With a distinctive gazebo in its center and gingerbread houses surrounding it, Whitefield Square feels like a throw-back to Victorian times.
On Habersham and Wayne, Whitefield was one of the final squares to be laid out in Savannah, in 1851. It was named after George Whitefield, a British priest who came to the colonies and was largely responsible for the First Great Awakening. A movement which left a permanent imprint on American religion, the Awakening eschewed quiet contemplation and somber services in favor of loud, bombastic preaching, and put a heavy emphasis on personal guilt and the need for redemption. So when you see present-day televangelists screaming and crying and carrying on about the devil inside all of us… well, you can thank Whitefield for that. Stupid cross-eyed limey.
But Whitefield also put great worth in the importance of public deeds, and did his part by establishing the Bethesda Orphanage just outside Savannah. Still in use today, this was the very first orphanage in all North America.
Whitefield Square is fun to explore, as long as you don’t mind the occasional pan-handler. The gazebo in the center is usually the exclusive domain of vagabonds, and some of the housing surrounding the square is decidedly low-rent. But, there are plenty of gorgeous homes. And the Congregational Church on the square’s west side is a handsome building, consecrated in the late 19th century.
January 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm Comments (10)