Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Savannah Trip, the Discovering History Part...

It's actually quite difficult to write about this part of the trip...The reason I wanted to go to Savannah was because of the history. On Saturday, we got on a trolley bus tour that took us around the Historic District. Fifteen stops, and you could get on and off at any one, or easily walk between them. We rode an entire loop to learn as much as we could, then got off at the Cathedral of  St. John the Baptist and spent most of the rest of the day walking and trying to soak in as much history as we could absorb.

Easier said than done...Savannah figures large in the time of colonization of the New World, as well as during the Revolutionary War, and then the War Between the States -- 279 years of history! Everywhere you go in the Historic District there are layers of history, homes from nearly every era, and famous people occupied so many of them, even if only for a little while during a war. We were overwhelmed -- in a good way -- but it is difficult to give a good synopsis of Savannah's history!

I will say that General James Edward Oglethorpe arrived on Yamacraw Bluff on Feb. 12, 1733 with about 115 settlers from England. The plan was to establish a colony that would allow worthy poor people to immigrate to America and create a stronghold against Spain's intentions for the region. It was named Georgia, in honor of King George II. Savannah was one of the first planned cities with a grid design -- 40 houses to a ward, 2 lots per ward for public buildings or squares. Today 22 of the original 24 squares remain. Savannah sits on the Yamacraw Bluff just above the river, cobblestone streets lead down to River Street where most of the trade was carried out in the old days. When you see the lovely orderliness of the city, it makes you wish we, in the West, had been a little more thoughtful about how we set up our cities...

The Historic District is ALL beautiful!
As I said, we started our walking tour at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist...Stunningly beautiful!


It was still decorated for Christmas... 

The large creche...so detailed! 

Very ornate, amazing stained glass windows... 

The pipes for the organ in the balcony...

Huge poinsettia tree... 
The Cathedral is located on Lafayette Square, named to honor Marquis de Lafayette of France who was so helpful to our fledgling democracy.

Nearly every square has a monument, and every square is named in honor of someone, and there are usually 4 or more signs to read about the monuments, honorees, and events that took place there...I love that!
A few of the monuments are also gravesites...Nathanael Greene, friend of George Washington & Revolutionary War hero rests in Johnson Square. Tomochichi, chief of the Yamacraw Indians, is buried in Wright Square. He welcomed Oglethorpe and was a great help to the colonists. Casimir Pulaski, another Revolutionary War hero, mortally wounded in the siege of Savannah, is honored with both a monument and a square. The home used as General Sherman's headquarters during the occupation of Savannah is located on Madison Square...

This is another view of the bronze of Sgt. William Jasper, who was also mortally wounded in the siege of Savannah in 1779...

Calhoun Square and the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church.
John and Charles Wesley preached to early Savannah, 1736, and started the first Sunday School -- I mean, they invented it!

Forsyth Park
(On the right side is a photographer with a bride --what a setting!)

A kind homeless lady offered to take our picture...

The Fountain at Forsyth (pronounced for-sith)...

First Baptist Church...
There were quite a few lovely old churches, and even a synagogue in Gothic architecture, unusual design.
There's Christ Church (George Washington visited there), the African 1st Baptist Church, or the Lutheran Ascencion Church...sounds as populated as Lynden, doesn't it?

Christ Church


Another monument honored the Haitian soldiers who came over to help end the siege of Savannah in 1779. They came alongside the French to help our young nation -- but had ulterior motives. They wanted to learn more about the French so they would be better equipped to overthrow their control of Haiti...and a few years later the Haitians had their own revolution to become a free nation.
Nonetheless, they helped save Savannah.

See what I mean about the rich history of this city??
Somebody stop me!

And, of course, there is the general loveliness...





All over the Historic District there are live oaks draped with spanish moss! Can you see Randy under this tree? Many of them are huge -- We saw one that is presumed to be 350 years old...
Classic Old South... 



This was my favorite...I expected to open the door and see the residents dressed for colonial times.



This guy tried to get on our bus. He was looking for Lt. Dan, who had told him not to do anything stew-pid. He didn't have any chocolates left to share with us, and when he found out it was the wrong bus, he took off running...to California!
Did you know that the opening of "Forrest Gump" was filmed in Savannah's Chippewa Square?
(This guy was so good...and he ran off, just like Forrest!)

We found a COFFEE SHOP!! Loved the eclectic collection of easy chairs.

Coffee in hand, we walked to Colonial Park Cemetery...Randy was somewhat dubious about my enthusiasm to explore here, but he understood more after we found gravestones from the 1790's.

During the Civil War, better called the War Between the States in this case, Union soldiers razed this cemetery, disturbing and displacing many headstones. (I'm embarrassed for the North.) These stones were replaced on the back wall because no one knew where they truly belonged. At least this restored a place for the families to go to remember their loved ones.

The gravestones tell sad stories, poignant remembrances...


This gravestone says: "In memory of Mrs. Grace Belcher, wife of Mr. James Belcher, who died Jan. 14th, 1793, aged 45 years. Also James Bryce Belcher, son of the above parent,who died Feb. 21, 1793, aged 4 yrs. and 10 mos." Perhaps this mother and son died in one of the yellow fever epidemics...So sad! Cemeteries are where history becomes the story of individuals.

The city of Savannah is fortunate to be home to Savannah College of Art & Design, fondly called SCAD. The College has purchased and restored over 70 historic building to be used for classrooms and studios. Their dormitories are restored 60's era motels, now made to look much more appropriate for the Historic District. It seems to be a big win-win for the city and SCAD -- all those design and art students get great experience preserving history, and the beauty of the city...Very impressive!

Last but not least, views of River Street...where we had dinner nearly every night, and nearly every dinner had shrimp in it! We made sure to enjoy Low Country Boil (aka" low cuntra boll"), classic southern fare consisting of shellfish of any sort, sausage, corn on the cob and red potatoes boiled all together in seasoned water. Then the jumble is traditionally dumped on a newspaper covered table for all to have at it. Ours was a little more fancy than that, but our plate was loaded with crab in the shell, shrimp in the shell (at least a dozen big ones!) potatoes, sausage and corn...Then banana bread pudding for dessert...VERY memorable!


Their WWII memorial...


A view of the Convention Center, across the river on Hutchinson Island. 

And City Hall, whose golden dome (yes, it's real gold) could be seen from all over the Historic District...

There's so much more to tell about Savannah...and there was so much more we could have learned! I'd go back there for more, and I hope one day we will, but there's still so much of America for us to see.
I may have to content myself with this taste of Savannah...
but that's alright. It was mighty sweet!



1 comment:

Jerrie said...

So beautiful. I've never been that far south (stopped at S. Carolina) and I wasn't sure if I ever really wanted to go BUT now I think we need a trip. Gorgeous.

The buildings are so rich in detail (something I think we miss over here) and just wow!

I love cemeteries...seriously I can spend much time exploring...love the headstones, the landscapes.

Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)