Berrien House, Circa 1791, Savannah

Considered one of Georgia’s most iconic houses, the Berrien House was built circa 1791 for Major John Berrien (1759-1815), a hero of the Revolutionary War.

Major Berrien left college in New Jersey to enlist in the American Revolution. Quickly rising through the ranks, he was commissioned Captain of the first Georgia Continental Brigade in 1777, under the command of Lachlan McIntosh. Berrien followed General McIntosh to Washington’s Headquarters and served, at age 18, as Brigadier Major of North Carolina Troops at Valley Forge and Monmouth. Washington is believed to have made his headquarters in Berrien’s ancestral New Jersey home, Rockingham, and may have written his Farewell Orders to the Armies from that location. The Berriens were close personal friends of General Washington. After the war, Berrien returned to Savannah with his family and became very prominent in local affairs. He was Collector of Customs and an alderman and also served as state treasurer at Louisville (1796-1799).

John Macpherson Berrien, by John Maier, 1870. Public Domain

Major Berrien’s son, John Macpherson Berrien (1781-1856), began the practice of law at Louisville in 1799. After service in the War of 1812, Berrien was elected to the Georgia senate and served as a United States senator from 1825-1829. From 1829-1831, he served as Andrew Jackson’s attorney general; from 1845-1852, he again served in the United States senate. Berrien County is named for him.

The home, which was in bad condition for many years, has been exquisitely restored by one of Berrien’s descendants, Andrew Berrien Jones, and is a wonderful example of preservation.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

4 thoughts on “Berrien House, Circa 1791, Savannah

  1. Marty Barnes

    I give tours at the Davenport House Museum very near the Berrien House and the staff was invited to tour the house before it was completely restored and it was fascinating to see the intricate woodwork, paint samples and the fact that there was a ballroom on the second floor. Our Director asked the man in charge of the interior restoration what the wallpaper pattern was in the entranceway of the home. He remarked that he had taken down 14 different patterns until he got to the original pattern, Ribbon Trellis, and he mentioned that whoever had put that paper up in 1792 had used newspaper as backing and showed us all the masthead he had saved which said it was a Philadelphia newspaper, dated 1792. Adelphi, the expert on historic wallpapers, used a photo of the Ribbon Trellis, made a hand drawing, then a hand blocking and the Davenport House now has the historic, circa 1792, Ribbon Trellis in its entrance hall and it is listed in Adelphi’s catalog as “Berrien Ribbon Trellis.” Loved your story about the Berrien House.

    Reply
  2. Russell D. Henry

    Brian, I forwarded your pic of the Lane house in Lowndes County to a client who is a Lane and lived there in his childhood. He was curious if you were to publish a book? Thanks. Russ

    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply

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