General Sherman spared the city of Savannah during the Civil War and called the gesture his “Christmas present” to Abe Lincoln. Whether Sherman knew it or not, it was also his Christmas gift to all future generations.
Honeymooners come to Savannah seeking and finding the romantic ambience of the Old South, not recreated, but carefully preserved from that earlier time.
Originally laid out in a grid pattern by Englishman James Oglethorpe, the streets are bisected by smallish, grassy squares. Benches around the perimeter entice you to sit and relish the shaded, pleasant space. When it’s quiet and no cars pass, you’ll feel transported back in time. Cover the road in dirt and it could be 1864 once again. That’s what Hollywood does anyway, when it needs a Civil War movie set.
Former Girl Scouts might want to visit the Juliette Gordon Low House, since it’s the birthplace of the woman who began the organization. The tour is brief, but you’ll learn about this amazing woman who dedicated her life to the girls scouts. True to the end, she lies buried in her scout uniform in Savannah. In her breast-pocket is a note from the head of the Girl Scouts. It reads, “You are not only the first Girl Scout but the best Girl Scout of them all.” Juliette was a woman of many talents. She could write poetry, paint, sculpt, and act. The home, located at 142 Bull Street was built in 1820, and was Savannah’s first registered national historic landmark. It continues to be operated by the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.
As one local gentleman explained, when they talk about “the book” in Savannah, they don’t mean the bible. The book is “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, found in the non-fiction section of your local library. The book and subsequent movie focused great attention on the Mercer House, which still sits in it’s historic grandeur off Monterey Square. The home is not open to the public, but you can wander past and visualize Kevin Spacey in the lead role. He played wealthy and refined antiques dealer, Jim Williams. With all the components of a tantalizing novel, money, murder and a gay connection, it’s no wonder the rest of the world took an interest. This same home was used in the filming of the movie titled “Glory”.
Speaking of movies, quite a number have been filmed in Savannah, and not only Civil War pictures. You can take the Old Town Trolley Tour to hear about the famous bench where Forrest Gump sat in Chippewa Square and other note-worthy movie moments. The bench, for you movie buffs, is now on display in a local museum. Most visitors take the Trolley Tour to get a narrated overview, not-to-mention the nice breeze as you tool along.
You can’t visit Savannah and not learn something about SCAD or the Savannah College of Art and Design. While all colleges have an impact on their community, SCAD is unique. Thanks to SCAD, many historic buildings have been saved, restored and put to new and diverse uses. For example, the old railroad complex now serves as classrooms and studios, while an abandoned bank has become an art gallery. No wonder they have received numerous awards for these on-going efforts.
The Historic Waterfront Area today contains restaurants, galleries, shops and night spots. This section of town has always played a significant role, in fact it was where the colony of Georgia all started in 1733. Watch as massive container ships slowly make their way along the river. When cotton was king, Savannah was the world’s foremost cotton port. The last cotton office on the waterfront closed in 1956 and the revitalization of the waterfront began by 1977. While in the area, check out the nineteen historic monuments found along the waterfront. A sentimental favorite is the statue called the Waving Girl, depicting Florence Martus.
Ghost tours continue to be popular evening activities. Any city this old is bound to have tales from the dark side. You can select from several such walking tours, which run about an hour and half.
For a true Savannah experience, stay in one of the forty Bed and Breakfast Inns.
The Azalea Inn on Huntington Street is a fine example of a large private home turned into a comfortable, romantic inn. Not far from Forsythe Park, the Victorian structure was built in 1889 and has been lovingly restored to it’s former glory. Each room is filled with antiques and elegant period furnishings. Proprietors, Jessie and John are sure to give you a warm welcome and provide a tasty, full breakfast every morning.
She’s been called, sultry, mysterious, eccentric, gracious and genteel. After a honeymoon in Savannah, you’ll know it’s all true.