Friday, July 5, 2013

Spellbound by a Southern Charmer

A Hidden Courtyard in Savannah, Georgia

My husband and I traveled down to south Georgia last week to spend a few days with our sister-in-law, Janette. The three of us were looking forward to spending a day together in historic Savannah. This wonderful town is situated not far from where I grew up. My sister-in-law still resides less than an hour's drive of Historic Savannah.

After arriving in Savannah on the morning of our visit, we went to the the Savannah Visitors Center located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and purchased tickets for a trolley tour with Oglethorpe Tours(oglethorpetours.com). We were able to get a great deal on our tickets at $15.00 each, probably because we were visiting on a week day, rather than a busy weekend. This was a fully narrated and uninterrupted ninety minute tour. After the initial ninety minutes, we enjoyed unlimited on/off touring until 5:30 P.M. This was a good way to begin the tour, because as we traveled along the route, we were able to see what places we wanted to go back to and check out more thoroughly. I took a picture of our tour guide, who said he came to Savannah during military service and knew then he wanted to stay. When I asked him if I could put a picture of him on my blog, he said it was okay if it was a"good" blog. This is our driver and narrating tour guide, Rick:
Rick, Our  Friendly and Knowledgeable Tour Guide and Narrater with Oglethorpe Tours
The city of Savannah, Georgia was founded in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and is known as the first "planned" city in the United States. Early Savannah consisted of a series of public squares and parks. The homes and buildings were and still are located on the right sides of the one-way streets which are separated by parks and squares. Sometime around the mid twentieth century, the historic part of Savannah was in danger of falling into ruin and/or being replaced by more modern buildings and streets, as has occurred with so many other cities in the United States. Thanks to the foresight, work, planning and benevolence  of some dedicated individuals, societies and groups, many of its wonderful historical  treasures have been preserved for present and future generations to enjoy.

I took some photos of some of the homes on our tour and will post them here,  not necessarily in the order in which our tour progressed. Some of the facts about these homes were gleaned during the course of our tour and I have done a bit of research, as well, and will tell you a few of the things that I have noted. 

Pictured here is the Mercer-Williams House:
Mercer-Williams House
This beautiful home is located at 429 Bull Street on Monterey Square. It is of Italianate style and was built in 1860 by General Hugh Mercer, who was an ancestor of lyricist, composer and singer, Johnny Mercer. The Mercer-Williams house was Johnny Mercer's family home. Johnny Mercer wrote or co-wrote some 1100 songs during his lifetime, including "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," That Old Black Magic," "Fools Rush In," "I Remember You" and "Moon River."

Jim Williams, a local antiques dealer and restorationist, purchased and renovated the house in 1969. If you have read the novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or have seen the movie by the same name, you may recall that Jim Williams was the character who was, in real life, charged with the murder of Danny Hansford, who was depicted as a hustler in the book. Williams was acquitted after 4 trials of the murder, which took place in this house. I have read the book and have seen the movie and enjoyed both. For a glimpse inside the house and more information you can go to to http://www.mercerhouse.com/history.htm.


The Green-Meldrim House
Located at 14 West Macon Street on the west side of Madison Square is the Green-Meldrim House . It was built for Samuel Green in the early 1950's of stucco and stone in Gothic Revival style. Green came from England to Savannah in 1833, with little means. He became wealthy as a merchant in cotton and as an owner of ships. The house is said to be the most expensive 19th century house built in Savannah.

The house was made famous, in part, because it was once used as a headquarters by General William Sherman. In December, 1864 the Union general was nearing Savannah. Mr. Green, hoping to save his home and cotton from destruction, rode out to meet General Sherman, inviting the commander to use his home as his headquarters during his stay in Savannah. In 1892, Judge Peter Meldrim, a former mayor of Savannah, purchased the house. The house was sold to Saint John's Episcopal Church in 1943. This house is a wonderful example of how decorative iron work was used so prolifically in historic Savannah. This is, to me, the most striking element of the exterior architecture of the house. To find out more visit http://www.visit-historic-savannah.com/green-meldrim-house.html.

At 329 Abercorn Street on Lafayette Square, you will find the Andrew Low House pictured here:
Andrew Low House
The Andrew Low house was built by John Norris in 1848-49 for Andrew Low. Low had come to Savannah from Scotland at the age of 16. Like many other men of the time in Savannah, he became wealthy from the merchandising of cotton. Low's son, Mackay Low, married Juliette (Daisy)Gordon.The name Juliette Gordon Low might be familiar to many of you, it is probably because of the fact that in 1912, she founded the Girl Scouts of America in the parlor of this very house. Though we went by it on our tour, I somehow missed getting a picture or the house in which "Daisy" was born and grew up. It is now owned by the Girl Scouts of America and is a National Center for Girl Scouts of America and you can visit the following website http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/history/birthplace/ to see her childhood home, which was purchased by her grandfather in 1831. It is magnificent. 

This next picture is of the Isaiah Davenport House:
The Isaiah Davenport House

We actually went back to this house and took the inside tour, which was interesting and informative. Isaiah came to Savannah from Rhode Island around 1808, as a young man. He earned the reputation of being a master carpenter and is believed to have built or had some part in building many of the homes in and around old Savannah, some of which still stand today. The stairs on the outside front entrance run from both sides, left and right. This is said to be because of the fact that one side was for men and one side for women. You see, it was not deemed proper for a man to look at a woman's ankles. These stairs are yet another example of the elaborate use of ironwork in Historical Savannah design.

The following close up, is of a  boot scraper built right into the ironwork and beyond the stairs, through the railing, can be seen one of the iron dolphin-design downspouts found in many locations throughout Historic Savannah.
Boot Scraper on Outside Stairs with Iron Dolphin-Design Downspout  Beyond
The downspouts in the shape of  dolphins were used in construction because they were considered a sign of good luck. Here is a close up of one of the spouts:
Dolphin Downspout

I wish I had paid a little more attention to the story our guide told us about this house. Something to do with a man building this house for a woman who told him she wanted a house of her own. There are many large and richly designed houses in Historic Savannah, but this house is said to be the smallest:
Smallest Historic House 
This picture is of the world-famous Pirates House.

 This is said to be the oldest standing building in the state of Georgia and was built in 1753 as an inn for seafarers. Located at 20 East Broad Street, it still operates as a restaurant today. Its location is quite close to the Savannah River. Legends abound of regular sailors getting drunk and, while unconscious, being carried by pirates through the tunnel under the building which lead to the Savannah River. Upon awakening, they found themselves on strange ships on the ocean,  bound for unknown and far away ports and places.

Though we did not eat at the Pirates House on this day, I dined there many years ago, as a very young girl. 



This is the Six Pence Pub and Restaurant:

Six Pence Pub and Restaurant



The Six Pence Pub and Restaurant is located in Historic Savannah area. You may recognize this pub from a scene in the movie "Something to Talk About."  It is the scene where Grace(Julia Roberts) catches Eddie(Dennis Quaid) cheating on her with another woman as she, Grace, looks through the window of the pub.

Congregation Mckve Isreal:

Congregation Mckve Isreal
Congregation Mckve Isreal is the third oldest Jewish Synagogue in America.


Telfair Museum and Telfair Academy is pictured here:







After the initial ninety minute trolley tour, we asked our guide to drop us off on River Street. River Street is one of the original cobblestone streets in Historic Savannah and runs along the docks at the Savannah River. The old warehouses located on River Street once held goods(including cotton)ready to be exported and imported on the cargo ships which have long been a large part of Savannah's history. These warehouses have been converted and are now home to shops, restaurants and at least one luxury hotel, The Bohemian. 

A couple of years ago when we were in Savannah, we ate at The Boar's Head Grill and Tavern http://www.boarsheadgrillandtavern.com/ on River Street. Our meal was delicious.  For lunch this visit, we dined at another of the restaurants on River Street, the Shrimp Factory http://www.theshrimpfactory.com/  , and the food was quite good, but I believe The Boar's Head was definitely the better of the two. At least, that is my opinion. 

This is Janette and Glenn (not sure about those looks) standing in front of the restaurant: 
In Front of the Shrimp Factory

After lunch, we walked over to this bronze statue of Florence Martus, located a short distance from where we had lunch. Florence Martus was also known as "The Waving Girl."

Florence was born on Cockspur Island, near Savannah in 1868, not long after the Civil War. The story goes that Florence, as a little girl, would wave to passing ships with her handkerchief. At some point, she went to live with her brother in a small cottage near the Savannah River, not far from Fort Pulaski. From that time on and for forty-four years, she waved with a tablecloth or towel. At night, she waved with a lantern, never missing a ship. The ships would respond with three blasts of the whistle. This is the statue of Florence Martus, The Waving Girl:
Florence Martus, The Waving Girl Statue
We then strolled down to the dock, wanting to get a photo of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and the Georgia Ports Authority beyond. My brother worked for many years and retired from the Ports Authority in Savannah. He loved his job as a supervisor and always had many interesting stories to share about his work and the cargo vessels from distant lands that came into port. He was stricken by AML last year and passed away this past October.Year before last, before he became ill, the four of us went down to visit River Street, had lunch and, afterwards, stood together and looked out at the GPA and reminisced  about when he used to work there. We never thought he would not be with us when we went back. We miss him terribly. In this photo you can see the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and the Ports Authority where Tommy worked, just beyond the bridge:



This awesome yacht, the Hyperion, was docked there, as well. Now, I have seen many yachts, but this particular one was different from any that I had seen this close up before. 

The Yacht Hyperion
It is impossible to see from the photos I took, but this vessel is 156 feet in length.

Mast of the Yacht Hyperion is an Astounding 195 Feet in Height
Now, I do not consider myself a yacht aficionado, nor am I normally absorbed by thoughts of them. However, there was something about this particular one(I believe it was probably that awesome towering mast-195 feet) that made me think it was something extraordinary. That is not to say that I think any yacht is ordinary, but this one seemed pretty special to me.  I would have had to lie on my back to get the full effect and we didn't want the law or an ambulance to come cart me off, but I did have a fleeting thought to try it!


 I wanted to know more about this craft, but this little sign was posted in front of the yacht:
Note Which States that "The Crew will Not Offer Out Any Information, So  it is Pointless to Ask"
So being the inquisitive soul that I am, I did some research and found that I was correct. It was built in 1998 by Royal Huisman for Netscape co-founder, Jim Clark, at a cost of an estimated $50 million dollars. When built, it held the distinction of being the largest sloop and had the tallest mast ever constructed. Clark has since sold the ship and had Royal Huisman construct yet another, even larger vessel, for him. That one is named the Athena and measures 295 feet in length.

At least one of the sites I visited stated that the Hyperion can be charted for six guests for the sum of $90,000. a week, in off-season. After all, that amount does include include a crew. At least one "coffee table" style book has been published with some gorgeous photos of the Hyperion. I watched a Youtube video (which lasts a little over 2 minutes) and shows just how fabulous this vessel is. To watch a video about this awesome yacht click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-EJKGsxuU0.

Now, here is a picture of Glenn and me standing in front of the Hyperion, waiting to go on our chartered cruise:

Glenn and I, Waiting to Take a Chartered Cruise on the Yacht Hyperion

What's that I hear? Earth to Lynn. The sign didn't say we couldn't dream, folks!!










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