Calhoun Square was named after the South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun, who was our seventh Vice President, and served under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He was fiercely pro-slavery and was one of the leading proponents of Southern secession: views which apparently won him respect in Savannah, who named their newest square after him, one year after his death in 1850.
Calhoun Square is the only square in Savannah with all its original buildings still intact, and is thus one of its most picturesque. The most important standing structure is the Massie School, which opened in 1865 as Georgia’s first public school. Today, it’s the home of the Massie Heritage Center, dedicated to the city’s history.
Calhoun Square is also notable for the Greek Revival houses which encircle it, including the empty mansion at 432 Abercorn, recognizable by the empty oval underneath its stairs, and its sense of foreboding. This is one of Savannah’s most haunted houses, with numerous tales surrounding it, and a favorite stop for the city’s many ghost tours.
432 Abercorn’s most famous story is of the father who forbade his daughter from playing out in Calhoun Square with the children from the Massie School. When she continued to disobey him, he tied her onto a chair in the top floor of the house, faced toward the window, so that she could see all the fun she was missing. She remained tied there until she died of heat exhaustion. Her ghost can still occasionally be seen, wistfully staring out the window, hoping to one day join her friends again in the square.
I’ve never seen her myself, although I look every time we pass by. Regardless of the story’s veracity, the house is legitimately creepy. And I still haven’t heard a good reason for why this historic property in one of Savannah’s most sought-after residential zones has been empty for so long.
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These are beautiful! I really wish I’d spent more time in Savannah–it’s such a gorgeous city.
Yes, the architectural purity of period in Calhoun square separates it from the other squares. However, I have often wondered of the heritage of the building adjacent to the church on the northwest point of the square. The wrought iron gate with camelia’s was crafted by John Boyd Smith a local blacksmith whose work is sprinkled throughout the historic area. Ivan Bailey was the first of the contemporary blacksmiths in Savannah and his work appears throughout the downtown area as well. Ivan’s shop, Bailey’s Forge, was on the ground floor of what is now the East Bay Inn. Bailey lived in worked in Savannah from 1973 through the early 80s. In 1973, there was one motel on Bay Street–no inns or hotels anywhere on its length. Now, one can stand on Bay and throw a rock in any direction and break a hotel window. I appreciate your photos and perspectives from individuals who are not quite residents but more than just casual vistors to a place I know, live and love.
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I have been thoroughly enjoying your blog and especially the wonderful photos and insight to the town I grew up in. It was an amazing surprise to surf around your site and scroll across a photo of our house on this page. My wife and I restored the pink house decorated for Christmas above. Thanks for the pleasant surprise.
I have only just started looking through you site, but I already know I am going to have to go to the Schnitzel Schack.
Enjoy Buenos Aires and make sure you do at least a day or two in Colonia, Uruguay.
We totally remember your house. You did an incredible job restoring it and Calhoun Square is such a nice place to live in. Thank you for reading and exploring our site.
We are planing to go to Uruguay during our stay. Have you been there?
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