BACKSTORY: My first visit to the historic city of Savannah was in Spring 2005. My plane was delayed, my luggage was lost, and it rained almost every day. Not just rain...we are talking torrential downpours. Still, something about the city called to me and I have been in love ever since. Like so many others, I read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and was instantly taken by the events of the book and the quirky true-life characters that inhabited those pages. I just had to see this place for myself.
Once there, I found so many things that were of interest to me, like the twenty-two squares, which provide shade, quiet, and historic views. The famous buildings, such as the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), or the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America). Its designation of being one of the most haunted cities in the country also gives it a bit of an allure, especially when you visit the three oak and moss-laden cemeteries that are within the city limits (Bonaventure, Colonial Park, and Laurel Grove). The food that you find there is a tantalizingly diverse range of farm-to-table to the classic southern artery-clogging fare. Whatever you do, venture beyond the surface of what people typically know when you visit; don't just go to see Paula Deen's restaurant or the Mercer House from "The Book." There is so much more.
Have fun going through the photos that I have shot on my numerous visits here; I wouldn't be surprised if you end up going there yourself one day. The place is highly addictive.
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BACKSTORY: Named for South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun, who served as Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. It's the only square with all of its original buildings intact, including the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. Located on Abercorn, between Taylor and Gordon Streets.
BACKSTORY (From Wikipedia): Greene Square was laid out in 1799 and is named for Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene, an aide to George Washington. A native of Rhode Island, Greene commanded southern forces during the Revolution, and after the war settled at Mulberry Grove, an estate fourteen miles above Savannah. Greene, along with his son, is actually buried in Savannah's Johnson Square. Greene Square was once the center of Savannah's African-American community. On the northeast Trust Lot is Second African Baptist Church, the site where Union General William Sherman famously announced Special Field Orders 15, better known as "40 acres and a mule". Green Palm Inn (two seamen's cottages, ca. 1897) is on the square. The square is located on Houston, between State and York Streets. Before the American Revolutionary War, State Street was named Prince Street.
BACKSTORY (From Wikipedia): Johnson Square was the first of Savannah's squares and remains the largest of the 24. It was named for Robert Johnson, colonial governor of South Carolina and a friend of General Oglethorpe. Interred in the square is Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene, the namesake of nearby Greene Square. Greene died in 1786 and was buried in Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery. His son, George Washington Greene, was buried beside him after drowning in the Savannah River in 1793. Following vandalism of the cemetery by occupying Union forces during the Civil War the location of Greene's burial was lost. After the remains were re-identified Greene and his son were moved to Johnson Square. An obelisk in the center of the square now serves as a memorial to Gen. Greene. The cornerstone of the monument was laid by the marquis de La Fayette in 1825. At that time the obelisk did not yet commemorate any specific individual or event. In fact, due to financial restrictions the unmarked obelisk served for several years as a joint monument to both Greene and Casimir Pulaski. Inscriptions honoring Greene were added in 1886, but the Greenes’ physical remains did not arrive until 1901, following their "rediscovery."
Johnson Square contains two fountains, as well as a sundial dedicated to Colonel William Bull, the namesake of Savannah's Bull Street. Bull was a South Carolinian who assisted Oglethorpe with the establishment of Savannah and, as a surveyor, laid out the original street grid. The sundial has four panels, one on each side of its square granite base. The dial itself is bronze, set atop a marble shaft. One of the base panels reproduces a 1734 map of Savannah.
Another landmark of Johnson Square includes the Johnson Square Business Center. This building, formerly know as the Savannah Bank Building, was the city's first "skyscraper", built in 1911. Johnson square is known as the financial district, or banking square, and many of the City's financial services companies are located here. These companies include the Savannah Bancorp, Savannah Bank, Coastal Bank Headquarters, Bank of America branch, SunTrust branch, TitleMax Corporate Headquarters, and a Regions Bank building.
Johnson Square is located on 69, between Bryan and Congress Streets.
BACKSTORY: Ellis Square is located on Barnard between Bryan and Congress Streets. It was named after Henry Ellis, second Royal Governor of the Georgia colony. It was also known as Marketplace Square, as from the 1730s through the 1950s it served as a center of commerce and was home to four successive market houses. Prior to Union General Sherman's arrival in December 1864 it was also the site of a slave market. In 1954 the city signed a 50-year lease with the Savannah Merchants Cooperative Parking Association, allowing the association to raze the existing structure and construct a parking garage to serve the City Market retail project. Anger over the demolition of the market house helped spur the historic preservation movement in Savannah. When the garage's lease expired in 2004, the city began plans to restore Ellis Square. The old parking garage was demolished in 2006 to make way for a new public square (park) that features open spaces for public concerts, as well as an underground parking garage. The underground facility was completed and formally dedicated in January 2009. Meanwhile, hotel, residential and commercial space on adjacent properties has been renovated concurrently with the Ellis Square project. The restoration of the square itself, begun in the spring of 2008, was completed in February 2010. Ellis Square officially reopened at a dedication ceremony held on March 11, 2010. A bronze statue of songwriter-lyricist Johnny Mercer, a native Savannahian, was formally unveiled in Ellis Square on November 18, 2009.