One of the most beautiful squares in Savannah is doubtlessly Monterey, named in honor of the 1846 Battle of Monterey from the Mexican-American War. With an outstanding memorial to Casmir Pulaski in its center, incredible houses surrounding it, and plenty of history, Monterey is one of our favorites.
The most famous house on Monterey Square is the Mercer-Williams House, where Jim Williams lived and shot Danny Hansford dead, as detailed in The Book. The film was filmed on location here, making the Mercer-Williams house is probably the most well-known in all of Savannah. Contrary to popular belief, Johnny Mercer never lived in it; his family built the house, but never occupied it. We’ve yet to take the tour, but plan on it soon.
Across the square is the Congregation Mickve Israel, the only Gothic-style synagogue in America. It’s also one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the country, having formed in 1733. Oglethorpe’s colonial Georgia was welcoming to Jewish immigrants, and some of the city’s original settlers were Spanish and Portuguese Jews, looking for freedom from Catholic persecution. They brought with them a handwritten copy of the Torah (a Sefer Torah) which is still used today for special occasions.
Just as the statue of Oglethorpe is in Chippewa and not Oglethorpe Square, the obelisk honoring the revolutionary war hero Casimir Pulaski probably should be in Pulaski Square, over on Barnard Street. Oh well, it’s a magnificent tribute regardless. Pulaski was Polish, but played a major part in the American Revolution, taking a leading role in the development of our nation’s cavalry. He died in Savannah, and the city has pulled out all the stops to honor him: an obelisk, a square and even a fort.
In the four-story house on the southwest corner of Monterey Square, there’s a great antiques store, which we’ll be writing about soon. The antiques occupy all four floors, and you could spend hours wandering around.
What are your memories, thoughts or stories from Monterey Square? Leave a comment!
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January 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm