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Reynolds Square

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At the top of Abercorn Street is Reynolds Square, originally laid out in 1734 as Lower New Square, but renamed in honor of the Royal Governor John Reynolds.

John Wesley

A stern statue of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, dominates the center of the square. The British preacher arrived in Savannah on an invitation from Oglethorpe, to be the new city’s religious leader. He soon found himself in trouble, involving himself romantically with a young woman, only to later refuse her communion after their affair came to an end. She brought suit against him, but he fled to Britain and never returned to Georgia. The statue strikes an imposing figure, with Wesley forcefully clenching a Bible that looks small in his over-sized hands. He looks like the jerk he probably was.

The northeast trust lot of Reynolds Square was originally home to the colonial filature, where silk from the experimental Trustees Garden was be spun. The garden’s planters spent a lot of time in around Reynolds Square, and the names of the surrounding buildings reflect that fact. The Planters Inn is a 200-year old hotel on the southwest side of the square and the tavern on the bottom floor of the Pink House is called Planters Tavern.

We walked about Reynolds Square somewhat wistfully. Three months ago, we’d started with a list of 22 squares to explore and document, and this was the last one. When we’d began this project, I was worried that it would be too repetitive; I mean, how different can twenty-two square-shaped plots of land be? But each of Savannah’s squares has its own personality, from the monumental to the placid, and its own history. It was a true pleasure to get to know each, individually.

Location on our Savannah Map

All 24 Savannah Squares

Reynolds Square Savannah
Reynolds Square
Horse Carriage Tour Savannah
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Planters Inn Hotel
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January 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm Comments (2)

Crawford Square

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Laid out in 1841, Crawford is the only of Savannah’s squares with recreational equipment: a basketball court, won by the neighborhood after a 1946 tournament. Found on Houston Street, the square was named after native son William Harris Crawford, who was Secretary of the Treasury and who unsuccessfully ran for President in 1824.

Crawford Sq Gazebo

At one time, all of Savannah’s squares were fenced in, but only Crawford remains so. It’s also retained its cistern, from the days when Savannah’s fire department kept a station in every square. The fence, the cistern and the basketball court give Crawford a unique feel. And with a gazebo in the center and azaleas which explode in bloom during the spring, Crawford definitely manages to charm.

In the days of Jim Crow, when segregation was the law of the land, Crawford was the only square which blacks were permitted to use. It’s a historically black neighborhood, and today a quiet, peaceful one. It’s also the former home of the fabulous Lady Chablis, who lived in a house bordering the square, during her rise to fame.

Location on our Savannah Map

New Savannah Sqaure
New Savannah Sqaure
New Savannah Sqaure
Basket Ball Savannah
Park Closing Times
Savannah NO NO s
Savannah Cistern
Places to Rest
Savannah Ware House
Blossom Savannah
Bushy Palm
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January 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm Comment (1)

Wright Square

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After Johnson, Savannah’s second square was laid out in 1733 and named after the Irish politician John Percival, who was involved in the founding of Georgia. Later, however, Percival Square was renamed in honor of Georgia’s last royal governor James Wright.

Wright Square Savannah

The marble monument in the middle of the square is to William Washington Gordon, a successful businessman and politician, who was highly-regarded among Savannah society. When he died, his influential friends suggested that the city honor him with a lavish memorial in Wright Square. “There should be no trouble”, they reasoned. “Right now, there are just some Injun bones.”

These weren’t just any Indian bones, though; they were the remains of Tomochichi, who had been buried in the center of the square 144 years prior. The leader of the Yamacraw Tribe had worked with Oglethorpe during Savannah’s harrowing first years, helping the fledgling colony survive, and the city had repaid his kindness with a burial ground in the center of one of its primary squares.

Memory-Tomo-Chi-Chi

When Gordon’s monument was erected over the bones of Tomochichi, most of the city’s citizens were outraged. In consolation, a memorial stone was placed in a corner of Wright Square, and the nearby Tomochichi Federal Building was named in his honor. Not enough, if you ask me.

There’s always something going on in Wright Square. During our time in Savannah, the northernmost bench in the square was always occupied a big old guy, singing a sort of ad-hoc blues. “Girl, you done me wrong. Girl, why you do that to me? Girl, I wish you was dead“. On our return to Savannah, five years later, he was still there… and his song hadn’t change. Man, that girl must have really done him wrong.

Location on our Savannah Map

Historical Sketch Of Tomo-Chi-Chi

Wright Square Savannah
Wright Square Savannah
Savannah Train
Greetings from Savannah
Impressive Tree Savannah
Savannah Squares
Wright Square
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Wright Square Church
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Wright Square Savannah
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January 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm Comments (7)

Franklin Square

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The only square on Montgomery Street to survive into the present day is Franklin Square. Like the lost squares of Liberty and Elbert, Franklin Square had been a victim of urbanization, but was fortunately restored in the 1980s.

Franklin SQ Monument

The most western of Savannah’s squares, Franklin is also one of its oddest. The tourist hub of City Market is nearby, meaning grease-hungry gawkers hunting for Paula Deen are a constant presence, as are panhandlers. Franklin is definitively not among Savannah’s most enchanting squares, but it does boast a touching memorial to the Haitian Volunteer Army. The Haitians played an invaluable role in the US Revolution, particularly during the Siege of Savannah. Soon after our freedom was won, they returned home and staged a revolution of their own, resulting in Haiti becoming the first independent republic in Latin America, and the first black-led nation in the world.

At the western end of the square is the First African Baptist Church, which we took an excellent tour of. Back in the days of slavery, the church’s priest would regularly be brought into Franklin Square and whipped. His crime? “Educating” other slaves with his sermons. I’m sure Benjamin Franklin, an abolitionist and all around humanitarian, would have loved that.

Location on our Savannah Map

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Savannah Squares
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Franklin Square
Benjamin Franklin
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January 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm Comments (5)

Ellis Square

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Laid 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.

Ellis Square

In 1954, before the historic preservation movement really got going, Ellis Square was sold to business interests that demolished it and built a parking lot. It’s actually an ironic twist, that Ellis Square might be sold off and lose its dignity. Before the Civil War, this was the site of Savannah’s slave market. Karma can be tough.

The parking company’s 50-year lease ended in 2004 and Savannah wasted no time in redeveloping the square. But from an aesthetic viewpoint, there’s little doubt they did a poor job with the development. Perhaps they wanted something more modern and daring, but Ellis has none of its siblings’ charm. With plain cement in a circular shape and a total lack of vegetation, most tourists don’t even realize they’re in one of Savannah’s most historic spots.

The chintzy tourism zone of City Market sprouts off to the west of Ellis Square, where a statue of Johnny Mercer leans happily against his fire hydrant, And Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons is nearby. But unless you’re desperate for a bench to stretch out on, after consuming too much greasy food, there’s not much reason to spend time in Ellis.

Location on our Savannah Map

Listen more to Johnny Mercer

Savannah New
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January 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm Comments (6)

Monterey Square

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One of the most beautiful squares in Savannah is Monterey, named in honor of the Mexican-American War’s 1846 Battle of Monterey. With a memorial to Casmir Pulaski in its center, classic buildings surrounding it, and more than its share of local lore, Monterey is one of our favorites.

Monterey Square Savannah

The most famous house on Monterey Square is the Mercer-Williams House, where Jim Williams shot Danny Hansford dead, as detailed in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Clint Eastwood’s movie adaptation was filmed on location here, instantly making the Mercer-Williams house the most well-known in all of Savannah. Contrary to popular belief, Johnny Mercer never lived here, although it was his family that built the house.

Monterey Square Savannah

Across the square is the Congregation Mickve Israel, the only Gothic synagogue in America, with one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the USA. Oglethorpe’s colonial Georgia had welcomed Jewish immigrants with open arms, and some of the city’s original settlers were Spanish and Portuguese Jews fleeing Catholic persecution. One of them brought a handwritten copy of the Torah, known as a Sefer Torah, which is still used today for special occasions.

Just as the statue of Oglethorpe is in Chippewa and not Oglethorpe Square, the obelisk honoring revolutionary war hero Casimir Pulaski should probably be in Pulaski Square, but it’s a magnificent tribute regardless. Pulaski was Polish, and played a major part in the American Revolution, helping develop our nation’s nascent cavalry. He died in Savannah, and the city has pulled out all the stops to honor him: an obelisk, a square and even a fort out near Tybee Island.

Location on our Savannah map

The Music of Johnny Mercer

Monterey Square Savannah
Monterey Square Savannah
Monterey Square Savannah
Monterey Square Savannah
Monterey Square Savannah
Savannah Squares
This is Savannah
Walking Winter Tour
I love Savannah
Pulaski Monument
Casimir Pulaski
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Pulaski Statue
Hell Gate
Jewish Monterey Square
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Savannah Photographer
Secret Garden Savannah
Private Garden Savannah
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United Community
Savannah Doors
Half House Savannah
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January 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm Comments (6)

Oglethorpe Square

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Oglethorpe Square was laid out in 1742, the last of the six squares that were originally planned for Savannah. It was originally known as Upper New Square, but that bland name was soon tossed out in favor of a tribute to Georgia’s colonial founder, James Oglethorpe.

Ogletherpe Square

The statue of James Oglethorpe perhaps got lost on the way to its eternal home, and can be found in nearby Chippewa Square. The only monument to be found in Oglethorpe Square is a small pilaster honoring the Moravian immigrants who moved to Savannah during the colony’s founding. Otherwise, it’s just oaks, grass, benches and Spanish moss.

Oglethorpe is beautiful and restful, but not among the most impressive of Savannah’s squares. The main features are the Regency-style Owens Thomas House, on the eastern trust lot, and the President’s Quarters Inn to the southeast. On the western trust lot are a couple of handsome brick buildings.

Location of Oglethorpe Square on our Savannah Map

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Ogletherpe Square
Ogletherpe Square
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Ogletherpe Square
Winter Shorts
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Bushy Savannah
Broken Lamp
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January 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm Comments (10)

Columbia Square

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Although it was neglected throughout much of its history, like most of the city’s eastern side, Columbia Square has now enjoyed a thorough restoration to become one of Savannah’s loveliest spots.

Colombia Square Savannah

The restorative efforts kicked off in the 1950s when a group of society women, concerned about the demolitions which threatened to destroy Savannah’s historic soul, drew the line at the proposed destruction of the 1820 Isaiah Davenport House. They joined forces as the Historic Savannah Foundation, dedicated to protecting the city’s architectural heritage. Over the years, the foundation has purchased and saved over 300 buildings in Savannah’s historic center. Without their labor, the city would be a much more common place.

There are a number of other impressive buildings on Columbia Square, including the house at 130 Habersham, which is usually covered in ivory. But the best might the Kehoe Inn on the western side of the square. This Renaissance Revival mansion dates from 1829, and operates today as a bed and breakfast.

Columbia Square itself is a work of art. Four massive oak trees at each corner provide shade over the entire square, at the center of which sits the Wormsloe Fountain. Green and gray, the rustic fountain was designed in the shapes of leaves and winding ivy. Though it was donated by the plantation’s family in the 1970s, it looks as though it’s been in Columbia Square forever, like it sprouted from the ground.

Location of Calhoun Square on our Savannah Map

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Colombia Square Savannah
Colombia Square Savannah
Colombia Square Savannah
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Fountains of Savannah
Sleeping Beauty
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Poison Ivy House
Heart Tree
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Holidays in Savannah
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December 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm Comments (3)

Telfair Square

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Originally called St. James Square after the famous London park, Telfair Square was renamed in 1833 in honor of Savannah’s VIP-iest family. It was one the city’s original four squares and, for a long time, its most fashionable district.

Telfair Square

The four walking paths which cut through Telfair Square create a tic-tac-toe pattern in the grass. In the northeastern quadrant, there’s a curious monument in the form of a nautilus shell, and a tribute to the Girl Scouts in the southeast. The Girl Scouts, I can understand, since they were founded in Savannah. But the shell monument is a total mystery.

The Telfair Academy sits along the western side of the square. Done in Regency style by William Jay, the Telfair is the oldest public art museum in the South, housing both classic European paintings and regional art. The museum is gorgeous but rather small, so the Jepson Center, on Telfair Square’s southern border, was opened in 2006 to accommodate modern works. Between the two art museums is the Greek Revival-style Trinity Methodist Church, built in 1847.

In stark contrast to the classically beautiful buildings of the western side and the modernist audacity of the Jepson Center, two tiled government buildings occupy the eastern end of Telfair Square. When I say “tiles”, I mean “bathroom tiles”. These are ugly buildings, which really stick out in this otherwise gorgeous corner of Savannah.

Location of Telfair Square

Visit all 24 Squares of Savannah

Telfair Square
Telfair Square
Telfair Square
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Telfair Square
Telfair Shell
Savannah Fall
Girl Scouts Savannah
Government Savannah
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Mercedes USA
Savannah Trees
Visit Savannah
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November 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm Comment (1)

The 24 Squares of Savannah

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At the time of its founding in 1733, Savannah was the first North American city planned around public squares. General Oglethorpe’s grand design for his new capital called for four squares to serve as gardens and meeting areas. The western and eastern sides of each square were reserved for public buildings, such as churches and government offices, while the northern and southern ends were for private residences, called tything blocks.

Savannah was the original capital of Georgia, the last of the original thirteen colonies, and its logical design won it fame around the world. The plan was far-sighted, allowing for over a century of growth, always replicating the square system further outward. By the mid 19th century, there were a total of twenty-four.

From the largest (Johnson) to the smallest (Crawford), each of Savannah’s twenty-four squares has its own history and personality. We made a promise to fully explore each of them during our three months here, and learn their stories and secrets. It was a promise we kept.

1. Franklin
2. Ellis
3. Johnson
4. Reynolds
5. Warren
6. Washington
7. Liberty (lost)
8. Telfair
9. Wright
10. Oglethorpe
11. Columbia
12. Greene
13. Elbert (lost)
14. Orleans
15. Chippewa
16. Crawford
17. Pulaski
18. Madison
19. Lafayette
20. Troup
21. Chatham
22. Monterey
23. Calhoun
24. Whitefield

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November 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm Comments (11)
Reynolds Square At the top of Abercorn Street is Reynolds Square, originally laid out in 1734 as Lower New Square, but renamed in honor of the Royal Governor John Reynolds.
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