History of Savannah
Savannah’s recorded history begins in 1733. That’s the year General James Oglethorpe and the 120 passengers of the good ship “Anne” landed on a bluff high along the Savannah River in February. Oglethorpe named the 13th and final American colony “Georgia” after England’s King George II. Savannah became its first city.The plan was to offer a new start for England’s working poor and to strengthen the colonies by increasing trade. The colony of Georgia was also chartered as a buffer zone for South Carolina, protecting it from the advance of the Spanish in Florida.Under the original charter, individuals were free to worship as they pleased and rum, lawyers and slavery were forbidden – for a time.
Perfect for leisurely walks and exploration, Savannah offers a wide range of sights and activities, from magnificently restored southern homes of the Colonial and Victorian eras to world-class museums and vibrant downtown nightlife. Savannah’s Historic District comes alive each day with art, culture, live theatre, festivities, and more. The shopping – simply delightful. Savannah’s shopping opportunities are many and varied, featuring a combination of charming local boutiques, antiques shops and well-known national brands. With more than twenty city squares graced by monuments, parks, historic homes, churches, and forts – not to mention the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States – Savannah is the perfect place to spend a weekend, or a lifetime. Come and explore – the possibilities are truly limitless.
Four blocks in the heart of the Historic District have been renovated to capture the authentic atmosphere and character of the city’s old open marketplace. The market features artists working in their lofts and exhibits of works for sale. There are also restaurants, open-air cafés, theme shops, and stores offering crafts, accessories, and gifts.
Davenport House Museum
Located on Columbia Square, the Isaiah Davenport House was built between 1815 and 1820 and is an exceptionally fine example of Federal architecture. It was the proposed demolition of this home that served as a catalyst in the founding of the Historic Savannah Foundation. It features a fine collection of Davenport china and period decorative arts.
Bordering the thriving river port, River Street imparts old-world charm. The nine-block brick concourse is ideal for strolling and ship-watching. More than 75 boutiques, galleries, artists’ studios, restaurants, and pubs are housed in one-time cotton warehouses that have been restored to their rustic beauty.
Jepson Center Museum Of Art
Jepson Center for the Arts features two large galleries for major traveling exhibitions and galleries for African-American art, Southern art, photography, and works-on-paper, as well as a community gallery. The center also has a 3,500-square-foot hands-on gallery for young people; two outdoor sculpture terraces; education studios; a 200-seat auditorium; a café; and a store. The center is covered with glistening white Portuguese stone and consists of two separate structures connected by glass bridges. The building has a soaring, light-filled atrium and a sweeping, three-level staircase that provides access to its expansive galleries.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
No trip to Savannah is complete without a visit to Leopold’s Ice Cream, an almost 100 year old ice cream parlor located in historic downtown. Original décor adorning the shop, which includes a soda fountain and cover, back bar, sundae holders, banana split boats and malted milk dispenser, is still in use, and original family recipes continue to be made in-house. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy Hollywood memorabilia from Stratton Leopold’s more than 45-year career in the movie industry!
The Beach Institute is Georgia’s oldest school for African Americans. Initially, the school had 600 students enrolled, with nine female teachers and a male principal. Most of the teachers were white and tuition was $1 per month. The Beach Institute closed as a school in 1919. Visitors may view local and national African American art exhibitions, including an impressive collection by Ulysses Davis, a renowned native Savannah wood carver.
The Ships Museum
William Jay designed this house for merchant prince William Scarbrough, one of the principal investors in the S.S. Savannah, the first steam vessel to cross the Atlantic. This maritime museum houses a large collection of ship models, artifacts, and memorabilia representing humanity’s 2,000 year quest to conquer the sea.
The Cathedral Of St. John The Baptist
Located on Lafayette Square, built between 1873 and 1876, the Cathedral is an excellent example of French Gothic architecture. Most of the decorative appointments are of European origin and design. Elegantly restored in 2000 the church is regularly called “breathtaking” and “amazing”! TripAdvisor rated the Cathedral in the top 10 of US attractions in 2013 and 2014.
Savannah’s Central of Georgia Railway National Landmark District is the oldest and most complete antebellum railroad manufacturing and repair facility still in existence in the United States. The Georgia State Railroad Museum now has permanent exhibits in seven of the 13 structures on the site. Exhibits focus on steam engines, belt-driven machinery, locomotives, railroad rolling stock, and model railroad layouts. This is one of the most extensive collections of rolling stock and machinery in Georgia.
The Savannah Theatre
The Savannah Theatre opened its doors for the first time December 4, 1818 with a production of the comedy “A Soldier’s Daughter.” Now, after several centuries and a few face lifts, the Savannah Theatre houses the performance ensemble “The Beat Goes On” and remains the oldest continuously operating theater site in America.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
Built between 1818 and 1820, the center is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. The building has been restored and furnished to depict the 1870s and was named Savannah’s first National Historic Landmark in 1965. It is owned and operated by the Girl Scouts of the USA as a memorial to their founder and is a program center for all members. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is an exciting destination for Girl Scout troops from across the country and around the world.
Designed and built in 1818 by William Jay, the Telfair Mansion was the site of the royal Governor’s residence. The mansion contains many family furnishings. A large wing was added in 1883 that contains superb American and European paintings and sculpture. It is the oldest art museum in the South.
This 30-acre park is bordered on the north by Gaston Street, on the south by Park Avenue and has a 1 mile perimeter, making it a popular stop for outdoor enthusiasts. The park’s north end is home to a cast iron fountain that was erected in 1858. The famed Forsyth Park Fountain was designed to resemble the grand fountain in Paris at the Place de la Concorde. An exact replica of the Forsyth Park Fountain resides in Cuzco, Peru. The park is also adorned by monuments to the Confederate Soldier, the Marine Corps Monument and the Fragrant Garden for the Blind. The Forsyth Park Fountain is one of the most popular attractions for Savannah visitors.
National Museum of The Mighty Eighth Air Force
This $13 million museum honors the courage, character, and patriotism embodied by the men and women of the Eighth Air Force from World War II to the present. The 95,000-square-foot museum is situated on a 13-acre tract at the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. Highway 80 in Pooler, just outside of Savannah. This landmark includes a museum, library, static aircrafts, displays, archives, research center, bookstore, and gift shop.