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Some Final Images from Savannah

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Five years is usually considered to be a long time, but that’s not necessarily the case in Savannah. We returned to find the city largely as we had left it. Sure, there were some new restaurants, and a few additional museums to check out … whether they were new or had re-opened after renovation. But Savannah itself hadn’t changed at all. And we like it that way. Here are some final images from our return to this beautiful and utterly unique southern city.

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April 10, 2016 at 10:42 am Comment (1)

A Few Great Savannah Restaurants

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Eating well in Savannah isn’t a problem. There are any number of excellent restaurants to discover, from classic barbecue joints to more modern cuisine. Upon returning after five years, we compiled a list of some of our favorites. If you’re looking for good eats, you might want to give one of these restaurants a try.

Crystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor

One of Savannah’s most historic restaurants, the Crystal Beer Parlor on West Jones Street opened in the early 1900s as a grocery store. It soon morphed into a restaurant and was one of the first in the country to serve alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition. That alone was enough to win it a place in the heart of Savannah, and the Crystal hasn’t become any less popular over the course of the decades.

We’ve been a number of times, and always enjoy ourselves immensely. The food is excellent… although I’ve never ordered anything other than burgers. And the sheer number of craft brews on-tap is a glorious sight to behold. Whether you eat at a booth or the bar, and even if there’s a line waiting for tables (there probably will be), we can almost guarantee you’ll have a great time at the Crystal. [Location | Website]

The Grey
They Grey Raustaurant

Set inside Savannah’s former Greyhound station, on MLK Boulevard, the Grey uses its location to excellent effect. The old ticket stands are now the restaurant’s bar, and the waiting room has become the main dining hall. But as impressive as the remodeling is, the Grey’s food is even better. I ordered up the daily special: locally-sourced oysters served on the half-shell and bathed in a delicious herb sauce. It’s not known as the cheapest spot to eat in Savannah, but the price of the lunch menu was reasonable, and the food was worth every penny. [Location | Website]

Sandfly BBQ
Sandfly BBQ Savannah

Housed in a classic old Streamliner diner on Barnard Street, Sandfly BBQ has been serving up Memphis-style barbecue to hungry Savannahians for a few years, now. It’s a small joint, so you might have to wait for a booth, but don’t let that stop you. This is wonderfully-flavored BBQ, rich and smoky, and it tastes great whether you order a platter, a sandwich or a salad. That’s right: salad. I ordered the Pulled Pork Sandfly Salad… and I think there might have actually been some lettuce leafs underneath all that meat. Just enough to make me feel “healthy.” [Location | Website]

Treylor Park
Treylor Park Savannah

It doesn’t often happen that you can dislike your meal at a restaurant, and still wholeheartedly recommend the place. But that is exactly what happened to me at Treylor Park, a restaurant found downtown on Bay Street. It wasn’t their fault that I didn’t like my meal: they had accurately titled their “Fried Chicken Pancake Tacos With Strawberry Salsa,” and it was well-made. I’m not sure why I ordered them, but it turns out that fried chicken pancake tacos smothered in strawberry sauce taste exactly how you would expect.

But I love the audacity of even having such a thing on your menu. And everything else we had at Treylor Park was delicious. Not only that, but there was a great buzz at this bar/restaurant; the place was packed when we entered, and we grabbed the last stools available. There’s a reason Treylor Park has become so well-loved. But it might not be the fried chicken pancake tacos… [Location | Website]

Screamin’ Mimi’s

Screamin’ Mimi’s has long been serving Jersey-style pizzas to the people of Savannah, but it also serves up a cool, slightly-hipsterish atmosphere in its small, family-run restaurant on Oglethorpe Avenue. Mimi and Big Lou are the proprietors, and although I’ve never heard Mimi scream, I’m pretty sure that I did after seeing the size of the supreme pizza we ordered. If a giant, delicious pizza, dripping with cheese and toppings sounds good to you, head on down. [Location | Website]

The Green Truck
Green Truck Savannah

If you’re in the mood for a great burger, go south on Habersham and don’t stop until you see a restaurant with a pale green truck sitting out front. Despite its location outside of the city center, this is one of the most popular lunch spots in Savannah. The restaurant looks a little shabby from the outside, but don’t let that prevent you from going in; the service is friendly, the menu is fun and unpretentious, and the burgers are incredible. [Location | Website]

The Collins Quarter
Collins Corner Restaurant

This stylish restaurant does justice to one of the best locations in the city, at the intersection of Bull and Oglethorpe. It was founded by an Australian and its interior is based on the popular Collins Street of Melbourne. But we sat outside on the sidewalk, to better enjoy another of Savannah’s unseasonably warm February afternoons.

During our visit, the place was packed and it took a long time for our food to arrive. We hadn’t complained, but the waiter brought us a couple beers on the house, by way of apology; this is a courtesy most popular restaurants wouldn’t extend, and we really appreciated it. The Collins Quarter has a lot of things going for it: excellent food, friendly service, a great location and reasonable prices. [Location | Website]

Huc-a-Poos

Screamin’ Mimi’s is great, but our favorite Savannah pizza joint isn’t actually in Savannah, but Tybee Island. Huc-a-Poos is a Tybee institution, beloved among locals for its giant pizzas, rock-bottom prices, and rowdy atmosphere. The deal on pizzas simply can’t be beat: you can order as many toppings as you want, and the price doesn’t change. Throw in an outdoor eating patio, hilarious bartenders, and drunken locals trying to pick up any newcomers who wander in (it’s happened to us), and you have the recipe for an entertaining night out. [Location | Website]

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More Pics from the Crystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor
Chrystal Beer Parlor
More Pics from The Grey
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
They Grey Raustaurant
More Pics from Sandfly BBQ
Sandfly BBQ Savannah
Sandfly BBQ Savannah
Sandfly BBQ Savannah
Sandfly BBQ Savannah
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Treylor Park Savannah
Treylor Park Savannah
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April 10, 2016 at 10:28 am Comments (2)

The Isaiah Davenport House

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It’s impossible to imagine Savannah without the stunning mansions which adorn so many of its squares and streets. But the city’s architectural heritage was once in real danger of disappearing completely. The struggle to save Savannah’s soul began in 1955, at the Isaiah Davenport House.

Davenport House

In the mid-20th century, Savannah was a very different place. Many of its homes stood vacant and derelict, and there wasn’t much value placed on preservation. Why maintain an abandoned old house, unique as it may be, when the valuable downtown lot can be sold for parking? From north to south, east to west, Savannah’s historic squares were coming under assault from the most hideous sort of re-development.

In 1955, when a parking company announced its plans to buy the Isaiah Davenport House on Columbia Square, certain members of Savannah’s society stood up and said, “enough.” This house was one of the country’s most important examples of American Federal architecture, and the idea that it could be demolished for yet another parking lot was too much to bear. Under the leadership of Katherine Summerlin, a group of seven women united as the Historic Savannah Foundation, and raised enough money to purchase the property. They restored the Isaiah Davenport House, and opened it as a museum in 1962.

Davenport House

And they didn’t stop there. Over the next few decades, the foundation snatched up property after property, quickly settling into a comfortable rhythm of buy-restore-sell, which allowed them to continue until over 500 of Savannah’s most notable houses had been saved from the wrecking ball.

After taking a tour of the Davenport House, it’s clear why this property was the catalyst for action. It would have been a travesty for it to have been lost. Isaiah Davenport was an architect by trade, and his house was built as both a residence for his family, as well as an advertisement for his skills. We loved our tour, which brought us into the family’s living quarters and salons. Each room has been designed to mimic an 18th-century residence, with period furniture and wallpaper copied from period patterns.

If you want to understand Savannah’s history, a visit to the Isaiah Davenport House is a must. Today, the necessity of preserving important works of architecture seems self-evident, but it’s important to remember that this hasn’t always been the case. Without the tireless work of a few dedicated individuals, Savannah would be a very different place.

Location on our Map
Davenport House Museum – Website

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April 7, 2016 at 10:47 am Comments (0)

The Sorrel-Weed House

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Found on Madison Square, the Sorrel-Weed House has gained a reputation as the most haunted spot in a city known for ghouls. The house has been the subject of just about every sort of “Ghost Hunting” reality show that exists, and even offers visitors the chance to take a spooky nighttime tour. But Jürgen and I decided to check it out during the day, on an architectural tour.

Haunted Sorrel Weed House

This house was built by the shipping merchant Frances Sorrel in 1837. Sorrel had acquired a fortune while living in Haiti, but fled the island nation after its successful slave rebellion. He installed himself in Savannah, a city which still believed in the honorable institution of slavery, and proceeded to extend his fortune.

It seems safe to assume that Mr. Sorrel was a jerk, and this theory is supported by his amorous affair with the beautiful Molly, one of the slaves under his command. Soon after the tryst came to life, his wife Matilda fell from the house’s third-story window to her death in the courtyard. Her family claimed she fainted, while society believed she had committed suicide. But there were also whispers that she was pushed. And when Sorrel’s lover Molly was found hanged in the carriage house, the whispers grew louder. Was it another suicide, or was Mr. Sorrel cleaning up his mess? Today, the ghosts of both Matilda and Molly are said to haunt the Sorrel-Weed House.

We met in the ground-floor salon, where we learned about the house’s history, and then followed our guide through the various rooms. The tour wasn’t as comprehensive as we would have liked, as much of the Sorrel-Weed House is still under renovation, but the rooms we were able to see were beautiful. This is one of Savannah’s most sterling examples of Greek Revival architecture, and was one of the first homes in the city to be protected as a State Landmark.

Haunted Sorrel Weed House

We went to the second floor to see the family’s private quarters, and then out to the carriage house where the slaves lived, and where Molly either committed suicide or was murdered. Did I detect any paranormal reverberations while standing in this famously haunted spot? Well, of course not, but others have claimed to.

Many of Savannah’s classic mansions have been around for so long, and have such unique histories, that they seem to have taken on characters of their own. The Sorrel-Weed House is no exception. You get a sense that the house itself is just as alive as its former residents. Perhaps there’s something to this idea of ghosts… not that they’re roaming the halls, rattling chains and spooking visitors, but that the people who lived and died here have somehow seeped into the walls and the floors; that their vital essence has been transferred.

Or maybe it’s just an old house. We’ll let you decide.

Location on our Map
Sorrel-Weed House – Website

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Haunted Sorrel Weed House
Haunted Sorrel Weed House
Haunted Sorrel Weed House
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April 6, 2016 at 11:41 am Comments (0)

The Georgia State Railroad Museum

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The Central of Georgia Railway company was founded in 1833, connecting Savannah to Macon and Southeast America’s budding train network. The company’s Savannah headquarters were closed in 1963, and today the grounds have found a new life as home to the Georgia State Railroad Museum.

Train Museum Savannah

Located in Tricentennial Park, the former headquarters of the Central of Georgia are considered one of the most well-preserved antebellum train complexes in America, and the entire site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The site is comprised of a handful of old buildings, most of which can be visited. The highlight is the old roundhouse. Railway cars in need of repair were able to roll into the center of this circular construct, where there was a massive rotating disk that would spin around until the car was pointed at its proper stall.

We joined a tour of the former Coach and Paint House, which currently holds some historic wagons, tram cars and a caboose. Neglected for decades after the company’s closure, this building and the entire yard had been occupied by homeless people, who accidentally started a major fire. Today, a lot of restoration has been done, but you can still see the signs of the paint house’s rougher days, most particularly in the graffiti decorating its walls.

Train Museum Savannah

Many of the company’s most historic trains have been restored, and the most impressive ones are displayed in the roundhouse. Unfortunately, almost all of them are off-limits to visitors, unless you’re part of a tour. Luckily, such tours are both free and frequent. Regardless of what time you show up, you’ll likely be able to join one. If you have kids, you might want to ensure that the tour you join includes a ride on the still-functioning handcar.

Location on our Map
Georgia State Railroad Museum – Website

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Train Museum Savannah
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April 6, 2016 at 10:51 am Comments (0)

Lady Hats at the Mansion

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“Lady Hats at the Mansion” is a suggestive title, yes? Is it a metaphor? A play on words? Well, apologies for being so literal, but in this case, we’re referring to actual lady hats. As soon as we learned about this bizarre collection, we raced over to the Mansion on Forsyth. Nothing gets our blood pumping like dainty hats for lady-folk!

The “Kessler Collection Celebrating a Century of Hats” is a permanent exhibition found within the stately halls of the Mansion on Forsyth Park. Even if you’re not into hats, you should still step inside this red-brick, Victorian Romanesque mansion, which is among the most beautiful buildings in the city. Today it operates as a hotel, and the lobby is a study in elegance. The Mansion is also home to 700 Drayton, a popular restaurant on the ground floor.

But we were here for the lady hats. We’ve always been drawn to oddball exhibitions, and have visited museums dedicated to witchcraft, brothels, parasites and private parts, so this collection was right up our alley.

A few glass cases in a first-floor hallway of the Mansion contain dozens of bonnets and fedoras dating back to the 1860s. Some of them are pretty, while others are just insane. And whether or not it was intentionally designed this way, you can position yourself so that your reflection appears to be wearing the hats. Have I always wondered what I’d look like in a sassy silk bonnet? Well, not really. But it turns out I look like a cross-dressing psychopath.

Even if you’re not an aficionado of antiquated fashion, the Mansion’s Lady Hat collection is a sight which is fun, free and bizarre… and somehow feels right at home in Savannah.

Location on our Map
The Mansion on Forsyth – Website

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Mansion Hat Collection
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April 5, 2016 at 9:52 am Comments (0)

The King-Tisdell Cottage

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Built in 1896 and recently restored to its original beauty, the King-Tisdell Cottage allows visitors to check out the interior of a classic Savannah home, and learn more about the rich heritage of the city’s black population.

Kings Tisdell Cottage

When we walked by the King-Tisdell Cottage, it had already been a long day, and we briefly considered saving this attraction for another time. But the cottage is small, and we figured that it would be a quick visit. We hadn’t, however, reckoned on the force of nature awaiting us behind the doors. As soon as we stepped inside the cottage, I knew that our visit would be anything but quick.

There are people who are so enthusiastic, it’s as though their bodies can’t contain their spirits, and energy simply bubbles up and out of them. Our guide to the King-Tisdell Cottage is one such person. A true Savannah character, this woman provided a nonstop whirlwind of information, anecdotes and laughs from the moment we entered until we staggered out an hour later. The first thing she did was put her hands on her hips, look up and down at Jürgen’s 6’6″ frame and say, “Well I’ll be calling you ‘Big Daddy Long Legs’! Now come on, Big Daddy, sit down and let me tell you about Mr. and Mrs. King”

Kings Tisdell Cottage

And so we sat down and allowed her to regale us about Mr. and Mrs. Eugene and Sarah King, who bought this cottage in 1925. She told us about Sarah’s confectionery shop, and Mr. King’s passing, and Sarah’s remarriage to a longshoreman named Robert Tisdell. She told us about her own life, and local Savannah ice-pops known as “thrills,” and the neighborhood kids, and the Underground Railroad, and how “you can’t trust anything you learn about black folks from the TV, now listen to me!”

As we walked through the house with her, struggling to process the information overload, we also tried to concentrate on the Victorian-era house itself, which is lovely. There are exhibits dedicated to the lives of the cottage’s owners, as well as W.W. Law, the influential Savannah civil rights leader who led the charge to preserve the house, moving it from its original location on Ott Street to Huntingdon.

Our guide seemed to detect the moment our energy had finally run out, and walked us to the door, offering us a couple moon pies for the road. Naturally, our farewells lasted for a long time, too; a neighbor stopped by and we all hung out at the cottage’s fence, chatting about the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the amazing weather. We were exhausted by the time we took our leave, but this had been an unexpectedly fun experience… just like many in Savannah tend to be.

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Kings Tisdell Cottage
Kings Tisdell Cottage
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April 3, 2016 at 11:01 am Comments (0)
Some Final Images from Savannah Five years is usually considered to be a long time, but that's not necessarily the case in Savannah. We returned to find the city largely as we had left it. Sure, there were some new restaurants, and a few additional museums to check out ... whether they were new or had re-opened after renovation. But Savannah itself hadn't changed at all. And we like it that way. Here are some final images from our return to this beautiful and utterly unique southern city.
For 91 Days