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Storm takes out piece of Liberty history

Attracting tourists

POSTED: September 13, 2017 9:07 a.m.
Photo provided/

Even the brickwork for the Sunbury Lodge’s fireplace was blown over, leaving just the foundation jutting out of the water among its pilings.

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While reports of damage from Hurricane Irma are sparse, the storm did claim a piece of history, the Sunbury Lodge.

“It’s gone,” Isle of Wight resident Chris Arnold said Tuesday. “All that’s left is the pilings and you can see the foundation for the fireplace and chimney.”

Arnold is a caretaker for Gene Brogden of Richmond Hill, the lodge’s current owner.

Longtime Liberty County resident Jimmy Smith, who is a former county commission chairman, said he toured the area Tuesday morning.

“The lodge is just a pile of rubble laying in the boat ramp right now,” he said.

Smith recalls first visiting the lodge in 1950-51 to watch a speed boat race.

“The lodge was open before I was much of anything,” Smith said, adding that it as a restaurant, bar and teen hangout.

In a 2013 message to the Liberty County Historical Society, Sunbury resident Elaine Maley said, “Back in the late 1940s there was a place down by what is now the public boat ramp called Sunbury Lodge. It had a restaurant, cabins for rent, swimming pool, boat rentals, boat racing events and an alligator pit.”

She said it was developed by Allen Stevens.

“Even without a paved road to Sunbury, people came from all over to visit during the season. The fact that it was seasonal was an ongoing problem for Stevens and subsequent owners who finally closed it for good in the ’60s,” Maley continued.

Smith said his Bradwell Institute Class of 1962 had its graduation party there. The business was in decline even then with various parts closing. The bar, however, lasted into the 1970s.

Arnold said he’s unsure what Brogden’s plans are. He doubted that current state and federal restrictions will allow reconstruction.

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