Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church: On Calhoun Square at East Gordon and Abercorn this 1890 Methodist church commemorates John Wesleywho actually founded Methodism here in Georgia.
Christ Episcopal Church
Located on Johnson Square down from City Hall, this was the first church in the colony. Its current sanctuary was built in 1838.
Congregation Mickve Israel Temple
This imposing structure on Monterey Square is the oldest congregation now practicing Reform Judaism in the United States. It was founded in 1733 in Savannah by a group of Jews largely of Spanish-Portuguese extraction. The congregation built the first Jewish synagogue in Georgia in 1820, and the present synagogue in 1878 (this one is a former Christian church, which is ironic)
The First Baptist Church and First Bryan Baptist Church are two halves of the oldest African-American Baptist congregation in North America (1773).
The First Baptist Church (Montgomery St., facing Franklin Sq.; present building 1861) is thought to be one of the oldest black congregations in America. It was begun by a slave named Andrew Bryan in 1788. He was pastor until his death in 1812. Members who split from this church formed the First Bryan Baptist Church (575 West Bryan Street), and an original frame structure was replace in 1873 by the brick building of today.
Fondest memory: I like the fact that many of Savannah's congregations date back to the city's founding which was 1733. The ones that I have listed above still remain in use today...now that is amazing.
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!
With so much tree cover over the city, I imagine Tybee Island is a real treat for the people of Savannah. It's about a 20 minute drive outside the city...lots of summer homes, mud flats, and an entertainment strip...loads of hotels and motels.... typical summer playground.
The part we found the best was the beach. It's a beautiful stretch of sugary sand with dunes, a pavillion, a board walk and plenty of room to stretch out or skip through the water.
Unfortunately January isn't the best time to visit. Hot weather probably brings a zillion tourists and a lot of partying all over the island.
The sunset was excellent.
There is also a Tybee Island Lighthouse Station & Tybee Museum which might be interesting to see. We didn't take the time for it... the weather didn't lend itself to summertime actiivities.
At the restored Central of Georgia Railroad Station, you will find the Savannah Visitors Center. This is a great place to begin because it provides all that you will need to explore the historic district. You may wish to rent audiotape tours or do as we did and pick up free walking-tour-maps, metro-area maps and guides, lots of brochures, and discount coupons for attractions. For $1.00, you are able to see a very good slide show which introduces the city sights and the history of Savannah. It runs periodically throughout the day.
It's another place where the people are quite knowledgeable and willing to answer any and all questions if at all possible.
While you are there, go to the adjacent train shed to see the Savannah History Museum where you can see a multimedia presentation and an 1890 locomotive. Admission fee is about $3.00.
Fondest memory: I was quite impressed with the kindness of the people who worked at the Savannah Visitors Center. They never rushed us or acted impatient with our mundane questions.
It sets the tone of the city to be treated so well. The enthusiasm that was shown was also refreshing.
Address: 301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (formerly W. Broad Street)
As I mention elsewhere the city seems to identify its neighborhoods by which square is the closest to it. In this case, we found several interesting shops and cafes near the Chippewa Square. There were coffee house frequented by lots of college kids, a cigar store, and I enjoyed the Savannah Art Works... where I found yet another pair of earrings to add to my vast collection. Everything was made by local artists... of which there are a zillion because of the art and design school which dominates the district.
This is the neighborhhod where you would find the little British Pub named Six Pence. (see my restaurant tips)
Incidentally, Chippewa Square is where Forrest Gump's bench was placed during the filming of the popular movie by the same name.
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.
I found many places to learn more about African-American History and the Civil Rights Movement. You, too, might find them valuable as well as interesting.
A few blocks south of Savannah History Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is a new museum called Ralf Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. It's named after the long-serving preacher of Savannah's First African Baptist Church I found the reconstructed lunch counter from Levy's Dept Store (scene of boycotts and protests against the store's refusal to serve Blacks). They also have film footage of Civil Rights workers in and near Savannah.
460 MLK Jr. Boulevard
Beach Institute was established in 1865 by American Missionary Association as a school for freed slaves. It now serves as a museum of African-American art.
502 East Harris Street
The King-Tisdale Cottage is named after its owners, Eugene & Sarah King, and Sarah King and Robert Tisdell. The cottage is typical of an 1890s middle-class African-American coastal home.
Fondest memory: I loved this little Victorian house with its dormer windows, gingerbread woodwork, and lovely porch. The cpKing-Tisdell Cottage Foundation owns and operates the Negro Heritage Trail Tours, and the Cottage is part of that tour. There are films, lectures, oral history, publications, art, and history affiliated with the tour and the cottage.
At 41 M.L.King Boulevard is a three-story brick house in the Classical Revival style that for almost a century housed the West Broad Street School for African American Children. It was the first black public school in Savannah (1878).
All of these places and tours are quite worthwhile and open a visitor's eyes to the truthful history of the African-American in Savanna.
Named in honor of General Nathaniel Greene, an aide to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Greene Square is one of the most beautiful squares in Savannah.
Located in one of the oldest sections of the neighborhood... there are a number of tiny 1700's houses obviously owned by the less wealthy in the early years of the city. Because of their size, they don't accomodate today's living standards very well, so I suspect that is the reason most of them are not yet restored. They are marked with plaques, however, so I am hopeful that someone will realize the value of their history and care for them. One of them had a building permit posted which means they are planning to work on it soon.
In another tip, I'll give an example of a little house restored.
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.
We marvelled at this tiny little house on Greene Square. It stood beside a much larger house which was approx. as old... and wondered if the little one was built for a foreman or sea captain while the larger home belonged to the master. ?? Fun to wonder about.
You can see from the side view that they have accomodated modern living with an air conditioner whose compressor fills the side yard.... and there is an extension on the back of the building to give a little bigger turning radius. Guess you couldn't be too much of a collector in this house. :-)
Favorite thing: You couldn't take a picture of every beautiful example of iron work in Savannah. There are so many fabulous entrances, railings, scrollwork adorning more scrollwork. It's a pleasure to just walk the streets of the district discovering something beautiful everywhere you turn.
Favorite thing: There are loads of restoration projects going on all over the place in Savannah. We had the feeling it had fallen into a decline and was coming back up again. One street was going to become a string of condos behind the facade of several old business buildings including the old newspaper building. It's great to see such imaginative things happening in the reuse of old structures.
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: I was struck by the architecture of this temple.... Mickve Israel, founded in 1733. At home we seldom see a temple with this type of architecture. I wished I could have gone inside to tour it, but noone was there. The sign tells us that this is the oldest now practicing Reform Judaism in the U.S.
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.