5 Intriguing Secrets About The Landings
Did you know the largest or most complete fossilized ground sloth was discovered on Skidaway Island? And that there’s a full-sized replica at Skidaway Island State Park?
That’s one of many amazing facts that residents may not know about The Landings, according to Sean Burgess, Director of Public Works with The Landings Association – and he’s just getting started.
Burgess, originally from California, moved from the West Coast to the Midwest, graduating from Lakeland University in Wisconsin with a degree in biology. Sean worked as an assistant field biologist with a Wisconsin-based aquatics company before taking a chance by moving south in 2004 to become The Landings Association’s environmental manager.
“Every day, I help ensure every public works project at The Landings considers the impact to our flora and fauna holistically and strategically,” he says.
5 Things About The Landings That Even Long-Time Residents Might Not Know
One of Burgess’s everyday joys is discovering new entertaining information about The Landings, like the discovery of the land sloth. Maybe more fun for Burgess is sharing those interesting stories with the community. Here are his Top 5:
No. 1: About that Ground Sloth
As the story goes, in 1823, Dr. James Habersham, former Secretary of Georgia, was rowing to Skidaway Island when he saw what he thought was a post of some kind planted firmly in the water. While investigating, it became clear that it wasn’t a post at all. It was the fossilized bones of a giant ground sloth, Megatherium. It was also the first proof that the species existed in North America.
You can see a 20-foot replica is on display in the Interpretive Center at the State Park. The original bones are housed at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
No. 2: Skidaway Island’s Revolutionary War Action
“I love the rich history of our island,” says Burgess. “It seems like there’s a story here from every point in history, from the prehistoric through the Revolutionary and Civil wars to the modern day.”
It’s possible the last shot associated with the Revolutionary War occurred on Skidaway Island, says Burgess, though it’s difficult to confirm.
But a small skirmish between the Patriot Army and British Marines did break out on the island during the Revolution. Patriots tracked down and drove off a British forage party.
No. 3: The Landings Historic Archeological Site
The Benedictine Monastery and Freedman School played a significant role in post-Civil War history. Originally located in what is now the intersection of Priest Landing Drive and Breckenridge Lane in The Landings, the school taught eight students, primarily the children of freed slaves, many of whom were teenagers.
Archaeological findings from a 2016 dig, led by Savannah Archaeological Alliance Director Laura Seifert, revealed various artifacts. While some questions linger about the monks’ departure from the monastery, it’s believed that it was either a tidal wave, which ruined the fresh water on the island, as well as a fire that damaged the monastery. The Benedictines moved to Savanah, where they opened a successful military school in 1902. The artifacts are preserved at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus, contributing to ongoing research.
No. 4: Our Historic Civil War Battery
During the Civil War, earthen batteries were established on the island to defend the southerners from northern attacks, and the 4th Georgia Battery was posted here. Earthen batteries are defensive structures built by soldiers to provide protection and elevated positions for cannons or artillery.
“One of those batteries is preserved on the island,” says Burgess. “If you are a Civil War history buff, it’s a must-see.”
One Skidaway Island battery was commanded by Marmaduke Brown, aka Captain Brown, who guided ships through the Skidaway Narrows.
No. 5: The Landings’ Unique Design
“One of The Landings’ most amazing features is its design,” says Burgess. The Landings was carefully planned by The Braniger Organization and Sasaki Associates. “Designers prioritized working in harmony with nature, which was an incredibly unique philosophical approach to the community’s development, especially for the time.”
The approach involved preserving green spaces, avoiding extensive tree removal, and creating a layout that reflects a deep understanding of the coastal environment. The thoughtful design, winding roads, and emphasis on preserving nature make The Landings stand out among other developments.
“Think of that the next time you’re driving around the community,” says Burgess. “We’re not set up on a grid system. Every road is purposefully winding to help hide the community’s density. You will rarely see more than one or two cars ahead of you. Not because there are fewer cars on the road, but because they’re always out of sight around the next bend. It’s masterful design.”
Discovering Hidden Treasures
While it may seem like we know everything there is to know about Skidaway Island, Burgess reminds us that there’s so much richness left to discover.
“Every day I learn something new,” he says. “It’s one of the most amazing places to work and to live.”