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Jekyll Island 4-H Center

Center History and Future PlansOld Georgia 4-H EE Logo

The Past, Present, and Future of Jekyll 4-H

Center History

In March 1956, several African-American business owners formed the St. Andrews Beach Corporation and built the Dolphin Club and Motor Hotel, a motel for the African-American visitors to the island.

Picture of Dolphin Club Hotel from late 50s

The motel was opened in August 1959, but in late 1959, the corporation was dissolved and the hotel sold to the Jekyll Island Authority. In the early 1960's the motel had 58 rooms that rented for $8.50 per night.

Picture of Dolphin Club Hotel in late 50s.

The Dolphin Club Lounge and Restaurant was located across from the motel and contained a lobby with restrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, two small private dining areas, and a night club. The Dolphin Club Lounge attracted prominent African-American entertainers including Clarence Carter, Tyrone Davis, Millie Jackson, Percy Sledge, and others.

Dolphin Club Lounge from late 50s.

The auditorium, called the St. Andrews Auditorium, was built in June 1960 to maintain the requirements of separate but equal facilities for the island. It was used for family reunions and dances and in 1964, was the venue for an Otis Redding Concert. After desegregation, the building was rarely used.

Auditorium from 1960.

The Dolphin Club and Motor Hotel closed in June 1966. The building was used off and on for a group camp and youth center from the late 1960's until the late 1970's.

Picture of hotel from 80s.

In June 1983, the Dolphin Club Hotel, Lounge, Auditorium, and beach pavilion were leased to the Georgia 4-H program for use as a 4-H Center summer camp. In 1987, the program was expanded to include a year round environmental education program.

Picture of hotel in 90s.

In February 2003, the facility temporarily closed to undergo major renovations. In August 2003, it reopened with a new look to the exterior of the building.

Picture of hotel after renovations in 2003.

Some of the major changes included reorienting the building so that the doors exit into the courtyard, the plumbing, electrical, and safety systems were upgraded, amenities such as satellite television, high-speed internet, and telephone capabilities were added to some of the rooms, and the VIP rooms updated. The parking lot was redesigned to include natural islands that will one day provide shade and green space for the parking lot.

Note: Historic photos courtesy of the Jekyll Island Museum. Information on the history of the Jekyll Island 4-H Center was taken from Images of America: Jekyll Island State Park by Tyler E. Bagwell.

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Jekyll 4-H Master Plan - View to the Future

Economic times may be a little rough right now but that does not stop us from planning for the future.  Jekyll Island 4-H Center has been teaching students and campers for twenty seven years and plan to be offering quality instruction for decades to come.  We are posting one version of what the future could hold for our center on the beach.  While these plans are just a great idea right now they are a goal to aim for as finances allow us to move ahead.

We envision staff housing to allow more room for our guests and provide better accommodations for our instructional staff.  A large building that would serve as an auditorium and offer classroom space would be such an asset to our program.  The most obvious change would be to the parking lot.  Having landscaping and paths with defined parking areas would create a wonderful atmosphere for learning and exploring.

The greatest thing about Jekyll 4-H is the beach and that just keeps getting better and better.  Please come visit or send us an e-mail if you have any comments or suggestions on our proposed plan.

Jekyll 4-H Master Plan - Conceptual Rendering

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New Partnership between the Georgia 4-H and the JIA

Richard Royal, Chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority, and State 4-H Club Director, Arch Smith, announced today (March 29th, 2013 )a major new partnership between the two organizations that will improve, renovate and expand what is now the Jekyll Island 4-H Center. Governor Nathan Deal recommended, and the General Assembly approved, $12 million in funds in the FY14 budget for the purpose of this partnership.

Under the partnership, the Jekyll Island Authority will assume responsibility for the camp from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. The new Jekyll Island Children and Youth Center and related facilities will be significantly improved by the construction of a new education building, replacement of the 1950s-era dormitories, a new auditorium, and other essential buildings, grounds and roadway improvements.

State 4-H Club Director Arch Smith expressed “profound appreciation to Governor Deal and members of the General Assembly for their generosity in supporting funds to make some dreams come true concerning a significant updating and a virtual new camp to serve Georgia’s children and youth coming to Jekyll Island for camp and to study environmental education.”

Jekyll Island Authority Chairman Richard Royal stated that “under the new partnership between the Jekyll Island Authority and the Cooperative Extension Service, the 4-H camp will now be named the Jekyll Island Children and Youth Center. This area will always be used for children and youth, and under this arrangement with the Cooperative Extension Service, the State 4-H Club will continue to be able to plan and conduct their programs at the site, and the Authority will assume all responsibilities for operation, maintenance, construction, security, utilities, and housekeeping at the center. Groups renting the facility will be responsible for planning and conducting their activities and programs while at the site.”

Governor Deal expressed appreciation to the Jekyll Island Authority and to the Cooperative Extension Service in agreeing to this new partnership and further commented that he “is enthused and excited about the progress at Jekyll Island that is underway relating to new hotels and attractions to encourage people to visit the Georgia coast. This new undertaking at Jekyll Island adds still another very exciting attraction for children and youth that will pay huge dividends both in environmental education and enjoying outdoor activity at Georgia’s premier barrier island.”

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