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Cultural Landscape Report

UGA to acquire 15 acres of historic Wormsloe property in Savannah


Athens, Ga. – The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted April 17 to accept a gift of 15.45 acres of the Wormsloe property in Savannah to the University of Georgia. The action is pending approval of an access easement by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.


The trustees of the Wormsloe Foundation are donating the property, which is located 10 miles southeast of Savannah at 7601 Skidaway Road, for use by the UGA College of Environment and Design and other UGA colleges and units. The property will be used for interdisciplinary research by faculty and graduate students working in ecology, environmental history and archeology. UGA will operate the property as a historical and ecological nature preserve for scientific, historical, educational and aesthetic purposes in keeping with the natural and historic character of the property.


The property will be known as the University of Georgia Center for Research and

Education at Wormsloe. The Wormsloe parcel contains both highland and marsh land and includes a historic former slave cabin constructed in the 1740s.


With the addition of the property, UGA plans to design and construct a $300,000 educational housing facility on the property for faculty and graduate students within the next 30 months.


“This wonderful gift will provide many tangible benefits for our college because the site is a living environmental laboratory and a storehouse of past and present designs on the land,” said Daniel Nadenicek, dean of the College of Environment and Design. “The inherent beauty of this small campus will inspire innovation and promote new research and teaching partnerships.”


Wormsloe Plantation, which is located on the Isle of Hope, dates back to the 1730s, and before then was used by Native Americans. It has served as a military stronghold, plantation, country residence, farm and tourist attraction. The historic site consists of 822 acres, much of which the Barrow family deeded to the state of Georgia in 1973 for preservation. Wormsloe Historic Site is operated as a state park with costumed tour guides, a nature trail, a theater, museum and a Colonial life area. The parcel deeded to UGA is adjacent to land remaining in the Barrow family.


UGA’s Cultural Landscape Laboratory in the College of Environment and Design began an in-depth study of the cultural landscape at Wormsloe Plantation in 2010. Currently, UGA-CED faculty and graduate students are conducting a comprehensive inventory of cultural landscape features at Wormsloe. Working with the UGA department of geography’s Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, researchers are building the inventory as a computer-based Geographic Information System. The lab’s Wormsloe project also includes collecting oral histories from members of the greater Wormsloe community. The lab is working with other UGA academic units, including the history department and the Odum School of Ecology.


“The Wormsloe Foundation has a long history of support for the University of Georgia,” said Sarah Ross, president of the Wormsloe Foundation and Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History. “We are pleased that this renowned property will advance the university’s long-term research and education goals by providing a historic landscape for faculty and graduate students to live and work.”


Education and Outreach

Educational and interpretive themes outlined by the Wormsloe Institute include:

  1. Increasing the public's awareness of relationships between human welfare and ecological systems;
  2. Developing a stronger understanding and concern for the conservation of historical and ecological resources;
  3. Developing an understanding of how past land use affects present resources; and
  4. Strengthening cultural appreciation of natural history and environmental quality

Education Initiatives

The Wormsloe Institute Seminar Series features scholarly presentations on topics relevant to environmental history broadly defined. Nationally recognized historians, anthropologists, and ecologists are invited to present research, and contribute to this inter-disciplinary study. Sponsored by the Wormsloe Institute, seminars are held alternatively in the Library at Wormsloe and on the campus of UGA. UGA Libraries host a web site that facilitates access to some of the most important maps, photographs, and historical documents from the DeRenne collection.

Critical to the team approach, this web site allows multiple individuals from numerous geographical locations to simultaneously examine documents. The University of Georgia Library is host to a growing collection of podcasts, which describe and highlight the interdisciplinary nature of study at Wormsloe and the unique research projects across the university supported by the Wormsloe Insititute. Easily accessible, the Wormsloe Institute Podcasts are designed to encourage engagement by individuals and classes interested in a broad variety of disciplines.

Wormsloe's natural and cultural resources provide unparalleled opportunities to develop cutting-edge research initiatives with a focus on environmental history. Wormsloe provides long-term stability for research and support for researchers through funding, on-site housing, and laboratory facilities. Wormsloe's landscape, modified through continuous use since prehistoric times, is well-suited to provide educational programs, exhibits, and demonstrations to visitors from Georgia and across the nation. Supporting field research, a conservation laboratory, a demonstration site for archaeological research techniques, and education programs, the Wormsloe Institute provides valuable assets in the exploration of Georgia's coastal environmental history.