The Mercer-Williams House was designed by John Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer. He was the great-grandfather of Savannah born songwriter Johnny Mercer. The home was completed in 1868 after being halted during the Civil War, General Mercer actually sold it to John R. Wilder before it was completed. Since John Norris is the same architect who designed the Andrew Low House, there are similarities between the two homes main designs and architectural styles. The owner would would make this house famous was James A. Williams, he was a private preservationist who bought the home in 1969 and restored it to be his private residence. The home carries Williams collection of 18th and 19th century furniture, Chinese proleican and other unique pieces that he collected from around the world.
This house was made infamous because of the murder of Danny Hansford by James Williams who went by Jim. The story goes that the two were lovers and that Hansford and Williams had a lovers quarrel and according to Williams he shot Hansford in self-defense. Jim Williams would go on to be tried four separate times but was acquitted. The book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a novel that was written about the murder and the prominent members of Savannah who were key people in Williams life. There was a movie developed as well that uses Savannah and the Mercer-Williams house as the set of the film.
Although there are tours given, James Williams sister still resides in the house and only allows the first floor and garden to be used for the tours, this is also because upstairs is also not equipped for large groups to tour for fire safety.
The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace was built in 1821 in one of the prime locations of Savannah, Bull Street, and Oglethorpe Ave. William and Sarah Gordon bought the home in 1831, these were Juliette Gordon Low’s grandparents, and the home stayed in the family until she passed away. The home is built in a Federalist style (Five, Four, and a Door) built using bricks and then covered in stucco.
Juliette Gordon Low was looking for meaning in life after her husband passed in 1905 and she took to her artwork and her wandering adventure to explore the world. After a meeting with Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, she finally realized her calling. He gave her information about the London-based Girl Guides started by his sister, which was a girl group much like the Boy Scouts. After a year of helping the Girl Guides, who were developed as a sister group of the Boy Scouts by Powell’s sister, Juliette returned to Savannah in 1912 to develop her own Girl Guide group for Americans. She called her cousin Nina Pape and she began an outdoors and educational club for girls in America, keeping the name Girl Guides. In 1913 the girls in the Girl Guides decided they wanted to be called ‘scouts’ like their fellow Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts of the USA was born.
In 1953 the Girl Scouts decided to purchase Juliette Gordon Low’s family home and use it as their headquarters. They have constantly been restoring and renovating to keep the home looking like it was just built. The home is the only home in Savannah that has been able to add an elevator in the home to be ADA accessible for visitors and any Girl Scouts that come to visit!
Are you interested in the the occult, serial killers, record stores, or even pinball?
Graveface is the museum that you MUST go see! I just got my own Ghost Club membership last month and you can go whenever they are open! I have been interested in True Crime since I was a kid and watching Criminal Minds and NCIS. The owners of Graceface are an amazing couple, Ryan and Cholë, who has built a collection of stories capturing the odd and unusual, ghosts, cults, and curiosities from around the world, and unlimited pinball!
My favorite part of the museum is the exhibition on John Wayne Gacy and many other serial killers and cult leaders. Ryan grew up in Chicago during the Gacy murder era and has collected things about Gacy for years. He even has built a relationship with Gacy’s sister, who gifts the museum with items that involve Gacy and his family. He has Heaven’s Gate videos, Charles Manson’s pants from prison, and Ed Gein trial transcripts! This is a true-crime paradise!
They also have Graveface Records which is an awesome record store at 5 W 40th Street!
Around Savannah there are multiple hidden gem cities and towns that are often not explored or even talked about, Darien is one of these towns. While doing a project I had about Georgia Historical Markers I took a trip to the marker I picked, The Burning of Darien. This marker signifies the burning of the town by United States troops of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under the command of General Robert Gould Shaw and the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers under the command of Colonel James Montgomery carried out the looting and raid of Darien. General Shaw instructed cannons to be fired at the shoreline hitting homes on the river. They docked and ran the streets to loot and vandalize the homes and take what they wanted. Colonel Montgomery led his men to burn the city stating, “I will burn this town and we will scourge Darien and set an example to the rest of the South.”
The town still holds the scars left from this burning of the city. They have a small museum dedicated to the Burning of Darien and the marker stand right outside the City Hall. The Tabby Ruins are marked as the building that still stand from the burning that are to be left as a memory of the history of the Civil War.
I highly recommend visiting this town to gain more knowledge and history of the surrounding areas of Savannah. I had a lovely experience from the locals and even went to Pelican Pizza Company for live music and a cold beer!
The Davenport House Museum is one of the oldest homes in Savannah that is open for visitors to tour. Isaiah Davenport completed the home in 1820 to be a home and showroom space for his clients to admire his craftsmanship. He lived here with his wife Sarah Davenport and their seven children until his death from yellow fever in 1827. After his death, Mrs. Davenport would turn the home into a boarding house to make money for the family until 1840 when she sold it to William Baynard. The Baynard family kept the Davenport House until 1955. In 1955 the house was scheduled to be torn down to make way for a parking lot for the Kehoe House, which at the time was a funeral home. Fortunately seven charitable women lead by Anna Colquitt Hunter raised $22,500 to saved the home and restore it to what it would have looked like in the 1820s.
Today this house is a historical house museum which thousands of people visit every year. They host multiple programs and events throughout the year from Tea with the Davenports, Living History: Yellow Fever in Savannah, and their upcoming Understanding Alexander Hamilton and Raising a Revolutionary which begins July 6th, 2021.
Building of the Owens-Thomas House began in November of 1816, designed by William Jay for Richard Richardson. The builder of the home was John Retan and his team of free and enslaved workers. The home was finished in 1819 but the Richardsons would only live in the home for three years before economic downfall after the Panic of 1819, yellow fever epidemic, and fires that destroyed half the city of Savannah. He would sell the home in 1822 after the death of his wife and two children to move to Louisiana, for his business of shipping enslaved children from Savannah to New Orleans.
It was not until 1830 that the then mayor of Savannah, George Welshman Owens, who purchased the home at auction for $10,000. Owens was a lawyer, politician and planter who kept up to fifteen enslaved workers on his property, and roughly 400 enslaved workers on his plantations. Owens granddaughter, Margaret Gray Thomas, was the last to live and own the home and upon her death in 1951 she left the home to the Telfair Academy of Arts to be used as a historical home museum in honor of her father and grandfather.
My favorite part of this home is how the stories of the enslaved workers is being told. As of June 26th, 2021, they are the only house tour in Savannah telling to full story of the enslaved people that lived and worked in the home for the Owens-Thomas families. Due to high volume of visitors, they require you to arrive early on the day they want to take a tour and receive your tour time. If you do not do this you risk not being able to due the tour because they sell out regularly.
People often come to Savannah, GA to visit different attractions throughout the city and try to fit all the museums in a few hours. This is not how I recommend to Take Savannah. The best plan is to get someone who can assist you with what you want to see, eat, and do. I am that person! I am a current SCAD Graduate student and I work in the museum field. I constantly have people come into the museums not knowing there are tour times, museum hours or even that most of our best restaurants need reservations. Ever since I moved to Savannah I have noticed that people are never given enough information to get the best experience and are missing out on money and events because of poor information, and I want to help!
I am offering free services to get more experience with helping visitors of our city with anything they may need to get the best experiences. I am hoping to better myself and the reputation of the tourist industry by assisting in the knowledge of prominent places to visit in Savannah!