Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Zeigler House Inn Is Among the Hot Spots for Prohibition Era, Roaring 20s Time Travel in Savannah, Georgia USA

Savannah picnic in Laurel Grove Cemetery shows time travel and Roaring 20s Flapper fashion
Dolled-up in Flapper fashion,
Savannah tourism stars Jackie
Heinz (right) and dear friend Diane Crews
picnic in Laurel Grove Cemetery.
SAVANNAH, Georgia -- The Zeigler House Inn is a storied mansion on West Jones Street. The popular mansion bed and breakfast is at the heart of the "dry crusaders",  American Temperance Society neighborhoods, and Roaring Twenties' Prohibition-era escapades.

Liquor was not a new subject of contention for Georgia in the early 1900s. From the inception of Britain's last colony in North America (1733), liquor (rum, whisky, brandy) was banned in Georgia. Madeira wine and beer, however, were beverages carried on board the Atlantic Ocean crossing on the first settlers' ship, The Ann.


Innkeeper Jackie Heinz shares one character-rich story of a proper, bow-tied gentlemen whom she noticed walking slowly and often passed Zeigler House Inn.

A soft spoken gentleman -- perhaps wearing the quintessential seersucker suit -- called from the sidewalk for Jackie's attention one day, offering to share his tale of the stately mansion's "Cat House" era. Interestingly, a ceramic cat had been placed in a front window of the then-brothel / bordello. The position of the cat denoted whether it was safe to enter or if police were in the house ... as patrons, collecting fees, or raiding. The ceramic cat was used much like the "red light" in Europe's bordello-haus, which turned the red light on during working hours.
A ceramic cat from the Prohibition era can be seen at Ships of the Sea Museum. Two world travelers photographed the cat in their For 91-days in Savannah blog.  
An early adopter, Georgia passed Prohibition laws (photos at link) in 1907. Prohibition ended in Georgia on March 22, 1935. Nationwide prohibition had a shorter time span.
"Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933." -- Wikipedia
World War I (July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918) and Spanish flu (1918) had concluded. The 1920s became an age of dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation's total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar “consumer society.”  Some intellectuals call it an era of selfishness; for some it became a time when satisfying "me" was more important than the family back home on the farm or in a foreign land. Alternatively, it was a time of desperation. According to historian Walter J. Fraser, Jr., some poor Irish immigrants, joined other locals and girls from New York to become prostitutes.

Savannah citizens had seen and experienced World War I up close. On February 7, 1923, Savannah, the last World War I Army of Occupation troops returned to Savannah from the Rhine.

Where are Savannah's hot spots, reminiscent of the Roaring 20s?  

In the spring 2017, get away to the Savannah Music Festival -- March 23 - April 8, 2017. The Jazz Age was a post-World War I movement in the 1920s from which jazz music and dance emerged. Although the era ended with the outset of the Great Depression in 1929, jazz has lived on in American popular culture.
Called an "intellectual beverage" and "temperance drink" in early advertisements, Coca Cola is a product of the Roaring 20s. | "In 1885, [chemist John] Pemberton registered his French Wine Coca nerve tonic. In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing Coca-Cola, a nonalcoholic version of French Wine Coca. The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health. - Source: Wikipedia. #cokestyle
Coca-Cola vintage advertisement from Public Domain
Vintage Coca Cola advertisement of the
"temperance drink" COCA-COLA. Source:
Wikipedia, Public Domain
Jackie adores the Artillery bar (307 Bull Street, opens 4 p.m.), located where the Georgia Hussars’ armory once housed the cavalry's artillery. Black and white 'silent movies' are on-screen at The Distillery Ale House (416 W. Liberty St.).  

Mati Hari is one of Savannah's most private clubs. Jackie Heinz has a key to the private speakeasy, available to lodging guests.    

We're excited to hear that new American Prohibition Museum is opening soon (March 2017) in Savannah's City Market.  

Open today, The Crystal Beer Parlor was a speakeasy, "juice joint", serving bootleg liquor. One of Jackie's favorite eateries, a short walk west on Jones Street from Zeigler House Inn, the delicious beer-hall food and fun-loving atmosphere is full of nostalgia.  Our caterer-turned-innkeeper will have plenty of recommendations of what's best to eat and drink. 

Where to enjoy a wonderful 'cup o' Joe' (coffee)? Gallery Espresso on Chippewa SquareClary's Cafe is a short walk east on Jones Street, and Savannah Coffee Roasters "ESTD 1909". 

Johnny Mercer bench in Johnson Square.
Georgia first church, Christ Church,
is in background.
Photo: James Byous Photography
Savannah, Georgia's location is in the Bible Belt where elite Fundamentalists participated in lively conversations, eager to find ways to stop drunkenness on the streets. It was an era when even middle-class conversations were enlivened with words and phrases that include "and how" (I strongly agree!), "ab-so-lute-ly" (affirmative), "fly boy" (aviator), "whoopee" (to have a good time), and "ritzy" (elegant). 

Is it any wonder that Savannah's own famous songwriter Johnny Mercer (1909 - 1976) would write songs entitled Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive (1944) or Jeepers Creepers (1938)? "Cheaters" was the 20's-era term for sunglasses.

The young Mercer was influenced by the jazz and blues he sought out and found on West Broad Street (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) record shops, ragtime bands that played in Forsyth Park, and his visits to the African fishing village, Pin Point.  Pin Point Heritage Museum is located in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory.

A bronze statue of Johnny Mercer, sculpted by Savannahian Susie Chisholm, is located in Ellis Square. A marble bench is located in front of Christ Church on Johnson Square (where Mercer attended and sang as a choir boy). His grave in a popular place to visit in Bonaventure Cemetery.

In "Tybee Island: The Long Branch of the South" Robert A. Ciucevich writes of "Bootleg Princes", Tybee Island "watering holes" and rum runners. The Savannah Volunteer Guards had occupied tents at Fort Screven on Tybee Island in 1917, when the United States entered World War I. Built on Tybee Island from 1885 to 1897, Fort Screven was one of the state's five major military installations at that time.  

Rum Runner at Night. Coast Guardsmen
with rifles are along deck facing small boat.
Tales of rum runners stocking up, with Tybee Island
a hideaway for boozing it up,
makes for lively tales. Photo: Library of Congress
North Beach Bar and Grill, Tybee Island is located with the historic boundaries of Fort Screven, just behind the Tybee History Museum. Crab Cake with a side of rice and beans will offer the tastes of 20th Century food. Surprisingly, you'll discover some Caribbean influence.  

Savannahian Murray Silver wrote a book about his father, Bo Peep Silver. "Wolfe William Silver [Bo Peep] was born in London, England on October 25, 1899. His family moved to Savannah, Georgia and he became a legend in his own time. While 'bootlegging' whiskey from New Orleans, Louisiana, he was stopped, arrested, and his three automobiles and load of whiskey were confiscated. He was released and when he returned home and told the story, a friend said, 'Little Bo Peep Lost His Sheep.'" "This Little Bo Peep Ain't No Fairytale," synopsis excerpt.

A cousin to Silvers, John Cullum writes with family familiarity of Bo Peep Silver. "Bo ran a very profitable restaurant, pool hall, betting parlor, and bordello across the street from Christ Episcopal Church in Savannah back during prohibition. His regular tything [tithing] across religious party lines kept everyone happy...."  

On Tybee Island beach, Tybrisa lifeguards
with five women, (four wearing bathing suits),
posing next to car on beach. Photo:
by B. of T. Sav. Ga. (1924).
Library of Congress archive
Victory Drive (a portion of US Highway 80), stretches 19.82 miles from Ogeechee Road to Tybee Island on the Atlantic Ocean. Named as a tribute to World War I soldiers, Victory Drive was established in 1919. New sabal palmetto palms were planted for each of the 135 Georgia soldiers who died. A monument to the soldiers, sailors and Marines of World War I is located in Daffin Park at the intersection of Victory Drive and Waters Avenue.
Looking for even more? Zeigler House Inn is a member of Romantic Inns of Savannah. The association's blog shares a wonderful narrative, "Romantic Savannah through the Decades: Tales of the 1920s". "Stories of Savannah in the 1920s are of romantic places and ideals, romantic adventurers and rascals, romantic movies and debonair villains, West Broad Street jazz and blues, and Frogtown’s soulful folk lore of haint blue door posts and the conjures of root doctors."

Savannah's history, beauty, and charm have grand, bold roots, that are constantly being nurtured by its modern stakeholder citizens like Savannah tourism star Jackie Heinz, owner and innkeeper of Zeigler House Inn.  Get here when you can!


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). 

It's easy to see bordello potential in the
triple parlor of Zeigler House Inn. The dining room
and dessert parlor (shown) show the grandeur of the
mansion built by lumber merchant and prominent Savannah
businessman, Solomon Zeigler in 1856.
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;; twitter @ZeiglerHouseInn; Facebook

Copyright © 2017 Zeigler House Inn

Additional Resource -- 

(YouTube) "The State of Chatham: Savannah's Wet Romp through Prohibition", City of Savannah (Feb 26, 2016)
"Savannah is very serious and civilized about its drinking," says GSU Associate Professor of History Dr. Lisa Denmark. In the video Dr. Denmark talks about how the city of Savannah managed to regulate and profit from the liquor trade rather than prohibit it.

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