Originally created 09/30/03

House OKs swap of historic land



ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a land swap in which Fort Frederica National Monument will get 8.7 acres that might have been the home of Georgia's founder, while historic Christ Church Episcopal will get 6 acres for possible expansion.

The House unanimously approved the trade last week, said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who introduced the resolution. The matter must still clear the Senate, but no opposition is expected.

Oglethorpe founded the fortified town of Frederica in 1736 as the southernmost English outpost to protect colonial South Carolina from potential invasion from the Spanish in Florida. The town served its purpose in 1742, when British troops garrisoned at the fort and Scottish Highlanders from Darien, Ga., repulsed a Spanish invasion in the Battle of Bloody Marsh. The Spanish abandoned Florida a few years later, and the British left Frederica for the mainland.

Park Superintendent Mike Tennant said the National Park Service is giving up land adjacent to Christ Church property that sits behind Fort Frederica's maintenance area.

"The land we're giving up has no resources that we know of. It's outside the town site. That's why the maintenance area is over there," Mr. Tennant said.

The land the church is giving up, which it acquired in another land trade, is across Frederica Road and north of the fort, Mr. Tennant said.

"I strongly believe that this proposed exchange would benefit the U.S. in protecting and conserving significant cultural resources such as the Oglethorpe ruins," Mr. Kingston said.

The foundations and ruins of the former fort and town are a major attraction of the fort, but Mr. Tennant said some archaeological work must be done to establish whether Oglethorpe lived on the land.

"The property carries the possibility that it had Oglethorpe's house," Mr. Tennant said.