Savannah was not on my planned route, but a place about ten miles away, was. Through my life I have heard and read so much about that majestic southern jewel that I had go and see.
Savannah was first and foremost a port city. In colonial times right through the civil war the shining city on the river hosted vessels and voyagers moving people, rice, tobacco, indigo, and king cotton. As I walked down Dayton St. toward the waterfront I passed a majestic colonial graveyard boasting continental congress attendees, revolutionary generals, and poets. I suppose there is something about the sails of ships, moss hung oaks, and stifling humidity that breeds writers.; the heart of Savannah.
Not on the map, but anchored at the waterfront was the three masted ship “Peacemaker”. There was no signage, just a secured walkway with a steady stream of tourists filing on and off. I, being a tourist, joined them.
The ship was beautiful inside and out. I know nothing of sailing other than the sense of both style and adventure that wind born ocean goers inspire. As I browsed the decks I spotted a silver haired man with a well trimmed beard and tied back pony tail sitting casually sipping a cup of tea. I asked if I could sit and rest for a while and he allowed it. “You look far too at home not be employed on this ship in some capacity”, I stated, making sure it sounded like a question.
With a small grin he told me he was the captain. The peacemaker sails up and down the coast with several captains taking turns during different times of year. It isn’t a job, its more of a hobby. In other words there is no money in it. This was his first time in Savannah and as we discussed his travel schedule I brought to his attention Philadelphia’s all-you-can-eat ice cream tent and he soon promised to be docked at Penn’s Landing this fourth of July.
Two blocks back off of the waterfront the city sports two parallel streets that alternate houses and parks for a length of a half mile or so. The homes are ivy hung and romantic while the parks host statues and fountains. At one end sits the Telfair mansion and academy. The once palatial home of an aristocratic family is now a very fine art museum and school.
Further down the street is the Owens mansion. This home is touted as the product of an architectural genius and the one time resting place of Lafayette. I toured the house and a very proper southern woman told me all about the indoor plumbing, the symmetry of the windows and doors, and the tale of a family (Richardsons) who travelled to London and found both love and a young architect, William Jay, to build this masterpiece.
I asked what the Richardson’s did to become so wealthy post Revolution and was politely told he was a banker and merchant. My thoughts leaned towards the familiar Wall St. trader who works with numbers and commodities. A more accurate picture of the Richardson’s employ was given inadvertently as the tour ended in the small gift shop out back.
Up stairs from the gift shop is where the people lived who actually built the architectural masterpiece, cooked and cared for the Richardson’s, and in more than one way backed the “securities” bankers of the day traded in.
The crown jewel of the old south is surely worth a visit. Gone With the Wind may have been about Terah, but it still lives in Savannah.