Cumberland Island National Seashore | THE RECREATION BUILDING

Recreation Building ruins in 2022 (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Recreation Building ruins in 2022 (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

The sixth stop on the Cell Phone Audio Tour of the Dungeness historical area at Cumberland Island National Seashore is the Recreation Building, which is located on the left side of Dungeness Mansion. Other than the mansion itself, this is the largest structural ruin around, so you cannot miss it. The building was L-shaped, with the longer section of the L holding various rooms for recreational purposes, including an indoor, heated swimming pool, while the shorter segment of the L was the apartment of Frank Carnegie, one of Lucy Carnegie’s two bachelor sons. The house has slowly been falling apart. Walls remained when I first visited in 2016. Nothing is left standing but the fireplace chimney in 2022.

Frank Carnegie home on Cumberland Island in 2016

Frank Carnegie home on Cumberland Island in 2016

Frank Carnegie home on Cumberland Island in 2022

Frank Carnegie home on Cumberland Island in 2022

Lucy referred to the building as the “pool house,” but the Carnegie boys and their friends called it “The Casino.” The name “Recreation Building” is one bestowed upon it in modern times, and it makes the place sound like a YMCA gymnasium. In reality, it was just another mansion used for indoor recreation purposes and included the aforementioned swimming pool, a steam room, a billiard room, a gun room, and guest bedrooms. In addition, the Carnegie doctor had an office in one of the turret rooms (two turrets flanked the front of the building).

Recreation Building on Cumberland Island

Recreation Building on Cumberland Island

Recreation Building's indoor swimming pool

Recreation Building’s indoor swimming pool

Built in 1896 for the entire family to enjoy, it became the de facto clubhouse for the Carnegie boys and their bachelor friends to hang out and party in, which is why they called it The Casino. Like many buildings on the property, it became dilapidated due to the Carnegie children and their heirs not being able to afford its upkeep. The main part of the building was in poor shape by the 1980s and stood falling apart until at least 2011, at which point it looked similar to what was left of the Frank Carnegie apartment in 2016. Due to being a hazard, the National Park Service eventually removed all of the wood and other portions that threatened to collapse, leaving only the chimney and foundation. When I visited in 2022 I discovered that the chimney had also since been removed.

Recreation Building ruins in 2016 (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Recreation Building ruins in 2016 (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Turret room foundation of the Recreation Building at Dungeness (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Turret room foundation of the Recreation Building at Dungeness (Cumberland Island National Seashore)

Pool area of the Recreation Building at Dungeness on Cumberland Island

Pool area of the Recreation Building at Dungeness on Cumberland Island


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


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Last updated on April 13, 2022
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