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Brunswick and the Golden Isles – Photo Opportunities for the AW Jones Heritage Center



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2008

NEW A.W. JONES HERITAGE CENTER IN THE ST. SIMONS VILLAGE
OPENS TO THE PUBLIC ON SATURDAY, APRIL 5, 2008

BEST PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES:
• Exterior of the new Heritage Center Available now
• Installation of the G8 Exhibit/Legacy Project March 25 – 27
BEST DAYS ARE WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY
• Landscaping of the Heritage Center March 24 - 28
• Moving into the Center/new store PLEASE CALL TO ARRANGE
• Volunteer training session for the new Heritage Center 10:00 AM March 27
• Grand opening day (separate release) 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM April 5


SAINT SIMONS ISLAND, GA – The opening of the A.W. Jones Heritage Center in April 2008 represents a landmark achievement for the Coastal Georgia Historical Society and for the thousands of Society members, generous campaign donors and project volunteers whose support made its construction possible.
The 10,000 square-foot Heritage Center, in the St. Simons Island Village next to the lighthouse campus, was designed by St. Simons architect John Rentz to complement its neighboring historic structures. “John did a masterful job in using architectural elements that are evocative of the keeper’s dwelling,” explains Pat Morris, executive director of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society. “At the same time he has created a very modern space that presents an array of amenities for the entire community.”
The two-story brick structure features a wraparound porch, tall windows and a variety of rooflines that give the illusion of several adjoining buildings. The Center’s main entrance along Beachview Drive leads to a new museum shop. The new space is considerably larger than its predecessor in the keeper’s dwelling and allows the Society to expand the variety of merchandise. “People love lighthouses and they’re always on the lookout for something new,” Morris says. “Now we are able to offer a greater variety of items, especially books.”
Museum visitors may purchase their admission tickets in the shop and proceed to a new and exciting exhibit, entitled, The Sea Island Summit: Coastal Georgia Welcomes the World, the community legacy project of the 2004 Group of Eight Sea Island Summit. The permanent exhibit, filling an entire room in the new Center, takes visitors into the remarkable story of the historic Summit, including how Sea Island was chosen as its site, the international leaders who attended, Summit accomplishments, and a fascinating look behind the scenes in preparing for and staging such an important and complex world gathering.
The Center features a variety of public spaces that are available for meetings, banquets, wedding receptions and other private gatherings. A 1,400 sq. ft. multi-purpose room offers a stage and catering kitchen. The room can accommodate 96 people for seated banquets and up to 150 in theater-style seating.
The building’s shape creates an attractive courtyard between it and the keeper’s dwelling–ideal for outdoor gatherings. “With its access to the courtyard and proximity to the waterfront, people are very excited about this new space,” Morris said. “We’ve already accepted reservations for numerous wedding receptions, well into 2009.”
The Center’s first floor includes an entrance gallery featuring changing exhibits of items from the Society’s collections as well as traveling exhibits from other museums and institutions.
The second floor includes administrative offices, a 500-volume research library and a climate-controlled, hurricane-safe vault housing the Society’s vast collection of objects, artifacts and archival materials representing hundreds of years of coastal Georgia history. The collection exceeds 15,250 items and includes archival records, photographs, family papers, decorative objects, furniture and archeological artifacts.
It’s a long way from the small building the Society has occupied since the 1980s. “This directly reflects our mission of collecting, restoring and housing artifacts that celebrate the history and culture of coastal Georgia,” Morris explains. “By making the collection more accessible to visitors we are better able to promote awareness, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our area’s heritage.”
The Center was made possible through the successful completion of a two-and-a-half-year fundraising campaign. The “Lighting the Way” capital campaign was launched in 2005 to raise $5 million, with a challenge grant from the G8 Host Committee of $2.5 million. The campaign raised more than $5.5 million in member donations, individual gifts, corporate contributions and grants.

# # #
MEDIA CONTACT:
Pat Morris, Executive Director
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
Ph:912-638-4666
Email: pat@saintsimonslighthouse.org

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