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Orleans Square

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Orleans Square, on Barnard Street, might as well be called Parking Lot Square. It’s one of the spaces which has been most negatively impacted by the development boom of the mid-20th century.

Orleans Fountain

The square itself could be quite charming, with a large central fountain dedicated to the German immigrants to Savannah that was installed on the 250th anniversary of the founding of Georgia. But once you take your eyes off the ground and look around, the charm vanishes. The biggest blight is the Civic Center, whose backside and rear parking area mar the western end of Orleans Square. Five of the eight lots which surround Orleans are dedicated to parking. Another is occupied by SCAD’s gym.

Luckily, the houses which do survive on Orleans are beautiful, particularly the Harper-Fowlkes House on 230 Barnard. Built in 1842 in the Greek Revival style, this house is occasionally open for tours and also serves as the Georgia headquarters for the Society of the Cincinnati. This house can be toured. Another noteworthy home on Orleans is the Stephen-Williams House, constructed in 1834 in the Federal style. It’s currently an inn with individually-designed rooms.

Location on our Savannah Map
Harper-Fowlkes House Website
Stephen-Williams House Inn – Website

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Orleans Spanish Moss
Savannah Bench
Orelans Square Savannah
Spanish Moss Fountain
Spanish Moss Nest
Wetterhahn
Savannah Tower
House on Orleans Square
Harper-Fowlkes-House
Savannah Iron Horse
Savannah Houses
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Savannah Shops
Club SCAD
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January 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm Comments (5)

Inside a Savannah Mansion

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On New Year’s Eve, we were invited into the home of an old-school Savannahian. Our soft-spoken host, Alvin, was a true southern gentleman, as gracious as possible, and both his character and his house seemed to be straight from the pages of some Victorian Gothic novel.

Mysterious Mansion

Alvin’s brick mansion, built in 1887, was in our neighborhood and we had admired it often. So when we were invited inside, we jumped at the chance. Since purchasing the mansion decades ago, Alvin has worked to restore its original elements, decorating it with artwork and period furniture. Jürgen made an appreciative comment about much all this original artwork must have cost, which caused Alvin to laugh. “This is all stuff I get for free!” He pointed to a painting of a dancing jester. “The girl who painted this gave it to me in exchange for a month’s rent.”

The mansion’s architect, William G. Preston, had also been responsible for the late, lamented DeSoto Hotel. Alvin reminisced about that building, which was torn down to make space for the Hilton, a much derided eyesore on Madison Square. 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. Alvin was a member of the Historic Savannah Foundation, and recounted some of the battles which he helped fight; preserving the DeSoto was one they lost.

After a couple cocktails, we took our leave; the New Year’s celebrations were just heating up in the city, and Alvin urged us to go and have fun. We did so, but somewhat reluctantly. The party we ended up at was alright, but I have a feeling that spending New Year’s with Alvin in his incredible mansion would have been the more memorable evening.

May we guide you through Savannah?

Alvin Neely
Lady with Dirty Face
Savannah Garden
Savannah Tower
Savannah Mansion
Savannah Details
Savannah Design
Savannah House Tours
Mirror Lamp
Savanah Salon
Savanah Salon
Haunted Mirror
Porcelan Clock
Savannah Memories
Savannah Decoration
Savannah Sofa
Angel Boy
Savannah Glass
Savannah Curtain
Classic Savannah
Savannah Silver
Savannah Chair
Savannah Mansion Details
Savannah Figures
Southern Living
Flower Baby
Round Window Savannah
Savannah Tiles
Old Fashion Bathroom
Savannah Porch
southern Bell
Neely Alvin
Alvin Neely

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January 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm Comments (12)

Bluffton, SC — Almost a Homecoming

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I grew up in Bluffton, Ohio. A Midwestern metropolis of about 3000 people, Bluffton is the kind of place where a knitting festival would be the cultural highlight of the month (if something as cool as a knitting festival ever actually took place). Friday night football, the bowling alley, and cruising up and down Main Street in an endless loop, looking for something, anything to do… ah, the memories.

Vintage Madhouse

So visiting Bluffton, South Carolina, was amusing to me. It’s about ten times the size of my hometown, and a lot more interesting. Located on the May River, close to Hilton Head, it’s a funny city filled with strange characters. We spent the day and on the way home, found ourselves in total agreement on one thing: Bluffton is bizarre.

Our unofficial guide for the day was a local. We met Nancy inside her store called Eggs N Tricities, which is packed from wall to wall with exactly the things you’d expect to find in a store called “Eggs N Tricities”: vintage clothes, old books, so-bad-they’re-good paintings, knick-knacks, seashell creations and other curiosities which defy description.

Blufton Church

Nancy was a perfect guide to Bluffton. She knew a lot of stories about the locals, and it was fun to see these beautiful old houses, and hear about the crazy things which happened inside them. We paused for a delicious lunch at a restaurant called The Cottage, which was still busy at 2pm, and then visited a few of the town’s shops. Bluffton is a very artsy town, packed with knick-knack stores and local painters. After finishing shopping, we went to the Oyster Factory and checked out the Church of the Cross, an impressive wooden structure which dates from 1857.

There are actually two sides to Bluffton, and the one in which we spent the day was the old part. The “new city,” built up and around the highway, is where the more usual businesses can be found, and is much busier. Nancy said that some people who live in New Bluffton have never even been to the old town. That’s shocking, because this is a special little place, and definitely worth the trip from Savannah.

Location on our Day Trip Map

Check Car Rental Prices

Cross Handles
Religion America
Blufton Bibles
Blufton Gas Lamp
Pink Church
Mystical Forrest
Blufton SC
Pier Blufton
Piers
Rare Jungle Monster
Tree USA
Modern Architecture Blufton
Orchard Green House
Orchard Wall
Blufton Orchard
Oyster Pile
Blufton Marsh
Artist is Out
Pierce Giltner
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January 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm Comments (5)

Day Trip to Beaufort

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We took a trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, which is about an hour north of Savannah. This small coastal town makes an ideal excursion, but as I realized after receiving a number of puzzled looks, it’s pronounced “Beww-furt” and not “Bow-fort.”

Beaufort Mansion

On arriving, we had made a beeline for the Old Point, which boasts incredible mansions overlooking the Beaufort River. A brochure from the Tourist Office points out all the historic homes, and there were plenty. On Laurens Street, we passed a huge brick estate built in 1852; its two stories and facade supported by four massive pillars. In the yard, an older gentleman was playing with a boxer. I asked if he owned the house, and his response was classic. “No, actually, the house owns me.”

And I don’t think he was just being clever. This is an area where the houses have more character and history than people could ever hope to attain. Even if you living in one of them, you must almost feel like a guest. The entire historic district of Beaufort was declared a National Historic Landmark, in 1973, for its gorgeous Antebellum architecture.

Although the Point was our favorite area of town, with its stunning old mansions, the city center also has a lot to offer, including some great restaurants along Bay Street. We had lunch at a stylish downtown joint called The Wren, where we wolfed down creative sandwiches stuffed with Southern specialties like fried green tomatoes.

Once we’d had our fill of food and architecture, we decided to round out our day trip to Beaufort with a hike in the Hunting Island State Park. It was a great day. And although I can’t imagine anyone would ever run out of things to do in Savannah, Beaufort makes for a great excursion, just in case.

Location of Beaufort on our Map

Beautiful Beaufort Inns and B&Bs

Beaufort Beauty
Beaufort Architecture
Banana Tree Beaufort
Beaufort Castle
Beaufort Bench
Beaufort Bench
Beaufort Lamps
Beaufort Pier
Beaufort Leaves
Beaufort Warning
Blue Flowers
Beaufort Porch
White Porch
Columns Beaufort
Crazy Tree
BMW Beaufort
Good Doggy
Cozy Beaufort
Dawg in the Hood
Fall in Beaufort
Evil Eye
Low Clearance Beaufort
Horse Ride Beaufort
Trapped Spanish Moss
Lamp With Character
Southern Design
Southern Living
Stairs to Nowhere
Stars and Stripes
Sweet Iced Tea

Beaufort Books

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December 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm Comments (6)

First Impressions and Images of Savannah

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Our first full day in Savannah was warm and overcast. Luckily, the rain held off and we were able to spend the afternoon getting familiar with the city that would be our home for the next few months.

Savannah City Hall

Our landlord had offered to let us make use of a couple bikes he had in storage. We wobbled into town on the old, rickety contraptions, knowing that this was the perfect way to get around Savannah. A sleek mountain bike would be out of place in this eccentric, slow-moving city, but ambling along the wide streets on these quirky old things, we fit right in.

Over the course the day, I gathered the same impressions of Savannah which must strike every newcomer to the city. The haunting beauty of the Spanish Moss. The crowded riverside promenade with its shops and tour boats. The incredible Victorian architecture. The parks and squares, with their monuments to Savannah’s rich history. Spacious old mansions always evince an air of mystery, with their quiet sense of history, and Savannah has hundreds of such houses! Biking around them, especially on a dreary day, was enough to send shivers down my spine. It’s no coincidence that the city is home to so many ghost stories.

But what impressed us most of all was the people and the relaxed way of life which reigns here. Nearly everyone we encountered was smiling, happy to stop and chat. Savannah boasts an eclectic populace, with proper, society-type ladies sharing the squares and sidewalks with panhandlers and flannel-clad students. It’s an old city, but one with a vital infusion of youth that keeps things fresh. Thanks to SCAD, the Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah might have a higher percentage of hipsters than Brooklyn.

This initial tour was fascinating, and by the time we returned to our own beautiful mansion just off Abercorn, I knew that we had made a great decision in coming here. Savannah is stunning at first glance, but it’s a city whose true beauty lies in its depth; its history, secrets, stories and legends. Our 91 days was already ticking down, and I could hardly wait to get back out there and start exploring.

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Savannah River
Savannah Bridge
M-Boat
Savannah Olympic Flame
Safety Savannah
River Street
Savannah Underground
Block Stairs Savanna
Spanish Moss
Cutting Magnolia
Austrians in Savannah
Celtic Cross Savannah
Bull Street Savannah
Horse Tours Savannah
Waiting for the DOt
Savannah One Way
Savannah Upside Down
Film Fest Savannah
Savannah Scad Theater
Monroe Savannah
Wigs
Southern Belle Umbrella
Savannah Hipsters
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November 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm Comments (9)
Orleans Square Orleans Square, on Barnard Street, might as well be called Parking Lot Square. It's one of the spaces which has been most negatively impacted by the development boom of the mid-20th century.
For 91 Days