Savannah Georgia is one of my favorite cities to visit. The history, cobblestone streets, Antebellum architecture and southern cooking make it unforgettable at any time, but especially magical at Christmas.
Referred to as “The Hostess City of the South,” Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Established in 1733 when General James Oglethorpe and 120 fellow passengers on the ship Anne, landed on a bluff along the Savannah River. The colony was named Georgia after England’s King George II and Savannah became the first city of the new land.
The city is laid out in a grid pattern with public squares. Each square is unique with a central grassy area and benches. Savannah originally had 24 squares with 22 remaining today. Savannah later became a strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the Civil War.
Forsyth Park is a majestic 30-acre park named after Georgia’s 33rd governor. The park surrounds the city’s most famous fountain. The fountain was installed in 1858 and modeled after the fountains at the Palace de la Concorde in Paris. Strolling through the park you encounter local artisans, musicians and art students from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) sketching from a nearby bench. Each Saturday morning Forsyth Park hosts a farmer’s market. The Sidewalk Arts Festival, Savannah Jazz Fest, Picnic in the Park with Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Rock and Roll Marathon are a few of the many events held in the park.
The Green-Meldrim House was constructed in the 1850s as the residence of Mr. Charles Green. In December of 1864, General William Sherman used the house as his headquarters when the Federal Army occupied Savannah during the Civil War. General Sherman fell in love with Savannah and spared the city. It was from this house that Sherman sent his famous telegram to President Lincoln offering him the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift.
The Mercer-Williams House was constructed in 1860 for General Hugh W. Mercer, the great-grandfather of celebrated songwriter Johnny Mercer. The home, with a scandalous history, is three-stories inspired by the farmhouses in Northern Italy. It features 40 windows, eight iron balconies and a classic portico.
Jim Williams, a well-respected antique dealer, purchased the Mercer House for $ 55,000 and spent two years restoring the home. Williams was known to throw wild parties filled with crazy characters. In 1981, Jim’s assistant and lover, Danny Hansford, was shot and killed. Williams was charged with his murder. The story inspired John Berendt to write his novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It made the Mercer House as well as the City of Savannah famous.
The Armstrong Kessler Mansion was built in 1917 and is an incredible example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. It was built for Savannah magnate George Ferguson Armstrong who lived there until 1935. It was later threatened with demolition before being purchased by the Historic Savannah Foundation and saved. It was later sold to antique dealer Jim Williams. The home has appeared in several movies including the psychological thriller Cape Fear. It also appeared as the real -life law office of Sonny Seiler in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The Olde Pink House is located in the heart of the Historic District. It is Savannah’s only 18th century mansion. It was built in 1789 and was originally known as the Habersham House, after its owner James Habersham. It survived the Savannah fire of 1796 that destroyed 229 buildings in the city. The mansions’ main structure was built of red brick which were then covered with white plaster. The red bricks would bleed through the white plaster, turning the mansion a shade of pink. The different owners over the years continued to paint white over the pink hue. In 1920, the mansion was purchased by a woman to open a tearoom who decided to paint the entire building pink. It remains pink today. The building was bought and restored by Jim Williams in the middle of the 20th century. Today the Olde Pink House is one of Savannah’s finest dining establishments.
The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters was built as a Regency style Mansion in 1819. The home was purchased by attorney George Owens and remained in the family for several decades before being given to the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. Today the home offers tours of the mansion as well as the carriage house, a raw look at the history of the enslaved workers who lived there, including the nanny, cook and butler. The ceiling of the slave quarters is painted haint blue, which was customarily used in Gullah culture to deter spirits. It is reported to be the largest swath of haint blue paint in North America.
Savannah’s City Market is an open-air market spread over four blocks. It features restored warehouses filled with restaurants, art galleries and shops. It is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and listen to live music or sit and people watch. City Market is less than one mile from Savannah’s Riverfront Street and is a great place to explore after dark.
Savannah’s River Street is located on the Savannah River. Housed in one-time cotton warehouses, there are more than 75 shops, art galleries, restaurants and pubs. River Street is filled with history and houses monuments such as the African American monument, World War II monument, Waving Girl Statue and Olympic Cauldron.
“A World Apart” monument, also known as the Cracked Earth Monument, is a bronze and copper globe split in two. It symbolizes the division between the European and Pacific theatres of the war. The names of the 527 Chatham County service people killed in WWII are inscribed on the monument.
One of the favorite tours for visitors visiting River Street is Savannah Riverboat Cruises. The Riverboat sets sail multiple times a day, both during the day and at night. It is a great way to see Savannah from a different vantage point.
Savannah Georgia has something for everyone. An abundance of Spanish moss and Southern charm, beautiful architecture and rich history, make it the perfect place to visit. Bring your walking shoes and appetite. You won’t be disappointed!
Check out my short video highlighting Savannah here:
I’m a freelance writer and photographer living in SW Florida. I have a love of travel and photography. Living in Florida, my backyard is a travel destination with crystal clear water, beautiful beaches, quaint towns, and amazing wildlife. Wander with me…