Typical Southern Mansions
Savannah's historic district is adjacent to the Nantucket Clipper's dock on River Street. Savannah brims with southern cultural allure, drawing throngs in search of history, art, architecture and tradition, with emphasis on great houses, black heritage, ghosts and the Civil War era.
As I said in the introduction, Savannah is a joy for an architectural buff because much of the visual charm of the city's historic district is a result of the impressive 18th and 19th century styles of architecture which have been restored and preserved in cottages, churches, mansions, and public buildings.
I'll just give you a few examples of the different styles I saw and recognized.
The best example of the earliest Georgian period is the Davenport House (1790).
It is located on the northwest corner of the Columbia Square. It is a Federal-style brick building with wrought iron touches. This beautiful home was almost destroyed in 1955 because, at that time, the home was derelict. Most people feel that this near incident was the catalyst for Savannah's historic preservation movement. (Located at 324 East State Street, 912-236-8097.)
In the early 1800s, Savannah was a prosperous city, and this coincides with the Regency Period that adds grand flourishes to the Georgian sensibilities such as oval rooms, high ceilings, intricately carved moldings, and great marble fireplaces. The Owens-Thomas House is a grand example. The Owens-Thomas House is located on Oglethorpe Square at Abercorn Street. The National Trust for Historic Preservation calls this home, "Savannah's most sophisticated house, then and now." Today It's operated as a museum by the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. (124Abercorn Street, 912-233-9743) The next period of architecture was called Greek Revival and includes large colonnaded entrances and grand staircases associated with Southern plantation architecture. Many public buildings conform to this style.
The Victorian Era revived row houses of a different sort, constructed with brick but without the delicate ornamentation of the Georgian period. Also, many wooden-frame houses with "gingerbread" accents fit this style. The 1886 Cotton Exchange remains as an example of this time period.
Different ethnic groups who settled in the city also added to the interesting architecture. For instance, Wrought-iron balcony rails were brought to the city by the French who came to Savannah after fleeing slave rebellions in Haiti. The side-of-the-house gallery entrances came from Barbados, and peaked roofs came from the German Jews and Salzburg Protestants who were among the original settlers.
The Massie Heritage Interpretation Center has exhibits concerning the city's architecture. (207 E. Gordon St, 912-651-7380)
OK, Architectural Buffs, come visit Savannah!
Savannah is a steamy romantic city so it's nice to have someone to stroll hand in hand with. I never stopped on my many trips north from Florida to New Jersey but this year I'm happy that Doreen gave me good reason to do so.
Savannah is home to the 2nd...
Savannah is home to the 2nd largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the U.S.!
Did you know that Savannah has forever hosted the second largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in The U.S.?
Every March 17th when it is St. Patrick's Day, the streets of the city are filled with spectators watching the parade which is an Irish tradition.
Also good to know is that many of those elegant homes in Savannah Historic District are inhabited by rich people from other parts of the world, such as France, Canada, Ireland, Norway and elsewhere in the U.S.
There are umpteen bazillion...
There are umpteen bazillion ways to get into the city. The usual channels -- air, train, bus, car -- are all available to get into Savannah. We're very proud of our (quasi) new Airport (Savannah International), but fares in and out of town can be a little pricey, and you'll still have to rent a car or take a cab to get into the city proper. Same story for the train station. It might seem like the train would be a romantic and appropriate way to get into Savannah, and it would be if the train station wasn't number one way out from town, maintaining the necessity of paying for a cab or a car rental, and number two relatively shady-looking, enough so to make you relatively uncomfortable while you're standing there with your bags waiting for your ride to wherever you're going. Driving is relatively easy, but I would recommend seriously watching any lead-foot tendencies you might have when you're getting all excited about making it to Savannah. Chatham County and Georgia State Police aggressively enforce the speed limit around here, and fines are comparatively high, so be careful.
Walking, of course, is the best way to get around once you're in the Historic District proper. Not everything is particularly close though of course, but luckily Chatham Area Transit (CAT is what you'll see it called) offers very good bus service in the downtown area, including a free shuttle in funny looking green buses that goes all over Creation and/or center city Savannah. Regular fare for other routes is 75 cents.
As for driving yourself around, you might want to limit that to a minimum where you can. Parking a car can be QUITE an adventure in the historic district, especially during the tourist season, and I'm willing to bet that parking is not exactly the kind of adventure you're looking for in Savannah. Be careful of where you park, if you manage to find a space -- the city has enough meter maids to conquer Western Europe easily, and since this is Savannah, they're very pleasant and some of them have been known to leave nice little hard candies on people's windshields on top of the tickets, but a parking ticket with a piece of candy is still a parking ticket, and you don't want them.