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Forward Brunswick was excited to complete the Liberty Brunswick Project in 2023 by planting 99 trees throughout the city to celebrate the people of Brunswick and the cultural impacts of the Liberty Shipyard. The number 99 recognizes the 85 Liberty Ships and 14 Knot Ships constructed during World War II at the J.A. Jones Shipyard.

Historic Preservation: Honor the past

Each site will include signage depicting the rich, diverse stories of how the shipyard shaped the Brunswick community during WWII. Themes will include:

  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Economic Impact
  • Unified Brunswick
  • Entertainment & Culture
  • Legacy

Beautification: Pride in the present

Imagine how 99 trees will transform the urban environment! In addition to aesthetic benefits, trees improve air quality, provide food, reduce heat islands, and promote physical and mental health. Liberty Brunswick Project will create a sense of ownership, connection, and community pride. Tree will be planted in public spaces such as parks, squares, rights-of-way, public housing, and school properties.

Green Infrastructure: Hope for the future

Liberty Brunswick Project will “rethink runoff” by providing green solutions for managing stormwater runoff in city neighborhoods experiencing localized flooding and poor stormwater management. The addition of green infrastructure will provide “tree equity” to neighborhoods currently in need of vegetation to improve quality-of-life.

Find Our Trees

The United States entered World War II in December 1941, largely unprepared for the global conflict determining the fate of democracy. The City of Brunswick, like communities across the nation, quickly stood up to do its part. In March of 1942, just three short months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Maritime Commission awarded a contract to Brunswick Marine Construction Corporation to build a shipyard on the Brunswick River with enough slips to build six vessels at a time. The shipyard was purpose-built for Liberty Ships, a new class of cargo vessel designed to be constructed quickly and cheaply using prefabricated parts.

The need for more cargo vessels was dire. The Allies were losing the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. German submarines, U-boats, prowled the seas in groups known as wolfpacks. Their aim was to prevent vital supplies from making it to Europe, and they accomplished their mission, causing massive losses of cargo and Merchant Mariners’ lives. The waters off the east coast of the U.S. were among the most dangerous in the entire world. The 2,710 Liberty ships built in 18 shipyards across the country, including Brunswick, literally turned the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Beyond the effect the Liberty ships had to the war effort itself, what eventually became known as the J.A. Jones Shipyard here in Brunswick transformed the entire community. Over the course of the war the shipyard employed 16,000 individuals, at much higher wages than were typical for most of the area. While some workers came from other areas of the country, eighty percent were from towns throughout Georgia, especially farming communities. Nationwide and here in Brunswick the demand for a much larger workforce granted women and African Americans the opportunity to work in the defense industry. While the pay and conditions were not equal between women and men, Black people and White people, the opportunity to work in wartime industry itself was new and exciting, especially here in the South.

The shipyard operated day and night. Bells announcing the end of a shift could be heard throughout the downtown district, as a subsequent rush of workers flowed down Newcastle Street to look for a bite to eat or to get in line to go see a movie at the Bijou Theater. Further down in Selden Park, African Americans would gather for concerts and dances in the former school buildings. There were so many new residents in the city that it was difficult to even find a place to sleep, leading to long-distance buses traveling from interior counties and the construction of entire neighborhoods and apartment complexes of wartime housing. The massive influx of workers transformed the once-sleepy town of Brunswick into a bustling city.

Many new hires were trained for only a week before they were placed on the job. Even still, the shipyard soon became known for its committed workforce and effective management, consistently winning awards for outstanding production and safety. In two and half years, Brunswick’s J.A. Jones Shipyard built 99 cargo ships: 85 Liberty ships and 14 fuel tankers, known as “Knot” ships. Though only remnants of the J.A. Jones Shipyard physically remain today, the changes the massive workforce and their herculean efforts brought to Brunswick are not only remembered, but also still visible today.

We thank our partners helping to plan and implement this initiative:

  • City of Brunswick
  • GP Cellulose
  • Live Oak Garden Club
  • Brunswick African American Cultural Center
  • City of Brunswick Public Works
  • City of Brunswick Tree Board
  • Coastal Georgia Historical Society
  • Coastal Greenery
  • College of Coastal Georgia
  • Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation
  • Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Golden Isles Fund for Trees
  • Glynn Environmental Coalition 
  • Keep Golden Isles Beautiful
  • Sandy & Hank Linginfelter Family Fund
  • Typebird Creative
  • UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
  • Veterans of Foreign War