgia Plantation," which some say helped to persude the British to oppose slavery and the Civil War. The land (excluding the house for the DNR) is open to the public for picnicking, fishing and birding and provides dramatic sunsets and brilliant nature views.

Ashantilly Center

15591 GA Highway 99, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-4473

Known as "Old Tabby," the Ashantilly Center was the mainland home of Thomas Spalding, an early Georgia legislator, planter and McIntosh County landowner. The original 1820s home burned in 1937, and the current house was a project of Mr. William Hayes Jr., who founded the Ashantilly Press, and his sister Annie Lee Haynes. Haynes founded the Ashantilly Center as a non-profit organization operating today as an educational and cultural center just outside of Darien.

The Smallest Church in America

US Highway 17 South, I-95 Exit 67, Darien, GA 31305
(912) 437-4837

Christ's Chapel in Memory Park is a little sanctuary situated near the South Newport River constructed in 1949. This was a dream come true for local grocer, Mrs. Agnes Harper, who wanted a chapel to serve as a place of meditation and rest for weary travelers. Even in its small size, the church thrives with character and beauty in its stained glass windows imp0orted from England. Local ministers still lead non-denominational worship every third Sunday, and it is known as one of the most unique structures along the Georgia Coast Scenic Byway. 

Fishing, Hunting and Boating

McIntosh County is known as the Fisherman's Paradise for its proximity to the ocean and abundance of rivers and wildlife. Here (visitdarien.com/visit.html) you will find contact information for experienced and knowledgeable boat captains and guides throughout the area offering chartered fishing excursions, hunting or fishing guides and leisurely tours.

Bird Watching

Darien is located along Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding Trail, as the miles of pristine marshes and wetlands and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean make it a wonderful place to view and photograph a wide variety of birds and wildlife.

For a unique birding and wildlife experience, the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place with 2,762 acres of premier nesting, foraging, and wintering habitat for many species of wildlife. Signature finds include wood storks and the colorful, uncommon painted bunting, but 342 species of birds have been seen on the refuge and 83 species breed here. It is one of seven refuges administered as part of the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex located at 5000 Wildlife Dr NW, Townsend, GA, a 35 minute drive from Oaks on the River.

Bike Riding

Marked trails along paved roads as well as several dirt-road trails give excellent biking opportunities around the city.