Today, Savannah retains much of Oglethorpe’s original plan, which was based on divisions also called wards, squares, and “trustee lots”: each ward featured an open park-like space at the center that was surrounded by equal sized lots for private homes and four larger lots for public buildings.
Whatever name you choose to use–Downtown Savannah, Landmark District, Historic District, Victorian District–it is hard to deny the charm and appeal of the area, and millions of tourists flock to the Historic District to enjoy the 18th and 19th Century architecture, famous shady parks (Savannah’s Squares) studded with Live Oaks adorned with silvery Spanish Moss, stunning old homes (many converted to museums, so you can get a glimpse of Old Savannah glory) with their tidy, manicured gardens, world class restaurants (many with outdoor seating), charming little retail boutiques, and entertainment venues. Local residents are certainly not immune to its charms, either, and proudly point to uncountable glowingly enthusiastic descriptions of Savannah as one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, if not the world! The Landmark District is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States, and was officially designated as a national treasure in 1966.
Some of the most popular historic home museums and tours in the area include:
- Owens-Thomas House – 124 Abercorn Street
- Andrew Low House – 329 Abercorn Street
- The Mercer Williams House Museum – 429 Bull Street
- Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthplace– 142 Bull Street
- Isaiah Davenport House Museum – 324 East State Street
- King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation – 502 East Harris Street
- Green-Meldrim House, now the parish house of St. John’s Episcopal Church at 1 West Macon Street
The district includes the aforementioned Andrew Low House, which was the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South’s first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America), Solomon’s Lodge (the first Masonic Lodge in Georgia), the old Colonial Cemetery, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and Old Harbor Light. In 2009, Savannah’s River Street, alongside the Savannah River, welcomed a heritage streetcar line back to the popular cobblestone-lined thoroughfare.
Great care is taken to preserve the character and beauty of the architecture; the Historical Society works with homeowners and businesses to help them make preservation-oriented choices that are historically accurate and appealing to the modern eye (and one’s neighbors), including a meticulously-researched approved exterior paint color palette and recommendations for unobtrusive and attractive holiday decorations (for example, cheery green boughs, velvety, elegant red ribbons and delicate white fairy lights are some of the traditional choices for Christmastime). The Savannah College of Art and Design in particular is an active partner with the Historical Society as it owns many formerly distressed and abandoned properties in the area which it now uses for business offices and classroom buildings: some SCAD students choose to study not only architecture but also historic preservation.
Most of the homes in the area are constructed in Federal, Georgian, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, Regency, Victorian, Colonial architectural styles. Whereas it is sometimes next to impossible to find an affordable home in the Landmark District proper (if you are very, very fortunate–and persistent (never say “never”!)–and have a dedicated real estate professional on your side, your new Historic District jewel of a house may also face one of the more than twenty Savannah Squares), there are many homes still available in the Victorian area of the Historic District. Most of the homes in the Victorian district were constructed between 1870 and 1910 and are wood-frame and multi-story. Most are considered to be some of the most impressive and finest post-Civil War Victorian and Queen Anne Victorian architecture in the South, and aspiring homeowners can choose from a wide variety of options ranging from regal, roomy, all-brick mansions to cozy, impeccably-designed Craftsman-style cottages and bungalows.
As most of the buildings in the area predate central air and heating, they were cleverly designed to take advantage of Savannah’s mild climate and feature intelligently-chosen architectural details that help naturally keep them cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter (more than a few have working fireplaces, wide porches to “set a spell” upon, tidy little balconies, spacious formal foyer areas to showcase beautiful staircases, or extra tall floor-to-ceiling “walk-through” windows with traditional Plantation shutters)! Many buildings–including Savannah’s famous “row homes”–also feature ornate ironwork grills, balcony rails, dolphin downspouts, planter boxes and pots and more: some are original details and some were carefully crafted with an eye towards artistic beauty and historical accuracy by the master blacksmiths at Ivan Bailey‘s forge.
Some homes in the Landmark District are constructed out of a highly sought-after and extremely rare brick known as the Savannah gray, which was popular during the 1700s and 1800s but which is no longer made. Originally called McAlpin’s Gray Brick because it was handmade in small batches from gray-colored clay from Henry McAlpin’s Hermitage Plantation located adjacent to the Savannah River; no one today seems to be able to replicate the formula to produce these unusual and visually stunning bricks. In all frankness, they have more of a warm, cinnamon-tinged pale red color, often accented with swirls of dusty cream, rather than a cold, drab gray; they were probably named for the Hermitage’s special gray clay from which they were crafted. (It is not entirely unusual to see these prized Savannah gray bricks–which have been recovered from renovations and harvested from building sites–being auctioned off for prices that would lead one to believe they are actually made of gold!)
If you are up for a restoration challenge, there are also a few two-and three-story Victorian-style frame houses still available for a surprisingly reasonable cost–given the prestige, historic charm and desirability of properties in the area–upon which you can lavish your love, skill and creativity to restore a gorgeous showplace of a home that will be the envy of all.
Many folks who prize antiques also flock to the Historic District, where there are more than a few businesses who can help you decorate your beautiful new historic home in appropriate period style!
Looking for work? The Landmark / Historic District and Victorian Historic District are conveniently situated within a short drive from many major employers in the Savannah, Georgia area! Gulfstream Aerospace, The Georgia Ports Authority, International Paper, Memorial Health University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s / Candler Healthcare, Target Distribution Center, JCB, the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus, and many other universities & colleges are all popular employers located close to the Landmark / Historic District and Victorian Historic District.
Learn more about “Savannah’s Jewel,” The Historic District!
Learn more about the South Historic District!
Learn more about the East Victorian District!
Learn more about the West Victorian District!
Learn more about Downtown Savannah!
- You have many excellent choices: Savannah area schools
- Power: Georgia Power
- Water & Sewer: City of Savannah
- Cable TV: Your choice: DISH Network, Comcast (XFINITY) or AT&T (DirecTV), more!
- Phone (landline): Your choice: Vonage, Verizon, AT&T, more!
- Internet: Your choice: Comcast, AT&T, more!
Visit my website to search homes for sale in the Landmark District and in other parts of beautiful Savannah, Georgia as well as surrounding areas in Georgia such as Richmond Hill, Garden City, Pooler, Ellabell, Tybee Island, Port Wentworth, Bloomingdale and many more.
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