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)
Fondest memory: 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!
While in Savanna, be sure to visit
Fort Pulaske: now Called Fort Pulaski National Monument
The fort is located on Cockspur Island.
Pass the junction of US 80 across Whitemarsh Island, Turner Creek, and Wilmington Island . (Tybee Road) crosses the Bull River. Near the approaches to Tybee is a turnoff (left) to the Fort
There are 25 million bricks in Fort Pulaski, which, at the time, was thought to make it indestructible. This fort faces the sea, and early in the Civil War, it was captured by Confederate troops to protect blockade runners from attack by the Union Navy.
So, the Federals made it a priority in their quest to win. They secretly hauled 36 cannons to Tybee Island and concealed the cannons in eleven batteries. By 1862, Fort Pulaski fell to the Union because they used new bullet-shaped artillery shells from more than one mile away! This incident changed the construction of forts.
Today, this pentagonal redbrick fort is maintained by the National Park Service. With its seven-foot-deep moat surrounding it, the fort is an interesting site to tour.
Fondest memory: The fort is an outstanding example of the 19th-century brick masonry fortifications constructed along the southern U.S. coast. It is built on massive pilings that are sunk deep into the salt marsh and mud. Guess who was the engineer who was in charge of its construction? None other than new graduate from West Point, Lt. Robert E. Lee!
There is a museum on the site, and they regularly give living history demonstrations.
This is a perfectly preserved National Monument and looks like a Medieval Fortress. It took 18 years to build this current structure.
I was told on the tour that there is a yearly Labor Day Encampment that features garrison life, people in period costumes, and activities of the era.
Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day: free to see the fort, but $1.00 charge in summer to see the Museum.
The U.S. Post Office has Massive Georgia marble and granite building with intricate friezes under eaves. Many architectural ideas are combined here. Notice the tower with its marble arches and intriguing details.
U.S. Customs House - 1-5 E. Bay Street
Greek revival style building designed 1848-52 by John Norris. An austere granite temple with Tower-of-the-Winds portico.
Favorite thing: 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.
I never make a trip to Savannah without finding some of the wonderful pralines which are a Southern treat that I think actually has French origins. It is brown sugar, butter and pecans - how could you beat that combination?? You can find them several places, but I like Savannah Candy Kitchen which has locations at River Street and City Market. They also have delicious chocolate fudge and other sweets and nut treats to tempt you. Indulge!
Fondest memory: Pralines -I have even asked friends who went to Savannah to bring me some back - some did!
Originally, I intended to take the Gray Line tour, which is one of several available. They advertise that tours depart every 30 minutes from the Visitor's Center and Gray Line central (free parking). The Trolley Tour is a comprehensive, fully narrated tour uninterrupted by trolley stops. Enjoy a 75-minute journey through 260 years of Savannah's history, homes and haunts with unlimited on and off privileges at 12 trolley shuttle stops within the Historic District.
In the end, I switched to Old Savannah Tours, and was very happy with them.
Note in the photo - white bumps in the street around the stop sign which appears to be farther out into the street than usual
Fondest memory: In addition to Grayline and Old Savannah, possible tours include:
• Motorcoach & Van Tours
Tours by BJ
Old Town Trolley Tours
• Sightseeing & Interpretive Guide Service
Historic Savannah Foundation Special Tours
Personalized Tours of Savannah
• Guided Walking Tours (alphabetical order)
Ghost Talk Ghost Walk
Ghosts of Savannah walking tour
The Original Savannah Walks Inc.
Risky Venture Tavern Tour
Savannah Haunted History Tours
See Savannah Walking Tour
Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Tours
Spirit of Savannah Tours
• Boat Tours
Savannah Riverboat Cruises
Standard Bay Charters
Tybee Island Adventures
• Limousine Tours
A1 Atlanta Limos
G.R.A.C.E. Limousine Service
Old Savannah Limousine Service
Southern Comfort Limousine
• Cemetery Tours
Bonaventure Cemetery Tours
• Dolphin Watching
Tybee Island Adventures
• Eco-Sensitive Tours ( Bull River Cruises from Tybee road)
• Boat, Canoe & Kayak Rentals
Captain Walt's Charters
Net Cruzr Charters
Savannah Canoe and Kayak
Favorite thing: Stop by the Lucas Theater at 32 Abercorn and see if you can find the bullet holes from a supposed drive-by shooting in prohibition times in which several people (I think 11) were killed. The bullet holes are still there, just touched up a bit to make them less noticeable.
There is a history behind Savannah's iron work and it can be seen all throughout the historic city. Just stop by fences or iron trims on the houses as you stroll through Savannah and admire the beauty of this iron work. If you are really interested, you should take a tour of the Savannah iron work.
Try this website: www.seesavannah.com/iron2.htm
Serving sizes were huge in Savannah in most of the restauratns we visited, but everything is so good that it was hard to stop eating, even when we knew we should call it quits. Come to Savannah with an appetite and take advantage of all the great restaurant serving up hefty portions of local favorites.
Fondest memory: Eating my way through the city...
Savannah is such a beautiful city to walk around. Do walk as much as possible in soak in your surrounds. Living in New York, I see many benches but never before have I had the desire to sit down on one just to ponder or soak in the atmosphere. Savannah is such a wonderful place to just take a seat and be at peace with the world. Take advantage of the benches in Savannah's parks and squares.
Fondest memory: Sunshine and blue skies can't be beat.
The Science Museum is a wonderfull place for children, with an aquarium, short trail system and picnic tables. Can be added to visit to the Skidaway Island State park ( camping, trails, pool. or a walk in Wormsloe
Favorite thing: Never before have I seen so many monuments in a U.S. city outside of Washington, D.C. They seem to dole out monuments to every Tom, Dick and Harry. I'd hate to have lived in 1700s Savannah and not have a monument. It seems like you'd have to have been a real loser not to warrant a monument.
Favorite thing: Never have I seen a city with so many small beautiful parks. In the downtown area between the river and Hall Street there are about 25 manicured parks. I picked a perfect time to visit as all the flowering trees were in bloom. The historic buildings give Savannah a certain oldworld charm, but for me what truly makes Savannah a stand out city is its parks.
Favorite thing: Either take a bike, trolley, car or carraige ride, but you must go to the Historic District of Savannah. It's a wonderful place full of great photo shots at every turn, so bring your camera and lots of batteries. Great shops all along here, any thing you could want. Cheap to park, about 50 cent to $1.00 per hour and right on the water.
Favorite thing: Business used to be conducted from the decks of ships and wharfs, so cotton factors used to set up shop here on the W. side of Bay Street. These were the 1st offices and warehouses and the walk is named after the brokers (factors) who made this area wealthy initially. This really isn't my fondest memory, but it's a pretty street and you can't miss it if you're downtown at all. It's the way to get down to River Street.