Thursday, May 5, 2016

Savannah: Houses and Squares

 We began our second and final day in Savannah with a short stroll--everything is close here--to the Owens-Chambers house on Oglethorpe Square. The house was designed in 1819 by the young London architect William Jay for Richard Richardson, who soon lost it. It was a boarding house when the Marquis de Lafayette stayed here in 1825. In 1830 it came into the Owens family which held it for almost a century and a quarter before turning it over Savannah’s Telfair Museum in 1951.

Jay was an up and coming architect of 24 when he designed the house and he incorporated some novel features into it, like indoor plumbing. It is said to be the finest piece of Regency architecture in the city. It certainly is worth the visit, though they do not, once more, permit indoor photography.

The Owens-Chambers House from the front

One unique feature was the existence of urban slave quarters, seen here from the back of the house

The back of the house

After that there were a couple of possible stops. The house belonging to the family of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the girl scouts was a possibility, but Sharon was drawn more to the girlhood home of Flannery O’Connor. They allowed photography and to make things even better our tour guide had known the family.

We decided next to go over to Mickve Israel, the city’s oldest synagogue, but were too late to tour.

On both days, lunch, God help us, was at Leopold's ice cream. They tout themselves as one of the best and they are, on a par with Herrell's last year in Northampton, Massachusetts

Lutheran Church of the Ascension

After that there were a couple of possible stops. The house belonging to the family of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the girl scouts was a possibility, but Sharon was drawn more to the girlhood home of Flannery O’Connor. They allowed photography and to make things even better our tour guide had known the family.

On Saturdays young Mary here in the bathroom and read to them, sometimes the works of others, sometimes her own juvenalia.

Monument to Casimir Pulaski, a Polish hero and martyr to the Revolution

We decided next to go over to Mikveh Israel, the city’s oldest synagogue, but were too late to tour.

If I recall correctly this is the Andrew Low house, where Juliette Gordon Low lived for  a time and where her Girl Scouts were first headquartered

Oglethorpe. Gotta admit, he was a pretty impressive guy.
Thursday, we move on to St Augustine, Florida.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Savannah Squares

With only two days in Savannah, we began Tuesday with a Grayline tour so that we could get a sense of this city, another small, charming southern city.

We got a bit of history about Georgia, which was founded as a social experiment (like North Carolina) but much later, in the 1730s, the last of the British North American colonies and the one most doubtful about the break with England in 1775. Still they joined the struggle for independence and suffered under British seige and battle.

The city was founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe, the proprietor of the colony. It was the first planned city in North America, and to this day it retains 22 of the original parks, or squares, that Oglethorpe planned for it. As you will see, they have also taken care to preserve their architectural heritage and integrated a modest amount of growth with it.

After the Grayline, we simply walked the historic portion of the city, rambling the streets, visiting the squares and the riverfront. In all, we covered about three miles on foot.

St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Cathedral and Basilica

Stations of the Cross

The Factors' Walk. The cotton factors or brokers would hawk their wares from these bridges. Warehouses and the river to the right, city to the left

Steps from Bay Street to River Street

The cotton exchange of 1886, designed in the Richardsonian style by another Boston architect, William G. Preston.

Scene from near the city market

The civic Telfair museum

Monument on Wright Square to Tomochichi, a native chieftain who aided the early settlers

A better blogger would offer more identification of the squares and buildings. I have labeled them where I can, but we rambled.

Before dinner we returned to our hotel, the historic Marshall House. Most often on these trips we stay in corporate hotels. They are cheap, they offer amenities like quick breakfasts, exercise rooms and guest laundries, which we need. But every once in a while a guidebook or will point us to an historic hotel or even a bed and breakfast. The Marshall House is an historic hotel extraordinaire, probably the nicest we have stayed in since Saratoga, NY last year. The Marshall House opened as a hotel in 1851 and closed in 1957. After forty two years and a very extensive and careful renovation, it reopened in 1999. We were impressed by how sensitively and thoroughly the renovations have been done.So I have devoted a few images to the hotel.
Home sweet home, the Marshall House, circa 1851
Grand staircase
Sharon in the sitting room, the lobby behind her

Today's breakfast room

Card room

Table in the third floor hallway

Pan of our room

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Charleston Finale

I am in love with Charleston. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I have to confess that as I write this on Sunday night we have just finished one of the two best meals we have had on this trip. But that aside, I am in love with Charleston. But then so is everyone else. Apparently the average Charlestonian is, in the words of someone we met, “Old and rich and not from here.”

But, still, the character of the city is such that the folks who arrive later soon pick up the charm and elegance and beauty of the place. Everything here works in harmony is the best way to describe it. The city respects, nay reveres, its past, but it integrates with the new. Case in point—walking along King Street, which is this elegant city’s  main thoroughfare for shopping and dining, we saw a gay couple walking casually hand in hand. Not in Memphis, not in New Orleans.

We began Sunday with a self guided walk of the College of Charleston area drawn from a book we got on Saturday, A Gullah Guide to Charleston. 

These plaques are everywhere, the city's commitment to preservation

Twin houses, as they did. On the left the house has it's original stucco facing. Lacking stone, they built in brick that they covered and scored to look like stone. The house on the right has been stripped of the facing

The Marine hospital that was laterthe Jenkins Orphanage, founded by Rev. Daniel Jenkins, giving home, education and skills to orphaned African-American children.

This was the city jail and if a building can exude menace, this one does

Random street scenes

Entry to the quad of the College of Charleston

From there we went off to see the restoration site of the HL Hunley, the early Confederate submarine, which sank the USS Housatonic before sinking in Charleston Bay. Thanks to Patrick M for drawing this site to our attention. I've included a lot of images of this fascinating bit of marine archeology and restoration. See their site for the full story.

This is The Pioneer, a progenitor of the Hunley.

The Hunley itself will sit in a tank of sodium hydroxide for about five years to deconcretize and stabilize the iron. Without this, our volunteer guide informed us, it would dissolve into rust. The tank is not lighted as the alkaline solution eats lights. But look carefully and you can see details.

The cradle on which the boat rests

There was a film made about the Hunley and the producers made two replicas, approximately 10% larger than the original. This crew is happier than the three crews that manned the submarine, most of whom perished in three accidents.

A model

We ended the day a bit early to return to the hotel before dinner at the Charleston Grill. On Open Table the restaurant gets solid fives and we concur. I began with a superb crab cake, went on to a pair of massive lamb chops that were to die for and finished with carrot fritters and cream cheese ice cream. On Monday I barely ate to make up for the excesses of the previous day. It was worth it and it was a perfect end to a great visit to this charming city.