Rediscovering the Old South
Because General Sherman was talked out of burning it, he gave the city to President Lincoln as a Christmas present instead. No city in all the South has Savannah's peculiar charm. Its very name suggests Spanish moss, hoop skirts, mint juleps on the veranda, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and lovely antebellum architecture.
Visiting a Historic Home
The Davenport House Museum is where seven determined women started the whole Savannah restoration movement in 1954. They raised $22,500, a tidy sum back then, and purchased the house, saving it from demolition and a future as a parking lot. They established the Historic Savannah Foundation, and the whole city was spared. Constructed between 1815 and 1820 by master builder Isaiah Davenport, this is one of the truly great Federal-style houses in the United States, with delicate ironwork and a handsome elliptical stairway.
Learning about Savannah's History
Housed in the restored train shed of the old Central Georgia Railway station, the Savannah History Museum a good introduction to the city. In the theater, The Siege of Savannah is replayed. An exhibition hall displays memorabilia from every era of Savannah's history.
Drinking Martinis in the Cemetery
All fans of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil must pay a visit to the now world-famous Bonaventure Cemetery, filled with obelisks and columns and dense shrubbery and moss-draped trees. (You don't want to approach it by boat like Minerva the "voodoo priestess" and John Berendt did -- and certainly not anywhere near midnight.)
Stopping at a Literary Landmark
Long before John Berendt's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," there were other writers who were associated with Savannah.Chief of these was Flannery O'Connor (1924-64), one of the South's greatest writers, author of "Wise Blood" and "The Violent Bear It Away." You can visit the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home on E. Charlton Street. Conrad Aiken (1889-1973), the American poet, critic, writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also born in Savannah. He lived at 228 (for the first 11 years of his life) and also at 230 E. Oglethorpe Ave. (for the last 11 years of his life).
Exploring Old Fort Jackson
About 2 1/2 miles east of the center of Savannah via the Islands Expressway stands Old Fort Jackson, Georgia's oldest standing fort, with a 9-foot-deep tidal moat around its brick walls. In 1775, an earthen battery was built here. The original brick fort was begun in 1808 and manned during the War of 1812. It was enlarged and strengthened between 1845 and 1860, and saw its greatest use as headquarters for the Confederate river defenses during the Civil War. Its arched rooms, designed to support the weight of heavy cannons mounted above, hold 13 exhibit areas.
Listening to an Outdoor Concert
The Savannah Symphony Orchestra has city-sponsored concerts in addition to its regular ticketed events. Spread a blanket in Forsyth Park and listen to the symphony perform beneath the stars, or be on River Street on the Fourth of July when the group sends rousing strains echoing across the river.
Going on a Riverboat Cruise
Riverboat Cruises are offered aboard the Savannah River Queen, operated by the River Street Riverboat Company. You get a glimpse of Savannah as Oglethorpe saw it back in 1733. You'll see the historic cotton warehouses lining River Street and the statue of the Waving Girl as the huge modern freighters see it when they arrive daily at Savannah.
Visiting the First African Baptist Church
This church is the first such church in North America. It was established by George Leile, a slave whose master allowed him to preach to other slaves when they made visits to plantations along the Savannah River. Leile was granted his freedom in 1777 and later raised some $1,500 to purchase the present church from a white congregation. The black congregation rebuilt the church brick by brick, and it became the first brick building in Georgia to be owned by African Americans. The pews on either side of the organ are the work of African slaves.
Listening to Ghost Stories
Ghost Talk Ghost Walk takes you through colonial Savannah on a journey filled with stories and legends based on Margaret Debolt's book Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales. If you're not a believer at the beginning of the guided tour, you may be at the end.
Strolling Around the Isle of Hope
About 10 miles south of downtown Savannah is the charming community of Isle of Hope. First settled in the 1840s as a summer resort for the wealthy, it's now a showcase of rural antebellum life. This is the perfect place for a lazy afternoon stroll. A short path near Bluff Drive is home to authentically restored cottages and beautiful homes, most enshrouded with Spanish moss cascading from the majestic oaks lining the bluff. A favorite of many local landscape artists and Hollywood directors, Bluff Drive affords the best views of the Wilmington River.
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