Admission Adults $8, children $4
Address 9924 Pin Point Avenue
The recently-opened Pin Point Heritage Museum, operated by the Coastal Heritage Society, is a Savannah highlight and one of the region’s most unique and culturally-rich heritage sites. It is located a few miles south of the city in the historic Gullah-Geechee community of Pin Point, surrounded by the scenic marshes and inlets of Georgia’s tidewater zone.
The museum occupies the former AS Varn & Son Oyster Seafood Factory. It explores the history of Pin Point, home to one of the few surviving Gullah-Geechee cultures of the Sea Islands region, and its ties to the old seafood and fishing industries upon which many coastal communities have depended for their livelihoods.
AS Varn set up the factory in 1926 to capitalize upon the rising popularity of canned seafood. The factory soon became a vital component of Pin Point’s economy, processing the sea produce abundant in the surrounding creeks and wetlands.
In the short term, the seafood processing business was a boon to the community, providing jobs for the majority of its residents. Men raked for oysters and caught fish, crabs and shrimp in the creeks. Women picked and cooked the crabs, shucked the oysters, boiled the shrimp and cooked prepared dishes to sell. Others worked as craftspeople producing the boats and handmade nets the fishermen needed for their work.
Over the longer term, over-reliance on a single industry left the coastal community vulnerable, too closely tied to the changing fortunes of the factory owners and their trade.
By the 1950s, the canning industry was in trouble. Pollution from Savannah’s growing industries poisoned the creeks and rivers, as did increasing upstream use of pesticides. The construction of the Diamond Causeway caused the build-up of sediment harmful to the oyster harvest.
Government restrictions on the processing and shipping of seafood products completed a decline that economic and technological changes along the Georgia coast had begun. In 1985, Varn’s Oyster Factory closed.
More museums in Savannah: American Prohibition Museum — Georgia State Railroad Museum — King-Tisdell Cottage — Massie Heritage Center — Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum — Savannah History Museum — Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum — Webb Military Museum
Guided tours The museum and its exhibits are set up for self-guided tours. Guided tours of the museum by members of the community are also sometimes given. Call for times and availability.
Exhibits A range of different media illuminate the history of the century-old Pin Point community and its Gullah-Geechee heritage, centered on Pin Point’s fishing, shrimping and seafood-processing economy. (Gullah-Geechee is a creole culture and language forged by African slaves out of a mix of African and European components. It has been carried on by their descendants through to the present day.)
Exhibits include a half-hour introductory film; displays of historic photographs of the factory and its employees, along with art and other artifacts; and oral history recordings of local people explaining their culture and experience of working in Pin Point’s seafood industry.
Special events Demonstrations of craft techniques such as the net making that made the fishing industry possible are sometimes given. Call the museum (number below) for information about upcoming demonstrations.
The following is correct at the time of writing. Please verify details before planning your trip. For additional information call 912-355-0064 or visit the official website.
Opening hours Open Thursday-Saturday, 9am-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission Adults $8, children (2-12) $4. A combination ticket allowing entrance to three of the Coastal Heritage Society’s sites is also available: adults $17, children (2-12) $11. See details
Address 9924 Pin Point Avenue, Savannah, GA 31406
GPS coordinates N 31.952343, W -081.090271
The museum is located in the community of Pin Point, 12 miles (20-30 minutes by car) south of central Savannah. Parking is available on site. See on map
Public transport Pin Point Heritage Museum is accessible by public transport, with a bus stop very near to its entrance. Expect a lengthy journey time, however: around 1 hour 45 minutes each way from downtown and around an hour from Midtown.
Chatham Area Transit (CAT) Route 20 is the only bus route serving the museum. The service begins near Oglethorpe Mall, several miles south of downtown Savannah. Most journeys will therefore require a connection to a different bus service. Get public transport directions