Archive for the ‘About Savannah’ Category

Top 10 Historic Locations in Savannah GA

November 14th, 2012 by Dresser Palmer House

Savannah has many historic locations that arouse your fascination and curiosity.  Here are the top ten historic sites in Savannah. We recommend that you check it if you’re touring the area, or just looking to learn something new:

#10 Telfair Museum of Art

The oldest art museum in the South, on Telfair square, was once home to the prominent patron of the arts Mary Telfair.  Since 1875, the mansion has served as an art museum and academy of art and science offering classes, events, and numerous collections and exhibits.

#9 Tomo-chi-chi Gravesite

The second monument erected in honor of Chief Tomo-chi-chi can be found in Wright Square, just feet away from the original grave mound, which was destroyed to build the Gordon Monument.  Visitors can learn about the integral role he played in the founding of Savannah.  It is the only memorial built for a Native American by descendants of European settlers.

#8 Factors Walk / Bay Street / River Street

What was once a prominent center of commerce for Savannah is now simply a collection of historic buildings turned into an eclectic array of shops, inns, and restaurants.  Tourists often come to the area to relish the old world architecture and cobblestone paved streets while enjoying their evening meal.

#7 Historic Beach Institute

First serving as an educational facility for newly freed slaves, the Beach Institute became a free public school for African-American children in 1875.  It now houses an African-American Cultural Center and collection of wood carvings by Ulysses Davis.

#6 Mickve Israel Synagogue

Founded in 1733, this active Jewish Congregation is the third oldest in America.  The temple on Monterey Square is the only synagogue in America with Gothic style architecture.  Touring is welcomed, but because this is an active temple be aware of services, Jewish and federal holidays, and other events which may take place.  A calendar of events is available on their website.

#5 Scarbrough House

This elegant mansion built in 1819 once served as home to William Scarbrough, then the president of the Savannah Steamship Company.  It now houses the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, which features ship models, paintings, and maritime antiques.  The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and offers extra activities for large groups.

#4 Davenport House

Threatened with demolition in the mid 1950’s, the Davenport House was a run-down building with little historical significance.  Luckily, the Historic Savannah Foundation secured the building as their first act to preserve Savannah’s historic buildings.  All three floors of the home on Columbia Square underwent an authentic restoration in the early 1990’s and are open for public viewing.

#3 Cotton Exchange

Savannah Cotton Exchange - #3 Top 10 Historic Places in SavannahThe Old Savannah Cotton Exchange building is a remarkable reminder of Savannah’s heyday as the leading cotton seaport on the Atlantic.  While the building had not been open for public viewing since it closed in the 1920’s, the Old Savannah Cotton Exchange now homes the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, which invites you to stop by anytime.

#2 Andrew Low House

Another of Savannah’s historic homes, this Italian Villa style home on Lafayette Square offers a rich history of housing prominent historical figures such as William Thackery and Robert E. Lee.  Guided tours are available by calling ahead.

#1 Historic Savannah Squares

Perhaps the key focal point of Historic Savannah, these twenty-two remaining squares define the downtown Historic District.  As part of the original design of the city, the squares provide Savannah with an unequaled presence of beauty, and offer visitors a look back into the rich history of the city.

If you’re looking to visit Savannah, we’d be happy to make your reservation.

 

Enjoy your time in Savannah as you visit these different locations! You can find our Top 10 Romantic Places in Savannah post here.

History of Savannah, GA: Part One – Built on Integrity

October 24th, 2012 by Dresser Palmer House

James Oglethorpe - History of Savannah“No slaves, no Roman Catholics, no strong drink, and no lawyers,” is the fabled credo upon which James Edward Oglethorpe purportedly founded the legendary city of Savannah, Georgia. While no physical documentation of this farcical declaration exists, the essence of the statement rings true to the convictions of Oglethorpe himself.

But before expounding upon the rich history of Savannah, Georgia, “The Hostess City of the South”, it is important for us to understand the ethics which have been so deeply embedded into this historic city. It was the conscientious approach to founding a proper city on moral philosophy which has led to the success of Savannah.

Who was James Oglethorpe?

James Oglethorpe was a well-known, unusual sort of humanitarian in London throughout the early 1700’s. It was the death of his good friend, having been imprisoned for indebtedness, which coerced Oglethorpe down the unlikely path that first conceived the idea of Georgia. Upon his friend’s death, Oglethorpe set to investigating London prisons and found the most appalling of inhumane conditions. He was infuriated to find most prisoners had been placed there due to economic misfortune.

So then, with charity in mind, Oglethorpe, along with John Lord Viscount Percival and others, believed England’s “worthy poor” could be transformed from rotting prisoners into productive citizens of a new colony, where they could thrive, free of class divisions, slavery, and large landholdings. Thus, Georgia was born, and Oglethorpe, in addition to twenty other trustees, was named to govern the new land.

Venturing to the New World

The original intention was to pull indebted prisoners and their families from London jails to colonize the new settlement. Unfortunately, no prisoners were included in the first selection of settlers. Finally, in 1732, despite heavy restrictions against himself, which would have deprived Oglethorpe of a comfortable life in Georgia, he, alongside 114 men, women, and children, set sail on the Atlantic in search of a new beginning.

In early 1733, the Anne arrived at port in South Carolina. From there, James Oglethorpe and a handful of Carolina Rangers scouted out the new region to the North, designated as Georgia, eying particularly the Yamacraw Bluff, which overlooked the Savannah River. As was the challenge with most early settlements of the New World, the bluff was part of the nearby native nation of the Yamacraw.

Yamacraw Bluff - History of Savannah GAUnlike earlier proprietors and settlers, however, Oglethorpe approached Chief Tomochichi of the Yamacraw, with the help of Mary Musgrove who acted as translator, with offerings of diplomacy and friendship. Tomochichi was well aware that his country, home solely to indigenous nations, was rapidly changing with the arrival of the English. He invited Oglethorpe and the colonists to establish the Yamacraw bluff intending the new colony to increase trade and offer a diplomatic advantage with the English.

On February 12, 1733, the pine forest atop Yamacraw bluff was cleared, and so began work on Oglethorpe’s distinctive pattern of streets, ten-house “tythings”, and public squares which make up Savannah. The vestige of the original settlement is still prominent in the historic downtown of Savannah today. To catch more history on Savannah, try the Oglethorpe trolley tour or chat with the staff at the Dresser Palmer House. More on Savannah’s history coming next week! Stay tuned for the full story.

 

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