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The Ossabaw Foundation was a privately funded entity that existed from 1961 until 1982. Created and funded by Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey West and her husband Clifford Bateman West, the foundation’s mission was to offer limited access to Ossabaw Island as a place for fostering creative work and ideas.

In 1960, Eleanor inherited life estate to her family’s winter home on Ossabaw Island and an undivided half interest in the island. In establishing the Ossabaw Foundation, the West’s goal was to “share the island without destroying that which makes it so special.”

The first program of The Ossabaw Foundation was called the Ossabaw Island Project (OIP) and was based in the Torrey family winter home on the island’s north end--a 20,000 square foot home known as “The Main House.”

In addition to the interdisciplinary OIP, the Ossabaw Foundation created the Genesis Project in 1970 which provided young people an opportunity to live in a near-wilderness environment and work on independent projects. Genesis was based at historic Middle Place, site of the largest Indian settlement on the island and later the site of a prosperous antebellum cotton plantation.

Professional research was also encouraged and supported by the Ossabaw Foundation, funding ground breaking research in many scientific disciplines including primatology, animal ecology and archeology. The Ossabaw Foundation was also committed to encouraging public use and education programs on the island. High schools, colleges and universities from around the country came to Ossabaw to study and learn.

In 1982 the Ossabaw Island Project and the Genesis Project folded due to lack of funding. In 1994 the private Ossabaw Foundation was replaced by The Ossabaw Island Foundation (TOIF) a not-for-profit 501-c-3 corporation. TOIF works in partnership with the State of Georgia to inspire, promote and manage exceptional educational, cultural and scientific programs on Ossabaw Island.


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Predecessor of The Ossabaw Is. Foundation