Savannah Day 5, April 27, 2008

Mom and I literally hobbled out of bed (you would too if you’d been walking 12 hours straight the day before!!!) to get started on our day. Again, we headed downstairs to grab a banana and headed straight up Oglethorpe Avenue to Colonial Park Cemetery. The cemetery was established around 1750 is said to be the oldest one in use in the city of Savannah. They say in use because older cemeteries had been in place, but they were destroyed and built over. When I say destroyed, I mean the headstones were removed, but the bodies were left behind. This is probably what lends to Savannah being known as one of the most haunted cities in America.

Maybe it’s my interest in genealogy, but I find cemeteries fascinating. To just walk around and read the dates on some of the headstones is mind boggling to me. It’s all part of history. The Colonial Park Cemetery was interesting to me for several reason. First ~ General Sherman’s men took it over when they invaded Savannah. They emptied the crypts (ewww) and slept there. Their horses rubbed words off of the tombstone when they scratched themselves on the granite surfaces. They changed the dates on a lot of the tombstones in order to amuse themselves (although I never did find any with altered dates). Also, Button Gwinnett is buried there. I didn’t have a clue who Button Gwinnett was. I do now. He signed the Declaration of Independence. I took a picture of his tomb. A lot of people who took part in the history of Savannah are buried there. Young men who died in duels are buried there. It’s just amazing to me. I enjoyed wandering, reading the tombstones (well, the ones that could still be read, anyway), and just soaking it all in.

From the cemetery, we headed east to start on the next five squares. Our first square that day was Greene Square. The thing I found interesting about Greene Square is it didn’t have an iron marker like the rest of the squares ~ it was marked by a simple wooden sign. At Greene Square, we visited the Second African Baptist Church. A few points of interest about this church: it is where General Sherman and his men met with the newly freed slaves after the Civil War to read the Emancipation Proclamation. It is also where Martin Luther King Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, prior to ever giving it in Washington DC.

Next was Columbia Square. There, we wanted to visit the Davenport House (which was the first house that was restored in Historic Savannah in 1955). Unfortunately, the tours there didn’t start until 1pm, so we decided to keep walking and then would come back closer to the time when the tours started. Across from the Davenport House is the Kehoe House, which is now used as a Bed and Breakfast. Points about the Kehoe House ~ it was once owned by Joe Namath. Prior to that, it was a funeral home. Also, the man who built the home used a different window setting on every angle of the house ~ no two settings were the same. He used it as a display for people to order what they wanted on their houses (this was according to our tour guide, Diane, on the ghost tour from the previous night).

Oglethorpe Square was next. There, we wanted to visit the Owens-Thomas House. Again, tours didn’t start until 1pm, so decided to walk on and then go back after we visited the other two squares, which would put us back pretty close to the time the tours started. Then, we could also go back to Davenport and tour that home.

Wright Square was the next square on that street. Since we’d already been there a few times, we kept right on walking until we got to Telfair Square. At Telfair stands the Telfair Museum of Fine Art. I would have gone in to see the home itself and in hindsight, wish we’d gone there, but neither one of us are really what you would call art enthusiasts.

We then backtracked to the Owens-Thomas House to do the 1pm tour. After paying the admission fee in the gift shop ($8.00 per person), we were directed to the old slave quarters where the tour was to start. In the slave quarters, the tour guide pointed out the blue on the ceilings. This was known as Haint Blue. The word Haint means ghost or haunt, and the paint was believed to warn off spirits and is still used by many in some variation today. The original Haint Blue was made out of a base of milk and lime. Our tour guide told us that the Haint Blue located at the Owens-Thomas House is the largest piece of authentic paint left in the United States. I should also mention that the Owens-Thomas house has a reputation of being the finest example of English Regency style in America. Essentially, what this means is that if you were to cut the Owens-Thomas House in half directly from the middle, each side of the house would look the same. If there’s a window on the left side, there needs to be a window on the right side to make it symmetrical. Needless to say, there were a lot of fake doors and windows inside the house. Our tour guide took us through the garden and into the main floor of the home. Again, pictures (even without the flash!) were forbidden, so I don’t have anything to share of this tour either. A few highpoints to this tour was the top floor, which had a bridge that went from one side of the home to other. Essentially, because of the Regency style of the home, there were two stairwells leading to the top floor so the designer had to do something. But instead of a regular old hallway, he installed a bridge. Also, on the main floor was the bedroom that the Marquis De Lafayette stayed in, and the balcony right outside of this room where he made a famous speech to the citizens of Savannah in 1825. The basement was also interesting to me. This was where the meals were cooked, where the laundry was done, and where the private baths were. The baths are relevant because the Owens-Thomas home was the only one in that time period that had indoor plumbing. Mom and I both loved, loved, loved this tour. If you go to Savannah and want to tour a home, this is definitely the one to see. Afterwards, we got our picture taken in the garden and then browsed in the gift shop for awhile before heading back to the Davenport House.

As mentioned previously, the Davenport House was the first house to be preserved in Historic Savannah. Seven women who had grown tired of seeing the old buildings of Savannah being torn down, or just left to rot, founded the Historic Savannah Foundation in 1955. At the time that the foundation was founded, the Davenport House was abandoned, in ruins, and was being used as tenement housing. These women raised a little over $22,000 to buy this house and to restore it to preserve their history. This is why I wanted to see this house. It was the first one. We entered through the carriage house, paid our $8.00 per person fee and then waited for about 10 minutes for our tour to begin. Unfortunately, our tour guide was not good on this tour. He mumbled and spoke in such a monotone voice that even I, the history lover, was bored. Not to mention there was another tour going on at the same time and this girl was loud. I mean, her voice was booming. And her group was having fun. They were laughing and asking questions and really enjoying themselves. Our group? Not so much. I didn’t really get anything out of the tour. Perhaps a different tour guide would have made a difference. I don’t know. But we left Davenport House disappointed.

We headed North to visit the last five squares. Well, technically four because we’d seen and been in Franklin Square, so we didn’t feel the need to revisit it. At Johnson Square, we visited the Nathanial Greene monument and also the Johnny Mercer bench. Which brings to mind a question, I noticed that the monuments of the historic figures aren’t in the squares that are named after them. For example, there’s nothing in Greene Square, which was named for Nathanial Greene ~ but his monument is in Johnson Square. I’m not complaining. I’m just commenting. Also, I should mention that Johnson Square was the first square erected in Savannah back in 1733.

We then headed west two blocks and visited Reynolds Square next. At Reynolds Square sits the Olde Pink House restaurant, which is the former residence of James Habersham back in the 1700’s. This is one of the places I wanted to eat at, but we never got the chance. The house is actually brick and back in Habersham’s day, it was white-washed. FYI ~ Red brick plus white-wash, equals a pink house. Evidently, they would try repeatedly to white wash the house, but it always inevitably turned pink. So, they eventually gave up and just painted the whole house pink. The Olde Pink House is rumored to be haunted by Habersham himself. The food is good (so I’ve heard). Guess I’ll need to go back in order to find out for myself 🙂 Also at Reynolds Square is a monument in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

The last two squares were Warren Square and Washington Square. Washington Square borders what was the original Trustees Gardens which was where early Savannah citizens planted and tested the growth potential of different plants, vegetables, trees, etc. Also at Washington Square is the Hampton-Lillibridge House. This house is actually a private residence, so tours aren’t available, but it is rumored to be the most haunted building in the entire city of Savannah. The home was originally owned by Jim Williams (the same man who owned the Mercer-Williams House). He bought the house and had it relocated to an empty he owned by Washington Square (where it currently sits). Evidently, during the move, one of the workers was killed. Also, it is said that the lot that the house was placed on was an old burial lot. Evidently there were enough strange occurrences at that house that Jim had the Bishop perform an exorcism of the house in 1963. Mr. Williams moved from the house shortly thereafter.

After we finished with the squares, it was definitely time for a bite to eat. It was after 3pm, and we hadn’t eaten since that morning! So, we crossed the street and headed to The Pirates’ House. The restaurant has been rumored to have been around since 1753. This was one of the restaurants I’d researched before we’d gone to Savannah and was really looking forward to it for several reasons. First, there are 15 different dining rooms, all with a different theme. Second, it’s supposedly haunted by Captain Flint, who died in one of the upstairs rooms and reportedly is known to wander the hallways and a few of the dining rooms. Third, the book Treasure Island is based on the author’s visit to the Pirate House and in fact, Savannah is referred to often in this tale. Lastly, the stories of men who were “recruited” in to piracy back in the day. The story goes that the pirates would get these men so drunk that they passed out and then would transport them by way of the tunnels underneath the restaurant that lead to the Savannah River. When these poor men awoke, they would already be miles and miles out to see and were forced into lives of piracy. The tunnels are still there, supposedly but there wasn’t enough staff on that day (probably because of the time we got there) to show us. Also, the 15 rooms? No longer there. The Pirates’ House has a new owner and he’s been renovating. Sad, but true. I saw only a small number of rooms there, so it definitely did not live up to my imagination of what it should have been. We were seated at a table in the Captains’ Room. What was most fun here was that we were seated next to a young family from Florida with three young boys. One of the waiters was regaling the kids with all sorts of pirate and ghost stories and it was just so humorous to see their reactions. Definitely was fun to watch. We ordered our meal ~ I had the soup, salad, and sandwich combo and Mom had the Rainbow Shrimp pasta. Both were delicious. Part of my meal was a cup of she-crab soup, and let me tell you it was to die for. So creamy and good. Very rich though, so a cup is probably all I would have been able to eat without getting an upset stomach. Also, my meal was only supposed to come with ½ of a sandwich, but they gave me a whole one. Plus a salad. Plus soup. Definitely a large meal. Again, I don’t know where my head was. I didn’t take any pictures here, but I did find a nice one on the internet I’ll share.

After dinner, we walked to City Market and browsed for awhile. We also had to hit Savannah Candy Kitchen for free praline samples, plus I had a craving for some ice cream so I bought me and Mom each a dish of the Pecan Praline ice cream from Tubby’s inside the candy store. It was delicious! So rich and creamy ~ definitely much better than the ice cream we’d had at Leopold’s a few days before.

We went back to the hotel to rest up a little bit, and then around 7:30pm we headed down Liberty to Barnard and then to Jones Street, and went to the Crystal Beer Parlor. The Crystal Beer Parlor was another restaurant I’d researched before we went on vacation. As we got closer and closer to the restaurant, I started to have reservations about this place. It just didn’t look good. The neighborhood looked bad, and the place itself looked empty. Despite this, we went inside anyway. The end result? The food was good. We started off with an order of Fried Okra. Of course, Mom told our waiter we’d never had it and he responded with an enthusiastic question of “Well how far north of the Mason-Dixon Line are you from????” We told him Montana, and he wondered what grew in Montana. Mom said corn; I said cows. I thought that was amusing. The funny thing was, the two men at the table behind us were originally from Wyoming. How funny is that??? We got served our okra and then ordered dinner. Mom had the Chili Dog Platter and I had the Crab Burger (and yes, I took a picture and sent it to my sister). All in all, the food was good and I’m glad we ate there. And the cute waiter didn’t hurt.

You can read about Day 1 here.
You can read about Day 2 here.
You can read about Day 3 here.
You can read about Day 4 here.

7 thoughts on “Savannah Day 5, April 27, 2008

  1. Another thing we have in common – I have a love of cemetaries! I usually walk through and look at the dates and imagine the kind of life the person lived. There’s something – can’t think of the right word – powerful? connecting with people who have been here before us, even if we only think of them for that moment in time.Okay, I need to put a pin in your posts cause I’m falling behind. I think you posted 3 days in one!!Cindys

    Like

  2. Cindy ~ I think I did post three days all at once. I was only posting once a week and I didn’t want to forget anything before I got around to writing it down. Powerful would be a good word. I also like to imagine what life was like for that person. And, like you said, just feeling a connection to him/her even if it’s for only a brief moment.

    Like

  3. Ayee. I’m a tour guide at the Davenport. In fact, I think I’m the “loud gril with the booming voice” you were talking about. I wrote up a blog entry based on that bit about the DH. If you wanna read it, here: http://trulyplaidtastic.blogspot.comI called you “Mr. Blogman” but looking at your blog I guess you’re “Ms. Bloglady”. Umm. I’ll fix it later. Even if you don’t check it out, sorry you had such a bad experience with us. Hope the rest of your trip to Savannah was better..

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s