On New Year’s Eve, we had the opportunity to meet Alvin Neely, a true Savannahian in every sense of the word. We had been invited to his house for a couple drinks, and were left speechless when we came through the front door. His mansion, so impressive from the outside, was even more amazing once you stepped inside.
Built in 1887 by William G. Preston, the brick mansion just south of Gaston Street boasts complicated interior architecture, rounded arches and turrets. In the 30-odd years he’s owned it, Alvin’s done a excellent job of maintaining and restoring the house’s original elements, and decorating it with artwork and antique furniture. Juergen asked how he went about choosing what art to buy for his home. “Buy? No, this is all stuff I get for free”. He pointed to a beautiful painting of a dancing jester. “The artist gave me this in exchange for a month’s rent”, he said, chuckling about what a great deal that had been.
William G. Preston was also the architect of the late, lamented DeSoto Hotel. Alvin reminisced about that building, which was torn down to make space for the hideous Hilton DeSoto. He got out a book of old images from Savannah, back in the days when the live oaks which now tower over the city’s squares were just saplings. A member of the Historic Savannah Foundation, Alvin recounted some of the battles which he helped fight … the DeSoto was one they lost.
We had a great time hanging out with Alvin and seeing his house. Our time in the city is winding down, and I think one of the memories we’ll always carry is how welcoming and friendly the people of Savannah have been to us. It’s been wonderful.
January 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm Comments (11)