The Squares of Brunswick

signature squares

This post debuted about a year ago.  In light of the recent blessing of the fleet that Brunswick celebrated over the weekend, I thought it was worth reposting.  I first heard about the Signature Squares project last year when a friend was driving me through the downtown historic district of Brunswick.  I have always been fascinated by the idea of rebuilding the historic parts of cities, unearthing the past and renewing what was into something that is fresh and new.  My friend mentioned Julie Martin as the contact person responsible for the project called Signature Squares of Brunswick.  I made a mental note to find the website and make a connection.  Months passed, life happened and I did not move forward with this plan.


Jekyll Square

Jekyll Square

When I began this blog in February, Julie’s name came up again and again.  I finally connected with her last week and made an appointment to get together and discuss Signature Squares.

Hanover Square

Hanover Square

I arrived at Julie’s lovely historic home that sits across the street from Hanover Square.  This is the site of the first renewal project.  A project that began with a group of people living in the area exploring the possibilities and asking “why not?”.  One of the members of the group, Jeremy Spencer, is a well known landscape architect.  He became actively involved in planning the restoration of Hanover Square, put together a viable plan and helped the group move forward.  Julie spent countless hours with the people at the Piedmont Park Conservancy in Atlanta and those involved with the Project for Public Spaces in New York City.

Machen Square

Machen Square

An initial board formed and strategic partnerships were put in place.  Half of the necessary funds were raised privately and the City of Brunswick matched the amount.  That was twelve years ago.  Since then restoration has been completed on several of the fourteen squares in the downtown historic area, but many are left to be renewed.   Jeremy Spencer, Julie Martin and countless others have worked tirelessly to finish these projects to perfection.  They work in partnership with the Jekyll Island Authority, Georgia Power and the City of Brunswick as the project continues to grow.

blythe square

The process of renewal doesn’t just happen  overnight.  The past, present and future are taken into consideration before any work is done.  Groups meet to decide what will best serve the neighborhood the squares presently exist in.  Will it be an area within a commercial setting, or is it a place in a neighborhood where families will meet to relax, visit and play?  None of the projects begin without full funding.


Volunteers do all of the planting of new vegetation in the squares.  They join together out of love for their homes and the history of Brunswick.  Raising the necessary funds to keep these projects alive and growing is part of the process.  Currently, meetings are being planned to expedite upcoming events that enable the Signature Squares project to continue.  It’s not that it takes millions of dollars, but it does take a consistent cash flow to pay to have the heavy work done and to purchase the plants, benches and other components that go into making each square unique.

Hanover Square

Hanover Square

James Oglethorpe planned the city of Savannah around the same kind of network of squares located throughout the central historic district.  These squares have all been renovated and now provide shady parks in which residents and visitors alike can enjoy sitting on a bench, listening to music and people watching.  Brunswick’s squares, though different, can become such places as well.  The squares that have been completed are frequented by families living in the area as well as visitors seeking historic information and a place to sit and relax under the shade of huge live oak trees.  The squares provide a common “green” area in which people can congregate.

Machen Square

Machen Square

The continued work on downtown Brunswick is an ongoing project.  It takes people who are interested, who have ideas and experience in the areas of urban renewal, historic preservation as well as the economics involved.  The raw material is there and key people are emerging.  I have a vision of what Brunswick can become, the Signature Squares project is at the heart of it all.  Providing a beautiful space, restoring the history and using  or duplicating fountains and other architectural features creates a bond with the past that will enable movement into the future.

I’ll be posting about upcoming events and information regarding both Signature Squares of Brunswick and the renewal of the downtown area as things progress.

On the website:, you will find more valuable information and history.  One of the quotes I found there really speaks to the work that is being done:

“Make no little plans.  They have no magic to stir men’s blood….make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” – Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) 

Contact information is available on the website.  Please visit the site, read about the project and become involved if you feel a call to.  Be a part of ongoing history!








4 Responses

  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Says:

    How inspiring!! There is so much that can be done — the Blessing of the Fleet is a yearly celebration but not as many people come as could come. I don’t know if it’s a parking issue. When we’re on SSI we listen to the talk radio in the a m and I know some callers were saying how much they want to come to downtown Brunswick but can’t find places to park. Perhaps this can be addressed. I too love it when they restore rather than tear down.

  2. Bob Allison Says:

    This is a most worthy effort. Downtown Brunswick deserves to bloom again. There are some great restaurants and fun shops for people who want a mall alternative. Good luck to all involved!

  3. Melissa Says:

    I am hoping to be part of helping Brunswick improve and growing. There really are some excellent restaurants and a great little art gallery….and The Ritz, of course. Being aware and getting involved are key

  4. Harold Michael Harvey Says:

    Great piece!

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