The small, historic city of Brunswick, in Glynn County, Georgia is the gateway to the Golden Isles – four beautiful barrier islands along the lower Georgia coast, of which Jekyll and St Simons Island are the most widely known.
The city, founded in 1771, also has its own appeal: for its history, and architecture, and its setting amidst the tranquil marshes of southern Georgia, immortalized by Sidney Lanier’s poem The Marshes of Glynn.
!The information below is correct as of March 2017, but please verify details before planning your trip.
Brunswick’s Old Town Historic District preserves the site of the 1771 city plan and the colonial British town that was built there, though most of its surviving buildings are from the 19th century.
Running several blocks east of the riverfront between H Street and 1st Avenue, the Historic District encompasses the majority of Brunswick’s most significant architecture and historic sights. The main downtown shopping area is also located within the district, around the intersection of Newcastle and Gloucester Streets.
Brunswick’s original town plan was laid out on similar lines to its more northerly precursor, Savannah. The plan set out 14 squares, distributed evenly across Brunswick’s present-day Historic District, though some have since been either lost or heavily encroached upon.
Hanover Square (now Hanover Park) is the largest surviving example, formerly used as a stockyard and site for a city hall but redeveloped as a recreational park through the efforts of local women from 1878. The project of reclaiming all of Brunswick’s original squares lost to utilitarian purposes is still underway. Read more about the historic squares and their preservation here
Downtown Brunswick’s most striking landmark is its Old City Hall (1229 Newcastle Street), completed in 1889 in bright red brick and light grey stone in the distinctive Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The former City Hall was designed by Jewish-American New York architect Alfred Eichberg, who also designed several notable structures in Atlanta and Savannah. The building, which currently houses various city offices, was restored in 2004.
Picturesquely situated among the live oaks of Magnolia Square (on G Street between Reynolds and Ellis Streets) is Brunswick’s Historic Courthouse, completed in 1907.
The building was designed in the Neoclassical style by New Jersey architect Charles Alling Gifford, who also designed several turn-of-the-century buildings in nearby Jekyll Island’s Historic District.
Opposite the courthouse, at 1709 Reynolds Street, is the Mahoney-McGarvey House, designed by JA Wood around the early 1890s for railroad man Timothy Mahoney.
The house is reckoned to be the finest example of the Carpenter Gothic architectural style in Georgia and is worth a detour for its stunning three-story, ornately decorated wood portico. It is currently occupied by a legal firm.
This small 1838 cemetery (entrance at 1500 Mansfield Street) is Brunswick’s oldest surviving burial ground, the final resting place of more than 1200 people, including Civil War soldiers from both sides and many figures in local history.
The cemetery is open dawn to dusk, but please note that dogs are not allowed inside the grounds. Self-guided tour brochures are available here.
This gnarled and ancient tree, a live oak (Quercus virginiana) believed to be around 900 years old, is one of Brunswick’s curiosities.
According to local historical tradition, the Lover’s Oak was a favorite romantic rendezvous for young members of the American Indian tribes who inhabited coastal Georgia before its colonisation by the British.
The tree is located in the median of Albany Street at Prince Street, a quick photo stop around a mile from the downtown shopping area. See on map
This landmark bridge on US Highway 70, one of the longest and tallest suspension bridges in Georgia (486 feet high and 7780 feet long), is named in memory of Brunswick’s most famous poet, Sidney Lanier, the author of “The Marshes of Glynn.”
The bridge, which spans the Brunswick River, dates from 2003, built as a replacement to a 1950s lift bridge also named for Lanier.
This small park located on downtown Brunswick’s waterfront (at the head of Gloucester Street) offers a spot from which to watch the ships and boats in the river, and you can also see a scale model of one of the Liberty Ships built at Brunswick during the Second World War.
The Brunswick Bazaar and Farmer’s Market is held in the park every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8am-5pm.
Sidney Lanier immortalized the marshes of Brunswick and Glynn County with his poem, “The Marshes of Glynn.” The intrusion of shipping and industrial facilities has marred the undisturbed environment of Lanier’s time, but in many places the view remains beautiful, with many bird species and other wildlife inhabiting the creeks and grass beds of the marsh.
Brunswick’s marsh landscape is best explored by kayak or small boat, but you can also get a look from several points near downtown Brunswick, including the Marshes of Glynn Overlook Park (off Glynn Avenue) or the short Earth Day Nature Trail next to the the US Coast Guard Station (2 Conservation Way).
Historic Downtown Brunswick Tour, 1hr30. With Art Downtown. Walking tours of historic Brunswick, of either downtown or residential areas. $18 per person. More details
Brunswick Ghost Tour. With Last Ride Ghost Tours. Ghost tours by hearse of Brunswick’s history and folklore. Call 912-265-2666 for details and reservations. More details
Self-Guided Walking Tour. Provided by Brunswick Downtown Development Authority. Free brochure outlining the key sights and architectural styles of Brunwick’s Old Town. View brochure
Discover Historic Brunswick Sightseeing/Dolphin Tour, 1hr30. With Blue Dolphin Tours. History and nature sightseeing boat tour of Brunswick’s waterfront and marshes. $39.95 per person. Call 912-230-4018 or book online. More details
Brunswick Kayak Tour, 2hrs. With SouthEast Adventure Outfitters. Kayak tour of the Brunswick marshes. Adults $49, children $29. Full moon trips also available, $59 per person. Call 912-638-6732 for reservations or book online. More details