Layed out in 1733, Ellis Square has the distinction of being one of Oglethorpe’s “original four” squares, along with Johnson, Telfair and Wright. It also has the distinction of being the most singularly ugly of all Savannah’s squares.
But it’s not Ellis Square’s fault! Don’t hate on poor Ellis. In 1954, before the historic preservation movement really got going, Ellis Square was sold to a parking association, which demolished it and built a parking lot on top. Hmmm… Ellis Square was sold and lost its dignity. Before the Civil War, Ellis Square was the site of Savannah’s slave market, where people were sold. Karma!
The parking company’s 50-year lease ended in 2004 and Savannah wasted no time in redeveloping Ellis and reclaiming its 22nd square. But, aesthetically, there’s little doubt they did a poor job. You know, it’s modern times and I suppose they wanted to push the envelope, but Ellis is not beautiful or charming. With plain cement in a circular shape and an utter lack of vegetation, most tourists don’t even realize they’re in one of Savannah’s most historic squares.
City Market sprouts off to the west of Ellis Square, right where Susie Chisolm‘s bronze Johnny Mercer leans happily against his fire hydrant. The Lady and Sons is nearby, as is Goose Feather’s cafe and a number of shops. All this marketplace activity is really the only reason to come to Ellis Square. It won’t be for the view.
- Savannah 101 (almost!)
January 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm Comments (6)