Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tybee Island

The McMillen's invited us to join them at their condo in Tybee Island so we headed down Saturday afternoon when Dave got out of class.  We had a great 4 or 5 days with them, hanging out at the beach, doing a little sightseeing, going to Savannah and spending time together.  
Allie, Hannah, Grace and Zach
Hannah, Grace, Allie and Zach at the beach
Zach just chillin'

Grace relaxing
Out to dinner at the restaurant at the condos.
My sister, Kerry, and me
Girl Power!

The kids loved swimming and playing in the pool in the evenings!

We spent the day in Savannah and went on a tour of the historic city.  I love this city and all of the architecture.
Historic Philbrick-Eastman House
17 West McDonough Street
Chippewa Square

The Philbrick-Eastman House is best known for its iron fence with medallions of prominent men. This is part of the same ironwork that surrounds the fountain in front of the Cotton Exchange building on Bay Street.

Although construction of this Greek revival mansion was started in 1844 for Moses Eastman, a local silversmith, it was not completed until 1847 – for John Stoddard. Built by Irish-born architect, Charles B. Cluskey, the home features the Doric columns so common in his designs. The third story was added in 1911.

This elegant home has been home to a number of distinguished Savannah families and is currently in private hands. 

Historic Green-Meldrim House

Green-Meldrim House Museum
14 West Macon Street
West side of Madison Square

Civil War Headquarters of General William T. Sherman
National Historic Landmark

The Green-Meldrim House is one of the South’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. This Savannah treasure features a beautiful cast iron portico at the entrance and a covered porch on three sides of the house surrounded by ornate ironwork. The most expensive 19th century house in Savannah, its unique crenellated parapet and “oriel” windows add to the gothic flavor. Numerous original adornments remain in the interior of the home, including American black walnut woodwork on the main floor, elaborate crown moldings, marble mantles, matching chandeliers and large mirrors in gold leaf frames brought from Austria. The Green-Meldrim House features an elegant curved stairway with a skylight above and oriel windows on the east side of the house which bring in light from three sides.

Constructed as a residence for Mr. Charles Green, who came to Savannah from England in 1833, the home was designed by a New York architect, Mr. John S. Norris, who was also responsible for designing the Custom House and several other fine homes. Mr. Green had arrived in Georgia with little means, but made his fortunate as a cotton merchant and ship owner in Savannah and amassed enough money by the early 1850s to build his Gothic villa, which is considered one of the most elaborate homes in Savannah.

Hoping to protect his home and his cotton from destruction when Union General William T. Sherman’s army drew near in December of 1864, Mr. Green rode out to meet the Union commander and invited the Civil War commander to use his home while in Savannah.

While waiting there, an English gentlemen, Mr. Charles Green, came and said that he had a find house completely furnished, for which he had no use, and offered it as headquarters. He explained, moreover, that General Howard had informed him, the day before, that I would want his house for headquarters. At first I strong disinclined to make use of any private dwelling, lest complaints should arise of damage and loss of furniture, and so expressed myself to Mr. Green; but, after riding about the city, and finding his house so spacious, so convenient, with large yard and stabling. I accepted his offer, and occupied that house during our stay in Savannah. He only reserved for himself the use of a couple of rooms above the dining-room, and we had all else, and a most excellent house it was in all respects.
General William T. Sherman, Sherman’s Memoirs, pp 494-495 

Shortly after his arrival at Green’s home, Sherman sat down and penned his famous telegram to President Lincoln:

I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.

The home remained in the possession of Charles Green until his death in 1881. His son, Edward Moon Green inherited the home and lived there for a number of years before selling it in 1892 to Judge Peter Meldrim, a former Savannah mayor and past president of the American Bar Association. The Green-Meldrim House was later sold to St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1943, and the former kitchens, servant’s quarters and stable now serve as the rectory for the church

Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, the must-see Green-Meldrim House is open for tours.

Historic Mercer-Williams House
Home of Jim Williams of "Midnight" fame
429 Bull Street
Monterey Square (west)

Although the Mercer-Williams House was cited as "nationally significant" for its architectural style in a historic foundation survey, this lovely home is perhaps best known for its connection to the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." The elegant Italianate mansion was the home of Jim Williams and the site of the killing of Danny Hansford in May of 1981. Designed by the New York architect, John Norris, the red brick home with tall arched windows and ornate ironwork balconies is considered one of the most beautiful in all Savannah. The house is filled with 18th century portraits and beautiful antique furnishings from Jim William's private collection.

Although built for Civil War General Hugh W. Mercer, great grandfather of songwriter and lyricist Johnny Mercer, the house would never be home to any of the Mercer family. Construction began in 1860 but completion was delayed due to the outbreak of the Civil War. It was not complete until 1869. It is said that Union soldiers used materials from the construction to build shelters in Monterey Square during their occupation. After the war, General Mercer was tried for the murder of two army deserters. He was eventually acquitted and released from jail, but decided to sell the home to John Wilder, who completed the construction.

Jim Williams bought the house in 1969 and began a 2-year renovation of the run-down property. This was one of fifty homes that Williams would be credited with saving and restoring. Accused of shooting Danny Hansford in the study of the Mercer House, Jim Williams was found not guilty of the murder after his fourth murder trial, but his victory would be short-lived. Williams died of pneumonia only six months later at the age of 59. Jim's sister currently owns the property and has turned the magnificent Mercer-William House into a museum with daily-guided tours.

Mary Telfair, born in 1789, was independent, well-traveled and filled with dreams--truly a woman ahead of her time. One of her most significant visions was to establish a special place where women could receive respectful, understanding and compassionate care for their health needs.

In 1875, only a few days before her death, Mary placed a provision in her will that allowed for the erection of such a hospital in the city of Savannah—The Telfair Hospital for Females opened in 1886.

Historic Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home
207 East Charlton Street
Lafayette Square

Built in 1856, Savannah's Historic Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home was the birthplace and childhood home of Flannery O'Connor, one of the country's oustanding writers. Born Mary Flannery O'Connor in 1925, Flannery lived in the house, then a modest one-story home until 1938. Mary, as she was known until college, grew up on Lafayette Square during the depression and attended nearby Catholic schools. She died of lupus erythematosus when she was only 39, the same disease that had claimed her father in 1941.

The 19th century Greek revival townhouse is undergoing major renovations. The top two floors and the basement are apartments. The living room on "parlor level" floor, which is open to the public, with twin fireplaces and chandeliers has been completely refurbished. The heart-of-pine floors, heavy furniture and lace curtains are reminiscent of the period when it was home to the O'Connor family. The walled garden was added in 1993. It was in the back yard that 5-year-old Mary is said to have taught a chicken to walk backwards.

The house is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flannery O'Connor Home Foundation, which bought the property in 1989. The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home Foundation is a non-profit corporation, funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. Today, it is maintained partly as a memorial to her and partly as a literary center for Savannah. The house is open to the public free of charge on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Literary activities are held at various times from October to May. The home presents special readings for the Georgia Heritage celebration and for Saint Patrick's Day.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist

We ate lunch at Savannah's famous Pirates House, located on one of the most historic spots in Georgia. It is here that Trustees Garden, the first experimental garden in America, was located. 

When General Oglethorpe and his little band of colonists arrived from England in 1733, they came ashore in the vicinity of the present City Hall on Bull and Bay Streets, approximately seven blocks due west of The Pirates' House. There they pitched their tents to found the City of Savannah. 

A suitable site of land was located on the eastern boundary of Oglethorpe's city plan on which an experimental garden would be developed. The plot of land was dedicated as Trustees Garden in honor of Oglethorpe's men whom he considered the Trustees of the new colony. The garden was modeled very closely after the Chelsea Botanical Garden in London, a diagram can be seen hanging in our Jolly Roger Room. Consisting of ten acres, it was bounded on the north by the Savannah River, on the south by what is now Broughton Street, on the west by what is now East Broad Street, and on the east by Old Fort Wayne. 

Botanists were sent from England to the four corners of the world to procure plants for the new project and soon vine cuttings, fruit trees, flax, hemp, spices, cotton, indigo, olives and medicinal herbs were all taking root on the banks of the Savannah River. The greatest hopes; however, were centered in the wine industry and in the Mulberry trees which were essential to the culture of silk. But both of these crops failed due to the unsuitable soil and weather conditions. From this garden, however, were distributed the peach trees which have since given Georgia and South Carolina a major commercial crop and also the upland cotton which later comprised the greater part of the worlds commerce. 

We ate in the he small building adjoining the Pirates' House which was erected in 1734 and is said to be the oldest house in the State of Georgia. The building originally housed the gardener of Trustees' Garden. His office and tool room were in the front section, while his stable occupied the back room and his hayloft, upstairs. The bricks used in the construction of this old "Herb House", as it is called today, were manufactured only a short block away under the bluff by the Savannah River where brick making was begun by the colonists as early as 1733. 

Around 1753, when Georgia had become firmly established and the need for an experimental garden no longer existed, the site was developed as a residential section. Since Savannah had become a thriving seaport town, one of the first buildings constructed on the former garden site was naturally an Inn for visiting seamen. Situated a scant block from the Savannah River, the Inn became a rendezvous of blood-thirsty pirates and sailors from the Seven Seas. Here seamen drank their fiery grog and discoursed, sailor fashion, on their adventures from Singapore to Shanghai and from San Francisco to Port Said. 

These very same buildings have recently been converted into one of America's most unique restaurants: The Pirates' House. Even though every modern restaurant facility has been installed, the very atmosphere of those exciting days of wooden ships and iron men has been carefully preserved. 

In the chamber known as the Captain's Room with its hand hewn ceiling beams joined with wooden pegs, negotiations were made by shorthanded ships' masters to shanghai unwary seamen to complete their crews. Stories still persist of a tunnel extending from the Old Rum Cellar beneath the Captain's Room to the river through which these men were carried, drugged, and unconscious, to ships waiting in the harbor. Indeed, many a sailor drinking in carefree abandon at The Pirates' House awoke to find himself at sea on a strange ship bound for a port half a world away. A Savannah policeman, so legend has it, stopped by The Pirates' House for a friendly drink and awoke on a four-masted schooner sailing to China from where it took him two years to make his way back to Savannah. 

Hanging on the walls in the Captain's Room and The Treasure Room are frames containing pages from an early, very rare edition of the book Treasure Island. Savannah is mentioned numerous times in this classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. In fact, some of the action is supposed to have taken place in The Pirates' House! Tis' said that old Captain Flint, who originally buried the fabulous treasure on Treasurer Island, died here in an upstairs room. In the story, his faithful mate, Billy Bones, was at his side when he breathed his last , muttering "Darby, bring aft the rum". Even now, many swear that the ghost of Captain Flint still haunts The Pirates' House on moonless nights. 

The validity of The Pirates' House has been recognized by The American Museum Society which lists this historic tavern as a house museum. The property was acquired by the Savannah Gas Company in 1948 and the buildings soon fell under the magic of Mrs. Hansell Hillyer, wife of the president of the company, who with great imagination, and skill transformed the fascinating museum into its present use as a restaurant. Today, it is a mecca for Savannahians and tourist alike who come to enjoy its many delicious Southern specialties served in the original setting of yesteryear. 

Historic Isaiah Davenport 
House Museum
324 East State Street
Columbia Square (northwest)
National Historic Register

The Isaiah Davenport House is one of the best examples of Federal-Style architecture in Savannah. The simple but elegant exterior was constructed of English brick and brownstone and features an ornamental iron railing and handsome double entry stairway. The interior of the home has been authentically restored and features beautiful woodwork, original plasterwork and a hanging staircase. Filled with furnishings of the period, visitors are able to get a glimpse of what life was like in Savannah in the 1820s.

A native of Rhode Island, Isaiah Davenport, arrived in Savannah before 1807 after completing his apprentice as a builder. He soon became known as one of Savannah’s most famous and prosperous builders and built a number of brick houses in the late Georgian and Federal styles, all with high basements made necessary by the dusty unpaved streets of Savannah.

Davenport’s heirs sold the Davenport house to planter William E. Baynard in 1840, and remained in the hands of that family until 1955. Unfortunately, the house was a run-down tenement building by the 1930’s and destined for destruction in 1955 to make way for a parking lot. The historic home was saved by seven Savannah society ladies who raised $22,500 to purchase the home. This effort was the first act of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which would be responsible for saving and preserving many of Savannah’s historic sites. 

Restored in 1962, the home is now a museum with daily-guided tours. Its charming courtyard garden of 18th century design was created as a project of the Trustees’s Garden Club. A museum store in the basement of the home features interesting items unique to Savannah and her early history.

Owens-Thomas House
124 Abercorn Street
Oglethorpe Square (east)
National Historic Register

The Owens-Thomas House is considered one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. Completed in 1819, and occupying a full block, the home features a columned entrance portico, handsome cast iron balcony, winding double stairway, and arched second story windows. The interior boasts a magnificent stairway of mahogany, cast iron and brass and elegant furnishings. The foundation of the home and garden walls are built of tabby, a regional material made of sand, shells and lime.

Also known as the Richardson-Owens-Thomas House, the home was designed by English architect, William Jay, and originally built for Richard Richardson, a Bermuda-born banker and cotton merchant. Richardson’s brother-in-law was married to the architect’s sister, Ann Jay. Richardson suffered financial setbacks a short while after the home was completed and lost it to the Bank of the United States three years later. Colorful Savannah character, Mary Maxwell, operated an elegant lodging house here for 8 years. One of her more famous guests was Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette who visited Savannah in 1825. It is said that he reviewed Savannah’s militia from the south balcony of the house and addressed the thousands of cheering citizens who gathered below. 

Congressman, Lawyer and one-time Savannah Mayor George Welshman Owens purchased the home in 1830 for $10,000. The Owens-Thomas house remained in the Owens family until 1951 when Owens granddaughter, Margaret Thomas, bequeathed it to Savannah’s art museum, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. This architectural treasure is a National Historic Landmark. 

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
10 East Oglethorpe Avenue
1 block south of Wright Square

James Moore Wayne House

Best known as the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, this historic home was designated as Savannah’s first National Historic Landmark in 1965. The lovely Regency mansion is another treasure attributed to the talented English architect William Jay. Known for its architectural beauty, the home features a columned portico, and double stairway. A beautiful iron fence encloses a lovely Victorian garden. The top floor and addition were added in 1886.

The home was originally built in 1818-1820 for Savannah mayor James Moore Wayne, who would later serve as a US Congressman and Supreme Court Justice. In 1831, Moore sold the home to his niece, Sarah Stiles, and her husband, William Washington Gordon I. Gordon was the founder of the Central of Georgia Railway, and grandfather of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Juliette, affectionately known as Daisy, was born here on Halloween in 1860. In 1886, Daisy married William Low and moved into the Low family home on Lafayette Square. The James Moore Wayne House remained in the hands of Gordon family until purchased by the Girl Scouts in 1953.

The home has been lovingly restored and is furnished with many original Gordon family pieces. It opened in 1956 as a program center and historic house museum. It is presently owed and operated by the Girl Scouts as a living memorial to Juliette Gordon Low. Girls Scouts from all over the country come to Savannah to visit the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in order to take part in programs and to learn more about their inspirational founder and the early days of scouting.

Girl Scout troops, schools groups, families and individuals are all welcome to tour the Birthplace.

Laurie's Restaurant is the home of the film "Forrest Gump".  Here you can dine where Jenny worked.

I love Savannah and don't think that I will ever tire of going there!

Tybee Island Light Station and Museum

General James Edward Oglethorpe founded the English Colony of Georgia in America on February 12, 1733 when he arrived at Yamacraw Bluff, fifteen miles up the Savannah River from the Atlantic Ocean. Named for George II, Georgia was envisioned by Oglethorpe who believed the land would be a “land of liberty and plenty.”

Today we call Savannah a port city, but the new colony would not have survived without an establishment of a landfall at the mouth of the Savannah River. With this in mind, Oglethorpe surveyed and decided upon the site for such an undertaking. He selected the largest and outermost island, Tybee, on which to establish a “day mark” - a lighthouse without a light. It would serve as a guide to the navigable channels of the Savannah River.

Under the direction of Noble Jones of Wormsloe Plantation, work began on the first lighthouse built on Tybee. It was constructed in 1736. It was octagonal in shape and was constructed of brickwork and cedar piles. Standing ninety feet tall, it was the tallest structure of its kind in America at that time.
Unfortunately, storms took their toll on Tybee’s first lighthouse. Five years after its completion, a new lighthouse was commissioned. While work was progressing on a new lighthouse, a storm swept the old lighthouse away in August 1741.

In 1742, the second lighthouse built on Tybee was completed. It was described by Oglethorpe as “much the best building of that kind in America.” It was different from its predecessor, standing ninety-four feet with a flagstaff which ran from the nave to the top of the beacon. In 1748, the sea was within thirty feet of the lighthouse. A full time pilot was hired to assist vessels coming into the river.

In 1768, with the sea lapping at the foundation of the lighthouse, the Georgia Assembly authorized a new lighthouse to be built. This time a site well removed from the sea was chosen and the light was completed in early 1773. The 100 foot tall brick and wood structure was lit with spermaceti candles. (Spermaceti is a waxy,, white substance from a sperm whale’s skull).. The lighthouse was ceded to the Federal Government about 1790,, after Georgia ratified the Constitution and became part of the United States. The U.S. Lighthouse Establishment then took over the operation of the lighthouse.

In 1857, a Second Order Fresnel lens was placed in the lighthouse. The lens greatly increased the effectiveness of the light through the use of prism. In 1862, a major portion of the lighthouse was destroyed when Confederate troops from Fort Pulaski set fire to the tower in order to prevent the Federal troops from using it to guide their ships into port.

After the Civil War, the Lighthouse Establishment began work on rebuilding the Tybee Light. The lower sixty feet of the old lighthouse was still intact, and it was decided to add to the existing structure instead of starting from the ground up. The new lighthouse was to be a first order station, consisting of masonry and metal only and was completely fireproof. The new First Order Fresnel Lens (lens type was developed in 1822 by Augustin Fresnel) was first exhibited on October 1, 1867. In 1933, the light was converted to electricity (by concentrating the light’s rays, the lens magnifies a 1000 watt bulb so that it can be seen from eighteen miles away). This change signaled the beginning of the end of the need of a Lighthouse Keeper. When Tybee Lighthouse’s last keeper, George Jackson, died in 1948, the U.S. Coast Guard took over the operation and maintenance of the lighthouse.

The U.S. Coast Guard occupied the Lighthouse site until 1987 when they formed a joint partnership lease agreement with the City of Tybee Island and The Tybee Island Historical Society, which took on responsibility for full maintenance and restoration of the site. The U.S. Coast Guard still maintains the light as a navigational aid.

There are six historical buildings on the five acre site. The Tybee Island Historical Society has restored these structures to their circa 1900 appearance. The structures on the site include:

*The Lighthouse: The octagonal tower is the oldest and tallest (154 feet) in Georgia. The bottom 60 feet dates from 1773, the upper 94 feet from 1867. Since 1867, the Tybee Lighthouse has seen very few changes - it has its original first order Fresnel Lens resting in its original supports. Also, still in place today is the cast iron stairway which spirals its way to the observation deck. The walls are 12 feet thick at the base, and taper to 18 inches at the top. The room at the base of the lighthouse was used as a workroom/storage room.

*The Head Keeper’s Cottage: Built in 1881. This building has been restored to the time that George Jackson, the last Tybee Head Keeper under the United States Lighthouse Service, lived here with his wife and their four children.

*The First Assistant Keeper’s Cottage: Built in 1885.

*The Second Assistant Keeper’s Cottage: (now the Video Theater and Exhibit Gallery) Built in 1861. It was used as a barracks for Federal soldiers during the Civil War, and later served as a dwelling for the Second Assistant Keeper.

*The Summer Kitchen: Built in 1812. This building was used as a kitchen before the other buildings had kitchens added to them. After 1910 this building served as a storage building.

*The Oil House: Built in 1890.

*The Bell: on the site was used to call area volunteer life-savers. The bell dates to 1938, and is inscribed with that date and the initials, U.S.L.H.S., which stands for the United States Lighthouse Society. It is interesting to note that 1938 was the last year that the Society existed before being absorbed into the United States Coast Guard.

View from the top of the lighthouse

View of Fort Screven from the lighthouse

n 1786, the Georgia Legislature approved the creation of a fort on Cockspur or Tybee Island to be named in honor of General James Screven, a Revolutionary War hero. The fort was never built by the state, but in 1808, the property fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal government as Fort Screven Reservation.
In 1855, the government approved building Fort Screven on the north end of Tybee to provide modern seacoast defense. Six poured-concrete, low-profile gun batteries (named for war heroes) and a minefield were ordered for Tybee along with hundreds of other military buildings. From 1897 to 1947, the fort was an integral part of America’s Coastal Defense system. Troops stood guard on Tybee through the Spanish American War of 1898, World War I and World War II. In 1947, the Fort was closed and sold to the Town of Tybee and tourism returned as a major part of Tybee’s history. By the 1950s many of the forts buildings had been converted for use by private owners.
In 1961, Battery Garland, the former gun battery and magazine for a 12 inch long-range gun, became the Tybee Island museum. A room that once stored six hundred pound projectiles and two hundred pound bags of gun powder, now hold the collections and exhibits of more than four hundred years of Tybee Island history.
Today, visitors marvel at the private residences nestled atop the fort’s walls, the magnificent ocean and river views –- and the fort that played a role in so many phases of American history.

We had a yummy lunch at North Beach Bar and Grill.
We finished the day with a dolphin cruise.  It was a little disappointing in that we only saw a few dolphins and they were pretty far away and didn't come out of the water very much.  But it was still a fun boat ride and then when we got back to the dock, a dolphin came right up to the boat and hung out with us.  It was awesome to see and get such a close up view.

We were told this is Sandra Bullock's house.

Cockspur Island Lighthouse

This was the little fellow that came right up to our boat.  Doesn't it look like he's smiling at us?

My favorite place that we ate was The Crab Shack, where the elite eat in their bare feet.  It was AWESOME!!!!!  Check out this HUGE platter of seafood that Dave and I shared.  Makes me want to go back just looking at this!

The kids had fun feeding the alligators!

Thank you Kerry and Mark for inviting us to join you at Tybee!  We had a blast!!!!!

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