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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
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Spanish Moss Fountain
Spanish Moss Nest
Wetterhahn
Savannah Tower
House on Orleans Square
Harper-Fowlkes-House
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January 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm Comments (5)

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
Savannah Bling
Crying Star
Row Houses Savannah
Savannah Aloe Vera
Smurf Blood
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January 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm Comment (1)

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

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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)

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
Location on our Map

Books on: Black Church Beginnings

First Baptist Church
Church Stage
Church Bench
Baptist Bible
Willis L Jones
Priests Savannah
Baptist Glass Work
First Savannah
Gas Lamp Savannah
Cursive Hebrew
Last Meal Savannah
Savannah Safe
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January 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm Comments (7)

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
Ogletherpe Square
Ogletherpe Square
Winter Shorts
Oglethorp Sq
Bushy Savannah
Broken Lamp
Iron Cast Balcony
Iron Fence Savannah
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January 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm Comments (10)

Photos from Savannah: Red Doors and More

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Red Number

The biggest mistake you can make in Savannah is forgetting to bring your camera with you when you leave the house. Unique photo opportunities spring up like clockwork in this city! Jürgen brought his everywhere — to the supermarket, on walks with our dog, and even to the bar. You never know when this city is going to surprise you with a great snapshot.

Framed Savannah Photos As A Gift

Red Door
Green Stoned
Weed in Savannah
Sun Force
Savannah Constructions
Old Meets New
Golden Moss
Door Bells
Hoodoo
Chucky and Girlfriend
Help Molly
Lost Molly
Pooch
Blog Money
Savannah Gallery
Savannah Toilet
Savannah Art
Scad Ice
Budlight Bras
Selling Stuff in Savannah
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December 16, 2010 at 10:19 am Comments (5)
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.
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