Must See History
Please don’t judge them by their Past, Just enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of their creation
Homes with inside Tours
Ethel Tison House (where you are staying)
Queen Anne/Victorian built in 1908. Purchased by the HSF to save it from demolition, they stabilized the house and sold it to Don Reike. Don not only restored this house but also built the carriage house, the house next door with its carriage house and many others around the savannah area. The projects were completed in 2009. Many of the original features have been removed way before the home was saved, but we in cooperation with the HSF, we are working on bringing back the true exterior beauty of this wonderful home. Not much is known about Ethel Tison, but we do know that in 1910 this house was a registered Boarding house. Many hands have touched and recreated this home to the point only the exterior can show its past. Now a boutique hotel, hostel, airbnb creation for artists to enjoy.
Harper-Fowlkes House (230 Barnard Street near Orleans Square)
A Greek revival historic home dating back to 1842. It was saved by preservationist Alida Harper Fowlkes, who bequeathed it to be the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Georgia in 1985. Mrs. Fowlkes was an antique dealer, who filled the house with items like 19th-century china, early portraiture from colonial Georgia, and Rococo sculptures. The garden is pretty too. Alida restored over 10 homes in Savannah and is very well known for her love in preserving the beauty of the craftsmanship and a new modern hotel on River Street was named after her, though I don’t think she would have liked what was destroyed to make all these new hotels in Savannah today.
The Davenport House Museum (324 East State Street near Columbia Square)
This house is the reason the Historic Savannah Foundation was created to solely save this house from demolition. This home was built in 1820 for Isaiah Davenport, his family and his slaves. The gardens have been restored to the time the Davenports’ lived there. This beautiful home and garden was almost lost to make way for a parking lot.
Andrew Low House (329 Abercorn Street, by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist)
Built in 1848 in the Italianate Style for the self-made Scottish Immigrant. He became Savannah’s wealthiest citizen through the cotton trade. Robert E. Lee and the Earl of Roxbury have visited this lavish home. His granddaughter Juliette Gordon Low owned the house until her death. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia purchased the house in 1928 and made it public in 1950.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (10 East Oglethorpe Avenue)
Founder of the Girl Scouts. Born in 1860, grew up in this home and returned later in life after the death of her husband. She started the Girl Scouts in 1912. Most of the furniture is original to her. In 1953, GSA purchased the home to operate as a museum and displays her home and early uniforms and such from the troops. (Personally, I preferred the house back when it was pink. –Lynn a former Girl Scout 1989-2001)
Mercer- Williams House (429 Bull Street, on Monterey Square)
Built in the Italianate Style in 1860’s for General Hugh W. Mercer, the great-grandfather of the song writer Johnny Mercer. Years later, it was sold to John Wilder. In 1969, the most famous owner, Jim Williams bought the property. This is where he Murdered Danny Hansford, featured in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Williams painstakingly restored the home and furnished it with antiques he’d collected over the years. The home was passed to sister Dorothy Kingery, who continues to live in the home and support restoration efforts.
Flannary O’Conner's Childhood Home (207 East Charlton Street near Troop Square)
Her cousin and Neighbor Katie purchased the home and operate it as a museum. The Acclaimed author lived her from 1925 to 1938 before she moved to Milledgeville. A generous contribution from Jerry Bruckheimer has helped restore the home as it once was. This home has hosted lectures including past talks by authors Pat Conroy and Roxane Gay.
Green Meldrim House (14 West Macon Street, on Madison Square)
A Gothic Revival style house built in 1850, for English cotton merchant Charles Green. In 1864, he invited General Sherman to use his home as Union headquarters during the occupation of Savannah during the Civil war. The home was passed to his son in 1881. In 1892 the home was purchased by Judge Peter W. Meldrim, who owned it with his family until, 1943. Today it is a part of St. John’s Episcopal Church as their Parish House. Students of the historical preservation at Savannah Technical College are frequent guests and they are trusted to help with the preservation of both home and church. (Savannah Technical College was a part of the restoration of the veneer of the house’s bay windows and the paint removal of the church door)
Owen-Thomas House & Slave Quarters (124 Abercorn Street, on Oglethorpe Square)
Built in 1816, in the Regency style for Merchant Richard Richardson, his family and Slaves. After facing severe financial issues they were forced to sell. In 1824, Mary Maxwell operated it as a Boarding house. Well known for Marquis de Lafayette giving a speech to the locals during his stay. By 1830, it was the home of Mayor George Welshman Owens and later granddaughter Margaret Gray Thomas. It was turned into a museum in 1954. The First house in the country to have indoor plumbing, created by architect William Jay.
Scarbrough House at The Ships of the Sea Museum (41 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard)
The Scarbrough House was built in 1819 for William Scarbrough, the owner of the steamship Savannah, the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the Greek revival style, it is one of the earliest examples of this type of architecture in the South. In 1820, Scarbrough was in great debt and his house and furnishings were sold to a relative. By 1878, it became a school for African American children and continued until 1962. It was abandoned for a time before being restored by the Savannah Historic Foundation. In 1995, it was acquired by the Ships of the Sea Museum and completely restored, including the portico and garden. Today the museum has pieces like models of the Wanderer and Titanic as well as maritime antiques.
Sorre-Weed House (6 West Harris Street, north of Madison Square)
The Sorrel-Weed House was built for French Haitian merchant Francis Sorrel in the 1830s in the Greek revival style. The site was where the Battle of Savannah took place in 1779. The Sorrel family lived there through the Civil War and even hosted Robert E. Lee. Local businessman Henry D. Weed purchased the house in 1862 and it remained in his family until 1914. The home opened to the public in 1940 and features antebellum antiques. It’s also been featured on the show Ghost Hunters for its dark history.
Telfair Academy (121 Barnard Street, south of namesake Telfair Square)
The Telfair Academy was built in 1819 as a neoclassical mansion from architect William Jay, who worked on many Savannah homes. Alexander Telfair lived here until passing it on to his sister Mary, who turned it into an art museum. Opened in 1886, it’s the oldest public art museum in the South and the first museum in the United States founded by a woman. The collection includes American and European works from the Telfair family. The most well-known piece is the Bird Girl, which graced the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (The Jepson art center is right next door)
Other Beautiful Historical Homes
Sorry, No Interior tours but their exterior Beauty is marvelous
The Armstrong House (447 Bull Street at the north end of Forsyth Park)
Over a 100 years old, restored Italian Renaissance Style, with 4 owners since. Site of Armstrong Junior College in 1935 until it moved to the Southside which is now a part of the Georgia Southern University. Bought by Jim Williams next, who converted in to a high-end antique shop. Currently, Bouhan, Williams, & Levy, one of the most prestigious law firms in Georgia have occupied the building since 1970.
Savannah Scottish Rite Temple (341 Bull Street)
A monument of great masonry skills. In the late 1800’s a group of Masons saw the need for a building to house various Blue Lodges. On May 2, 1896, the Masonic Temple Association began and rose a quarter of a million dollars for the land and the temple. In the fall of 1912, the contract was awarded for the building and the cornerstone was laid June 30, 1913 by Robert L. Colding, Grand Master of Masons in Georgia. However, eventually the cost of construction was too over whelming. Three Scottish Rite Masons obtained a loan to finish construction in 1923.The was the last Historic Scottish Rite building, the last Reunion held here was June 20, 2020. This building was purchased by SCAD in 2020. The ground floor housed A.A. Solomons & Co. drugstore which in 1998 was restored and became the Gryphon Tea room owned by SCAD.
Tomochichi Federal Building & United States Courthouse (125 Bull Street, on Wright Square)
It was built between 1894 and 1899, and substantially enlarged in 1932. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 as Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, and was renamed in honor of the Creek Indian leader Tomochichi in 2005. Designed in the Second Renaissance Revival style, with richly carved ornamentation, it is one of the most distinguished and imposing buildings of its era in Savannah. The building was constructed primarily to house the Savannah post office, which was previously located in the U.S. Custom House. In 1889, work had just begun on a new post office at the corner of York and Abercorn Streets when construction was suspended because the citizens of Savannah wanted a "more suitable" building than the one originally planned. As a result, the U.S. Congress was persuaded to appropriate additional funds for the new post office, and in 1894, excavations began at a new site in the southern half of the block now entirely occupied by the building. This site itself was notable in Savannah's history as the former location of a courthouse where John Wesley, founder of Methodism, had preached in 1736 and 1737. The original building was designed between 1893 and 1894, during W. J. Edbrooke's tenure as Supervising Architect of the Treasury. The building cornerstone lists Jeremiah O'Rourke as the architect.
The building is three stories in height, with a granite/ashlar foundation. On both the original building and the 1932 addition, scale is carefully manipulated as the building rises on the exterior-from the heavily rusticated base with massive semicircular arched openings, to the third floor where triple arched openings are used to give the appearance of a colonnade.
The building's exterior ornamentation, both that executed in marble on the original portion of the building and the terra-cotta detailing on the extension, is rich and varied. Motifs relating to nature—including flowers, animals, and fruit-are incorporated into the frieze (the carved band below the eaves) alternating with medallions of variously colored marble. Similar motifs are repeated above certain windows and at the bases of the main entrance arches. Two carved faces (one on the north facade and one on the south) are traditionally said to be likenesses of the architect, Jeremiah O'Rourke. < Rumored he did it because they would not to put his name on the building.
More info online about the architecture and history.
Chatham County Court House (Drayton Street, on Wright Square)
This is no longer an Active court house, now used for county offices and meetings. William Gibbons Preston, architect, in 1889. We love this building because of the brick, run your hand on it and you will see. There are rumors that it was built with the lower slope out to make it more comfortable to put your foot on while you enjoy your last cigarette. True or not it is a beautiful work of art.
We can go on and on about the historic buildings in Savannah, Just look around to see them everywhere. SCAD has bought a lot of them for their Campus, which is… well Historic Savannah. If you want to know more about the houses you see you can always search the address with the word history and you will be amazed of the things you will discover.
Just Please be very considerate of our neighbors and look from a distance, Nobody likes a peeping tom, even if you are just looking at the beautiful garden or the splendid brick layout on the walkway.
The Isetta Inn is located in the Starland Arts District, but known to the HSF as the Thomas Square Street Car District.
From the HSF Site
“Designated a National Historic District in 1997 by 2 SCAD graduates, the Thomas Square Streetcar Historic District takes its name from Thomas Square Park, which lies near the geographical center of the district and the streetcar lines that made the development of this southern suburb of Savannah feasible. In 1888, the city electrified the street car and extended the A and B belt line south along Whitaker Street into this district creating yet another streetcar suburb. At the time of the neighborhood’s development, the area was popularly known as the “extended limits,” the “southern suburbs,” or the “new section south of Anderson.” Gradually, Savannahians have accepted the name Thomas Square, however, many people still refer to their neighborhood as “Metropolitan” or “Mid City” if they live to the west of Bull Street, or “South Victorian” if they live to the east.”
In 1875, most of the land south of Anderson Street was still farmland, however, this changed rapidly in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. One important farmhouse, the Drouillard – Maupas House c. 1799, still exists today as the Cottage Shop on Abercorn Street. This handsome raised Creole cottage reflects the French origins of its original builder.
Streetcar lines were laid out along Abercorn and Whitaker Streets following the civil war and interesting developments took place. The Kiesling – Teynac Flower Nursery complete with greenhouses and windmill operated throughout the 1880s. Another fascinating garden spot developed by Mr. Charles Seiler was Concordia Park. This park, created in 1879, featured a playground, bowling lanes, gardens, and facility for the consumption of Schlitz Beer, of which Mr. Seiler was the sole agent in Savannah.
In 1883, the City of Savannah extended the city limits to Estill Avenue, which is now Victory Drive. Streets, lanes, and lots were platted, and the residential development of the neighborhood began in earnest. Savannah’s population grew rapidly during this period, especially from 1900-1920 as the city experienced a building boom. In 1913, Mayor Richard Davant stated that a building per day was completed in Savannah.
The new neighborhood, which developed in Thomas Square, was a diverse one. Several institutions have been extremely important in the neighborhood’s development. The Georgia Infirmary established a charitable hospital for African-Americans in the 1830s (rebuilt in 1871), and in the 1880s the Benedictine Order purchased a block on Habersham Street between 31st and 32nd Streets and built Sacred Heart Church, St. Francis Orphanage for African-American children and a school. Mother Mathilda Beasley, Georgia’s first African-American nun was placed in charge of this orphanage.
The Catholic Church is also responsible for other community landmark buildings such as Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church designed by Hyman Whitcover in 1902, Benedictine School c. 1904 both on Bull Street, and Little Sisters of the Poor Convent Complex, which was constructed from 1894-1915 and designed by Henry Urban in the Gothic Revival style.
Hyman Witcover also designed the Savannah Public Library c.1915 in the neo-classical style, and funded by Andrew Carnegie. This library has been recently rehabilitated with a new addition by the nationally prominent architectural firm of Hardy, Holtzman and Pfiefer.
There are many other notable buildings in Thomas Square, such as the First Metropolitan Baptist Church, Richard Arnold School, Gottlieb’s Bakery, and many other small commercial and corner confectionary buildings.
Thomas Square’s domestic architecture runs the gamut from mansions, such as the Gibbes – Sprague House c. 1900 built in the Beaux Arts style, to small one-story wooden workman cottages and rowhouses. Styles found in the neighborhood are Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Italianate, Neoclassical Revival, Colonial Revival, Beaux Arts, and Craftsman. People of all classes, cultures, and races lived in Thomas Square, as they do presently. There are approximately 1,100 historic buildings in Thomas Square, making it one of the largest historic districts in our city.
After years of decline, Thomas Square is currently in the process of revitalization. In March of 2005, it received a zoning classification, which grants it design review and demolition protection. This important legal protection and the increasing residential population of this neighborhood will help ensure its preservation for the future.”