Week Eleven



Savannah, GA


The oldest “planned” city in the United States. . .and virtually untouched by the Civil War.  Interesting history tidbit. . .Sherman spared the City from destruction for two reasons – (1) the Mayor of Savannah surrendered to Sherman asking that the city be spared if provisions and housing were provided to the Union soldiers and (2) perhaps the most interesting, Sherman’s mistress lived in Savannah and he promised her that as long as she stayed in Savannah he would not order the city destroyed.    Which one adds more “romance” to the saving of Savannah?


We visited the Savannah History Museum, the Roundhouse Railroad Museum and took one of the Trolley Tours around the city.   The city is laid out in a series of squares and address directions are generally provided East or West of Bull Street.   Bull Street is the main street in Savannah and runs into the Capital Building.


Capital Dome


The size and opulence of the old homes reconfirms the level of wealth.  Many of these houses were the “city homes” for the plantation owners who moved seasonally between the city and country.


If you were a Girl Scout, you’ll recall that Savannah is the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low and is home to the Girl Scouts.   Thousands of Girl Scouts visit her home every year and the park across the street is a favorite site for the Girl Scout Troops to picnic while visiting Savannah. 


Juliette Gordon Low House


Not all of the historic homes are large and opulent.   This little red house is Savannah’s smallest antique home, has three rooms and is actually a private residence.  Our tour guide said that it was last reported to rent for over $800 per month!


   Savannah’s Smallest House




Boot Scraper                                                                                                                            Dual Stair Entrance

Leaf Railing


Hitching Post and Step (NOTE:  The Hitching Post matches the corner post on the fence.)


This fence design is identical to Buckingham Palace and surrounds the entire property.


The ironwork on many of the houses is very ornate and used as decoration.  The first example is a boot scraper forged into the railing.  The entry stairs into many of the homes were built as a semi-circular entry way – men weren’t supposed to see a lady’s ankles so gentlemen entered the home from the left stairs and the ladies from the right.  Even the hitching posts at the curb were often forged in iron and very ornate.  The stone piece next to the hitching post is a step to assist ladies or shorter gentlemen to mount their horses.


The streets are lined with Live Oak Trees that are over 100 years old and, in fact, there is one in Savannah that is documented to be over 300 years old and in the National Tree Registry.  Several homes in the Historic District have been used as the backdrop for movies including Bagger Vance (Robert Redford) and  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Kevin Spacey).


When we think of Savannah, we tend to recall the city history from the Civil War.  However, Georgia was the 13th original colony .   George and Martha Washington traveled to Savannah just after the Revolutionary War to “get away” on vacation.   These two cannons were presented to the City of Savannah by George Washington during this visit.  History says that both cannons were fired during his visit but one of them misfired causing the casing to split.  When it was repaired, the barrel was slightly shorter – thus the cannons are nicknamed Martha and George.


Cannons – Martha and George


River Street


River Street today is all shops and restaurants.  The upper floors are offices and residences.  These buildings overlook the Savannah River and the harbor area.  The reddish building to the left of the photo is one of Masonic meeting spaces around the city.  The street and the entry ramps to the river front area were constructed from the ballast stones that came from England.   Cotton bales were so heavy on the ships sailing to England that they had to load stones on the ships to sale back to Savannah to provide the same ballast.  Since stone is very rare in this part of the South, they were used to build streets and walls.  Mortar is made using sand, water and oyster shells.


Tug on Savannah Harbor.  Doesn’t the bridge look familiar?  


Looks like a sister bridge to the Lenny Zacim in Boston, doesn’t it???



What would our visit to the Georgia coast be without finding crabs?   On our way out of Savannah, we spotted a seafood store. . .


How could we go wrong?? The crabs were wonderful. . .large, steamed and cheap!  ($20/dozen)

The fisherman on the Georgia coast view crabs as a nuisance.  In years past when you bought fish, they gave you as many crabs as you wanted because they had no market for the crabs.  The locals don’t know what they are missing!


Since Savannah is situated on the Savannah River, and not the Atlantic Ocean, we drove to Tybee Island to “touch” the ocean again.  We both realized that we were missing the sea gulls and the smell of salt water.



Atlantic Ocean, GA


The Tybee Island Light Station was originally constructed in 1736 and went through several different faces between then and now.  Until 1933, there was a light keeper (and his family) who lived on the grounds of the light.  In 1933, the fuel for the lighthouse was converted from kerosene to electricity and thus there was no longer a need for multiple keepers.  The last remaining keeper and his wife lived in the keeper’s house until his death in 1947.


Tybee Island Light Station (The house in the foreground is the Head Light Keepers’ house
that was occupied until 1947.)

The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America’s most intact Light Stations with all of the historic support buildings still on the original five-acre site.   The remaining fortification structure for Fort Screven is also located in this historic site area.  This military base was home to the WWII Diving School and also served as part of America’s Coastal Defense System until it was decommissioned in 1945.  Today, many of the homes and buildings in the town of Tybee are built on the grounds of the original fort and, in some cases, are renovated Fort properties.


If you ever visit Tybee Island, a must visit restaurant is The Crab Shack.  It’s located on the back water of the island and has a great atmosphere and wonderful shrimp, oysters and crab stew.   Alligators were taken off the endangered species list back in the 70’s but are still protected.  The day we were there was sunny but windy and these guys kept moving to get into the sun.



The Crab Shack, Tybee Island, GA                                                                                                       Alligator Pond

Huge Parking Lot. . .

To continue our exploration of Civil War sites, we visited Fort Pulaski.   Fort Pulaski is one of the largest and last all brick fortifications built before the Civil War.  It is a National Battlefield Site so your National Park Service Passport covers the entry fees.  


Fort Pulaski

We spent an entire afternoon exploring Fort Pulaski.  The fort was constructed between 1829 and 1947 to defend the port city of Savannah from foreign attacks or invasion.  During the early days of the Civil War, the fort was occupied by the Georgia state troops.   However, on April 11and 12, 1862, the Union forces launched an artillery attack from Tybee Island.  Thirty hours later the 7.5 foot thick walls had been breached and the Confederate commander surrendered to the Union forces.   Major General David Hunter, the Union commander freed the slaves that resided in this area of Georgia.  It was this declaration by Hunter that spawned the national debate on slavery that lead to Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.


The Union maintained control of this fort for the remainder of the war and used it as a hospital and prison. 


There are several places around the exposed wall of this fort where mortar rounds are still imbedded in the wall and remain as evidence of the power of the artillery rounds. 


The cannons atop the wall are original.  NOTE:  The mortar round in the middle of the damaged brick.


The entire property (5600 acres) sits at the mouth of the Savannah River.  When you walk the top perimeter of the fortress, you can see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and all of the surrounding marshland.