Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: November 2021
Savannah is situated near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Savannah River. It is the oldest city in Georgia and is full of history and historic buildings. It also contains many small shaded squares, cobblestoned streets, and moss-draped oak trees.
We stayed in a hotel just outside of Savannah and decided to arrive early to explore the city when it was still quiet. It was a bit chilly outside (2°C), but at least the sun was shining. We parked near the Andrew Low House since we planned to take a tour there later in the morning.
We started off at Forsyth Park, which is the largest of the 22 squares in Savannah. The city was initially designed to have 24 open squares, however three of the squares were demolished, paved over or significantly altered. In 2010, one of three lost squares, Ellis Square, was restored, bringing the total back to 22. Many of these squares contain monuments, statues, fountains, plaques and other tributes and are named in honour or in memory of a person or historical event.
Forsyth Park is spread across 30 acres and contains many paths that are lined with mossy oak trees. One of its notable features includes a fountain which was modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
We then walked to Lafayette Square, which contains a fountain and more moss-draped oaks. It’s also located near the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the biggest church in Savannah. Since the doors were open, we took a quick peek inside.
From there we made our way towards the Andrew Low House as we had booked tickets for the first tour of the day at 10a.m. The house was built in 1848 and was named after its original owner, Andrew Low II, who immigrated to Savannah from Scotland in the late 1820s.
During our guided tour we learned more about the history of the house and how it was saved by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. It was restored with period pieces to reflect family life in Savannah in the mid nineteenth-century, incorporating an extensive collection of paintings, furniture, silver and other heirlooms that belonged to the people associated with the house.
Another fun fact about the house was that Juliette Gordon Low, who was the American founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, once lived here. The carriage house from the residence was later willed to the Girl Scouts as their first headquarters after she died in 1927.
Afterwards we went on a guided tour of the nearby Mercer Williams House Museum. The house was designed for Hugh W. Mercer, who ended up selling the house before it was finished. After laying vacant for a decade, the house was purchased by James A. Williams in 1969 who then restored it. The home is currently owned by Williams’ sister and is open to the public for tours of the main floor, but photography is not permitted. Our tour lasted about 30 minutes and our guide provided more information about the house, the architecture, and furnishings, which were pieces from Williams’ private collection.
The book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was based on the real-life events surrounding Williams and his trails for the murder of his handyman and lover in 1981. The book was later turned into a movie that was filmed in Savannah, including in the Mercer Williams House, and released in 1997.
Afterwards we continued wandering around Savannah’s historic downtown and passed through a few more squares on the way to River Street, which is located along the Savannah River.
We meandered along the waterfront before turning around and walking back to where we parked near the Andrew Low House.
On the drive out of Savannah we stopped at the Bonaventure Cemetery, a historic cemetery with lots of lovely stonework monuments and mossy oak trees. The cemetery was also featured in the novel and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
We then hopped back in the car and drove four hours to Atlanta.