Madison Square, on Bull Street between Chippewa and Monterey Square, is possibly the most monumental in Savannah. With a magnificent 1888 tribute to William Jasper as its centerpiece, Madison offers a wealth of things to see both inside the square and around it.
South Carolinian revolutionary hero Sgt. Jasper was mortally wounded during the Siege of Savannah. He had found fame during an earlier battle with the British, when he recovered a shot-down South Carolina flag and held it aloft in the midst of heavy fighting. The statue pays tribute to that event, and includes other scenes from his life. Cannons from the Savannah armory protect Madison’s southern flank, and a monument to the ill-fated rebel siege on British-controlled Savannah can also be found in the square.
Around Madison, there’s enough to occupy an entire afternoon. You can visit the Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman famously stayed during his time in Savannah. With its cast-iron fence and extended covered porch, this National Historic Landmark from 1861 is a stunning example of the Gothic Revival style. It’s connected to the St. John’s Episcopal Church. According to legend, the ladies of the congregation, offended by the next-door presence of the enemy Yankee, rang the bells without pause, through the night. Sherman responded by having the bells removed.
On the northwest corner of Madison is one of Savannah’s most famous residences: The Sorrel-Weed House. One of Savannah’s best examples of Greek Revival and Regency architecture, the house has found itself the subject of numerous ghost stories. It was even the subject of a 2009 episode of Ghost Hunters. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, the house is worth visiting.
Across Bull Street is of Savannah’s most unfortunate buildings: the Hilton DeSoto. An ugly, towering blight on the city’s skyline, the Hilton has loomed over the middle of Savannah since 1966, when it replaced the lovely red brick DeSoto hotel. Continuing clockwise around the square brings you to the most popular bookshop in Savannah: E. Shaver’s. We stocked up on Savannah literature here when we first arrived; the staff is helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. With every conceivable genre represented, it’s a fun place to browse.
On the southeast corner of Madison is the SCAD shop, which is a great place to hunt for unique gifts. And should you need a break while touring the houses, shops and churches of Madison Square, you can stop in at the popular Gryphon Tea Room. With its high ceilings, comfortable furniture and classy interior, this former pharmacy is a great place to relax your tired feet.
January 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm Comment (1)