St Catherine's Island

  • Also Known As: Santa Catalina

  • Vicinity: 10 mi off the GA coast between St Catherines Sound and Sapelo Sound
  • Type: Island
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Historic District

Mission Santa Catalina de Guale on St Catherines Island was the northernmost outpost in Spanish Florida between 1587 and 1680, and one of the most important Spanish missions in what is now the southeastern United States until 1684. For over a century, Catholic friars and Spanish soldiers lived with Guale Indians on the wooded sand dune and salt marsh island that is part of Georgia's Sea Islands. After the Spanish abandoned the island, Mary Musgrove, a Muskogee leader, claimed the island and then Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, called it home. - NPS



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1566/00/00 Pedro Menendez de Aviles Governor Pedro Menendez de Aviles leads an expedition to St Catherines Island where he stations 30 soldiers. They initially call the island "Guale", after the people who lived there.
1568/00/00 Society of Jesus Custodians Jesuits establish Mission Santa Catalina de Guale. From 1602 to 1680, settlement was the center of the Guale missionary province of Spanish Florida.
1573/00/00 Franciscan Custodians Franciscans arrive at Santa Catalina to take over operating Mission Santa Catalina de Guale.
1597/00/00 A Guale revolt pushes the Spanish out of Santa Catalina for a brief time in 1597. Reinforcements from St Augustine suppress the rebellion and reinstated the mission. Spanish soldiers, Franciscans and Christian Guale Indians rebuild the mission.
1765/00/00 Button Gwinnett Owner After the death of Muskogee (Creek) leader, Mary Musgrove, her husband sells St Catherines Island to Button Gwinnett. Musgrove had owned the island since the Spanish abandonment.
1893/08/27 The 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane causes catastrophic destruction by sweeping seawater across the entire island. Only one person who remained on the island survived, and all buildings were destroyed.
1943/00/00 Edward John Noble Owner Edward John Noble?buys St Catherines Island.
1968/00/00 St Catherines Island is transferred to the Edward J Noble Foundation. A partnership between the foundation and American Museum of Natural History in NYC initiated archeological research at the island in the 1970s that carried into the mid-1990s.

Data »

Particulars for St Catherine's Island:
Historic Use Ceremonial site
Cultural Affiliation Creek
Structure Type Fortification
Cultural Affiliation Guale
Area of Significance Historic - aboriginal
Area of Significance Historic and non-aboriginal
Sight Category Historic District
Criteria Historic Event
Criteria Information Potential
Physiographic feature Island
Level of Significance National
Cultural Affiliation New Spain
Criteria Person
Area of Significance Politics-government
Owner Private
Area of Significance Religion
Historic Use Religious Property
Historic Use Secondary structure
Historic Use Single dwelling
Cultural Affiliation Spanish

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration: 16th December 1969

Registry Name: St. Catherine's Island
Registry Address: 10 mi. off the GA coast between St. Catherines Sound and Sapelo Sound
Registry Number: 69000332
Resource Type: District
Owner: Private
Architect: Multiple
Architectural Style: No style listed
Area in Acres: 22265
Contributing Buildings: 20
Non-Contributing Buildings: 4
Contributing Sites: 1
Contributing Structures: 1
Other Certification: Designated National Landmark, National Landmark boundary approved
Certification: Listed in the National Register
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Historic - aboriginal, Historic and non-aboriginal, Politics-government, Religion
Applicable Criteria: Event, Person, Information Potential
Criteria Consideration: Religious property
Cultural Affiliation: Spanish, creek
Period of Significance: 1650-1699, 1600-1649, 1500-1599, 1700-1749, 1750-1799
Significant Year: 1566, 1684, 1765
Associated People: Gwinnett,Button
Historic Function: Domestic, Religion, Defense
Historic Sub-Function: Religious structure, Ceremonial site, Single dwelling, Fortification, Secondary structure
Current Function: Domestic, Landscape
Current Sub-Function: Single dwelling Conservation area

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