By Anna Ferguson Hall, Freelance Writer
Barbara Mayo “Boog” Candler has two very active passions that have run the thread of her life: land and history. Scratch that. Candler has three very active passions that have run the thread of her life: land, history and education.
As a long-standing member of the Jekyll Island Foundation board, and now gladly serving as the new chairman, Candler has been able to see those three elements supported and thriving.
Growing up in northern Baltimore on land her family has owned since 1762, she learned first-hand that land and history are important aspects to creating connections to home and developing character. Along with that, she served as a public and private school teacher during her distinguished career, noting that at heart, “I will always be a teacher.”
Moving her way from Baltimore to Connecticut, and later to South Carolina then to the Atlanta area, Candler has long been invested in seeing the history of her neighborhoods and communities preserved. She seeks to tell the stories the dirt beneath her feet have seen and instill in younger generations the value that historic grounds hold—not only monetarily, but also emotionally and personally.
So, when she discovered Jekyll Island as refuge from her busy ‘educator’ life, and after being invited five years ago to serve on the Foundation board, she never gave it a second thought – YES! This was an opportunity to further years of classroom education and help the Foundation preserve the history, nature, and legacies held on the island, and to display this information to guests and residents for decades to come.
“The special thing about Jekyll is, it is all about its history,” she said. “On Jekyll, you can see history. You can touch it, you can feel it, and you can learn from it.”
In that regard, Candler has her sights set on one major project the Foundation is partnering with the Jekyll Island Authority to support. The Jekyll Island Museum is an opportune place for guests and residents alike to understand the centuries of unique history held on the beaches, in the buildings, and throughout the greenspaces of the island. Creating a new, more modern and updated museum is currently the board’s main focus. Already the Foundation has raised over $3M through the MOSAiC campaign to renovate and repurpose the building has the ability to become.
Situated in the National Historic Landmark District, the museum is housed in what was once the Jekyll Island Club Stables, built in 1897. The current museum hasn’t seen any substantial upgrades in more than 30 years, meaning the facelift the MOSAiC campaign will provide is certainly needed.
“To say the museum is outdated is being polite,” she said with a laugh.
But soon, Candler and her fellow board members will not have to be polite about the structure. They will simply be proud. Under the MOSAiC campaign, the museum will become a more open, interpretive space, with heat and air conditioning, and more of the treasured historic items currently held in storage on display. Once complete, the MOSAiC will provide an extension of the classroom for students of any ages, sparking an inspiration for guests and inviting them to become ambassadors for the island and protectors of its past, present and future.
“I am really excited about this,” Candler said. “This renovation is no longer something on a wish list. It is happening. It is in the working stages now and we hope to break ground soon. Serving on the board has and continues to be an incredible opportunity to support Jekyll Island, and the MOSAiC Project is a reflection of the people’s passion for this island. As my daddy would say, “We’ve all got a story to tell.” Now, on Jekyll, we can tell that story with a renewed sense of pride.
When not pursing her passions on Jekyll, Candler spends her time exploring nature, reading, playing tennis, sewing and participating in the Southeastern Flower Show, among a host of other community endeavors. She lives in Atlanta, where she is married to Samuel Candler, and they have three children and five grandchildren.