Dresser Palmer House History
1868 — Herbert A. Palmer Purchased land for $3,500
The land that the house sits on was bought by Herbert A. Palmer on September 30th 1868 for $3,500. Herbert and his brother Samuel B. Palmer were brought to Savannah by their father to open a hardware store like the one they had in South Georgia. The store became the largest retail and wholesale hardware store in Savannah, taking up one city block.
1876 — Aaron Wilbur and R.Boyd Finish building the home
The home was built by Aaron Wilbur and R. Boyd and was finished in 1876. Samuel Palmer and a man named Henry Dresser each paid $5,500 for their half of the house. The wall that once ran across the front porch and through the back courtyard dividing the two townhouses has since been removed, leaving the property with the longest front porch in Savannah’s historic district. Porches at the time were called galleries and this is why the inn was previously called the Gaston Gallery.
While Samuel Palmer only lived in the house a short time, from 1876 to 1884, he was very active in the community. On July 1st 1861 he joined the Confederate Army as a Corporal in the Chatham Artillery. By the time he surrendered at Greensboro he was a First Lieutenant. While in the war his father became ill and the store was closed. In 1866, the brothers partnered with a Mr. Deppish and the store was reopened as Deppish and Palmer Hardware. During his time in Savannah, Samuel Palmer was also a director of South Bank, a Pastmaster of Solomon’s Lodge, a member of the Board of Trade, he was elected into the Episcopal Church wardens, and served as a Grand Juror several times.
Mr. Palmer apparently liked to flaunt his wealth. This is evidenced by the brass cap securing the top of the newel post at the foot of the stairs. Homeowners kept their mortgage papers rolled into a tube and put into the hollow center of their newel post for easy fetching if there were a fire. Mr. Palmer had his screwed shut to make people aware that he did not have a mortgage and had paid cash for his half of the house. There are several other indications of his wealth, such as the large mirror in the hallway. Since glass was heavily taxed back then a mirror of that size would be sure to impress visitors and guests. The cranberry glass over the inner doors of the doors on the Palmer side was also very expensive and a symbol of his wealth. The famous waltz-out windows to the balconies and gallery are a sign of thrift, though, as at that time houses were taxed by their number of doors.
Samuel Palmer was married twice and had two children. Both his wives and children all died very young, and tragically. It is said that this is why he moved so many times during his life in Savannah. He was trying to escape the pain of these losses. He died in Savannah at the age of eighty-five and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery in 1913.
1884 — Mr. Dresser is accepted into Savannah’s Historical Society
Mr. Dresser was a partner at Randall, Daffin & Company, local cotton buyers. He did have a cap on his newel post, and it is still there today. In July of 1884 Mr. Dresser was accepted into Savannah’s Historical Society. In 1885, Samuel’s side of the house was purchased by C. H. Wilcox, President of Savannah Guano Company. Mr. Wilcox owned the house until his death in 1919. The house then changed over to his Wife Ms M. Wilcox and she owned the house until her death in 1924.
1925 — House purchased by Ellison C. council
In 1925, the house was purchased by Ellison C. Council, an engineer who owned it until his death in 1947, when it was transferred to his wife, Mrs. Idye Council. She worked for Union Bag and took in boarders as well. A Mr. J. Owens, who worked at Baker’s Pharmacy, lived in the house until 1955.
1977 to 1987 — House listed as the Gaston Gallery
In 1977, the house was occupied by Crane Anthony, an assistant Maiter’d at one of Savannah’s most famous restaurants, the Old Pink House. In 1978, the house was bought by Wrighton Baxter. His wife became the owner upon his death in 1982. In 1985, it was purchased by Gary A. Greenhut, vice president of the Savannah Visitor Center. 1987 is the first time the house is listed as the Gaston Gallery, a small B&B, boarding house and Art Gallery.
1979 to 1997 — Aikoer family owns house
In 1886, Samuel’s side of the house was purchased by J. Ferst, a grocer. Mr. Ferst owned the house until 1916 when it was transferred to L. W. Haskell. Mr. Haskell owned the house until 1921. It was then purchased by the Levington family who owned the property until 1955. Henry Levington was a physician who ran his practice out of the house while also living there with his brothers Benjamin and Joseph. In 1958, the owner is listed as Randall C. Fetzer, who worked for Savannah Electric Power. From 1979 until 1997 the Aikoer family owned the house, after which it too became a bed and breakfast owned by a Mr. Beck.
2004 — Jeff Notrica purchased both sides of house
In 2004, Jeff Notrica of Inman Park Properties, bought both sides of the house.
The Dresser Palmer house is one of Savannah’s premier historic landmarks and vacation and wedding accommodations. We invite you to come enjoy the long history and wondrous grandeur of this beautiful property.