The Visitors Center at Fort Frederica was renovated over the last year. The newly redesigned Visitors Center opened in October and we have been enjoying showing it off to visitors. Tom and I helped with the planning of the redesign, but it is hard for me to imagine what a space is going to look like on paper. The renovated Visitors Center is even better than I imagined.
The new Visitors Center looks like a completely different building inside. The back room and the audio-visual room were dismantled and opened up. Now, when you walk into the Visitors Center, there is a large space for the gift shop. The Information Desk is in the center of the room with a tiny storage and audio-visual room behind it. The majority of the space contains modern museum exhibits.
The museum exhibits start with a short section on the founding of Georgia with a cannon and a display of “Jenkin’s ear.” A large wall highlights the archaeological digs that have been ongoing at the Fort. Layers of history illustrates how archaeologists go about uncovering artifacts. A large, lighted display has artifacts found in the most recent excavation of the Sinclair House. The Sinclair House continues to be a current dig on the grounds, so that display can be changed over time.
Another wall describes the contributions of African Americans to the island. There are two short videos about the Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters and Sweet Grass baskets. The wall concludes with a display about Robert Abbott, who founded the Chicago Defender.
In the middle of the museum room, there is a large map table with a map of the island. The area around the map displays a history of the island and its natural resources. It talks about tabby, live oak trees, Spanish Moss, plantation life, and today’s fishing industry.
The final renovated part of the Visitors Center is a room set up as the Tavern. It has a life-sized cut-out of volunteer Linda Usrey as a tavern owner. The room has colonial games and some dress-up clothes for kids. On the walls are artifacts found on the site beautifully displayed in lighted cases.
The only part of the Visitors Center that has not been renovated is the theater. It still has some construction material stored in it and holds the encased town display that used to the be the centerpiece of the Visitors Center. The park is still trying to decide what to do with the beloved town display. People who have been coming to the Fort for a long time love the town display, but it is very large and heavy. We have talked about putting it outside someplace, but it is not weatherproof.
I love working in the renovated Visitors Center at Fort Frederica National Monument. It is a wonderful space to show off to visitors. Everyone who saw the old Visitors Center recognizes what an improvement this is.