St. Catherine's Island
St. Catherines is a 23-square-mile island with a total acreage of 14,640 acres and 11 miles of natural beaches. The total upland acreage is 6,870 acres.
Once the capital of the Guale Indian Nation, St. Catherines was also the site of Santa Catalina de Guale, the first Spanish mission in coastal Georgia (1566). The first book written in Georgia was an Indian grammar book written at St. Catherines by a Jesuit friar in 1568. Button Gwinnett, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, bought the island in 1765 and lived there until 1771. His 19th century family home and slave cabins are still standing.
St. Catherines is currently owned by the private non-profit J. Nobel Foundation. Since 1968, the St. Catherines Foundation, along with the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Zoological Society, has conducted archaeological and zoological research and rare and endangered wildlife breeding there. Breeding colonies of nearly extinct species from several continents have been established, including cockatoos, gazelles, Madagascar turtles, heartbeests, and parrots.
Visitation to the island is by private boat and by invitation only, due to the sensitive nature of the research being conducted there.