Preserving History: Curry-Miller-Byrd Cottage

The National Register of Historic Places is our country’s official list of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts worthy of preservation. The Georgia and National Registers provide formal recognition of a property’s architectural, historical, and/or archaeological significance. In line with the Historic Preservation Division’s (HPD) mission of promoting the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia, four new listings have been added to the Georgia and National Registers within the past few weeks. By sharing the importance of these listings, HPD hopes to encourage the preservation of historic properties through public awareness and an appreciation of the impactful roles they play in our social and economic lives.

In the early 1870s, Tybee Island developed as a coastal resort for residents of nearby Savannah. New hotels, bathhouses, dancing pavilions, summer cottages and boarding houses were constructed as the popularity of the island grew. People flocked to the resort from across the southeast, leading to the development of a boarding house district in the 1910s. With the increasing demand of visitors, boarding houses and rental cottages became available for short or extended periods, making these establishments an inexpensive alternative to the island’s higher-end hotels. 

This led to the Curry family operating one of these early boarding houses and creating the two-story Curry Inn. Located in the heart of Tybee Island’s coastal resort area in Chatham County, the inn advertised “cool and clean” rooms to rent, but a catastrophic fire in 1931 had destroyed much of the area and the Curry Inn. After the fire, the Curry family built the current, one-story boarding house cottage on the former site of their earlier inn. This cottage retains its original wood lap siding and deep wraparound porch.

After new repairs, the inn was reconverted into a one-story boarding house in 1931 with its original wood lap siding and deep wraparound porch. Concrete piers support the wood-framed building, which has a central entrance flanked by pairs of original two-over-two windows. On the façade, the porch railing features balusters in a decorative Union-Jack pattern. 

The original boarding-house floor plan is largely intact, with only minimal alterations. The cottage also retains substantial interior materials, such as original beadboard walls and ceilings; simple wooden baseboards, door frames, and window surround; and paneled interior doors.  

Throughout the historic period, the cottage helped support the island’s tourism and vacation industry with modestly priced accommodations within walking distance of the ocean and the hub of Tybee’s leisure activities. The Curry-Miller-Byrd Cottage is significant in the area of entertainment/recreation as a good and rare, intact example of a small-scale boarding house on Tybee Island. Today, it survives as the single-most intact boarding-house cottage along Izlar Avenue, and it continues to provide a more affordable alternative for the island’s middle-income visitors.  

The Curry-Miller-Byrd Cottage was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 29, 2021. The nomination was sponsored by the property owner, and nomination materials were prepared by Sarah Ward of Ward Architecture + Preservation. 

HPD’s programs include environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance. To learn more about HPD and its mission to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia, click here