November 27-28: Savannah – The Squares and the Riverfront

Our Tuesday plans were to visit the historic area including several of the squares in Oglethorpe’s design and to head back to the riverfront to take some pictures to share. On Wednesday, we did a little shopping and drove out to suburban Savannah to check out a housing development as one of our objectives this trip was to consider possible retirement locations.

Breakfast was once again at the conveniently located (and tasty) Atlanta Bread Company and then off to the Tourist Bureau for some information and a parking pass.

Savannah offers a one or two day parking pass for tourists which saves the hassles of finding the right change for parking meters and actually winds up being cost effective for the parking garages and meters. Its one of those things you don’t see advertised much but is definitely a convenience factor. Look into it if you’re driving in town.

VISITOR DAYPASS – Visitors may purchase a two-day parking pass for $12, or a single day parking pass for $7 from the Savannah Visitors Center or the Mobility & Parking Services Department.

This pass authorizes free parking on meters of one hour or more, free parking in the City’s lots and parking garages upon availability, and allows exceeding the time limit in time-limit zones. Visitor DayPasses must be filled out with appropriate information to be valid and will not be honored during special events. Parking in Savannah

DSCN7669DSCN7682DSCN7683 We started down Bull Street, parking along Monterey Square. We just happened to park in front of this brightly decorated door on Gordon Street to begin our walk.  Across the street was Congregation Mickve Israel, home of the third oldest Jewish congregation in America.

DSCN7670DSCN7671DSCN7672 Just around the corner on Bull Street was this little shop called Folklorico. Its housed in a building which was previously a street-level shop with living quarters above. Now both floors are part of the shop and the stroll through was as interesting to see the building as it was to see the shop’s wares.

We wandered into one of the little shops located under the main floor of a house on Monterey Square. This one, V & J Duncan Antique Maps, had a collection of antique maps, books and postcards which was a diversion and very interesting. We even found old postcards from Oberlin College in Ohio!

Forsyth Park is a large (30 acres) green area in the center of Savannah’s historic district. In addition to the elaborate fountain, there is also a Confederate memorial, flower gardens and recreatiDSCN7673onal fields, even a venue for the occasional concert.

Every St.Patricks Day the fountain is ceremoniously turned green in celebration of Savannah’s deep Irish heritage.


Major General Henry R. Jackson was an attorney and an officer for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The building was used as Union Army headquarters during the occupation of Georgia. Jackson didn’t purchase the home until 20 years after the war where he lived until his death in 1898. (Jackson is one of the famous who lie in Bonaventure Cemetery.) His home later became the Oglethorpe Club, the “oldest gentlemen’s club in Georgia.” Organized in 1870, the Oglethorpe Club was established by a group of Savannah’s leading citizens. It still remains a fashionable private club today. DSCN7676DSCN7678Pulaski Square is probably best known for the live oak trees growing there. Casimir Pulaski is best known for being a Polish-born hero in the American Revolution. Pulaski Square has the marker shown in the picture but the statue of Pulaski is located in Monterey Square. The cornerstone for Pulaski’s statue was laid in Chippewa Square but funding ran out before the statue was completed. Pulaski (the man) was mortally wonded in the Siege of Savannah in 1779. The place where he died (and is buried) is not known with certainty. There were reports that he died at sea enroute to Charleston SC and was buried at sea. There was also persistent belief that he actually died at Greenwich Plantation near Savannah. Someone’s body was dug up from Greenwich Plantation and that body could have been Pulaski’s so they were moved to Pulaski Square and enclosed in a metal case. The Gerogia Historical Society thinks they have the fatal shot removed from his leg. Despite all the apparent confusion, Casimir Pulaski was a Revolutionary War hero and is memorialized here. (In our modern age of forensics and DNA analysis as popularized by television series, the confusion seems particularly quaint to us.) DSCN7680


Law Offices. The covered portico fills this corner of the property.


The colors of the salmon and green houses led to this picture being included on the blog but the picture was taken to show the pumpkin on the car’s roof.



Sorrell-Weed House



Green-Meldrim Mansion. Used as Sherman’s Headquarters

On Madison Square, we saw this eye-catching structure. On the first floor, the appearance was of a fancy shop of some sort with the name Gryphon. We decided to check it out and discovered that it’s actually a restaurant/tea room run by the Savannah College of Architecture and Design (SCAD). Since it had been a while since breakfast and didn’t appear too crowded, we dropped in for a late and light lunch. As it turns out, the first floor once housed an apothecary’s shop and retains many of the original furnishings, particularly around the edges. Since then, I’ve seen several online reviews which were mixed but we were quite impresed our salads, soup and sandwich. The architecture and ambiance make for a pleasant stop. The name Gryphon is pulled from a clock over the elaborate interior shelving. We were “privileged” to eat on the small stage with an excellent view of the interior as well as an outside view of the passersby.  DSCN7688DSCN7689DSCN7690DSCN7691DSCN7693DSCN7694


First Baptist Church, Savannah’s oldest standing house of worship



Savannah Theater on Chippewa Square

With our appetites satisfied, it was back to the car and off for the river front. Thanks to our parking pass, we pulled into one of the public lots along the river and pier. Looking downriver, we saw the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. The structure is dedicated to Eugene Talmadge, who served as the Democratic Governor of Georgia in 1933-37 and 1941-43. The new bridge was originally named for the Native American Creek leader Tomochichi, an important figure in Savannah’s founding in 1733. After public forums on the issue, the original name was restored for the new structure.



The Peacemaker, owned by the Twelve Tribes communities was originally constructed in Brazil for use as a charter vessel. It was brought to Savannah for some work which was never completed and was sold at auction.


Ship Fountain on River St. The paddlewheels are turned by water flowing through the fountain





One of the alleyways connecting River Street with the upper levels of Bay Street.


 DSCN7718 A statue memorializing the slave trade that stands looking out over the water on the River Street boardwalk caused controversy in the city, which is 50% black, partly due to its inscription, a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: ‘We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships together in each other’s excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together.’ This sentiment caused such divisiveness among the city’s residents that Angelou added a final thought: ‘Today we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.’ Statue was erected in 2002.



Cotton Exchange and Mason’s Hall



The Waving Girl of Cockspur Island

Late Tuesday afternoon, we went to check out a couple of shopping malls (which turned out being close to our hotel). We weren’t looking for anything in particular, just trying to get a feel for the area as a place to live, instead of just visit.

Wednesday morning, we headed back downtown to do a little shopping (“There was this store across from the bakery with the wooden goose in the window…”)


Nathaniel Greene (another Revolutionary War Hero) Monument and Marker on Johnson Square. Read on to find that the location of his remains was in doubt prior to being moved here.

Wednesday was also an opportunity to sample the food at the Pink House which had been recommended. We arrived for lunch and were seated in the bar area but we peeked in all the dining areas on the way in. The food was delicious. Keith had shrimp and grits. The grits were fried in a square almost like a piece of toast. Betty had the shrimp and scallops in Parmesan Cream Sauce over Fettuccine. The cheese bread straws could be habit forming!

After lunch, we headed over to the southside suburbs to check out housing developments. The man at the sales office was pleasant and helpful but our current thinking is that is not quite what we’ll be looking for when/if we leave Maryland.

November 26: Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah and a “Made in the USA” find

The cover photo for the book (and later movie) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil featured a sculpture known as the Bird Girl and located in Bonaventure Cemetery near Savannah in Thunderbolt GA. As it turns out, the sculpture’s role in the book was primarily only a symbol of the cemetery but it stirred up enough tourist traffic in the cemetery to warrant its movement to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah.

The Bonaventure Cemetery is located next to a creek leading from the Savannah River to the Atlantic Ocean via Wassaw Sound. Its setting includes a waterfront view of the Intracoastal Waterway and massive oak trees dripping Spanish moss. We parked near the water and were greeted by a fisherman who cheerfully asked where we were from. Whether the out of state plates on the car or the likelihood that anyone in that area was a tourist clued him in is anyone’s guess.



Is this a china berry tree?



Among the more famous persons buried in Bonaventure is Johnny Mercer



Many of the graves have a cross built into the vault top. It is believed that at least part of the reason for this is to prevent the grave from being used for voo doo rituals.

DSCN7668After our walking tour through the cemetery, we returned to the HGI and had lunch at Carey Hilliard’s. Carey Hilliard’s had been a staple for us when we lived in Summerville SC and they still make some mighty fine onion rings and sweet tea. I’ve seen some online reviews that weren’t overly impressed but we cleaned our plates and will be back sometime somewhere.

Our next stop was a short (well, we expected it to be shorter than it was) trip to Walthourville GA to find Lawn Chairs USA.

Trying to find their store/factory was a bit of trick however. There are no street numbers on the building. There is no sign of any kind on the building. Luckily, I had looked it up on Google Maps and found the picture below which helped us identify it.

LawnChairUSA manufactures the style of folding lawn chair that our parents used. Most amazingly is that the frame and webbing is made right here in their factory in southeast Georgia. Their prices are similar to the ones you may find in KMart (only in the summer) made in China. If you’ve sat in these chairs, you already know they are more comfortable than the umbrella type chairs you commonly see. Lawn Chair USA. sells chairs and webbing but shipping is a little high in comparison to the price of the chairs. You can also visit them directly in Walthourville GA and save the cost of shipping. We managed to fill the car trunk and then headed northeast back towards Savannah through several smaller towns.

Dinner tonight was once again at the Atlanta Bread Company. Betty had the Roasted Organic Butternut Squash soup. Keith opted for the Turkey Berry Brie on Asiago Foccaccia served with made-from-scratch Stuffing. Both were excellent choices.

November 25: Sometimes, you just gotta get away

It had been a long stretch. Work was busy and vacation time was tight. Some upcoming life changes showed over the horizon but not close enough. We had had it. We’ve got to get out of town and do something different.

Now that we’ve agreed on that, where do we go next? San Diego has been on the list for awhile but you’ve got to make reservations and flights are generally crowded and expensive this close to the holidays. Friends in Texas and along the east coast were due a visit and had been promised one for a while. How about Savannah? We liked it there and wanted to go back, its within driving distance and it should be warmer. Share Thanksgiving and the day after enjoying family and some of the rituals and then load up and leave town.

We pulled into Savannah on Saturday evening after an uneventful ride down I95 and made ourselves at home in the Hilton Garden Inn for several days. There was a wedding reception in the ground floor banquet room and the parking lot was crowded but that didn’t deter us.

Sunday dawned bright and clear. After breakfast at the local Atlanta Bread Co., we headed for Tybee Island. In our previous visit, we had briefly visited just the lighthouse area but wanted to see the rest of the island this time.

As we headed out the causeway towards Tybee, we noticed a sign to Ft. Pulaski Nattional Monument and decided to check it out. Someone’s senior card allowed us to enter at no additional charge.

After entering the gate, we drove across a bridge over the old South channel into Savannah and wound our way to the visitors center and the parking lot.

Like most of the forts from this era, the low walls surrounded a modified pentagon shape enclosure. Unlike the others we had seen, Ft. Pulaski was surrounded by a moat, complete with drawbridges. The Park Ranger giving our tour explained that the area outside the fort but within the moat (The Demilune) had never been part of the enclosed fort but had been used for kitchens and in later years for storage of ammunition.

The inner walls showed the standard archways leading to the various rooms of the fort. The picture below replicates a set of barriers put up to help protect the inner rooms from ordnance landing inside the fort walls. The angled wood helped to move the ordnance from the structure and storage areas as well as giving additional strength to the walls.

One area showed a partial excavation so you could see the brick structure supporting the wooden floors between the walls. In its life, the fort had been used to garrison troops for the Civil War as well.

DSCN7534This picture also shows the mortar used to fasten the bricks.

Tuck-pointing and repairing old mortar joints remains one of the team’s major focuses inside Fort Pulaski. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) repaired crumbling mortar joints inside the fort using the latest technology, Portland cement, without knowing its damaging effects. However, Portland cement does not allow lime mortar to absorb and release moisture. Thus, the lime mortar is reduced to powder. The weakening mortar leads to cracking and flaking of historic bricks which threatens the overall integrity of the fort.

With more than 25 million bricks, the challenge of preservation and restoration involves removing the Portland cement and replacing it with more traditional lime mortar and natural cements.

DSCN7524Adjacent to Ft. Pulaski is the lighthouse on Cockspur Island. Savannah history includes multiple references to the Waving Girl, who was known to all the sailors entering the Port of Savannah (but not for reasons that first come to mind of a girl and sailors!)

View from the wall

Old style drawbridge. The chain works for raising and lowering

View of Cockspur Island lighthouse from Old US 80 and the Lazaretto Creek Marina


After leaving Ft. Pulaski, we continued on to Tybee Island. As mentioned above, we had visited here before but stayed up in the vicinity of the lighthouse at the northern end. This time we headed to the extreme southern end of the island and parked the car to walk on the beach.

Manmade concrete jetty structure to protect the beach.

The beach here is very, very flat/gently sloping and has a low duneline as well. It would seem to the untrained mind (like mine) to be very vulnerable to wave action, particularly during storms. Along the beach in several places are jetties, a combination of the concrete structures seen above and huge rocks.

“Time to eat”. So we did!

Under the fishing pier

There is a concrete fishing pier and pavilion with vendors in the summer and its available for rent for special occasions. On this day it was pretty much deserted except for a few of us tourists.

We left via the boardwalk where there were condos/apartments and several businesses including a restaurant/pub with a a big sign saying “time to eat”. We ducked in for coffee and a snack (really good guacamole and empanadas) before making our way back to the car and the ride back to Savannah. They also provided paper-covered tables and crayons to ease the wait.

Sea-themed Christmas tree on the boardwalk

By the time we got back to Savannah, it was well on its way to being dark. We headed down towards River St. Parking can be a little tricky but we headed to the public garage under Ellis Square. When we had last visited Savannah, there was a huge (and not attractive) aboveground garage but it was being torn down to be replaced by this underground garage and a rebuilt Ellis Square at street level complete with fountain. There are a couple of daytime pictures in the next couple of postings.

Our dual mission for the evening included dinner and securing something to bring home for Ryan and for the neighbor who watches the house and mail for us. The latter would be solved by a trip to Savannah’s Candy Kitchen for pralines! (If you don’t know what a praline is, you have my sympathy…let’s just say they could be the reason why God made pecans…or maybe pecan pie was the reason.) At any rate, they are a sinful delight made primarily of sugar and pecans. These are some of the best commercially available ones I’ve had. You can order them online at Savannah Candy Company. Miss Edith’s were better to my way of thinking but she’s not around to make them anymore so these are a great substitute

Dinner was also a reprise location from a previous trip, the Riverhouse Restaurant. The plan was to save enough room for dessert but it didn’t work out that way. Their regular dinner menu is tempting and Betty ordered the Scallops Patricia but I was intrigued by the special salmon with an orange glaze. I just had to see how the orange went with the salmon. They were both delicious as were the pumpkin biscuits.  When the waitress returned to ask about dessert, there wasn’t enough room.

Sated, we made our way out to walk along the riverfront. There was a huge freighter going by but the lighting didn’t work out for pictures. The stop to try was enough time for the panhandler to corner us with his palmetto frond rose and his pitch for a donation. We finally gave in and then went on out way back to the car. I couldn’t find the ticket to pay (but didn manage to find one from our last trip). The attendant asked when we had come in and based our charge on that rather than the daily maximum which was appreciated.

We cruised back towards the HGI for the night. There was something going on in the banquet rooms but not as well-attended as the wedding reception from the night before.

Off to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s travels.