Hopeton-Altama Plantation, Glynn County

Altama Plantation House. Public domain image shared by Eamon Leonard.

George III of England granted 2,000 acres along the south bank of the Altamaha River to William Hopeton in 1763 and Hopeton soon set about creating the rice plantation which bore his name. So began the long modern history of this property, first known as Hopeton and now more widely known as Altama. In 1805, the property was sold to two Scottish immigrants, John Couper and James Hamilton, who grew Sea Island cotton with hundreds of slave laborers.   Couper’s son, James Hamilton Couper, vastly improved the property after he acquired it in 1827. He built the original Altama plantation house [pictured above] in the Georgian style circa 1858. Its ruins may remain, per the Glynn County Historic Resources Survey [2009].

Palm-lined Drive, Altama Plantation

After visiting Holland he introduced a system of dikes, canals and rails to move his rice and sugar efficiently to the river for transport into nearby Darien.

Laundry House, Altama Plantation

Couper was perhaps Georgia’s greatest “Renaissance Man” and it’s unfortunate that he isn’t better known today outside a small group of historians.

Laundry House Interior, Altama Plantation

He led the survey party which mapped the Georgia-Florida border, built Christ Church in Savannah and was the first to describe the Indigo Snake to science. He is honored eternally in its Latin name, Drymarchon couperi.

Blacksmith Shop, Altama Plantation

The Civil War was the death knell for Hopeton-Altama as a working plantation.

Blacksmith Shop, Altama Plantation

In 1898 a small colony of Shakers attempted to tame the property, which was long neglected and dotted with ruins of its former glory. Their efforts to grow rice and raise cattle were unsuccessful and they abandoned the project in 1902.

Double-Crib Barn, Altama Plantation

William Dupont bought the  adjacent Hopeton and Altama properties in 1914 and renamed the expanse Altama.

William Dupont House, Altama Plantation

Dupont wintered and trained racehorses here and built the main house [pictured above] based on the original plantation house.

Garage behind Dupont House, Altama Plantation

Atlanta entrepreneur Cator Woolford bought the plantation in 1930.

Woolford Swimming Pool, Altama Plantation

He built a swimming pool on the property which remains to this day.

Woolford Playhouse (Side view showing fanlight), Altama Plantation

He also built a large “play house” adjacent to the pool to entertain his guests.

Old-growth Oak, Altama Plantation

In 1944, Alfred W. Jones scion of the Sea Island Company, acquired Altama, primarily for use as a hunting reserve.

Guest/Hunting Cabin, Altama Plantation

Cabins and structures supporting the sporting life were constructed in the ensuing years.

Guest/Hunting Cabin, Altama Plantation

The cabins were used for hunters, as well as for general visitors.

Camellias, Altama Plantation

With the Sea Island bankruptcy in 2010, Altama was bought by a private equity firm who planned to develop the property as homes and shops.

Barn, Altama Plantation

With the help of the Nature Conservancy, the Marine Corps and private donors, the property was acquired by the state of Georgia in 2015 for future protection and management and will now serve as a publicly accessible Wildlife Management Area, part of a 120-mile corridor of protected lands stretching from Florida through the Okefenokee Swamp to Fort Stewart. It’s a real conservation success story and the cooperation of state and private entities is commendable.

DNR Check Station, Altama Plantation

Though not particularly historic in terms of age, most of the outbuildings have a cultural value as part of a grand 20th-century hunting plantation.

Oaks, Altama Plantation

 

14 thoughts on “Hopeton-Altama Plantation, Glynn County

  1. Carol millas

    My son ,James Maxwell Couper lV is living in Miami as is his 82 year old father, the lil ! You are cousins many times removed.

    Reply
    1. FD Jones

      Carol Millas.. you son JMC? I suppose this must be a type as his mother passed in Atlanta in the early 50’s. None the less, Jim Couper is my 2nd cousin. He also has a son, JMC (Max) but that may be the end of the Couper line. I calculated James/John Coupers in a direct line just this morning; I believe I came up with 410 yrs, give or take.

      Reply
      1. Farley

        Carol, so sorry, I misread your IV in Max’s description! I’m Ann’s daughter!

  2. Michael Robinson

    James Hamilton Couper was my Great, great grandfather. Some years ago, after the property was purchased by the Texas real estate firm, we were able to visit. It is a truly amazing place and we were honored to be able to visit.

    Reply
    1. FD Jones (Farley)

      Wow, wouldn’t that be something if the Michael Robinson I knew from Athens, was you! Which son/daughter did you descend from? I come from John/Rebecca – JHC – James M to James M and Sara Little (Atl) Look forward to hearing from you.

      Reply
  3. donna brown

    i play here and my family stay with my family here brian,they was the mchan and bennetts,long long time ago,tom and Robert Bennett is some of my kin people
    unel mchan is my 3 great aunt and they had a fish camp up there,john mchan rasied my grandmother,marry cloer, james ,hasting and davis because her,dad,sister and mother died

    Reply
    1. donna brown

      my mother said the martin lived there too,robert and rosa martin,rosa was a mchan,robert and tom was the ones killed on st simon,drown or sharks,anyway was much left of them
      thank you for sharing ,they took care of my greatmother mary cloer

      Reply
  4. Tena Creamer Phillips

    I was raised up on this plantation and its sad that it is no longer a part of
    my life. I think of this supernatural place often.

    Reply
    1. Layne Neville

      Tena, might you be a sister or relative of my great grandmother, Ruby Madris Phillips? She was the oldest of 10 children and I don’t know the names of her 9 siblings.

      Reply

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