A recipe served at the famous Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Georgia. The recipe is adapted from Recipes from Historic America cookbook by Linda and Steve Bauer. A great book! And now for the history:
Situated on a Georgia barrier island, Jekyll Island Club Hotel originally served as an exclusive hunting retreat for the nation's most powerful financiers and industrialists of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The hotel today is a unique modern resort with architectural character and a charming historic ambience.
The main structures, built between 1887 and 1902, were designed by Charles Alexander of Chicago and Charles Alling Gifford of New York. Alexander designed the original clubhouse in the American Queen Anne style, incorporating extensive verandas, bay windows, extended chimneys, the turret that dominates the roofline and the overall asymmetrical design.
Contemplating the ideal location for their hunting club, William K. Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer and 50 or so of their friends chose Jekyll Island. Its climate, abundant wildlife and natural beauty appealed to them. Once the decision was made, it took just two years to incorporate the club, purchase the island and have the clubhouse constructed.
In January of 1888, the men gathered their families and boarded their yachts for the first "season" on Jekyll. A collection of sepia photographs captures the spirit of these families as they enjoyed the island's outdoor pleasures...hunting trips, lawn parties, carriage rides and leisurely afternoons at the beach. For years, there was unofficial competition among yachting members to see who would arrive in the longest, fastest, most beautifully appointed vessel.
Dinner each evening, however, was the high point of the day. Women spent hours selecting the dresses they would wear, while the men had definite ideas about what they hoped to accomplish during dinner conversations. Decisions might be made that would literally determine the next President, the health of the nation's economy or the career of any of their peers.
For example, when President McKinley was facing re-election, club member Cornelius Bliss was determined that "his man" would be successful. He and Marcus Hanna invited McKinley to Jekyll Island, and two days before he was to arrive, they learned Thomas B. Reed, Speaker of the House and McKinley's archrival, would be there at the same time. Bliss and Hanna arranged for the two men to meet, pressures were brought to bear and Reed ultimately did not oppose McKinley's re-election, even though he was adamantly opposed to the President's imperialistic policies regarding Cuba and the Philippines.
Finance was also of paramount concern to many club members. J.P. Morgan could create or quell panics on Wall Street with the financial resources at his personal command. Club members George Baker, head of the First National Bank of New York, and James Stillman, head of the National City Bank of New York, were nearly as wealthy as Morgan. When an economic panic caused a run on the country's banks in 1907, one of these three men paved the way for a secret meeting on Jekyll. The purpose was to quickly and quietly develop a plan for a centralized banking structure, and the result was the creation of the plan for the Federal Reserve System.
Communications was the field of Theodore Vail, president of the company that later became AT&T. When his company laid the telephone lines in 1915 for the first transcontinental telephone call, he was convalescing on the island. He had the linemen lay the lines to Jekyll so he could participate in this momentous event in communications history.
World War I offered some club members the opportunity to give their yachts to the U.S. war effort and provide financial assistance. Although several of the men had had considerable influence in mitigating the force of economic panics throughout the last half of the 1800s and later, no one was powerful enough to prevent the Great Depression.
Just two years into the Depression, half the club's membership dropped away. The final blow was World War II and the threat of enemy submarines off the coast. Members left in 1942 expecting to return another year, but few ever did.
By 1947, the State of Georgia gained the ownership of the island and established it as a state park. Jekyll Development Associates leased the structures and grounds from the state, completely rejuvenated them and further prepared for the opening of Jekyll Island Club Hotel in 1986.