Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A USA First (Circa 1817): Savannah Debutante Ball in the Winter Social Season

SAVANNAH Georgia -- Always ready with a Savannah story, this time of year for winter vacation travelers, we were curious to learn if Savannah society carries over the winter social season that was prominent in New York and America in the late 19th Century.

The answer is, "Not so much" in the 21st Century. But, there are some good stories that touch on the Gilded Age in Savannah, and weddings remain popular in temperate Savannah's "no snow" winters. Green landscapes and winter's camellias dress the gardens.

Savannah tourism star Jackie Heinz shares Savannah travel tips
In 1955, seven prominent ladies of Savannah society
saved the Isaiah Davenport House,
where society weddings are hosted in the garden.
The effort by seven visionary women launched
what has become the heralded Historic Savannah
Foundation's preservation society in America's
most beautiful city.
Located on world famous Jones Street, Zeigler House Inn's own Jackie Heinz, known as a Savannah tourism star, always has fabulous cuisine, a new southern story for you, plus recommendations of places of interest to you, her bed and breakfast guests.

Today Savannah benefactors celebrate in different ways. 

Savannah's old society invites broader inclusion, opening Savannah society to philanthropic new comers. Forever a city of immigrants, international students, singles, and families arrive in Savannah, choosing to work, study, and/or to retire in America's most beautiful city -- inside the "elegant plan of Savannah", in suburbs, and enjoying the coastal island communities.

Winter remains time of the Christmas debutante cotillion, where young ladies from affluent, pedigreed families are presented and introduced to society as young ladies eligible for marriage. The Christmas Cotillion held in Savannah, Georgia (The Cotillion) is the oldest debutante ball in the USA, first held in 1817. Source: SilverPetticoatReview.com

"During the 1870s and 1880s, the social season was divided into two: winter and summer. The winter season stretched from mid-November until the onset of Lent.... Over the twelve weeks of the winter season, [The Four Hundred of New York] society 'flung itself headlong' into a bevy of balls, receptions, parties, dinner and other activities." Source: The New York Social Season by Camille Hadley Jones
2017 Winter Social Season is mid-November Until March 1. Lent 2017 will start on Wednesday, March 1 and will end on Thursday, April 13.  

Did you know that Savannah, Georgia had a social register of elite society, known as the "Savannah Four Hundred"? 
In 2017, Historic Savannah Foundation's annual gala, the annual Telfair Museum Ball (usually in February), and Georgia Historical Society Gala (February 18, 2017) are high profile, high society events in Savannah, GA. 

Best Savannah travel tips from Savannah bed and breakfast and tourism star Jackie Heinz
The Philbrick-Eastman-Eastman-Hull-Stoddard-Barrow House,
Chippewa Square, ("The Barrow House",
17 West McDonough Street)
is known for its grandeur, Christmas tree on the portico,
and iron fence with medallions of prominent men.

Yes, "The Four Hundred", made famous by Lady Astor in New York, has roots in Savannah! Samuel Hamilton, a prominent jewelers and former naval officer who built the mansion on the southeast Trust Lot of Lafayette Square, played host to many formal dinners, cotillions, costume parties and visiting dignitaries.

In our southern city, the American Civil War stalled the Savannah Four Hundred. In New York, the sinking of the Titanic, April 1912, was pivotal to society as it was once known in New York.  

Surprisingly several Gilded Age, high society homes are open to the public in Savannah, Georgia USA.

Those include Telfair Academy of Arts on Telfair Square, Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace on Oglethorpe Avenue, Andrew Low House on Lafayette Square, and Scarbrough House (now Ships of the Sea Museum).  A rare opportunity to enter some of Savannah’s finest private homes is during the annual Tour of Homes and Gardens (Thursday, March 23 – Sunday, March 26, 2017), Fall Tour of Homes and Tea, and Holiday Tour of Homes in December. 


Born Samuel Ward McAllister to a socially prominent Savannah, Georgia, judicial family, McAllister coined the phrase "The Four Hundred".  In 1852, he married heiress Sarah Taintor Gibbons, daughter of William Gibbons and Abigail Louisa Taintor, who had more prominent family roots also in Savannah. 
It was Abigail's grandfather, Thomas Gibbons who ran "steamboats between New York and New Jersey. He hired Cornelius Vanderbilt as the captain of one of his boats. After many legal battles (and a duel) involving exclusive rights on steamboat navigation between states, the case of Gibbons vs. Ogden went to the United States Supreme Court in 1824. Gibbons hired Daniel Webster as his lawyer, and he won in a famous verdict that declared steamboat monopolies null....." Source: Drew.edu
According to McAllister, 400 was the number of people in New York who really mattered; the people who felt at ease in the ballrooms of high society ("If you go outside that number," he warned, "you strike people who are either not at ease in a ballroom or else make other people not at ease."). The number was popularly supposed to be the capacity of Mrs. William Backhouse Astor Jr.'s ballroom. Source: Vanderbilt II, Arthur T. Fortune's Children. Wm. Morrow and Co., 1989: 90-93. ISBN 0-688-07279-8

The Four Million, the title of a book of short stories by O. Henry, was a reaction to this phrase, expressing O. Henry's opinion that every human being in New York was worthy of notice.

Georgia oldest plantation is Wormsloe Historic Site a Georgia Stake Park
Wormsloe Plantation, Georgia's Oldest Plantation
has connections to Philbrick-Eastman House (later called
"The Barrow House"). The prominent Barrow family -- with
lineage to the plantation's original
Georgia settler from Britain in 1733, Noble Jones --
live on a privately-held portion of Wormsloe Historic Site,
also a public Georgia State Park.
Savannah's population isn't in the millions, as New York City. However, the southern USA city's social welcome and entertainment may be more in tune today with O.Henry's "400 milllion" thinking.


December 26 - December 30, 2016: Holiday Evening Candle Tours at Davenport House, 6 - 8:30 p.m.

December 29: Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutracker

New Year's Eve! Fireworks on the Savannah waterfront, and fireworks at Tybee Island.

January 1: Polar Bear Plunge, benefits Tybee Island's Post Theatre

Through January 6: The Tsars’ Cabinet at Telfair's Jepson Center illuminates a period of sociopolitical change and comments on the fascinating personal lives of the members of the Romanov dynasty through a display of superbly crafted objects. Spanning 200 years of Russian history — from Peter the Great in the early 18th century to Nicholas II in the early 20th century — these objects, used both publicly and privately by the Romanovs, rise above functionality into the realm of art through ornate stylistic expression, exemplary craft and thematic explorations of nationalism and militarism.

January 14: The Herman's Hermits Show Starring Peter Noone, SCAD Trustees Theatre

Saturday, February 18: 2017 Georgia History Festival Trustees Gala

February 21 - 23: deFine Art 2017

March 9-11: Stopover Festival (music)

March 17: St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 23 – April 8, 2017: Savannah Music Festival

April 10 - 14: SCADstyle 2017 - Worldwide celebration of design

April 29: Savannah’s sidewalks spring to life at 2017 Sidewalk Arts Festival

May 20: SCAD Fashion Show


Featured on "Wheel of Fortune", Zeigler House Inn was built in 1856 by lumber merchant, a descendant of the Salzburgers who settled in Ebenezer. The elegant Savannah bed and breakfast 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 innkeeper@zeiglerhouseinn.com; zeiglerhouseinn.com

Copyright © 2016 Zeigler House Inn.

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