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Ebenezer – Home of the Salzburg Lutherans

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A weathered memorial stone in Savannah’s Emmet Park pays tribute to a group of Lutherans from Salzburg, Austria, who immigrated to Georgia in the 18th century to escape the persecution of their Catholic homeland. Under General Oglethrope, Georgia had become known for its religious tolerance, and welcomed the the Lutherans with open arms. Along the banks of a river to the north of Savannah, they settled a town which they would name Ebenezer.

Salzburger Ghost Town

We knew nothing about Ebenezer other than the text on the memorial, but took a detour there, since we happened to be driving by. Ebenezer is difficult to find, barely on the map, and we were skeptical about finding anything of interest. As we turned onto Ebenezer Road, a “Dead End” sign greeted us, which wasn’t encouraging.

But after parking at a church and stepping out of the car, we realized there’s life here, after all, and were swept into the arms of Ebenezer’s unofficial welcoming committee. An older man greeted us enthusiastically and introduced us to his town, which has become a sort of historical heritage site. There’s a museum dedicated to the Salzburg Lutherans, the Jerusalem Salzburg Church built in 1769, and an original log cabin filled with colonial artifacts of German and Austrian design.

Ebenezer Swan Salzburger

Ebenezer doesn’t exist anymore, as an actual, incorporated town. But in its early days, the Lutheran community had been immensely successful. The town even served briefly as the capital of Georgia, and was the home of a state governor. But the Revolutionary War devastated Ebenezer, and it never recovered. In 1855, it was abandoned for good and the few remaining residents brought into the nearby city of Rincon.

The history of the place is fascinating, and we loved stepping inside the original log cabin and the church, both of which are remarkably well-preserved. We spent an hour talking to our guide, his son, and another man who’s lived in the area his whole life.

Our visit to Ebenezer was a lot more successful than we had feared. During the trip back to Savannah, I reflected on how diverse my country truly is, despite its relative youth. I mean, we had just visited an abandoned town in the middle of the Georgian backwoods, founded by persecuted Austrians. It’s these kind of weird cultural conglomerations which really make the USA special.

Georgia Salzburger Society – Website
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Salzburger GA Church
Ebenezer Window
Wet Bricks
Ebenezer Bench
Salzburger Ebenezer
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Ebenezer Open Air Church
Sugar Cane
Sugar Cane Press
Salzburger Tools
German Water Well
Ebenezer Ghost Town
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German Nachttop
German Waffle Iron
German Sewing Machine
Ebenezer Curtain
German Machine
German Tools
German High Tech
German Ant Trap
Ebenezer Fragrance
Ebenezer Couple Picture
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Salzburger Coins
Old Ebenezer Clock
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January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm Comments (6)

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.

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New Savannah Sqaure
New Savannah Sqaure
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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)

Troup Square

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Built in 1851, Troup is one of Savannah’s smaller squares. It was named after George Troup, a former governor known his strident support of slavery and anti-Indian policies. It might be because of these unappealing views, that the square’s central monument is not a statue of Troup, but a strange, archaic globe.

Savannah Squares

Troup Square may lay claim to Savannah’s most curious monument, with its Armillary Sphere. This was a model used to track celestial orbits, invented by the Greeks and made obsolete by the invention of the telescope. The sphere an odd choice for the middle of a square in Savannah, which wasn’t founded until well after the instrument was out of use. (You know where else you can find an Armillary Sphere? Portugal’s flag. Don’t ask me why.)

Troup Square

Another strange feature of Troup Square is its doggy drinking fountain, moved here from its original location in Forsyth Park. It doesn’t even bother with spouts for humans, and is the reason some residents refer to this area as “Dog Bone Square”.

Troup Square isn’t done confusing you, yet. Another oddity is that this is the birthplace of Jingle Bells. You know that song that goes, “Dashing through pleasantly mild winters, in a picturesque Victorian district, round the squares we go, drinking from plastic cups all the way.” The Unitarian Universalist Church, on the square’s west side, is where James Pierpoint, the brother of the church’s reverend, wrote the famous song. Why he was inspired to write a song about sleighing and wintry fun, as he gazed out onto Troup Square is anyone’s guess.

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January 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm Comments (7)

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.

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Historical Sketch Of Tomo-Chi-Chi

Wright Square Savannah
Wright Square Savannah
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Impressive Tree Savannah
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January 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm Comments (7)

Pulaski Square

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Laid out in 1837 and named in honor of the Polish revolutionary hero, Casimir Pulaski, who died during the Siege of Savannah, Pulaski Square is another of Barnard Street’s quiet, residential squares.

Hand Tree

Pulaski Square is devoid of monuments; there’s not even one honoring its namesake (Pulaski’s obelisk is in Monterey Square). But Pulaski does have the most impressive collection of Southern Live Oaks of all Savannah’s squares, making it an agreeable place to pass through, or relax for a spell.

Live Oaks, gorgeous residences, Spanish Moss. Let’s see, there’s something missing. Ah yes, SCAD of course! There’s not a corner of the city without the university’s sticky, paint-caked fingers all over it. The college put its stamp on Pulaski Square in 1995 by purchasing its most stately building, the red brick Pulaski House. Originally built in 1915 by the Jewish Educational Alliance, it’s now used as a girl’s dormitory.

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Double Shining
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Nature Taking Over
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January 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm Comments (4)

First African Baptist Church

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Found on Franklin Square, the First African Baptist Church is the oldest black church in North America. Founded by slaves in 1775, it has a history nearly as old as Savannah itself.

First African Baptist Church

From the outside, the church isn’t terribly impressive, but that changes once you step indoors. The interior is beautiful, with curved pews pointing towards the pulpit and a pair of upper balconies for busy days. The church was built by the charity and volunteer efforts of slaves who, as you might imagine, didn’t have much extra money or free time. But over the course of four years, they got the job done, coming straight from their regular labor to work through the night on the construction of this church.

Our tour was fascinating, and our guide seemed to have a never-ending series of anecdotes, which demonstrated that the First African Baptist Church was much more than it seemed.

For example, the church was built with a secret floor underneath its real floor, and operated as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Never discovered by authorities, the crawlspace hid hundreds of runaway slaves and a tunnel led them from the church to the Savannah River. To mask their true purpose, the floor’s breathing holes were bored in the shape of the Kongo Cosmogram: an African spiritual symbol often used by American slaves.

Kongo Cosmogram

Another secret in the church is found in its ceiling, which looks rather plain at first glance, like waffle squares. But theses squares represent the Nine-Patch Quilts, which served as beacons for indicating safe houses to slaves on the run, and so the ceiling is a clever tribute to the church’s hidden humanitarian purpose.

Also, on the ends of each pew, all of which are original and date back hundreds of years, the wavy lines of cursive Hebrew have been scratched into the wood. Our guide wasn’t able to translate any of the words, but he did tell us that a few Ethiopian tourists had visited recently and instantly recognized it. Apparently, it’s still used by Jewish communities in Africa.

Kongo Cosmograms, Underground Railroad Patchwork, Cursive Hebrew… now this is the kind of unexpected history which totally interests me! If you’re the same, make sure to visit the First African Baptist Church, either for the tour or for the Sunday service.

First African Baptist Church – Website
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Baptist Bible
Willis L Jones
Priests Savannah
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January 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm Comments (7)

Wormsloe Plantation

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Located on the Isle of Hope, just twenty minutes by car Savannah, Wormsloe Plantation is a gorgeous historic site which allows visitors to explore both a museum and a couple nature trails. And this must be one of the only sites in America whose most memorable feature is its driveway.

Wormsloe Gate

Pulling into the plantation, the scene is breathtaking. Hundreds of live oaks tower over a straight road which leads deep into the coastal forest. Speed along the path is limited to 15 mph, but most visitors will want to proceed even slower. The oaks, evenly spaced apart and draped with Spanish moss, create a scene of incredible beauty, particularly on days when the sunlight filters through the foliage.

Wormsloe was established by Noble Jones, an English official who came to Georgia with Oglethorpe and the original settlers… and who had the coolest name of any of them. And throughout the succeeding generations, this plantation has continued to provide a home to the same family. Wormsloe’s mansion is still a private residence, although it’s opened often to fundraising events and private parties. When we visited, preparations for a wedding reception were in gear.

Wormsloe Library

There’s a museum dedicated to the area, with colonial and Native American artifacts that have been found here. But we paid it scant attention, wishing to spend more time outdoors; it was a beautiful day, and Wormsloe’s walking trails were calling to us. They brought us by the tabby ruins of Noble Jones’ original residence, and the shell middens left by the Isle of Hope’s original inhabitants: the Yuchi and Creek Tribes. We even found a makeshift “Colonial Village”, complete with a wooden house and big tools used by the settlers.

Wormsloe Plantation is one of the most photographed spots in Savannah, and for good reason. The grounds are simply stunning, and its proximity to the city makes it a favorite spot for day trips. Nature lovers and history buffs (and really, just about everyone) will find plenty to enjoy, here.

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Wormsloe Historic Site – Website

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Wormsloe
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January 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm Comments (5)

The Savannah History Museum

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Found in the old railway shed of the Central of Georgia, the Savannah History Museum is a good place to stop for an overview of the city’s development through the ages.

Civil War Savannah

The Central of Georgia railway house dates from the 1850s is the nation’s only remaining iron-roof structure, and has today been named a National Heritage Landmark. Today, it houses the museum, a tourist information center, the Georgia State Railroad Museum, and a café set inside an old passenger car.

Visits to the museum begin with a twenty-minute video on history of Savannah, from Oglethorpe and the settlers up into the present-day. Well, almost the present-day. The video is at least twenty years old, and its idea of modernity is amusingly stuck in the late 80s, with a power-suited businesswoman meant to represent “progress”. The exhibits are hit and miss. For every item of interest, such as one of the country’s few remaining Crestmobiles, there’s something disappointing, like the Forrest Gump bench. Hey now, I liked Forrest Gump as much as everyone else, but this isn’t even the actual Forrest Gump bench; just a replica of what it kind of looked like. You know, a bench.

The museum doesn’t take long to get through, but it’s cheap, and there are a lot of hands-on activities. It seems designed to especially appeal to families with children, but for an engaging overview of the city’s history, it might be better to visit the Massie Center.

Savannah History Museum

303 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
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912 651 6825

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Forrest Gump Bench
Mercer Grammy Oscar
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January 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm Comments (2)

In Love with Savannah

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Just Married in Savannah

It started as a crush. Like gum-smacking girls, giggling together at their lockers while the dreamy blue-eyed quarterback passes by, we were initially just obsessed by Savannah’s beauty. But over the course of months, we learned that this city isn’t just superficially gorgeous. It’s got a rich history, fabulous people and a unique vibe all its own. Yep, Savannah is a keeper.

We hope these photographs help reveal a little of the depth behind in Savannah’s well-advertised good looks.

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Tonight at Lucas
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January 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm Comments (9)

Seeing Savannah’s Evil Side from a Hearse

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What could be better than touring Savannah in a hearse with a raised roof, so you can poke your head out the top? Nothing comes immediately to mind, does it? I mean, a ghost tour in a tricked-out hearse is kind of like the pinnacle of human culture.

Ghost Tour Savannah

I didn’t know what to think the first time I saw this bizarre vehicle cruising around Savannah’s squares at night. The passengers seemed to be having a grand time, drinking out of to-go cups, gawking at old mansions, and completely oblivious to my baffled staring. “On the one hand,” I thought, “that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”

“On the other hand, my parents are totally going to love it.”

So when my parents came to visit, I booked spots on the Hearse Tour, arranging for a pick-up outside the Pirate’s House. What ensued was an entertaining trip around Savannah’s dark side. Our guide was completely into her character as spooky chauffeur, and her enthusiasm for the supernatural was contagious. There wasn’t a dull moment; a lot of houses in Savannah have some story of fright, whether a horrific crime or an unexplained phenomena. A lot of the tales were new to me, and I felt chills when we went by the old psychiatric hospital on Abercorn. It might have been the booze, but I swear I saw the outline of a face in one of the hospital windows.

The Hearse Tour isn’t exactly inconspicuous. I lost count of how many pedestrians laughed at us, yelling “Oooooooh, spooooky!” But if you’re able to tune out the mockery, it’s a great time, especially if you’ve got an interest in the supernatural.

Official Website

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Tour for only $13.50

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December 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm Comments (5)
Ebenezer - Home of the Salzburg Lutherans A weathered memorial stone in Savannah's Emmet Park pays tribute to a group of Lutherans from Salzburg, Austria, who immigrated to Georgia in the 18th century to escape the persecution of their Catholic homeland. Under General Oglethrope, Georgia had become known for its religious tolerance, and welcomed the the Lutherans with open arms. Along the banks of a river to the north of Savannah, they settled a town which they would name Ebenezer.
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