For the History Buff- Savannah
The History Lover's Haven
A weekend in the sunny Old South feels like a trip back hundreds of years
During the winter of 1864, Union General William Sherman began his famous March to the Sea, planning to scorch Southern cities and towns from Atlanta to Savannah. Atlanta waged war and today you’re unlikely to find many structures there from the pre-Civil War South. But in picturesque Savannah, antebellum mansions still line cobblestone streets and grand oaks, hundreds of years old, drape their gray Spanish moss over the city’s quaint park squares. When Sherman arrived in Savannah, the mayor rode out to surrender and saved his city from destruction. This means that today the port city is one of the few south of the Mason-Dixon line that can offer museums, home tours, and even carriage rides showcasing a rich history that ranges as far back as the days it was a popular hideout for pirates to the more recent dramatic civil rights movement.
The Telfair (telfair.org), the South’s oldest art museum, is an excellent start to any historic tour of the city. Here you’ll find famed works including Sylvia Shaw Judson’s Bird Girl sculpture. Just a few blocks east and a quick walk down oak-shaded sidewalks is the Owens-Thomas House (telfair.org/owens-thomas), completed in 1819 by the famous English architect William Jay, which includes one of the oldest, but still intact, urban slave quarters in the South.
Those interested in more recent history can explore the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum (visit-historic-savannah.com), where black-and-white panoramic photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and like-minded heroes cover the walls. The three-story museum chronicles African American history in the city from slavery to the present, but some of the most moving exhibits are those like an aged sit-in lunch counter that bring to life the city’s triumph over segregation.
After a full day of site seeing, unwind at one of the Luxury Living Savannah Carriage Houses (from $225 per night, luxuryliving
savannah.com). These charming carriage-houses-turned-rental-spaces, filled with antiques and adjacent to historic mansions, are perfect for enjoying the city’s past—long after your tour has ended.