RICHARD J. REYNOLDS:
In 1933 Sapelo was purchased by Richard J. Reynolds of North
Carolina, an heir of Reynolds Tobacco of Winston-Salem. A Lieutenant
Commander in the Navy during the war, Reynolds was a private man who
believed in using his wealth to help others. He provided a gymnasium
for Todd Grant School in Darien and set up a Boy’s Camp on Sapelo, intended
for the underprivileged children of the district.
The South End House was decorated with
murals by Meneboni. The ballroom with its circus decorations and
tented ceiling and the gentle jungle decorations of the room overlooking
the indoor pool still provide delight.
New buildings were added to the south
end. Reynolds built two elaborate boathouses and removed earlier farm
buildings replacing them with a quadrangle of much more glamorous coach
houses, dairy and house barns, and a second story picture theater.
These buildings surrounded an unusual “turkey fountain” decorated with
cast cement turkeys. This whole assemblage is the complex now housing
the principal activities of the Marine Institute. Reynolds also
built seven additional houses in the south end area. These, together
with the earlier houses built by Coffin, now house Marine Institute faculty.
During his tenure of the island Reynolds
was involved in some experiments of his own, introducing Brahmin
cattle and diking some marsh areas in order to ascertain their potential
It was Reynolds’ profound interest in
using the island for basic research which led to the formation of
the Georgia Agricultural and Farming Research Foundation in 1949.
The charter was amended in 1959 to rename the organization the Sapelo
Island Research Foundation, which was more appropriate in light of
the activities it supported. Richard Reynolds continued to be a
benefactor, and also a host and sponsor for conferences in marine and
estuarine science. After his death in 1964, the Foundation
established by him continued to assist the Marine Institute’s endeavors.