The 1924 Spanish Revival style Torrey-West Home on Ossabaw Island is shown in this view from its side.

The 1924 Spanish Revival style Torrey-West Home on Ossabaw Island is shown in this photo taken on October 26, 2020.

Credit: Orlando Montoya

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will spend $7 million to renovate a historic home on state-owned Ossabaw Island, south of Savannah.

The non-profit Ossabaw Island Foundation said last week that the state funding will rehabilitate the 20,000-square-foot former home of Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey-West.

She was the island matriarch who engineered the turnover of Georgia’s third-largest barrier island from private, family-owned land to public land in the 1970s.

The move saved Ossabaw Island from development.

The foundation’s Elizabeth DuBose said she’s excited about the funding since it will allow the organization to expand its programs on the island.

“Not only is the state preserving this treasure, which is 100 years old this year, in addition to that, it’s going to be able to be re-used just like Mrs. West used it during her time, sharing the island with the public,” DuBose said.

West died in 2021 at the age of 108.

As part of the deal that shepherded the island into state ownership in the 1970s, the iconic Spanish Revival home that her parents had built on the island in 1924 remained privately owned until her death.

The large main room of the Torrey-West Home is shown, with antique furniture pieces and a desk with several photos on it.

The Ossabaw Island Foundation will remove and store all of the furniture and household objects acquired over the years from the Torrey-West family. Furnishing the rehabilitated buildings will be the foundation's responsibility and will include the original Torrey-West family items. The furnishings are shown as they were on January 29, 2015.

Credit: Orlando Montoya

Now several years since her death, the funding secures a future for the historic building, which DNR will take lead in renovating.

Work is expected to begin in late fall 2024 and take two years to complete.

The foundation’s DuBose will serve as an advisor to the project.

“This is an exciting time for Ossabaw Island and for the foundation as we launch into this important partnership,” said Leigh Goff, the foundation’s board chairman.

Ossabaw Island is a largely uninhabited state heritage preserve, reachable only by boat, either through the DNR or the Ossabaw Island Foundation.

To learn more about visiting Ossabaw and the island’s history, click this link.