The Scarborough House: Ships of the Sea

On MLK Boulevard near River Street, one of Savannah’s most historic houses has been converted into a museum called The Ships of the Sea. The 1819 Scarborough House was designed in the Greek Revival style by architectural wunderkind William Jay, who was responsible for many of the city’s best houses of that time period.

William Scarborough was an early American from North Carolina, who made his fortune in shipping. He was perhaps best known as the mastermind behind the famous S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to successfully cross the Atlantic. Although it was one of the city’s proudest moments, luring even President Monroe to commemorate the occasion, the venture was a commercial failure and Scarborough fell into bankruptcy. His handsome house was sold off at auction, and would serve as both an orphanage and Savannah’s first public school for black children, before finally being abandoned and falling into ruin.

In 1972, the Historic Savannah Foundation stepped in and begun restoration on the house. Keeping in mind Scarborough’s line of work, the house was converted into a maritime museum. The Ships of the Sea boasts large scale model ships, and a wealth of information about the lines which operated out of Savannah, and famous ships from around the world.

I’ve never been the least bit interested in boats, so I didn’t expect the museum to impress me. But it did. We really enjoyed our visit to the Scarborough House, which is just as interesting for its architecture as for the exhibition pieces. The model ships were incredible, their stories interesting, and we loved the collection of nautical equipment and scrimshaw.

Ships of the Sea – Website

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Dave

    Good to know there are still some things left in Savannah that I have yet to see!

  2. Sheri

    I just took my children to Savannah last weekend.    I found your site after our  return.   We took pictures, but yours found details we missed.   I am so glad you shared.
     
    We were not sure about the museum either.    However we were soon charmed.    The ticket lady is very kind.    The house architecture is worth seeing.
     
    I LOVE that you took a picture of the ugly cat.   A few days before we were there “Cat House” came up.    The kids asked why it was called that and I had no idea.    Imagine how funny to find that silly cat and have the answer!
     
    I am going to check out other places you have lived to see where we might want to visit next.

    1. Mike

      So glad you found our site, even if it was after your trip! The Ships of the Sea Museum is probably one of Savannah’s most under-appreciated little gems, and we really enjoyed it.

  3. Andries

    I hope you can help. What is the history and info on that urn? We have a similar one in France, and i would love to know more about its origin.

    1. Mike

      Sorry we don’t have any information on this urn… but you should try and get in touch with the museum itself. They might be able to help you out. http://www.shipsofthesea.org/

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