We had some good news this week. Governor Nathan Deal signed the FY17 Georgia state budget which includes a $3 million bond package for UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to renovate and repurpose the old Roebling cattle barn.
The circa-1947 building is in poor condition and not currently functional as laboratory, teaching or meeting space. Renovations will allow UGA Skidaway Institute to repurpose the 14,000 square foot facility to include research laboratories, a teaching laboratory and lecture space for students and community groups.
The renovated facility will become home to the Center for Coastal Hydrology and Marine Processes (CHAMP), with a focus on research and education directed toward understanding influences on coastal systems and the wise stewardship of coastal resources.
“We want to thank Governor Deal and the General Assembly, especially Representative Jesse Petrea, Senator Ben Watson and the rest of our local delegation, for their support for this project,” said UGA Skidaway Institute Executive Director Jim Sanders. “This support will allow us to put a wonderful, historic structure to work for the benefit of coastal Georgia.”
Beginning in the mid-1930s, Robert Roebling and his family operated a cattle plantation, known as Modena Plantation, on the north end of Skidaway Island. In 1968, the Roeblings donated their land to the State of Georgia, a move that spurred the establishment of Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The Roeblings constructed the barn from steel and concrete after World War II.
It was the site of the plantation’s annual cattle auctions. The Roebling’s daughter, Ellin Cochran Roebling, was married there in 1950.
Over the past 47 years, the barn has served a variety of purposes. Currently, it is used primarily for storage.