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The Fabulous Past of the
Jekyll Island Club


by Sarah Horton; Photos by Toni Naylor

Jekyll Island Club

They came with their yachts, their golf clubs, their smart linen suits and their buckets and buckets of money, and they made this little island off the Georgia Coast one of the most exclusive spots on earth.

Unless your name was Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt or something comparable, Jekyll Island and its famous Club might as well be on another planet entirely. Today, the Jekyll Island Club is a fantastic hotel and resort, steeped, to be sure, in the island's gilded history. But it's only a little taste of the kind of over-the-top luxury enjoyed by the fabulously rich of the turn of century. America loves its royalty, and these elite clans remain a subject of fascination for many, even a hundred years later. The sophistication of the Jazz Age aristocracy in particular holds an allure for lovers of the art, architecture and the whole idyllic lifestyle cultivated by those with immeasurable bank accounts during a (short) time of national peace and prosperity.

Around the turn of the century, about 30% of the country's richest people lived in New York, with others scattered down the Eastern Seaboard and west to Chicago.  They gathered in famous social clubs like New York's Union Club, and had homes around the country to suit the seasons and their moods. For the East coast set, Newport was the summer home spot of choice, but in 1888, a group of 53 savvy investors had purchased the entire island and opened the doors of the Jekyll Island Club as a super-exclusive, more "rustic" alternative to the Newport scene.



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