Pin Point is about life. Life from the sea. Life in the hearts of families, friends and community. It is about endurance of a culture that has faced the tests of time, war and peace — and has found a way to remember. Pin Point is about place. More importantly, Pin Point is about people.
The Pin Point Heritage Museum near Savannah is a destination that celebrates all of this and provides an experience of understanding the past as well as witnessing the ongoing life that a community can provide.
The museum is a unique destination not just for what it preserves physically but also for the impact of memory and life that can be experienced now when you visit. More than a museum with walls and exhibits dedicated to what once was, Pin Point Heritage Museum is a doorway into a life that still is: a loving, sheltering seaside community.
Part of the Coastal Heritage Society network, the museum beautifully preserves an authentic oyster and crab factory and celebrates the lives of the workers and families who thrived on the bounty of the sea and the opportunity it provided. Located on the margin of land and sea as Whitfield Avenue emerges from the Savannah treeline on the way to Skidaway Island, it is close to Bluffton and a very easy place to visit.
The museum preserved the oyster factory life and provides us with a clear picture of the hard work and dedication it takes to harvest the bounty of the sea. More importantly, the lives of those who contributed to its existence — and the bond of the community that served it — are there to be heard and experienced. A visit brings the past, present and future together and will remind you of the richness of coastal life.
The Pin Point community was settled by freed slaves after the Civil War. They sought to survive not just in a community recovering from war but in the harshness of life of working the sea. This Gullah/Geechee culture, built on the bonds of family, faith and pride, soon had formed a strong presence with roots that endure today.
In time, the A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory was built on the point and soon the world came to know the delicacies of what skilled African-American hands pulled from the creeks and canned in the busy buildings. Economic ups and downs marked the ebb and flow of the factory’s profit and the destiny of the families who lived and worked at Pin Point. In time, the business closed and as people found work inland and elsewhere, it seemed that Pin Point would become like so many other coastal communities facing the prospect of development and diaspora.
But the preservation of the oyster and crab factory provided an opportunity for visitors to experience this life and to foster the preservation of the community that remains.
When you visit the museum, you will hear their stories, witness the community’s faith and spirit and come to understand better what life was once like on the coast for so many. The factory buildings now house the museum with interpretive exhibits and reflect the deep story of a people.
One of the noted sons of Pin Point is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of many descendants who have ranged far and wide and made an impact on the world. Cultural events and workshops are regularly held atthe museum where Gullah/Geechee culture can be experienced and the unique memory of this place can be understood and celebrated.
You will come away with the feeling that your life is now a part of such a wonderful place and people, too.
Bluffton resident Matt Richardson enjoys taking day trips with his family and exploring the Lowcountry. To see more pictures from his adventures, go to www.Flickr.com and search on the username “greenkayak73.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pin Point Heritage Museum is 45 minutes from Bluffton and can provide a day or several hours of enjoyment and fascination. It is a part of the Coastal Heritage Society network of museums. Cultural programs and workshops are often hosted there and it has an active volunteer staff ready to provide guided tours.
To get there, take SC 170 to U.S. and across the Savannah River. Take I-516 to East Derenne Ave crosstown to the Truman Parkway. At 4 miles, take the Whitfield Ave spur (Ga 204) left toward Skidaway Island. Pin Point is at 1.8 miles on the right. The museum entrance is within 100 feet of the highway.
The museum is located at 9924 Pin Point Ave., and is open 9-5 Thursday-Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children. Discount combination tickets are available through the Coastal Heritage Museum system.
Call 912-355-0064 Or visit www.chsgeorgia.org/phm for more information.