Major Port City in the South

Trip Start Dec 05, 2012
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Trip End Dec 31, 2015


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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Here, in Savannah, dramatic architecture from centuries ago mingles with trendy downtown boutiques and microbreweries. You can get lost in old cathedral's, old homes and just people watching. Our first stop was the 1835 Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist which was nearly destroyed by a fire on February 6, 1898. By October 28, 1900 it was rebuilt to it's present form. Since we were in town during Christmas time the Cathedral was all decked out!

The city's waterfront is a good day tour, checking out the old buildings that have now be remodeled into coffee shops, nut shops and jewelry stores. With boats on the river and a trolley going down the old cobble street road you do feel like you are "somewhat" back in time.

We went on a tour of the Owens-Thomas House which is considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. The house was designed by the young English architect William Jay (1792-1837), one of the first professionally-trained architects practicing in the United States. The elegant residence was built from 1816-1819 for cotton merchant and banker Richard Richardson and his wife Francis Bolton. Mr. Richardson’s brother-in-law was married to Ann Jay, the architect’s sister.Three years after the house’s completion, Richardson suffered financial losses and sold his house, which later came under possession of the Bank of the United States (sounds like the same problems we are having now).

For eight years, Mrs. Mary Maxwell ran an elegant lodging house in the structure. Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette was a guest of the city in 1825 and stayed at the home. On March 19, he is believed to have addressed a throng of enthusiastic Savannahians from the unusual cast-iron veranda on the south facade.

In 1830, planter, congressman, lawyer, and mayor of the city, George Welshman Owens, purchased the property for $10,000 . It remained in the Owens family until 1951 when Miss Margaret Thomas, George Owens’ granddaughter, bequeathed it to the Telfair Museum of Art.

A National Historic Landmark, the stately former residence is now a historic house museum. It boasts a decorative arts collection comprised primarily of Owens family furnishings, along with American and European objects dating from 1750-1830. The site also includes a beautiful English-inspired parterre garden and an original carriage house-which contains one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South.
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