Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Introduction to the South's "Hostess City"

It is still about three weeks until our 25th wedding anniversary and over one month ago The Colonel and I celebrated it by taking a much anticipated (and planned) trip to Savannah "The Hostess City of the South", Georgia.

The Colonel and I love history and Savannah (and the surrounding area) is drenched in Colonial and Civil War history.

Savannah was established in 1733 as the Colonial Capital Province of Georgia by General James Edward Oglethorpe. He was sent to Georgia by King George II (hence the name, Georgia) to create a buffer between the English Carolinas and Spanish Florida as well as French Louisiana.

Oglethorpe did not allow lawyers, rum, slaves or Catholics in his newly established province. He thought Catholics would be influenced by or sympathize with Catholic Spain in nearby Florida. Oglethorpe thought there was no need for lawyers and that people could work out their differences between themselves. Rum caused people to become intoxicated, which in turn caused trouble and Oglethorpe was personally against slavery (Georgia's history had Oglethorpe rolling in his grave a few times since his original social experiment of 1733 I would imagine).

Our very first experience in Savannah was checking into a guest house that was built in 1872 by John Feely, on land that was once owned by the last Royal Governor of Georgia, James Wright.

This was the little, enclosed garden area behind the guest house.

And this was our private balcony. On the balcony was a wrought iron table and two chairs, the perfect place for a cup of coffee in the morning.

We stayed on the second floor. We had a beautiful bedroom, a gorgeous bathroom and a fabulous parlor.

During most of our stay at the guest house (6 nights) we were the only ones in the entire house....or were we? The Colonel and I would hear footsteps and dragging sounds from the floor above us when no one else was staying at the house. Savannah is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the United States.

The minute we walked into the guest house we were smitten with its historic charm and taken in by its beauty (actually when I saw it on line while looking for lodging, it was then that I was smitten).

The ceilings in the guest house are beautiful. In 1890 two Norwegian ship painters were staying at the house and instead of paying rent with money (they apparently were short of) they offered to paint the ceilings. The ceilings in our bedroom and parlor were beautiful as well as the ceiling of the parlor on the ground floor.

Our beautiful bedroom and its ceiling.

Gorgeous bathroom.

Fabulous parlor.

This is the ceiling of the first floor parlor.

A close-up of the detail; a delicate butterfly and flowers.

While staying at the guest house we couldn't help but feel transported to the year 1872. The parlor especially made us feel that way with its floor to ceiling windows, original hardwood floors and opulent appointments. During the day and evenings horse-drawn carriages would pass beneath our parlor windows. The clip-clop of hooves would become louder as the carriage drew nearer and would fade away with its departure. You could imagine you were 139 years in the past where no cars existed.

Looking out our parlor windows and across the street we could see the balcony of the Owens-Thomas house where the Marquis de Lafayette gave a rousing speech in front of a throng of listeners on March 19, 1825.

The image of the painting below is from the Internet; Preston Russell

Lafayette (67 at the time) toured all of the states (with "Rock Star" appeal), travelling more than 6,000 miles at the request of President James Monroe in honor of the 50th anniversary of the United States of America.

Lafayette, born into a wealthy French family (and later married into an even wealthier family), as a young man had sympathized with the American struggle for independence and fought in crucial battles of the American Revolution. He was at Valley Forge with George Washington (he would later name his son George Washington Lafayette and his son would travel with him on his 1825 tour of the U.S.A.).

If our very first experience of Savannah was an indication of what the "Hostess City of the South" had to offer us, we were going to have a remarkable and diverting time on our anniversary trip.


  1. We were in Savannah more than 20 years ago, and I still remember the charm. I would love to go back there. If you haven't, be sure to eat at Mrs. Wilkins (if it is still there) and The Pirate House(?) a wonderful restraunt named because at one time in its history, was used as a place to hijack unsuspecting young (and intoxicated) men out to sea to serve as laborers aboard pirate ships. There was underground passage from house to docks!

    Now I'm gonna have to look online to see if those places are still in business.


  2. Your blog brings back lovely memories of our trips to Savannah. Most assuredly we will return to this southern gem.