Our site of the Morningstar Youth Estate Campus was a rice, indigo and sugar plantation in the early 1800’s owned and operated by the Grant family. The ruins of the sugar mill are the best remaining example of a colonial sugar mill. The historic Altamaha Canal flows through the property and comprises its eastern boundary.
In the 1930’s the property was acquired by the State of Georgia and with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) was developed into Santo Domingo State Park. The property was long thought to be location of a Spanish mission named Santo Domingo. This is not believed to be true by modern historians.
After World War II a local resident, J. Ardell Nation, had a vision to create “Boys Estate,” an orphanage for homeless boys. Mr. Nation was given title to the land and built a program modeled after the famous “Boy’s Town.” After many years of operation Boys Estate changed its name to Youth Estate and began to accept girls as well as boys. In 1996 Morningstar assumed ownership of the property and made significant changes to the program in order to accommodate Georgia’s “most in need” Children and Youth.