The Visitor’s Club, 1930, Brunswick

When US 17, the Coastal Highway, was the main artery on the Atlantic seaboard from Virginia to Florida, the Brunswick Board of Trade & the Sea Island Company commissioned Francis L. Abreu to design this welcome center at the entrance to the St. Simons Causeway. Abreu, a famous architect in his own right, had collaborated with Addison Mizner on the original Cloister Hotel.

It was originally advertised as “Brunswick’s Greeting to Vacationists-Georgia’s Gateway to the Road to Romance and Recreation”. The building is in immediate need of preservation. We can only hope that Brunswick will recognize its importance and not have the same dismissive view of it that they’ve had of the historic Dart House, just down the road.

Abreu was born into a privileged Cuban-American background in 1896. His parents owned a sugar plantation and also kept a home in upstate New York. He was a member of the track team at Cornell University and served in the U. S. Navy in World War I.  After earning a degree in architecture, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, where his parents had relocated, and was one of the most active early builders in the city’s first real estate boom. He met his future wife, May Patterson on Sea Island in 1938. They later settled in Atlanta where they were active philanthropists.

This is arguably the most prominent public building he designed still standing in Georgia. It should be preserved and National Register of Historic Places recognition sought.


16 thoughts on “The Visitor’s Club, 1930, Brunswick

  1. Nanci Posey

    Is he the same Abreu that was Abreu and Robeson years a I remember meeting him. He was a friend of my parents. He encouraged me in my plans to become an architect. Sadly, girls weren’t welcomed at Georgia Tech in the early 50’s so i ended up at U of Ga….go Dawgs!

    1. Mike

      Hi Nanci!
      YES! One in the same. I am his grandson and live just north of Atlanta. I was unaware of the efforts to save this wonderful building until my cousin who lives on Amelia Island alerted me to it. I am working with those to try and preserve and restore the building. Fingers crossed we can save this one. GO DAWGS!

  2. Kay Larche

    Thanks so very very much for highlighting the history of the Welcome Center!!! And the criminal neglect by the City of Brunswick!

  3. Mike

    Trying to get more information about this building, I am the grandson of the architect and would like to possibly restore this back to it’s original condition. If you have any information please email me through our foundation. Thank You!!

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      Thanks, Amber! I guess you know Sharman, then! This is wonderful to know, but considering the track record of Brunswick in relation to such structures, you can understand my (and MANY in Glynn Couny who have contacted me) concern. I’ll let them know the good news 🙂

  4. Nanci G Posey

    I hope it can be restored. I have great memories of going there as a child with my Mom when it was chamber of commerce offices. and I remember it being called Board of Trade back then.

  5. Sheila Hamrick (Dinehart)

    I wonder if the city has a historical society? I am sure the county does. So much to do to keep what is left of the South’s interesting and beautiful places…I have seen so much lost forever. Thanks Brian, your work is wonderful.

  6. Nfutral

    Wow. These people are idiots. The Dart house and now this charmer threatened… Someone will claim it’s in too rough a shape to save. Termites dontcha know. They use that excuse for tabby and stucco structures on the coast a lot. I suspect much of it is repairable with a will to do it. I didn’t know this building existed. I wonder if there is an advocacy group as with the Dart house. I’ll have to look around.

  7. Cheryl

    Appreciate your efforts here, Brian Brown; and hoping they raise the level of awareness of this structure’s peculiar value.


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