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The Inescapable Influence of The Book

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Before we moved to Savannah, me, Jürgen and four-year-old Xiao Liang of Taiwan were the only three people on Earth who hadn’t read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. And now, noble Xiao stands alone. Jürgen and I have buckled down and read “The Book.”

Midnight Garden of Good and Evil

And it was great! We had already become relatively familiar with the city, and the characters and locations leaped right off the page. Berendt has an amazing talent for description, and a knack for mixing his way into interesting situations and meeting bizarre, charismatic people. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil still holds the record for the length of time spent on the New York Times bestseller list, and there’s a reason for it.

But, man, after living in Savannah, did we get tired of hearing about “The Book.” I wonder if another city has ever capitalized so much on a single work of art. I doubt that even Bethlehem milks the Bible as outrageously as Savannah does Midnight. Copies of it can be found everywhere in the city, on every bookshelf, and on sale in every shop… even clothes stores! There are tours of The Book’s locations, an entire store shop dedicated to it, and fans can even tour the Mercer House on Monterey Square, where Clint Eastwood’s adaptation was filmed.

While I loved Midnight, I’m glad I didn’t read until after we’d lived in Savannah for awhile, otherwise I might have been tempted to follow in Berendt’s footsteps exactly. But sometimes we can’t help ourselves. He documented this city in such a unique and engaging way, it’s hard to resist repeating his experiences. For example, how could we not visit Club One to watch the fabulous Lady Chablis do her thing? And after reading Berendt’s description of it, of course we were going to eat at Clary’s! I suppose that, as far as guidebooks go, you could do a lot worse than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Buy The BookThe Movie or take The Tour

Where is the bird statue now?
We have published our own Savannah Book

Mercer House Savannah
Danny Hansford
Jim Willams Savannah
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January 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm Comments (6)

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
Savannah Street Lights
Bull Street Savannah
Balcony Savannah
Rathaus Savannah
Cape Fear Savannah
Savannah Window
Savannah Alhambra
Post Office Tower
Sum from Warmth
Wright Square Church
Wright Square Houses
Wright Tower Savannah
Wright Square Savannah
Wright Square Savannah
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January 20, 2011 at 7:53 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.

Location on Map
Wormsloe Historic Site – Website

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Wormsloe
Wormsloe Georgia
Wormsloe Chimney
Wormsloe Knecht
Fake Flowers
Wormsloe Lady
Antique Inbox
Secret Gardens
Deer Statue
Frida-Renne-Barrow
Relax in Savannah
Spanish Moss House
Plantation Ruin
Wormsloe Grave
Savannah Nature
Wormsloe Palms
Wormsloe Root
Tree Skin
Travel Blogger
Lost Bird
Wormsloe Bridge
Fuzzy Moss
Mogli Jungle Book
Savannah Fall
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January 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm Comments (5)

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
Pulaski Savannah
Pulaski Statue
Hell Gate
Jewish Monterey Square
Synagog Savannah
Savannah Photographer
Secret Garden Savannah
Private Garden Savannah
Evil Garden
Egypt Savannah
Arabic Savannah
Savannah Haus
Savannah Houses
Savannah Palms
United Community
Savannah Doors
Half House Savannah
Garden Good Evil Midnight
Savannah Art
Savannah 10
Savannah Cage
Savannah Shadow
Savannah Street Lights
Savannah Squares
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January 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm Comments (6)

Crazy Taxi Drivers and Other Savannah Characters

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In most cities, you hail down a taxi and drive in silence to your destination. At best, the driver comments on the weather, or is talking on his cell phone in a language you don’t understand. You’ll pay your fare and think how uneventful and efficient that taxi ride was, if you think of it at all.

A link to all things "New York Taxi"

That’s not often the case in Savannah. The profession of “taxi driver” is famously a draw for eccentrics and, in a city full of eccentrics, you really get the crème de la crème. Every time we hailed a cab in Savannah, it was a memorable experience. There was the unappreciated poet who insisted we read his work before we left the car. The guy who had met Paula Deen’s husband and talked bitterly about how jealous he was. Or the freakishly huge, bearded dude telling us about the trouble he got into at his favorite Gentlemen’s Club.

Of course, taxi drivers aren’t Savannah’s only larger-than-life characters. We hardly went a day without encountering another strange and charismatic person. From just the past week, I can recall the bug-eyed tour guide more interested in discussing conspiracy theories than giving a tour, the soft-spoken rasta dude who suddenly revealed the six-foot dreadlocks rolled up inside his hat, the guy who’s become a local celebrity for his perfect Forrest Gump impression (and it really was perfect), and the grumpy bartender who we saw threw three different dudes out of her bar.

Maybe Jürgen and I fit right in here. We were talking to someone about what we do… how we travel around the world for 91 days at a time, and don’t really have a home… and she said something like, “You guys are crazy!” It took me off guard. I mean, this was an Asian woman with a deep Southern drawl and dyed green hair, wearing fishnet stockings, and chewing tobacco… and we’re the crazy ones?! Heh. But maybe there’s some truth to that… and it could be why we felt so at home in Savannah.

Pirate’s House in Savannah
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January 3, 2011 at 10:25 am Comments (2)
The Inescapable Influence of The Book Before we moved to Savannah, me, Jrgen and four-year-old Xiao Liang of Taiwan were the only three people on Earth who hadn't read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. And now, noble Xiao stands alone. Jrgen and I have buckled down and read "The Book."
For 91 Days