Savannah, Georgia: A City Bursting with Historic Charm
By Kathrin Kana
Located on the eastern coast of Georgia, Savannah is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the state. Savannah’s 22 charming squares and its many historic landmarks and buildings tell the story of Georgia’s oldest city.
Franklin Square and the First African Baptist Church
First, I went to see Franklin Square, named after Benjamin Franklin and once the site of the city’s water supply (earning it the nickname of “Water Tower Square”). Built in 1790, this is the furthest west of all the city’s squares. There is a monument in the middle of the square commemorating the Haitian soldiers who fought in the Siege of Savannah of 1779.
Right next to it is the First African Baptist Church, founded in 1777. The church features original chandeliers and pews, Georgia’s first pipe organ and other historic artefacts dating back to the early 1800s. Most intriguing, however, were the floor holes which provided oxygen for fleeing slaves on the Underground Railroad. As escaped slaves attempted to break the chains of servitude and travel north, they hid under floorboards in safe places like this church before continuing their journey.
Pirates, Ghosts and River Street
For a serving of Savannah’s history alongside a tasty meal, I loved the Pirate’s House, a former seafarer and pirate tavern which has served food and drink since 1753. The rustic exterior and various dining rooms provide a glimpse into the past. Dressed in pirate gear, our waitress knew many a ghost story like the one about a little boy who lived upstairs. The menu had something for everyone, and if you’re in the market for a pirate-themed souvenir, make sure to check out the elaborate gift shop upstairs.
Next, head to River Street. Now a vibrant waterfront district, this is where British ships landed to collect cotton while they dropped off cobblestone that served as ballast on their way over, which then got dumped onto the harbor streets. Today, River Street is perfect for a nightcap or live music, as there is always something going on. The Factors Walk, right behind it, once served as a centre for cotton brokers, or factors. The old brick buildings are an interesting remnant of Savannah’s cotton market days.
The Davenport House and Oglethorpe’s Statue
Close by is a beautiful historic home that was restored in the style of the 1820s, Davenport House. Our very funny and animated tour guide brought Savannah’s history a bit closer. I was impressed with the detailed restoration work, which received a presidential award. History lovers should definitely add Davenport House to their itinerary.
If you’ve seen the movie “Forrest Gump,” visit Chippewa Square where the park bench scene was filmed. Georgia’s founder, General James Oglethorpe, is memorialized in a statue here.
There’s no doubt about it: Brimming with history, culture and charm, Savannah is a must-see!