June 2012 – Southern Distinction Magazine

There is no lack of history on St. Simons Island. From pre-colonial Native American inhabitation to Spanish occupation, and from the American Revolution to antebellum plantation life and from Civil War battles to World War II battles – yes, German U-boats sank two U.S. tankers just off the coast of St. Simons Island – the area has many roots in American history, and its proud residents take careful steps to preserve them, even quite literally.

When George Stewart and his wife Michelle began renovating a 1930s beach cottage near the historic parks, Lighthouse and oceanfront Village districts, their key concern was not to disturb the indigenous vegetation and trees. The towering live oaks around St. Simon’s were so prized for their strong wood as far back as 1812 when they were harvested and shipped to Boston to help build the U.S.S. Constitution, giving her the nickname “Old Ironsides.” Despite having strong wood, as with any plant or tree, their roots are fragile and vulnerable, so the meticulous renovation planning of what was to be the Village In and Pub was designed around their root systems. Hence, not a single tree was harmed or removed from the premises. In fact, the parking area was laid not with concrete pavement but with grass and environment-friendly shell pave, which also serves to protect the trees’ roots and help control water runoff. It is no surprise that the Stewarts were granted a “Good Developer Award” by the island’s environmental protection and conservation group Residents United for Planning and Action.

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