River Street Inn, Savannah

It’s April! How did that happen? With the weather being so warm I’ve been out and about more than normal — but I’m finally going to finish my post on my trip to the Amelia Island Book Festival.

As you can see in earlier posts, my trip included stays in Myrtle Beach, Amelia Island and St. Augustine. On the way home, I spent a night in Savannah, staying at the River Street Inn. As you can see from the photo, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but that’s because it was built right on the river as a cotton warehouse. The inside has wide, arched doorways that were necessary to accommodate moving large bales of cotton.

View from my window.

It was wonderful to look out the window at the boat traffic on the Savannah River, especially at night when they were all lit up.

Three centuries of history surround the River Street Inn and include some of the nation’s most significant 18th and 19th century architecture.

View from River Street Inn.

According to their brochure, the Inn’s original two floors were built in 1817 out of recycled ballast stone. The building has the Savannah River to the north, a high bluff to the south and buildings on either side, so when they needed to expand, they had no option but to build “up.” In 1853, three more floors were added.

For those who have never been to Savannah, it is a city that is built around gardens, called “squares.” Designed in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe, Savannah is the first city in North America to have this system of squares. Every few blocks you will find these quaint squares flanked by beautiful, restored homes and moss-draped trees. What’s even more amazing, is that some of our greatest American heroes are buried in these squares.

One of the many squares in Savannah.

One of those is Nathanael Green, a General during the American Revolution. The inscription on his monument reads:

“Beneath the monument in this Square repose the remains of Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, who died near Savannah on June 19, 1786, at Mulberry Grove Plantation which had been granted to him by this state in appreciation of his services in the Revolution. The 50-foot white obelisk was completed in 1830.”

The cornerstone of Green’s monument was laid in 1825 by Greene’s old friend the Marqis de Lafayette. At the dedication ceremony Gen. Lafayette said: “The great and good man to whose memory we are paying a tribute of respect, affection and regret has acted in our revolutionary contest a part so glorious and so important that in the very name of Greene are remembered all the virtues and talents which can illustrate the patriot, the statesman and the military leader.”

Another square holds the remains of Tomo Chi Chi, a co-founder with Oglethorpe of Georgia. Though a Native American, he was a good friend to the English, a friendship indispensable to the establishment of the Colony as a military outpost against Spanish invasion.In 1734 he even visited the English Court and was received by the King. He died in 1739, and at his request was brought to Savannah to rest among his English friends. He was buried with military honors.

Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah.

I walked all over Savannah, so had the opportunity to see many of the beautiful squares. I also visited Colonial Park, a cemetery that was the burying ground for the city from 1750 until it was closed in 1853. Among the distinguished dead who rest there are Archibald Bulloch, first President of Georgia; Lacian McIntosh, a Major General in the Continental Army; Samuel Elbert, a Revolutionary soldier; and Capt. Dennis L. Cottineau de Kerloguen who aided John Paul Jones.

Also buried there are many victims of the Great Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820. Nearly 700 Savannahians died that year.

Cobblestone streets.

Savannah has another interesting feature, and that is the cobblestone streets down by the river. When I say “down” by the river, I do mean “down” because you have to walk down very steep stairs from the streets at the top of the bluff to get down to the riverfront shops that are all former warehouses.

Of course I couldn’t end the history of Savannah without telling about some of the Civil War history of the city. In 1864 General William Sherman ended his “March to the Sea” at Fort McAllister, and after refitting his troops, proceeded toward Savannah. He was met by city officials who promised there would be no resistance if Savannah was spared. Sherman telegraphed President Lincoln, offering Savannah as a Christmas present, and sparing it from destruction. The union army occupied Savannah until the end of the war in 1865.

I also wanted to share one more photo of a street called Bluff Drive on the Isle of Hope outside Savannah. It is certainly a beautiful, peaceful place to live. Looks like a painting, doesn’t it?

Bluff Street, Isle of Hope.
 

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