About Us

Seabrook Village Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education, and the authentic portrayal of the Reconstruction culture and environment of its rural African-American community in coastal Georgia from 1865-1930.

THE SEABROOK COMMUNITY

Seabrook is a small coastal Georgia community located approximately 30 miles south of Savannah and 4 miles east of I-95’sExit 76. The Seabrook Community was one of the few areas that benefited from General William T. Sherman’s field order #15 also known as “40 acres and a mule.” By working and saving, many African-Americans amassed large land holdings in the coastal Georgia area that symbolized security and freedom. Their descendants farmed their land building the strong community of Seabrook centered on faith, hard work, self-determination, and education.

Until the mid-1970s when I-95 was constructed, Seabrook remained isolated and generationally intact. With the decline of small-scale agriculture and the incursion of development and industry in the rural South, Seabrook and communities like it faced cultural annihilation. Here in Seabrook, however, residents and descendants are working together to help our heritage survive.

The Seabrook School and other buildings from the community now share the site and have become symbolic of courage, commitment, and enlightenment. These buildings connect us to the past. They help us to remember, to understand, and to honor those whose determination, ingenuity, and pride built a future in spite of hardship.

How the Seabrook Village Foundation Started

Better Together

In 1990, residents of Seabrook expressed a desire for a new community center and decided to raze the century-old Seabrook School. Long abandoned and in disrepair, the school stood for many as a symbol of hardship and segregation. A group of Seabrook alumni, then in their 70s and 80s, protested and reminded their neighbors that the Seabrook School, when it was built around 1900, was a dignified symbol of hope and cooperation in an era of new-found freedom. And so the church donated the school building to a concerned citizens group who formed The nonprofit Seabrook School Foundation to lead the resurrection of  the Seabrook School

Makin' Do

During the summer of 1991, the school was dismantled, restored, and rebuilt on a piece of donated land adjacent to Palmyra Missionary Baptist Church. The project was placed under the supervision of Warren Murphey, Director of Historic Structures, Jekyll Island. The building was then dismantled and moved to nearby Springfield Plantation where for four months, Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Sonja Wallen, under Murphey’s direction, restored the pieces board by board. Finally, it was rebuilt on its new site using ancient oak stumps and antique timbers to replace rotted sections. Once standing proudly square and whitewashed on its knoll, the Seabrook community rallied around the positive aspects of their heritage represented so simply yet eloquently by the little one-room schoolhouse.

Preserving for the Future

After the Seabrook School’s rededication in October 1991, the Foundation expanded it vision and works rapidly to include 15 acres of fields, pine forest, swamp and tidal creek, and seven completed structures:

  • The Seabrook School (1991)
  • The Ripley Corn Crib (1992)
  • The Gibbons-Woodard House (1994)
  • The Bowens Barn and Tool Gallery (1994)
  • THe Bowens Chicken Coop (1995)
  • The Bowens House (1994)
  • The Delegal-Williams House (1996)

The Village opened for tours March 1994 with the Bowens House serving as Seabrook’s office, gift shop, and exhibit gallery. The site has hosted nearly 30,000 school children in hands-on interpretative field trips and countless adults for group tours and special events.

Seabrook Village is one of 12 regional 1994-95 Cultural Olympiad designees for excellence in innovative programming the humanities. We participated in Georgia State of the Arts in October 1994. Also, during the 100 days of the Centennial Olympic Games, Seabrook was part of Arts Ashore, Savannah’s Olympic cultural celebration. “Out of the Mouths” featured the children of Seabrook who completed our summer history program as site interpreters.

Seabrook Village quickly rose as a leader in educational outreach, cultural preservation, and grassroots development. After many years as a thriving institution, access to volunteers and funding caused activities at Seabrook to cease in 2017.

Where Seabrook Is Now

Thankfully, a group of descendants and supporters began efforts in 2020 to revive Seabrook Village. Seabrook residents are fighting against dire realities and predictions about our environment and economic situation. Through Seabrook, future generations can experience and understand the difficulties of those early days and the special strengths and character of those who lived them. By drawing from the past, we are working together to preserve our heritage and provide a future for coastal Georgia that takes pride in our Gullah Geechee history.

Seabrook Timeline

As little was written down, the dates can only be established
through remembrances and through corresponding architecture and events.

  • 1806 Sunbury Baptist Church built
  • 1817 Sunbury Baptist Association Formed
  • 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War
  • 1864 Sunbury Baptist Church Burned by Federal Troops
  • 1865 General Sherman Issues Field Order 15 for Freedman Receive Land Grants
  • 1865 General Sherman Issues Field Order 15 for Freedman Receive Land Grants
  • 1865 Reconstruction Begins
  • 1866 Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church Organized near former church site
  • 1871 Palmyra Baptist Church Built at Seabrook
  • 1877 Reconstruction Ends
  • 1880 Delegal-Williams House Built on Trade Hill Road
  • 1891 Pompey & Josephine Gould Build Gibbons-Woodard House near Dorchester Station
  • 1903 Eddie Bowens Begins Building Farm & House on Trade Hill
  • 1906 Seabrook School Built on Trade Hill Road
  • 1914 – 1918 World War I
  • 1918 Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church Moved to Seabrook/Trade Hill
  • 1920s – 1940s Cyrus Bowens Creates Grave Art at Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church
  • 1930s Sam Ripley Builds House & Farm
  • 1930s Great Depression & Great Migration
  • 1941-1945 World War II
  • 1949 Seabrook School Closes During Consolidation
  • 1974 Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church Razed & Rebuilt
  • 1986 Clement Stevens, Sr. Begins Oral History Project
  • 1988 Clem Video & First School Outreach Program at Lyman Hall Elementary
  • 1990 Seabrook School Foundation Established as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
  • 1991 First College Intern Program for Oral History Project (Amerst College, MA)
  • 1991 Seabrook School Donated by Sunbury Baptist Church, Dismantled, Moved & Restored by Sonja Wallen and Warren Murphy on Land Near Palmyra Church
  • 1991 Dedication in October
  • 1992 Sam Ripley Corn Crib Donated by Louise Buie & Gladys Lowe. Dismantled, Moved & Restored by Sonja Wallen, Norman Harris, Sr., John Stevens, and Paige Stevens, Jr.
  • 1993 Board Training at Old Sturbridge Village, MA
  • 1993 Northern Spy (ox) Comes to Seabrook
  • 1993 Foundation Buys Eddie Bowens Farm
  • 1993 Map of Historic Gardens By Katherine Clark
  • 1993 First Summer Field School in Georgia: Folklife & Archaeology by Dr. Barbara Fertig and Dr. Anne Yentsch, Armstrong Atlantic State University with Georgia Southern University
  • 1993 Seabrook Youth Choir Founded by Fran Timmons Lewis and Ruth Smith
  • 1994 Bowens House, Barn, & Tool Gallery Restored by Sonja Wallen, Bryan Topcynski, and Bill Merriman
  • 1994 Bowens House Opened as Office
  • 1994 Cyrus Bowens Grave Art Collection Donated by Georgia DNR/Fort Morris
  • 1994 Gibbons-Woodard House Donated by Lula Woodard, Moved, & Restored
  • 1994 Cane Mill & Boiler Donated in memory of Sam Harris
  • 1994 Cultural Olympiad Regional Designation Award for Excellence & Innovation in the Humanities
  • 1994 First Summer History Camp
  • 1994 Dorchester Train Depot Purchased, Moved & Stabilized
  • 1994 Tate House Donated by Elliott Tate, Ollie Tate Thomas, and Anna Tate Stevens, Dismantled, & Restored
  • 1995 Bowens Chicken Coop Restored
  • 1995 Seabrook Presented at the Association of Living History, Family, & Agricultural Museums Conference
  • 1995 First If Walls Could Talk Conference Held
  • 1995 George Ginter Tool Collection Donated
  • 1995 Johnnie Mae Morrison Collection Donated
  • 1995 We learned that John Stevens had the one handful of Seminole Peas left in the world
  • 1996 Arts Ashore! Olympic Arts Program
  • 1996 Delegal-Williams House Donated by Family, Moved, & Restored
  • 1996 Riceboro Freight & Passenger Depots Donated by Margaret Martin; Moved to site and stabilized
  • 1998 National Trust for Historic Preservation Educational Field Session Site for African-American Vernacular Architecture
  • 1998 Riceboro Freight Depot Restored by Pete Knowles, Dale Stafford, & Tracy White
  • 1998 State of Georgia Donated Funds to Build the Education Pavilion
  • 1998 Education Pavilion Dedication by Dr. David Blight, Yale University
  • 2000 Youmans Houses Donated by Jack Waters, Dismantled, Moved, & Placed in Storage
  • 2002 Bowens Farm Listed on Georgia Register of Historic Places
  • 2002 Pea Dryer Invented by Charlie Killmaster for the Seminole Peas
  • 2004 Bowens Farm Listed on National Register of Historic Places
  • 2006 Bicentennial of Sunbury Baptist Church Centennial of Seabrook School
  • 2007 Vernacular Architecture Forum Held
  • 2016 First film recorded on site by Wonder Worthy Productions for the Big River Film Festival
  • 2020 Tornado Damaged Property Creating a Need for Increased Fundraising for Repairs
  • 2021 Seabrook Village Foundation acquires stewardship of the Martha Randolph Stevens Park
  • 2021 Seabrook Village Foundation Reorganized & Prepares for Reopening
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660 Trade Hill Road

Midway, GA 31320

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