Cumberland Island National Seashore | TABBY HOUSE

Tabby House at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Tabby House at Cumberland Island National Seashore

The Tabby House is located to the right of the Dungeness mansion ruins if you are standing at the entrance gate. It is one of the only intact buildings within eye sight, so it is hard to miss. Built around 1790, it is the oldest building on Cumberland Island, dating back to the Catherine Greene-Phineas Miller era of the late 1700s to mid-1800s. The original Greene-Miller Dungeness mansion stood where the ruins of the Carnegie Dungeness mansion now stand, and the Tabby House was the home of the Greene-Miller gardener. In 1900, when the Carnegies owned the property, Lucy Carnegie converted it into an office for the property managers. The National Park Service restored the building in 1993. The Tabby House is not open to the public.

Tabby House is a name given in modern times—the original name, if there ever was one, has long been forgotten. The name comes from the material known as tabby, a common building material used in the southern coastal areas. Made of sand, crushed seashells, water, and ash, tabby is a form of concrete that was used by early Spanish settlers. It is easy to spot due to the visible shells in the exposed walls, though the walls were often finished with lime putty to give them a smooth surface.

To the right of the Tabby House is a pergola built in 1885 by the Carnegies as part of their garden. It is also of tabby construction.

Pergola from the Carnegie era (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Pergola from the Carnegie era (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

To the right of the pergola is a large field that leads to a private residence. Visitors are asked to keep out of this area. A small house on the property stands where Thomas Carnegie Jr.’s mansion, The Cottage, once stood. In 1949, The Cottage was in poor condition, suffering from termite damage among many things, when it was burned down by Thomas’s son, Thomas III. Nobody lost any sleep over its destruction, for it was slated to be closed anyway due to the expenses of upkeep. In the early 1950s the ruins were removed and this small house was built. It is now used as the home of select park personnel.

A private residence is west of the Carnegie pergola on Cumberland Island

A private residence is west of the Carnegie pergola on Cumberland Island

View east towards Dungeness from the former Cottage location on Cumberland Island

View east towards Dungeness from the former Cottage location on Cumberland Island

Private residence at the Dungeness area of Cumberland Island National Seashore

Private residence at the Dungeness area of Cumberland Island National Seashore

There are a few old building foundations in this area along with what looks to be curbs that perhaps once marked some sort of sidewalk.

Curbs mark a long, lost path

Curbs mark a long, lost path???

Building foundations near the old Cottage site on Cumberland Island

Building foundations near the old Cottage site on Cumberland Island

The home and a few other buildings are located at the western most point on the Dungeness mansion property. The Cumberland Sound is just on the other side of the trees, which I suspect weren’t blocking the view when Thomas Jr. lived here. There are two other buildings, the larger one being a laundry building and the smaller one a garden shed.

Former laundry building and shed near the former Cottage site on Cumberland Island

Former laundry building and shed near the former Cottage site on Cumberland Island

To continue the tour, follow the dirt path that runs between the Tabby House and the Dungeness ruins. On the backside of the Tabby House is a decorative fountain, and as you walk a little farther down, a replica of a Carnegie-era statue of Mercury is on display.

Back of the Tabby House at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Back of the Tabby House at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Fountain on the back of the Tabby House on Cumberland Island

Fountain on the back of the Tabby House on Cumberland Island

Replica of a Carnegie-era statue of Mercury

Replica of a Carnegie-era statue of Mercury

On the property at the back of Dungeness Mansion are a number of buildings, most in ruins. These are not on the official Cell Phone Audio Tour, but they are quite interesting. The next stop on the National Park Planner tour has the scoop on all of the buildings.


NEXT STOP: Dungeness Mansion Grounds | PREVIOUS STOP: Dungeness Mansion


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Last updated on April 13, 2022
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