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.
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. Built in 1892, in the Queen Anne Revival style, this mansion 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.
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Some of my earliest memories as a child are connected to Columbia Square. As a small child in the 1950s, my mother would take me to pick up my father from work at the building facing the square south of the Kehoe Inn. It is now owned by 1790. It had been owned by various members of the Bergen family. It was first an architectural firm, then law offices. Older Savannahians still refer to the Kehoe Inn as Goethe’s Funeral Home.
The next square to the south on Habersham is Troup Square. During the 1950s into the 60s, it was surrounded by a high cyclone fence enclosing the playground for students at Cathedral Day School. It was dusty when dry, muddy when wet. I don’t recall a blade of grass growing on it during that period of time. The beautifully restored Savannah Gray brick row building to the east of the square was derilect at the time. Most of the squares were transected by roads running north and south and were traveled by emergency vehicles. Occasionally, a drunk driver will attempt to drive where no one should drive. The last transection by a drunk driver destroyed Troup Square’s Armillary Sundial which was restored at great expense.
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Thank you for the lovely photos and text on Columbia Square.
Your friends at the Davenport House Museum