Sea Island, over time known as Fifth Creek Island, Isles of Palms, Long Island, Glynn Isles and Sea Island Beach, remained relatively uninhabited until 1924, when the causeway from Brunswick to St. Simons Island was completed. Sea Island, over time known as Fifth Creek Island, Isles of Palms, Long Island, Glynn Isles and Sea Island Beach, remained relatively uninhabited until 1924, when the causeway from Brunswick to St. Simons Island was completed. In 1928 the Cloister officially opened for business, a vision come true for Howard E. Coffin, Ohio auto magnate and founder of the Hudson Motor Company.
Since its inception, the resort has always been under one management, the Sea Island Company, owned by the Alfred W. Jones family. Alfred W. Jones III, is currently serving as president, maintaining a tradition of over 60 years of hands-on family management. He succeeds his father, Alfred W. Jones, Jr. who remains chairman of the board.
Addison Mizner, well-known resort architect, was commissioned to design the original Cloister, a forty-six room hotel. Since that time, the resort has been enlarged and improved. In 2001, the Lodge at Sea Island opened with 40 guest rooms in setting reminiscent of the finest private clubs of the gilded age. Unequalled in quality or service, The Lodge quickly garnered two of the travel industry’s most prestigious awards, the AAA Five Diamond and the Mobil Five-Star Award. Its success has inspired a $350 million initiative that will include the complete rebuilding of the famed Cloister hotel.
Sea Island was selected by President Bush as the site of the 30th annual G8 Summit, held June 8-10, 2004. The Sea Island Summit brought together the leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Live Oak Commemorations
The tradition of planting live oaks to commemorate visits of presidents, royalty and dignitaries to Sea Island began in 1928 with President Calvin Coolidge during a stay at the Cloister shortly after it opened.
Other oaks honor the visits of Queen Julianna of the Netherlands and Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush. The Bushes honeymooned here in 1945, returning in 1995 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, led ceremonies for the planting of a live oak during a visit in 1994 to the world-renowned resort with her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher.
As part of birthday celebration honoring the 100th birthday (May, 1988) of playwright Eugene O’Neill, a live oak was planted on Cloister grounds. O’Neill, America’s only Nobel-prize winning dramatist, lived on Sea Island from 1931 to 1936 in a cottage he and his wife, Charlotta Monterey, had built. Here O’Neill wrote his only comedy, “Ah, Wilderness!”