Featured article in South Island Living.
Written and styled by KathyMillerTime.
Photographs by Susan Scarborough, SmittenWithImages.
When Nan and Jim Sands first visited Amelia Island, they thought they were simply enjoying the perks of an island job interview.
Those were the days when companies wined and dined candidates. In the Spring of 1972 The Sea Pines Company came to University of Virginia and asked Jim to look at developing property in Florida. Jim and Nan had planned a career in New York but could not refuse a free trip to Florida. The Sea Pines’ general manager, Frank Brumley and family, entertained the Sands in his home and they stayed in the guest house next door… the only houses on the Plantation, built with care and decorated with antiques and lovely collections. Brumley entertained with sophistication and a savvy laid back style that was immediately engaging. He also had a solid vision of how the island would develop. It did not take long for Jim and Nan to fall in love with the island. They were in their 20’s and full of imagination of how it could be with nature being the most important feature. Charles Fraser, President of the Sea Pines Company, had already begun developing Hilton Head and was anxious to start Amelia Island Plantation. He formed a team of young and enthusiastic people who worked hard to create what we all enjoy today.
Both Jim and Nan are originally from Macon, Georgia. Jim grew up in Macon and Nan has a large extended family there, but grew up all over the world as her father was in the Air Force. Jim graduated from Georgia Tech, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy and graduated from University of Virginia Graduate Business School. Nan attended Queens College in North Carolina and graduated with a degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia.
Nan and Jim have two sons, Jay and Andrew who grew up on the island. In Nan’s words, “we raised our two boys here on the island with the help of a close knit group of friends who had also been recruited here. We had each other but no family on this beautiful island. We all lived in homes or duplexes on the south end that the company built for us as there was nothing else…..but our dreams of what it could be. This close knit group started the Montessori School fashioned after the one on Hilton Head Island for our children. We started the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation, volunteered in the schools, churches and many charities. We were always proud of the historic town of Fernandina Beach and feel it has complimented the resort end of the island. We have belonged to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church for over 40 years.”
The Sands built two homes on the Amelia Island Plantation, the first one on Sea Marsh Road on the golf course where they lived for 10 years. Their second one featured here is on Red Cedar Road on the marsh and has been their home for 33 years.
Again in Nan’s words, “We have always wanted to live on the marsh and bought our lot as soon as we saw it. Our real estate agent drove us down a sandy dirt road with no other houses, refused to get out of the car…”too many snakes”…but we did (get out of the car) and knew it was for us!”
The Sands home is stunning, both inside and out! The Sands did not want a typical contemporary home which was the norm at the time of construction. They wanted an island home with traditional values. They found their style on a trip to Bermuda. “We took a tour of historic homes and found the style we wanted…a two story tabby house with arched windows, Mexican tile, verandas, cove molding and a vaulted cedar ceiling which we put in Jim’s study. We used 18th century bricks for the back and family room steps which our brick mason had collected over the years from the city of Fernandina.”
The charm begins as you meander down the driveway into their paradise.
The creeping fig flanking beautiful arched windows… the sunlight from the marsh peeping through the beveled glass front door… the iron gate leading to the side yard and back yard…
the stunning view of the marsh…
the canopied awnings over the upper and lower verandahs, spanning the entire back of the house…roses and hydrangeas getting ready to bloom…herbs in their pots in a side spot…
Their home has pretty much stayed the same over the 33 years…They have decorated with family antiques and ones collected over 49 years of marriage. My favorite story is best told by Nan, “we like to tell the story of the family secretary in our living room which survived a stage coach ride from Knoxville, Tenn. to Macon, Georgia escaping Union forces.” (From my home town of Knoxville to their home town, Macon).
The Mexican tile has chicken, dog and cat prints to the delight of their grandchildren. The dining room chairs came from Villa Las Palmas in Fernandina when the original owners sold their home. One set of glass French doors came from Nan’s mother’s home in Macon, Georgia. The beveled glass front door was hand carved by an artist in Kingsland , Georgia. The two wood burning fireplaces have antique mantels they collected in Atlanta.
Jim is currently President of Summer Beach Properties. He was the first Treasurer of the Amelia Island Company. The company was doing well and would have survived had not Charles Fraser purchased Palmas del Mar in Puerto Rico, eventually causing the AIC to fail. Jim then went to work for Atlantic Bank with the sole purpose of selling Sawgrass, which he did to Arvida. The Sands thought they were moving to Atlanta but were approached by a group of Jacksonville investors who had bought some of the Plantation property and called it Summer Beach. It had a golf course and a few homes and condos. Jim was told if he could help bring The Ritz Carlton to Summer Beach, he could develop the property around it. By shear luck a Japanese group agreed to back the development of a Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. Nan’s mother even helped entertain the group of Japanese in their home…and Nan says, “I think she was responsible for the good luck!”
Their family: Jay Sands lives in Atlanta with his two sons, James and William. He works for a digital media firm, Forty Four, as the Creative Art Director.
Andrew and Caroline Sands live on Amelia Island with their three children, Emma Kate, Bowen and Bennett. Andrew is a broker and salesman for Summer Beach Properties. Caroline owns CC Sands designing clothing and accessories.
My favorite memory of our time with the Sands…watching their family relax on the back veranda. As Nan concludes, “our most important interest is our family and sharing time with them. We know we are very blessed to live here and sit on our back veranda with family and friends overlooking the marsh and intercostal waterway.”
Many thanks to Susan Scarborough for fabulous photography! As anyone with toddlers knows, it is almost impossible to capture a group photo with all participants looking straight at the camera.
It also reminds me how much energy one must have to keep up with active children.
Nan shared 2 favorite family recipes.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon A-1 Sauce
- 1 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet
- 3 green peppers chopped by hand
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 8 organic boneless chicken breasts
- 4 cans (16 ounces) tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3 onions, chopped
- 5 tablespoons butter
- white rice
- Condiments for toppings
- green onions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake chicken for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
- Cook green pepper in butter until soft.
- Add onions and cook until soft.
- Add flour, salt and curry . Stir until smooth.
- Add chicken stock, tomatoes, and spices.
- Add cooked chicken cut in pieces.
- Serve over rice.
By Nan Sands via KathyMillerTime
Recipe Printed from www.kathymillertime.com
Watch for upcoming stories from my summer travels. Another trip to Vermont and Maine!
Come celebrate with me. I’ll save you a seat at the table.