Monday, November 7, 2016

Savannah, The Christmas Gift, Impresses Still! Savannah Mansions Influence Savannah Landscape, Citizens, and Visitors

SAVANNAH Georgia -- Old Savannah survives as an essentially 19th century collection of buildings, built upon Englishman James Oglethorpe’s 18th century plan.
Looking south at Zeigler House Inn, prominently
situated on world famous Jones Street,
located at the southeast corner of Barnard Street.

Today, Savannah mansions meld into Savannah vacation ideas and are daily visual gifts to the public. We share thanks to Savannah historic district's home owners' passion and resources to renovate and share the charm of one of America's most beautiful cities. Zeigler House Inn, privately owned and built by prominent lumber merchant Solomon Zeigler (circa 1856) is one of the mansions that extends a humanizing, civilized effect to the Savannah scene.


Named among Savannah top attractions, the Savannah National Historic Landmark District consists of the pre-Civil War section of Savannah and is significant for its city plan and remarkable architecture.

Top Savannah points of interest were spared the ravages of war. 

Famously, on December 22, 1864, as the Civil War entered its final months, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman sent a message to President Abraham Lincoln notifying him that he had captured the city of Savannah, Georgia, thereby completing his 300-mile “March to the Sea” that had begun in Atlanta on November 16, 1864. Sherman’s message was published in the December 26, 1864, edition of The New York Times. It read, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”  Source: The Learning Network, New York Times

Historians Walter J. Fraser, Jr., and Richard H. Haunton point to English architect William Jay of Bath for influencing Savannah's scene and citizens' social civilities.

Three of the Savannah mansions designed by visionary Jay and built for affluent visionaries in the early 1800s are museums, now open to the public.
"Jay's mansions [were] designed for the wealthy of Savannah.... His architecture influenced Savannah's landscape, which, in turn, influenced both Savannahians and visitors, as did the city's design."  - Source:  "Savannah In the Old South" by Walter J. Fraser, Jr., with a footnote to Richard H. Haunton, "Savannah in the 1850s".
Designed in the Regency style, Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (circa 1818) situated on the northwest Trust Lot on Telfair Square features also Greek and Roman architecture through expansion and renovations. Two high style Regency residences are Owens-Thomas House (circa 1816 - 1819) on Oglethorpe Square's northeast Trust Lot, and Ships of the Sea Museum in the Scarborough House. 

Amid the mansion architecture, the exterior iron work, facing south, captures our attention. 

Is the southern gaze a subtle repeat of Georgia founder James Oglethorpe's concern to watch toward the south for Spanish invasion?  Union Army forces, too, approached Savannah from the south, with a breach at Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
Telfair Mansion's Window Iron Work
(Photo: Library of Congress,
December 30, 1936)
Telfair Academy. The house was designed by William Jay and built in 1818 for Alexander Telfair, son of Edward Telfair, one of Georgia's early post-independence governors. The site on which it was built previously housed the official residence of Georgia's colonial royal governors. In 1875 Alexander's sister Mary Telfair bequeathed the house, including its furnishings and family collections, to the Georgia Historical Society, which opened the first art museum in the southeastern United States here in 1886.  In front of the building are statues of Rembrandt, Phidias, Rubens, Raphael, and Michelangelo.  Sources: Various, including

Owens-Thomas House. The Richardson House, as it was originally known after its first owner (cotton merchant and banker Richard Richardson and his wife Francis Bolton), is North America's preeminent example of period English Regency architecture. Three years after the house’s completion, Richardson suffered financial losses and sold his house, which later came under possession of the Bank of the United States.

Richardson-Maxwell-Owens-Thomas House.
Photo: L. D. Andrew, December 30, 1936,
side porch (south), Library of Congress
For eight years, Mrs. Mary Maxwell ran an elegant lodging house in the structure. Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette was a guest of the city in 1825 and stayed at the home. On March 19, 1825, he is believed to have addressed a throng of enthusiastic Savannahians from the unusual cast-iron veranda on the south facade. The mansion was purchased in 1830 by local attorney and politician George Welshman Owens for $10,000. The family maintained it for several decades, until Owens' granddaughter, Margaret Thomas, bequeathed the house to the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1951. Telfair's Owens-Thomas House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.  Sources: Various, including

William Scarborough House, now Ships of the Sea
Museum, view of south porch.
Photo: Library of Congress
Scarborough House, now Ships of the Sea Museum. Today featuring the largest private garden in the National Landmark Historic District, Scarborough House was built in 1819 for William Scarborough. He was one of the principal owners of Savannah Steamship Company, which built Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Scarborough later called his family home "the Castle" on West Broad Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard). In the early 19th century this was one of Savannah's most fashionable neighborhoods. Scarbrough's architect and builder was William Jay, only twenty-five years old when he came to Savannah from England in December, 1817.  Born at Bath, Jay had apprenticed to David Riddall Roper, an architect and surveyor in London who participated in the rebuilding of Regent Street for George IV's favorite architect, John Nash. Jay brought to Savannah the opulent architecture of the great city during this high-living, luxury-loving period. In 1972 the Historic Savannah Foundation began restoring the house under the direction of Pennsylvania architect John Milner.  In 1995, after another period of vacancy, the building was acquired by Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum and another restoration began. This restoration, completed in 1997, featured a new roof based on a documented design by the original architect as well as a new rear portico and an enlarged garden. Source: Ships of the Sea Museum

The Savannah Historic District was made a National Historic Landmark on November 13, 1966, in conjunction with its listing in the National Register of Historic Places.


Featured on "Wheel of Fortune", Zeigler House Inn was fully renovated in 2002. This upscale mansion now a romantic getaway inn on magnificent Jones Street in uptown Savannah's historic district serves stately bed and breakfast lodging with delicious cuisine (compliments of caterer-turned-innkeeper Jackie Heinz, a southern 'steel magnolia' from Kentucky). With French-inspired decor -- a nod to Revolutionary hero, General Marquis de Lafayette -- the 7 private suites and private rooms afford Europe-meets-Savannah style, plus southern comforts for a leisure trip and/or business travel enhanced with local flair. Each of private suites and rooms uniquely features a private kitchen or kitchenette, plus private bath.

Contact: 121 West Jones Street, Savannah, Georgia USA 31401; Phone: 866-233-5307; email;

Copyright © 2016 Zeigler House Inn.

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