Oh Savannah

IMG_0350

AFTER CHARLESTON, Savannah, Georgia, two hours to the south, seems busy, noisy and touristy. Parking and restaurant reservations are hard to come by, probably because we’re here on a weekend.

IMG_0407

But Savannah’s historic district, which forms the heart of the city and is centered on 22 lush public squares, of an original 24 first laid out in the 18th century, is a stunner.

IMG_0304IMG_0310IMG_0306IMG_0345IMG_0360IMG_0361

Many of the houses are from the mid-19th century and reminiscent of Brooklyn’s flat-fronted, three-windows-across row houses, though with shutters and sometimes wrought iron balconies. Free-standing mansions abound, in a variety of styles, and everything is fringed with palms and other greenery.

IMG_0357

The early part of our visit was a washout. It was pouring rain and we couldn’t find a guided walking tour (only trolley and horse-drawn carriage tours, which I rejected as embarrassing). Instead, we picked up a book and did a self-guided one, taking in classic sites that included Forrest Gump’s bench in Forsyth Park and the terracotta-colored house featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, above, as well as the only Gothic style synagogue in the U.S., below, built in the 1840s and still going strong.

IMG_0343IMG_0367

We happened on one of the few historic houses open to the public, the c.1841 Old Sorrel-Weed House, below. It had been used as a boarding house and had some tacky retail shops on the ground floor from the 1940s through 1990s. Then it was bought by a private individual who spent a few million trying to bring it back to how it looked when it was a social hotspot for such guests as Robert E. Lee.

The owner ran out of funds before completing the restoration (modern plastic chandeliers are still in place), and gifted the house, still far from finished, to a foundation. They call it Greek Revival-Regency style, which is new to me, but I love the deep colors of the rooms (similar to the originals, discovered under 30 layers of paint) and the moldings, doors and other details that survived because of what our guide called “inadvertent conservation.” The ceilings had been dropped, fireplaces boxed in, etc., during the house’s years of debasement, so the original details remained mostly intact.

IMG_0308IMG_0311FullSizeRenderIMG_0324IMG_0322

We are lodged at the River Street Inn, below, a former cotton warehouse and one of several surviving early 19th century brick industrial buildings, constructed of ballast stones and built on a bluff, that have been converted to riverside hotels.

The Savannah River is right outside our window. Barges loaded with containers pass by with regularity, and the sounds of foghorns and music from the clubs below  waft in at night.

IMG_0376

Best meal so far: a genteel Southern-style lunch at the c.1789 Olde Pink House, below, where I had my first-ever Hoppin’ John (rice with vegs and black-eyed peas).

IMG_0277IMG_0284IMG_0286

Enjoyed an afternoon latte at the Gryphon, below, a tea room operated by the Savannah College of Art and Design in a turn-of-the-century apothecary shop.

IMG_0338IMG_0333

As I write this, the blare of a trumpet from a busker on the riverfront walk is penetrating the closed windows and balcony door of our river-view digs. Louis Armstrong he’s not. But the sunset over the Savannah River is making up for it.

IMG_0411

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
This entry was posted in ARCHITECTURE, HISTORIC PRESERVATION, ROAD TRIPS, TRAVEL and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Oh Savannah

  1. Karen Zebulon says:

    The sunset photograph is breathtaking!

  2. Astor C says:

    Two hours south of Charleston and another era. Almost reminescent of your blog from the south of France, Ca. Beautiful photos. I think the most interesting is the stunning interior of the synagogue–the nave and the transept–very church-like.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Loved your Savannah tour – minus the rain, the trek, the blaring horns – your photos did just fine to take me there. Beautiful!

  4. Your photography is beautiful. I’m sorry to hear that it was overcast and rainy when you were visiting. If you decide to give us another try you should check out Local 11 ten it’s located at the end of Forsyth Park and the food is amazing and they also own The Public Kitchen. The Girl Scouts were also founded in Savannah and the Birthplace is open to the public as well. The house is restored to how it was when Juliette Low lived there and has the originally furniture that belonged to the family. Cobblestone Tours offers walking ghost and historical rain or shine. 😉

  5. cara says:

    Thanks, SGAb, for the compliment on my photography and the restaurant recommendations for next time. The Low house is closed for the month of January, but we did get to the Owens-Thomas House later on. And there was one beautiful day on which we went to Tybee Island and ate at the one-of-a-kind Crab Shack. I could do a whole other Savannah post as a matter of fact.

Got something to say? Please say it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s