Tag Archives: Historic Coastal Georgia

Georgia Hussars Storefront, 1897, Savannah

One of my favorite buildings in Savannah, this exotic Moorish Revival landmark [with a dose of Manueline inspiration and Gothic elements] was built by the Georgia Hussars as a retail space to fund their armory, which was located next door. The painted terracotta facade is truly one of the most memorable works of architecture in the city. As Rafe Semmes noted, it may best be remembered as the Pars Oriental Rug Company . It’s now home to Artillery Bar.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Lafayette Square, 1837, Savannah

One of 22 surviving squares in Savannah, Lafayette Square was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. It was laid out in 1837 and is adjacent to major landmarks including the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, and the Andrew Low House. The fountain was placed by the Colonial Dames of America to mark Savannah’s 250th anniversary, in 1983.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Girl Scout First Headquarters, Savannah

The Andrew Low Carriage House*, at 330 Drayton Street, was the site of the first meeting of the troop of eighteen Girl Guides who would soon come to be known as the Girl Scouts. Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born into an influential Savannah family on 31 October 1860. Her grandfather was the first president of the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia, and her father, William Washington Gordon II, was a Confederate captain, brigadier-general in the Spanish-American War, and a Georgia legislator. She attended boarding schools in New Jersey and Virginia, and a French finishing school in New York City.

After completing her education, Juliette married William Mackay Low in 1886. Low was the son of Andrew Low, a wealthy cotton factor of Scottish origin who owned homes in Savannah and the United Kingdom. The young couple spent most of their time in England and Scotland. The union turned sour when Juliette discovered that William had moved his mistress into their home. In 1902 she filed for divorce, but William’s health was deteriorating and before the action could be finalized, he died in Wales, in 1905.

In 1911, Juliette Gordon Low met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and got involved with a troop of Girl Guides in Scotland. She brought the movement to Savannah and the first troop of eighteen Girl Guides met in the carriage house of the Low family mansion on 12 March 1912. The name was changed to the Girl Scouts in 1913. Low’s association with the Girl Scouts continued in various capacities until her death in 1927. The organization has served over 50 million girls in its long history and while it may be best known for its annual cookie sales, has enriched the lives of those who have been associated with it.

The carriage house has served various purposes within the Girl Scouts organization over the years and is presently a museum. It was the first structure in Savannah to receive National Historic Landmark status.

*-Designed by architect John Norris to complement the adjacent Andrew Low House, circa 1848-1849, this structure originally served as the carriage house and living quarters for domestic slaves. Thomas “Tom” Milledge (1818-1886) was the most entrusted of the domestic slaves and after emancipation, remained in the employee of the Low family as a butler. He lived in the carriage house with his wife Mosianna (1844-1909) and their children.

Juliette Gordon Low Historic District, Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Christian Camphor Cottage, 1760s: The Oldest Building in Savannah

This saltbox cottage, built some time between 1760-1767 and raised in 1871, is believed to be the oldest surviving structure in the city of Savannah [Wild Heron Plantation, outside the city, is the oldest structure in Chatham County, dating to circa 1756]. The balcony was remodeled in 1907. I have not been able to locate any information about Christian Camphor, however.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Israel Dasher House, 1858, Savannah

This iconic Savannah home was built for Israel Dasher (26 June 1814-3 February 1894), who came to the city from nearby Effingham County. The Dashers were a large Salzburger family connected to New Ebenezer and many of their relatives remain in the area.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Frank & Co. Dry Goods Mural, Savannah

I love seeing old murals around Savannah. They often bring character to otherwise easily overlooked places. Frank & Co. was a thriving dry goods wholesaler in late-19th-century Savannah.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Creighton Island, Georgia

The tiny sliver of land visible on the horizon in this image is Creighton Island, a wonderfully obscure place on the McIntosh County coast.

The abridged sketch which follows, archived from an older website, was written by Jeannine Cook and details the island’s fascinating history.

Creighton Island is a privately-owned, inner barrier island in McIntosh County… It was formed by aeons of rising and falling ocean levels combined with ever-changing deposits of sand ridges.  The roughly 1,100 acres of high ground on Creighton date mainly from the Pleistocene era (40,000 B.C.), but are still being shaped afresh by wind, waves, tides and storms.  Today, the island is roughly 2 1/2 miles long and a mile wide.

Creighton bears testimony to human activities during at least the last 3,500-4000 years.  Archaeologist Clarence B. Moore uncovered important funerary materials – urns, stone and copper chisels, hatchets…- on Creighton’s north end in 1896-97.  It is said that the Guale Indians considered the north end of the Island as a very sacred burial ground.  Later, it is possible that the first European colony on the eastern seaboard of North America, San Miguel de Gualdape, took brief root on Creighton in 1526 when Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon tried to establish 600 Spanish and African settlers on this coast.  By 1756, Daniel Demetre had acquired “John Smith’s Island”, as Creighton was then designated. In the 1770s, William DeBrahm, Surveyor General to King George III, noted the existence of unexplainable entrenchments and ruins on the Island.  The mysteries DeBrahm created about Creighton have lingered to this day.

The Island acquired its present name from its 1778 owner, Alexander Creighton, a Savannah businessman.  Timbering and farming (especially cotton, sugar cane and corn) were important activities, despite occasional devastating hurricanes…Thomas Spalding worked with his son-in-law, William Cooke, owner of Creighton after 1838, and during that period, tabby dwellings were built at the north end.  Their vestiges remain today.  Freed slaves, based at the north end, remained on the Island after the Civil War.  The north end was also a focus of important timber-loading facilities for large ships at the “Sapelo port” in 1880-98, complete with US post office and telegraph lines connecting Creighton to Darien. The 1898 hurricane destroyed these port facilities; they were rebuilt but by 1910, the timber boom era in McIntosh County had finally ended.  In 1947, Creighton Island was acquired by the present owners…

…The Island’s long, diverse history combines with great natural beauty to represent a unique microcosm of Georgia’s coast.  Today’s owners deeply respect the environmental importance of their island sanctuary…

White Chimney River, McIntosh County

Originating in swampland east of Young Man Road in northern McIntosh County, the White Chimney River [also referred to as White Chimney Creek] flows southerly for several miles before joining the Sapelo River. I haven’t located an origin for the name, but would presume it to be related to an early house or other landmark with white chimneys. Seems logical, but who knows…

The White Chimney River is surrounded by marsh and hammock on both sides for most of its brief course.

This landscape is typical of estuaries along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the southeast, they generally feature palmettos, oaks, and cedars.

A web of smaller creeks feed into the river from all directions.

Like the rivers they support, they are dependent on the tides.

These estuaries are integral to the abundance of marine life that attracts fishermen to the region.

This floating dock is located at Cooper’s Point, now part of a residential development bordering the White Chimney River. It’s a private dock, but anyone can access the river at the White Chimney Creek Boat Ramp on Shellman Bluff Road. The river is particularly known for its abundance of Spotted Seatrout. Croaker is also common.

Oysters are also dependent on the estuarine environment and are quite abundant along the banks of the White Chimney River.

Life is Better on Bluff Time, Shellman Bluff

This sign, across from Hunter’s Cafe, sums up the mood around Shellman Bluff; no hurries and no worries. The words change from time to time, but the message really doesn’t. It overlooks the idyllic Julienton River, a tributary of the Sapelo River.

Hunter’s Cafe, 1951, Shellman Bluff

Hunter’s Cafe is one of the best loved local hangouts on the Georgia coast and it’s the epicenter of “downtown” Shellman Bluff. Open since 1951, it’s located in a World War II-era army barrack acquired as surplus from nearby Fort Stewart.

It’s a no-frills kind of place that caters to locals while welcoming the occasional tourist. If you’re in a rush, go elsewhere, because they don’t get in a hurry here. If you read internet reviews, you’ll hear people complaining about the wait time, but that misses the point of Hunter’s Cafe. It’s as much about the experience and atmosphere as it is the food. The original section of the restaurant feels like a neighborhood gathering place, and the bar, added in the 1970s, has the ambiance of a classic dive. And the staff are very welcoming and friendly, even if you’re not a local.

The food is really good. I visited with my parents and my aunt. My mother ordered fried green tomatoes, which I generally don’t care for, as an appetizer. There was something different about the Hunter’s version and I enjoyed them. I also don’t care for battered french fries, but their perfectly floured shoestring potatoes were memorable and way above average. The fresh Georgia shrimp was excellent, as it must be in a place like this, and it was accompanied by the most perfectly fried hush puppy to be found, amazingly light and flavorful. My mother and I agreed we could have made a meal of the hush puppies.