Lisa Mende

Lisa Mende

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An Architectural Tour of Savannah: The Living Museum

Today we continue our journey through Savannah, the great Southern city that will be home to DXV's visionary leader, CEO Jay Gould and his wife Arlene. 

For part one of the series by Lisa Mende please click here.

Very few American cities have such a high percentage of historic or architectural homes and buildings. Savannah's historic district is architecturally significant, because of the broad spectrum of styles represented.  The influence of Classical European architecture has left footprints throughout this city. Walking the streets of Savannah, it isn't hard to identify almost every 18th and 19th century style architecture from colonial clapboard to the age of technology and onward to "deconstructivism" and every style in between.  Savannah is a city built by history and seemingly untouched by time.   Let's take a trip down the streets of Savannah and see a few of the historical highlights.

Davenport House

 The Davenport House (Oglethorpe Square) designed and built in 1820, by Isaiah Davenport, is an example of Georgian architecture.  This house was the first renovation project of the Savannah Historical foundation in 1956 and marked the beginning of the preservation movement in Savannah. 

The Savannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design was founded in 1978.  The College founders decided to adapt notable buildings in the downtown area rather than build a centralized campus.  The efforts to preserve the buildings by making them part of the campus of SCAD, along with efforts by the Historic Savannah Foundation have been credited with much of the revitalization of Savannah.  Kiah Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings SCAD has preserved in Savannah. 

The Owens-Thomas House

The Owens-Thomas House (Reynolds Square) completed in 1819, and designed by William Jay of Bath, is one of the finest examples of the English Regency architecture in America.   Furniture collections in the house include American Federal and Georgian period furniture and Savannah textiles.

The influence of classical elements is seen on fences and gates as well as architecture.

Art Deco floor in the Marshall House

The exterior of the buildings isn't the only feature of interest.  Inside many of the buildings, original intricate architectural details remain, such as this Art Deco floor found in the Marshall House.

The Andrew Low House

The Andrew Low House(Lafayette Square) with its English Regency style architecture was birthplace and home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America.

The Green Meldrim House

The Green Meldrim House is one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the country.  The house, built in the mid-1800's for Charles Green, is considered one of the most beautiful homes in Savannah.  Green offered Sherman his house as headquarters during Sherman's destructive march through the South in hopes his home would survive without damage.  His plan worked.  The home is used as the rectory for St Johns Episcopal Church today.

The Mercer Williams House

The Mercer Williams House located in Monterrey Square, features Italian style architecture. It was the setting for the murder in John Berendt's book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"  The popularity of the book attributed to a resurgence of interest in Savannah.

Flannery O'Connor House

Flannery O'Connor House (Lafayette Square) built in 1856, the birthplace and childhood home of writer Flannery O'Connor,   Today, the three-story house serves as a museum and often a meeting place for literary events.

Sorrell Weed House

Sorrell Weed House (Madison Square) Built between 1839 and 1840, is considered one of the finest symbols of Antebellum Greek/Revival architecture in the United States. This house entertained both General Lee and General Sherman prior to the Civil War.

 Greek key influences

An up close view of the wrought iron fence at the Sorrell-Weed house shows Greek key influenced design.

Kehoe House

High Victorian architecture representative of the Kehoe House was designed by DeWitt Bruyn and built in 1892 by William Kehoe.  The house is now an Historic Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Hamilton-Turner Inn

Hamilton-Turner Inn is a Second Empire style bed and breakfast located in the center of Savannah's Historic District.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange

The Savannah Cotton Exchange established in 1876 is Romanesque style architecture. The exchange is a constant reminder of the significance cotton played in the amassing  of wealth in the South and the resulting architectural masterpieces.

Griffin Statue at the Cotton Exchange

In front of the Cotton Exchange is a beautiful griffin statue and fountain surrounded by an elaborate iron fence with medallions of famous authors and statesmen.

Independent Presbyterian Church

Independent Presbyterian Church, an example of Roman Revival architecture, was established in 1755.

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, an example of French Gothic Revival style architecture, made of Italian marble was dedicated on April, 30, 1876. 

City Hall in downtown Savannah

The gold dome roof of City Hall in downtown Savannah is an excellent example of the Beaux Arts architectural style

Lucas Theatre

There are many more modern day buildings that make up the architectural cloth of Savannah, certainly too many to mention in one article.  One of those buildings is the Lucas Theatre.  The Lucas Theatre built in December of 1921, was the culmination of more than two years of design collaboration between Arthur Lucas and architect C.K. Howell.  It embodies Lucas' favorite architectural details from the Greek revival period and Adams inspired Art Deco and Neoclassical periods of architecture.

Cobblestone streets define the face of Savannah

Cobblestone streets lined by large oak trees draped in spanish moss, wrought iron gates, and second-story balconies of iconic architectural buildings are all elements that create the beauty of Savannah outshined only by city's amazing southern charm and hospitality.  To think, all of this beauty created by the vision of one man, James Oglethorpe, who  truly was a visionary and a dreamer.

Savannah will continue to flourish as long as there is an ongoing interest in restoration of the city's homes and buildings. The problem with restoration is many people don't possess the vision or determination required to renovate a home.  Most people find it easier to purchase turn-key homes  and avoid the time and effort required to renovate.  I am always fascinated to discover someone who has a vision and interest in restoring properties such as the homes and buildings of Savannah.

I invite you to follow along as I chronicle The Gould's renovation of their Savannah residence. The residence is said not to have any specific historic or architectural significance, but I'm sure with The Gould's vision, the result will be an asset to Savannah's architectural landscape.

Photographs used in the post are property of Lisa Mende Design