As I said earlier in the week, I’ve been to Savannah several times – in fact Julie and Matt lived there (on Wilmington Island) when they were first married. But when we visited them, we didn’t go downtown and explore. But oh my gosh, Savannah drew me right in this weekend, and I’m about to pester Ted to death to take me back for a longer visit sometime before we return to Mackinac Island in the spring.
Ted was up early – as usual – on Saturday morning and had already been downstairs talking with his school buddies for an hour before I wandered down for some coffee and breakfast. We stayed at the Four Point Sheraton, and we were pleased with the hotel – especially the staff, who tried really hard to make our stay perfect. After a walk through the breakfast bar, a stop at the omelet table, and a couple of cups of coffee, we changed into warm weather clothes and hit the streets in search of Jeanine.
For those of you who follow the blog in Michigan, you will remember Jeanine from the story I wrote on “A Day in the Life of a Mackinac Island Taxi Driver” (http://bree1972.wordpress.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-mackinac-island-taxi-driver-part-i-7209 and http://bree1972.wordpress.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-mackinac-island-taxi-driver-part-ii-7309. I rode with Jeanine for half a day back in July of 2009, and we’ve been buddies ever since. In the fall, she and her boyfriend Jacob, who also was a taxi driver on the island, both moved to Savannah and are now driving tour carriages there.
When Jeanine read that we were heading her way, she emailed me her cell phone number and said she hoped we would stop by and see her. And of course, we did! Not only that – but we asked her to take us on a tour!
The Talmadge Bridge from our hotel room window. That's a ship on the Savannah River, passing under the bridge.
It didn't take long to find Jeanine and Bob, the horse she was driving Saturday. There are several carriage tour companies operating out of the historic district, and Jeanine works for Carriage Tours (just like on Mackinac - only this is a different "Carriage Tours"). Bob is a beautiful Belgian, and Bob knows he is beautiful! Jeanine said that most of the Belgians they drive in Savannah are more "old style" or classical than those on Mackinac Island. The island Belgians are taller and leaner, and Savannah's Belgians are shorter and stockier. And, as you will notice, their manes are left long and silky, instead of short or cropped like on the island. I asked how that worked out in the heat of the south, and Jeanine said in the summer she will braid the mane up off her horse's neck while he's working.
The historic district encompasses 2.5 square miles and is bounded by M.L. King, Jr. Blvd, Park Avenue, Broad Avenue, and the Savannah River.
This is Wright Square, with its monument to William Washington Gordon, who was the owner and founder of Central of Georgia Railroad Company. He was also Juliette Gordon Low's grandfather. Juliette founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah in 1912, and her home is in Savannah's historic district.
The steeple of the Independent Presbyterian Church. Do you remember the movie "Forest Gump", which was filmed in Savannah? At the beginning of the movie, a feather floats down from a steeple - this is that steeple. And for a little more "historic" trivia - Woodrow Wilson was married here.
Remember the bus stop where Forest Gump sat on a bench with a box of chocolates,telling his life story while he waits for a bus to take him to his beloved Jenny's house? See those people standing in front of that monument? That is where the movie folks placed the bench, although this area has never been a bus stop. Also, Jeanine told us, in the movie all the traffic is moving the wrong way down a one-way street. The bench Forest sat on is now in the Savannah History Museum.
- There are over 2,000 old homes and buildings in the historic district. This one was originally a single family home, and is now a law office.
This townhouse is still a single family home.
Chippewa Square holds the monument to Savannah's founder, James Oglethorpe. He founded this first city in 1733, establishing the colony of Georgia. Savannah was later named Georgia's first state capital. Twenty-two of the original twenty-four city squares remain. Oglethorpe wanted to build the colony around town squares, where citizens would go for social and civic events.
More movie trivia. Did you see the movie "Something to Talk About", with Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid? It was filmed in Savannah also, and this is the restaurant where Julia, in her nightgown, peers in to see her husband dining with another woman.
This beautiful building was originally used by a calvary as a stable for their Arabian horses. Later it was used by Henry Ford as one of his first showrooms for the Model T. Ford liked using old horse stables for showrooms because he thought the automobile would eventually replace the horse and carriage (he obviously had never been to Mackinac Island). Ford had a plantation south of Savannah, in the town now called Richmond Hill.
The Sorrel-Weed House, where Robert E. Lee stayed before he became General Robert E. Lee. A little known fact about Lee is that he installed the irrigation system at Fort Pulaski in Savannah. This is one of the many, MANY houses in Savannah that is said to be haunted.
The Green-Meldrim House, where General Sherman stayed when he was in Savannah at the end of his "march to the sea". He did not burn down Savannah - maybe because we gave him the deed to this house, the most expensive house in Savannah at the time, or maybe because Savannah is a port city.
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a major force in Savannah, having been responsible for many of the beautiful renovations to the historic buildings.
Beautiful Monterey Square and a glimpse of the iron work used on so many houses in Savannah. During the time these homes were built, iron was a sign of wealth, so the more iron that was on a house, and the fancier the iron work was, the wealthier you appeared to be.
Movie/book trivia - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" - the book was about Savannah, and the movie was filmed here. This is the house where the main character, Jim Williams, lived. Once also owned by Johnny Mercer, it is called the Mercer-Williams House.
Jones Street, one of the most prestigious streets in the historic district
The Hamilton-Turner Inn - the first home in Savannah to have electricity.
The Colonial Park Cemetery where people were buried from 1750-1853. The cemetery is entirely fenced, and when Sherman was in Savannah, he used the cemetery as a place to keep his army's horses.
The Owens-Thomas House. It was the first house designed by architect William Jay and was completed in 1819. A Regency Style home, it is completely symmetrical inside and out - although to make it so, some of the doors and windows are false.
A horse and carriage vs. a segway - both are used daily in Savannah.
Savannah's City Hall, with its gold dome.
Something carriage drivers on Mackinac Island never have to worry about - traffic lights!
Back at our starting point. The tour lasted a little over an hour, and it was awesome! I learned so much Savannah history, and I hope to go back soon so we can really explore!
With only about 30 minutes to spare before we were supposed to be at the Lady and Sons Restaurant for lunch, we walked down to River Street. This brick street runs right along the Savannah River, and is home to dozens of shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels.
Standing on the steps going from River Street back up to Bay Street.
Just a few blocks' walk, and we were at the famous Lady and Sons Restaurant. Opened by Paula Deen in another part of the historic district, she moved here to have more space.
We went in through the Paula Deen store . . .
. . . which was VERY busy!
A large room on the third floor had been reserved for our group, and we spent a couple of hours eating . . .
. . . mingling . . .
. . . eating . . .
. . . mingling . . .
. . . and eating some more from Paula's famous Lady and Son buffet. Fried chicken, baked chicken, baked pork chops, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, green beans, collard greens, macoroni & cheese, candied yams, rice & gravy, mashed potatoes AND a salad bar - I personally don't know a single soul who went to the salad bar. Then when you thought you couldn't possibly put another thing in your mouth, the server would come by with fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits or fresh-from-the-frying-pan hoe-cake corn bread. And then they'd come back with three different kinds of dessert. Oh my GOSH!
We walked - very slowly - back through the City Market to our hotel. There's only one thing to do on a warm afternoon after eating yourself silly - take a nap. And that's what we did!
Ted and I both loved Savannah, and we really are seriously talking about going back for a week or so – maybe after the first of the year – or even better for our anniversary, which happens to be on St. Patrick’s Day. Where could be better to celebrate the luck of the Irish than in Savannah!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-day trip to Savannah and meeting Paula Deen. Don’t know if I’ll blog again this week or not – I’ll have to wait and see what “turns up” at the ri’vah. God bless.
Note: A big, special thank you to Jeanine for helping me get the facts right in this blog. I emailed her about 20 pictures and asked for her help with the descriptions. She had it all back to be in a couple of hours – I would have never finished this one without her. Thanks, Jeanine!