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Say Hello to Beautiful Lodging with Historic Charm
To visit the Eliza Thompson House is to experience an atmosphere rich in history and luxury. It encompasses Southern comfort at its best.
Our inn offers guests a peaceful retreat filled with southern charm. Conveniently situated on historic Jones Street, we are located close to many of Savannah’s most popular historic attractions like the Bonaventure Cemetery, museum houses, and civil war memorials. The Savannah Theatre and Forsyth Park are also nearby as well as plenty of antique shops and savory restaurants.
The Eliza Thompson House is one of six award-winning inns in Savannah’s famous Historic District. It is operated by HLC Hotels, a Savannah based group that has a record of 30 years of exceptional business. Built in 1847, this was the first house constructed on Jones Street in historic downtown Savannah. Home to Eliza and Joseph and their seven children, the house was host to many extravagant parties and celebrations. Over the years, it has been used as doctors’ offices and private residences before being converted into a bed and breakfast in 1977.
Today, it remains one of the finest houses in Savannah. The Eliza Thompson House offers 12 rooms in the "Main House" and 13 rooms in Eliza's "Carriage House". All guest rooms are finely furnished with period furnishings, each with a private bath and High Speed Wireless Internet access.
Each morning you’ll awake to a deluxe complimentary Southern breakfast of casserole dishes, traditional Southern grits, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, juices and coffee served in the garden courtyard from 8:00 - 10:00 am. In the evening, mingle with fellow guests and enjoy homemade appetizers, wine, tea and soft drinks during our “wine and cheese” reception between 5:30 and 7:00 pm. Then, from 8:30 to 10:00 pm, a selection of cake, cookies and other desserts along with coffee will be provided with the turndown service. And our guest service staff is always available to make any recommendations and assist you with your itinerary.
The Eliza Thompson House is an exquisite 1847 inn located in historic Savannah, Georgia. Recommended by Conde Nast Johansens and known for superior service, the inn is private, peaceful, and just a short walk from Savannah's best-loved historic attractions.
Built in 1847 on historic Jones Street, in one of Savannah's most charming downtown neighborhoods, the Eliza Thompson House is one of the city's oldest and most elegant bed and breakfast inns. It is within walking distance to shops, antique stores, museum houses, civil war memorials, beautiful old churches and Savannah's finest restaurants.
The Eliza Thompson House is located on historic Jones Street, one of Savannah's most charming downtown residential addresses. Jones Street is a wonderful historic cobble stoned street, lined with moss-covered live oaks and magnolias.
It's the site of some of Savannah's most elegantly restored historic townhouses and private residences.
Visitors will find a multitude of interesting shops and antique stores within walking distance to the Eliza Thompson House, including The Paris Flea Market, One Fish-Two Fish, and numerous other eclectic shops and galleries. You'll also find restaurants like Mrs. Wilkes and Clarey's Cafe, Savannah traditions, right on Jones Street. Forsyth Park, The Mercer House and The Green Meldrim House are all located within a block or two of the Inn.
The Eliza Thompson House consists of 12 rooms in the "Main House" and 13 rooms in Eliza's "Carriage House," which overlooks a garden courtyard. Each guest room is tastefully and uniquely furnished with period furnishings and modern amenities. Each has a private bath. Complimentary High Speed Wireless Internet access is available in all guest rooms and public areas.
The Eliza Thompson House is a member of the Bed and Breakfasts of Savannah, a collection of six award-winning inns in the heart of Savannaha's famous Historic District. The inns are locally owned and operated by HLC Hotels, a Savannah-based hotel group that's been in business here for more than 30 years.
Please Visit Our Sister Inns for Additional Accommodation & Special Event Options:
Travelers are always looking for memorable and relaxing experiences. Let’s discover more through the words of our innkeepers. Many thanks to Sheila Scott for sharing her own secrets with BBOnline.com! Why do most travelers stay at your inn?
Travelers stay with us for our good southern hospitality, location and they love that we are not a cookie cutter hotel.
What are you best known for? What makes your inn unique? What do you love most about your inn?
We are best known for our friendly service. We are unique due to our size and layout. We love our guests and co workers!
If someone has never been to your city, what is the #1 reason to come visit?
The #1 reason to vist this area is for the historic value of Savannah.
What’s the best compliment you have ever received about the inn?
The best compliment we have received is for our friendly staff and when people tell us “I will be back”.
What’s the best kept secret about the area?
The best kept secret in this area is the Savannah Theatre, everyone enjoys it.
If a traveler is staying at your inn for 4 nights, what should he/she do in the area?
For guests staying longer than a weekend we recommend that they take a trolley tour, visit the historic homes, shop and eat well.
Is there anything within walking distance of your inn?
Everything is within walking distance due to the central location.
What is your favorite restaurant/food in the area?
Our favorite restaurants include Olde Pink House, Mrs. Wilkes, and Sapphire Grill.
Any good area guides/websites that travelers could reference? How many rooms does your inn have?
We have 25 rooms.
Do you accept pets?
We do not accept pets.
Complimentary with Your Stay
Each day, guests at The Eliza Thompson House enjoy complimentary:
Deluxe Continental Breakfast in the Courtyard:
Mornings at The Eliza Thompson House will be some of your most memorable times from your stay with us. Delicious southern-made breakfast casserole dishes, traditional southern grits, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, juices and coffee. Served from 8:00 - 10:00 am
Each evening, between 5:30 and 7:00 pm, our parlor becomes a place to meet fellow guests. Homemade hors d'oeurves, wine, tea and soft drinks make our "wine and cheese" reception a perfect place to discuss plans for your evening meal in Savannah. For your convenience, a supply of menus from Savannah's finest restaurants is available and we'll be happy to assist you with dinner reservations.
Every guest is a VIP at The Eliza Thompson House. Let us pamper you in the evenings with turndown service.
Desserts and Coffee:
Before settling down in your room, take a moment to enjoy our special desserts and coffee from 8:30 to 10:00 pm. A selection of cake, cookies and other treats will await your return to the Inn for the evening.
Other Savannah hotel amenities you'll appreciate:
- Complimentary access to a computer and printer in our parlor
- Two robes for use in your room
- Two complimentary bottles of water in your room each day
- Personal amenities such as scented soaps, lotions, shampoo, and conditioner in each room
- Newspapers available each day in our Garden Courtyard
Questions about a tour? Want to order a bouquet or roses? Our Guest Service Staff is at your service. From dinner reservations to tickets and tours, we can assist you in creating your own unique itinerary for exploring Savannah. Our staff is available to help you make the most of your visit to Savannah.
Our staff can help you with the following:
- Private carriage tours
- Walking or bus/trolley tours of Savannah
- Spa Services
- Historic Home and Garden Tours
- Gift baskets
- Floral services
- Shopping recommendations
- Dinner reservations
- Taxi transportation
- Rental cars
Praise for Eliza Thompson House
"Like its namesake, the Eliza Thompson House is a hospitable hostess." ~ Georgia Magazine
"This gracious Inn captures the mood of a charming and refined period in our past." ~ Country Victorian Magazine
"...Set on a quiet, residential street, the Eliza Thompson House is one of the oldest inns in the heart of Savannah's historical district and is an architectural landmark. Meticulous restoration work has resulted in superb interior, enhanced by heart pine floors and antique furnishings. All the bedrooms are furnished in exquisite style with en suite facilities and colour televisions. Other delightful traditions include afternoon tea, served in the parlour, or the daily cheese and wine reception in the evening." ~ Conde Naste Johansens
"The first delight when we arrived was that we would be staying on one of the few brick-paved streets in the city. Spanish moss that hangs from oak branches canopies the street. The houses are impeccably kept, facade after facade of historic homes with story-high staircases. Our B&B proudly displays 1847 as its year of construction..." The San Diego Union-Tribune - Chris Moran
"To really bask in the splendor of the Historic District, choose the Eliza Thompson House, one of Savannah's oldest bed and breakfasts. Talk about Southern Hospitality! Staying at the inn is like stepping back in history. " - Currents Cleveland, Ohio
The Eliza Thompson House was featured in The Historic Savannah Foundation's 2006 Preservation Month project, along with the other four inns in the Bed and Breakfasts of Savannah collection: East Bay Inn, Olde Harbour Inn, The Marshall House and The Gastonian.
The Eliza Thompson House—now a revered bed and breakfast in Savannah, GA—was the first house constructed on Jones Street in historic downtown Savannah.
In 1847, this house on Jones Street was home to Eliza and Joseph Thompson and their seven children. It was one of the finest homes in Savannah, and the location of many grand parties and celebrations. The Main House was built in two stages. The original structure was built in 1847, with a second section, consisting of what is now the front parlor, the Chatham and the J. Stephens rooms were added around 1870. Eliza was widowed only eight years after her husband built the beautiful house. She continued to manage her husband's holdings, while maintaining her Jones Street mansion and a full schedule of entertaining in the courtyard. The tradition of outdoor entertaining continues in the courtyard today, which now features an original Ivan Bailey fountain (Ivan Bailey Metal Studio Atlanta, Georgia) and Koi pond.
Joseph, whose portrait hangs in the R. Bruce room, served on several bank boards and made a living buying and selling cotton. He also financed the building of special homes to sell to others. After Joseph's death in 1855, Eliza was left a widow to raise their five daughters and two sons. As a strong, independent woman, Eliza did not turn Joseph's investments over to a banker or lawyer to manage, but instead managed them herself and kept her beautiful mansion on Jones Street. She loved to entertain and did so frequently. She usually had a staff of 5 to 7 servants.
The house remained in the Thompson family after her death on February 9, 1875. Two of her daughters remained in the house until the early 1920s when it was sold to a doctor. In the 1950s the house was sold to a dentist and remained his office and living quarters until 1977 when Jim and Mary Widman purchased the property and made it into an inn in 1978.
It was converted to an Inn in 1977. In the 1980s, the Carriage House, a thirteen-room structure surrounding the courtyard was constructed. In 1995, more improvements came when a 40-foot container of antiques was brought back from England to furnish the Inn.
The front door, which is original to the house, was moved to its present location when the new addition was built. Additional changes included the front porch, which was originally flanked by columns on either side of the landing, and a second set of stairs leading up to the front entrance was added. The Admiral Turner room was used as the front parlor originally, with the St. Julian room being used as the dining room. The bathroom in the Admiral Turner room is located where the original entrance to the home was. The bathroom in the St. Julian and the Lindsey rooms are located in the old rear staircase shaft. The closets in both of these rooms are in the old dumbwaiter shaft of the building. The Carter and Johnston rooms were both enclosed side porches that were screened in at one point. The Carter room, in fact, served as the waiting room for the doctor's office for most of the year, with the door being located where the front desk is located now.
The entryway into the hallway from the current foyer is one of the original window openings from the 1847 structure. Here one can see the substantial thickness of the original walls.
The J. Stephens room became the master bedroom after the 1870 addition was completed and the Lee room served as a nursery. The R. Bruce and Lindsey rooms were the original bedrooms in the house. The female servants would have used what is now the Savannah and Telfair rooms as their sleeping quarters. The Oglethorpe room was the original kitchen for the property. The Chatham room was a summer sitting room and dining area used by all members of the household.
The original carriage house was on the verge of collapse in 1980 so the Widmans had it razed and built the current thirteen-room structure based on the French Quarter style of New Orleans. The back section of the current carriage house stands on the foundation for the original structure and is only about 5 ½ inches taller than its predecessor. The top story was originally used for sleeping quarters for the one male indentured servant. The second floor housed a hayloft, granary, storage room and laundry and had a balcony made of wood. There were no openings on the ground floor into the courtyard; entry for the horse was from the lane only. Laundry was hung overhead between the two buildings and the courtyard was used for entertaining as well as a vegetable garden.
In 1995 an extensive renovation was done to the property, painting all the rooms in historically correct colors and refinishing room floors. A 40-foot container of antiques was brought back from England for the furnishings. HLC Hotels purchased the Eliza Thompson House in February 2002 and added it to its historic collection of Savannah Inns.
Today, Eliza Thompson House maintains its place of honor on Jones Street, which Southern Living Magazine calls "the most beautiful street in Savannah."
Picture the perfect wedding celebration at the Eliza Thompson House, one of Savannah's oldest and most elegant bed and breakfast inns. Our brick-paved garden courtyard with moss-draped trees and glorious greenery provide the perfect backdrop for beautiful brides.
For a distinctive, one-of-a-kind setting for your wedding, reserve the elegant rooms and courtyard at the Eliza Thompson House for your family and friends. For a romantic honeymoon or anniversary, choose our Romance Package.
As private, intimate weddings are our specialty, The Eliza Thompson House requires wedding couples to reserve all 25 rooms at the inn. By reserving the entire inn for friends and family, your wedding party receives undivided attention of our staff and full use of the rooms, garden courtyard and parlor. Wedding ceremonies and receptions are not possible unless the entire inn is reserved for your private event.
Wedding Specialties Include:
- Exceptional accommodations for your out-of-town guests
- 22 historic guest rooms with all your modern amenities
- 3 deluxe rooms for the bride, groom and wedding VIPs
- One-of-a-kind setting for your wedding ceremony or reception
- Complimentary champagne & keepsake flutes for Bride and Groom
- Within walking distance of Forsyth Park and the Gazebo at Whitfield Square
- Complimentary full breakfast
- Afternoon wine and cheese reception and nightly dessert and coffee reception
- Evening turndown service and use of robes in room
- Reserving the entire Inn for your wedding provides exclusive and unlimited use of our elegant parlor and courtyard for your reception, pre-wedding parties and other social events
Your own event planner, caterer, florist or other wedding specialist is required at the Eliza Thompson House. Reserving the entire Inn for your wedding provides exclusive and unlimited use of our elegant parlor and courtyard for your reception, pre-wedding parties and other social events. To ensure that your day is perfect, The Eliza Thompson House requires you assign an event planner, caterer, florist or other wedding specialist to participate in the wedding preparations and event.
Stayed in the Adam Turner room for 4 nights. Nell and Kevin took "concierge/caretaker" to a degree I have not before experienced. Couldn't have asked for better location, more beautiful room and terrace, more delicious food, or better service of any kind. We are planning two more trips to Savannah - will stay nowhere but the Eliza Thompson!! --06/10/12
My husband and I had a wonderful two nights at the Eliza Thompson House. Every aspect of our stay was exceptional. Every member of the staff was welcoming and eager to please. We were shown our room, then given a tour of the house, making sure we knew that wine and hors d'oeuvres would be served from 5:30 until 7:00 and then various desserts and decaf coffee later in the evening. Menus from dozens of restaurants were available, but when asked, the staff offered suggestions of places nearby. Our room facing the courtyard was clean, nicely furnished, and very comfortable. The hot breakfast in the courtyard was fabulous. The cook, Miss Virginia, made an egg dish, small potato pancakes, sausage, biscuits, and grits, but cold cereal, toast, and fruit salad was also available, as were decaf and regular coffee, tea, and juice. -- The house has been maintained well; we saw no evidence of things that needed repair. The location is perfect for exploring Savannah's beautiful historic section. We didn't use our car either day. In short, we enthusiastically recommend the Eliza Thompson House! --06/01/12
Kevin is tops!! The overall feel of staying at Eliza Thompson is comfortable, welcoming and convenient. Great place! --05/21/12
We cannot impress enough about how much we loved this heritage accommodation. From the moment we pulled up in the car to the moment we left we were in love with the Eliza Thompson House and her staff. Kevin lugged my suitcase from the car to the room and helped us out in every possible way. The courtyard view room was just heavenly. Comfortable and cute. The complimentary wine and warm snacks in the parlour got all the guests interacting and chatting. Then they supplied desserts & coffee later in the evening as well. Breakfast in the courtyard was delicious and the cook must be complimented on the the fluffy scones. All this is part of your accommodation costs. We would recommend this accommodation to anyone and plan to head back as soon as we can. --05/11/12
This was a second trip to a most wonderful B&B. The staff went well out of their way to help us celebrate a special birthday (thank you Kevin and Erin). Most certainly a wonderful display of true Southern Hospitality and Charm! Rooms were spacious and inviting and the delicious breakfast selection was the perfect start to our days... Looking forward to our next stay in Savannah at the ET House...--05/05/12
A wonderful time at the Eliza Thompson House on a girls getaway to Savannah. The rooms were amazing and ever so comfortable. Kevin, Nell, Erin, to name just a few of the staff made our time memorable and special. The help with planning our day and making reservations was just what we needed to make the most of our time in this lovely city. The owner had stopped by and he too jumped in to play photographer for us. I give this property an 11 out of 10 :) The breakfast, social hour and desserts were delicious. The four of us could not have been more pleased. --05/01/12
Our stay couldn't have been better. Erin and Brandon(?) were great! The afternoon wine and the nightly desserts were part of the reason for choosing this B&B and they didn't disappoint. I will definitely recommend this property and will stay there again in the future. Thanks for a wonderful experience. Sincerely, Danna Adams --05/01/12
As first-time visitors to Savannah, we could not have chosen a more welcoming, hospitable bed and breakfast. The staff was unfailingly helpful with information and reservations. The breakfasts were Southern right down to the grits! A most pleasant place to stay; we will return. --04/24/12
I am one who reads every review when booking a vacation. I will never stay anywhere else while in Savannah. Everything is perfect: location (close enough to walk, but quiet), food (and they keep coming out with hot food up until the last minute), rooms (while we stayed in the smallest room, it was still roomier than a typical hotel room and so inviting and comfy), and staff! I can't say enough about how helpful the staff was. Ms. Nell at the inn went above and beyond for us during out stay. I can't stress enough for you to stop looking and book the Eliza Thompson House. It was one of the best experiences I've had, and my family travels often. We will be back!!! --04/22/12
My wife and I just returned from Savannah. We stayed 3 nights at the Eliza Thompson House. We found every aspect of the Eliza Thompson House to be comfortable, clean and friendly. I can only echo the many positive reviews that so many others have written about. Erin at the front desk is very pleasant and helpful. Nell was only there one night during our stay, but was equally pleasant and helpful. We stayed in the main house, room 130. The room was very large and comfortable. it was also quiet and on the second floor. Breakfast each morning in the court yard was buffet style. We loved sitting in the courtyard and enjoyed breakfast. If you travel to Savannah I would definitely recommend the Eliza Thompson House. --04/17/12
My husband and I spent three nights here the last week in March. We found it to be everything we wanted and more in a bed and breakfast. We asked for a room change to the courtyard and Erin, at the front desk, could not have been more gracious and accommodating. The staff is friendly and professional and eager to help in any way they can. We enjoyed the wine and cheese and the dessert and coffee each evening in the parlor with other guests exchanging restaurant reviews and places of interest. Breakfast each morning was good and it was delightful to eat in the courtyard near the fountain. We will come back to this charming inn and historic Savannah again! --04/01/12
Things To Do
An Overview --- The Must See Places in Savannah
Savannah Historic Sights
In order to experience historic Savannah you will want to walk the streets and through the squares. The Savannah National Historic District encompasses 2.2 square-miles, the largest area within a city with this designation in the United States. Savannah's wealth came from cotton. Just before the start of the Civil War Savannah was the world's leading cotton port. The men who made their fortunes from cotton built mansions throughout the historic district. Today there are more than 1,200 restored structures of architectural or historical significance. Most were built in the 19th century and were restored after 1960.
With a map in hand you can start your walking tour. The town is compact enough that you can walk everywhere. Twenty-one of the original twenty-four squares remain intact and are kept in lovely condition by the Savannah Park and Tree commission. On hot days, we found the squares were cooler than the streets and had a breeze, a wonderful respite from the heat.
We counted 67 different tours listed in the Savannah Visitor Guide. These include walking tours, van, trolley, bus, boat, and horse drawn carriage covering the Historic District, Victorian District, Lowcountry, and beaches. For foodies they have tours with tastings or a meal as well as a pub crawl tour. Other tours that tell you about Savannah's architecture, ghosts, African-American history, and movies that were filmed in town. For adventure or eco tours you can go sea kayaking, parasailing, or take a trip to uninhabited islands to see giant alligators. Check with our innkeeper as to which company is currently doing the best job for the type of tour you would like. The visitor center in the old railroad station on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. has brochures of the companies. Most of the tours that provide transportation leave from the visitor center. Walking tours leave from different points in the historic district.
Strolling through Savannah's historic district is a seminar in 18th and 19th century American architectural styles: Federal, English Regency, Italianate, Victorian Revival, Greek Revival, Romantic Revival, and Gothic Revival. If you want the most detail about the houses in historic Savannah have a copy of The National Trust Guide to Savannah in hand as you tour the city.
A few thoughts as you walk. The statues and monuments in the squares are not of the same person or event that the squares are named after. This can be confusing as the statue of Oglethorpe is in Chippewa Square not Oglethorpe Square while the monument to Nathaniel Greene is in Johnson Square not Greene Square. Monterey Square, named after a battle during the Mexican War, has a statue honoring Casimir Pulaski who fought in the American Revolution.
An architectural feature common to homes built in the 19th century is a flight of stairs that leads up to the main entrance on the second floor. A distinctive feature of homes built in the second quarter of the 19th century is the Savannah gray brick, larger, rough-faced and more porous than ordinary brick.
This can be a pleasant afternoon walk with a stop for lunch, dinner or a drink along the river front. Start your tour at the Old Cotton Exchange, 100 E. Bay St. This building was the center of commerce in 1887 when cotton was still king in Savannah. This area is called Factors Walk because the cotton merchants (called factors) walked on the bridges to inspect the cotton which was in wagons below. Iron bridges, cobblestone streets and sidewalks tie together this unique multilevel collection of four and five story 19th century buildings. The merchants had their offices facing the city so the front of the buildings have cast iron and granite decorations while the river side (River Street) of these buildings were used as cotton warehouses and were decorated more simply. Make your way by one of the long flights of stairs from the upper level of Factors Walk to the river. Continue down to the beautiful nine block plaza facing the Savannah River. The old cotton warehouses have been recycled as hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops. During the day tourists fill the area, strolling along the brick plaza and along the stone street, shopping, dining, taking river cruises, sitting on benches and watching the large ocean-going freighters coming and going in this busy port. On weekends lots of young people come to the waterfront for the entertainment, restaurants and especially the bar scene.
This is a walking tour that starts in Johnson Square and continues south along Bull Street (the main walking street of Savannah) to Forsyth Park and returns with several side detours.
Johnson Square, the largest and the first square built by the arriving settlers in 1733, was named for the governor of South Carolina. The monument is to Nathaniel Greene, a general during the American Revolution. Christ Church is where John Wesley established the first Sunday School in the U.S. The U.S. Custom House has the six monolithic granite columns. The gold-domed building is City Hall which faces south and overlooks the five squares we will walk through on Bull Street.
Ellis Square, the square to the west of Johnson at Bryan and Barnard Street, was once the Old City Market. To explore the City Market area continue west on Congress Street. The actual market was torn down in 1954. There are restaurants, open air cafes, jazz clubs and galleries. Vinnie Van Go Go, across from Franklin Square, voted one of the tops for pizza, is popular. Ray Ellis Gallery, 205 W. Congress St., is well known for his paintings of the Lowcountry as well as Martha's Vineyard.
Lady & Sons, 102 W. Congress St., the restaurant featuring Paula Deen's recipes that she made famous on Food Network shows, is a huge tourist draw. People line up in the morning to get a reservation to wait in line for lunch or dinner.
Broughton Street was the former main commercial retail center street of Savannah. As in other cities the department stores moved to the suburbs. Now the area is reviving. The Savannah College of Art and Design has taken one block to make a school library and art gallery. Broughton Street is also home to Savannah's oldest hotel, The Marshall House.
Head south on Bull Street to Wright Square which is named for Georgia's last colonial governor. The large monument honors William Washington Gordon who established the Central of Georgia Railroad. The large boulder marks the grave of Tomo-chi-chi, the Yamacraw Indian chief who befriended General Oglethorpe. Walk around the square and look at the round disks under the frieze at the post office that are examples of the types of marble available in Georgia. The old Chatham County Courthouse built in 1889 of yellow brick and terra cotta is in the Romanesque Revival style. The Greek Revival Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension was built in 1875.
Head west on West State Street for two blocks to Telfair Square and Telfair Academy, Mon. 12-5, Tue.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5, (912) 790-8800, designed and built in 1818 by William Jay in the English Regency Style. The large exhibition hall was added in 1883 to house the painting collection. The garden sculpture that originally was in the Bonaventure Cemetery and is pictured on the book jacket of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is now in the museum.
Jepson Center for the Arts, closed Tues., other days 10-5, Thurs. till 8, Sun. 12-5, 207 W. York St., (912) 790-8800, is a new dramatic contemporary-styled art museum that's two buildings made of white Portuguese stone connected by bridges. The architecture is stunning with a huge glass wall and stairs leading to changing exhibits galleries of 20th and 21st century art, children's gallery, and sculpture gardens. The highlight of their collection consists of important works of artists of the last 50 years including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jeff Koons.
Walk back to Wright Square and continue south on Bull Street. toward Chippewa Square. At the northeast corner of Oglethorpe Street is the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout Center, Mon.-Sat. 10-4, Sun. 11-4, closed Wed. Nov.-Feb., 10 E. Oglethorpe Ave. (912) 233-4501, affectionately known to the locals as "The Birthplace," the most visited historic house in Savannah. (Girl Scouts of America was started in 1913 in Savannah.) You frequently see Girl Scout troops here. This Regency townhouse, built between 1818 and 1821, is restored to look as it did in 1886, the year Mrs. Low was married.
Walk east on Oglethorpe Avenue to see houses dating from the Colonial period through the 19th century. Notice the houses with the curved stoops that protrude onto the city sidewalks and the cast iron gates through which we like to peek in at the private gardens. Return to Bull Street then head south past the Federal-style Independent Presbyterian Church with its tall spire, clocks on all four sides topped by a brass weathervane.
Chippewa Square commemorates the War of 1812, Battle of Chippewa in Canada on the Niagara Peninsula, just below Niagara Falls. But the square is much more famous today to movie buffs as the park bench scenes of Forrest Gump were filmed in this square. However, the placement of the bench was done only for the movie as there is no bench in that part of the square. The monument of Oglethorpe is by Daniel Chester French who did the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Oglethorpe faces south signifying that he is protecting Savannah from invasion by the Spanish who were in Florida. Facing east on the square is the marble clad First Baptist Church (designed in 1833 renovated in 1922). If you like organ music check to see if there is a concert as the Skinner organ here is exceptional.
Madison Square, named after James Madison, fourth president of the United States, has a monument to local Revolutionary War hero Sergeant William Jasper. The Green-Meldrim House, Tues., Thurs., Fri. 10-4, Sat. 10-1, 1 West Macon Street, (912) 233-3845, built between 1850 and 1856, was General W. T. Sherman's home for six weeks when his Union forces captured Savannah. The rich interior and exterior of the Gothic Revival house features lots of ironwork. The porches, tile and marble are imported from Europe. The ornate Italian plasterwork is very fine especially in the south drawing room and the north parlor. It is the parish house and rectory for St John's Episcopal Church. St John's Episcopal Church is Gothic Revival-style and is famous for its chimes and stained-glass windows. As you walk around the square notice the mansions and Greek Revival townhouses.
The 1893 Richardson Romanesque building at 340 Bull Street, corner of Bull and Charlton, at one time the home of the Savannah Volunteer Guards, was restored and opened as the first building of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 1977. It is now shop SCAD with imaginative gift items all made by current or past artists associated with SCAD. Well worth a stop.
Continue south on Bull Street to Jones Street, one of the prettiest streets in Savannah. Head east one block. If it's lunch time you'll see a line of people in front of Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House. Return to Bull Street and go south to Monterey Square.
Monterey Square. The Hugh W. Mercer House, built in 1860, is one of the finest examples of Italianate designs in Savannah. It was built for the great grandfather of the songwriter Johnny Mercer and in 1969 was purchased and then restored by Jim Williams, the principal subject of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Scenes from the movie were shot here. Still privately-owned by the family, the Mercer-Williams House Museum, is open for tours.
The square was named to commemorate the Battle of Monterey during the Mexican-American War of 1846. The tall monument honors Casimir Pulaski, the Polish nobleman who was mortally wounded during the Siege of Savannah in the Revolutionary War.
Across the square is Temple Mickve Israel built in 1876, the only Gothic synagogue in America. Mickve Israel is the third-oldest Jewish congregation in America (established in 1733) and has the oldest Torah in America.
Forsyth Park. This 26-acre park, that starts at the south end of the historic district, is particularly beautiful in spring when the flowering trees and azaleas are in full bloom. The large ornate fountain dates to 1858. Joggers and walkers, head here to make the mile loop around the perimeter of the park. The Georgia Historical Society, 501 Whitaker Street at the northwest corner of the park houses a large collection of records and books pertaining to Georgia history. Stop in to take a look at the impressive interior of the main reading room especially the panorama of Savannah done in 1837 by Fermin Cerveau. A farmers market is held in the square across from Mansion on Forsyth Square, Saturday 9-1, early May to late November.
After walking through Forsyth Park return to Gaston Street. The Oglethorpe Club, an exclusive private dining club at the corner of Bull Street, was built in 1857 originally as a private home. Walk east on Gaston to The Gastonian. Stop and look through the gate at their manicured garden. Walk back one block to Abercorn then go north through Calhoun Square built in the 1850s. This square is the only one without a 20th century building. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a Gothic cathedral, is across the street on Abercorn north of Lafayette Square. Continue to the Colonial Cemetery. Walk through the cemetery which was used as an encampment by Union Soldiers when they captured Savannah. You will notice that a number of the headstones are stacked along the eastern wall and vandals have changed dates on some of the headstones.
Oglethorpe Square. Two of the finest house museums in Savannah are in this area. The Telfair's Owens-Thomas House, Mon. 12-5, Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5, 124 Abercorn Street, (912) 790-8800, is on Oglethorpe Square. The house, built in 1818 at the same time as the Davenport House, is one of the finest examples of the English Regency style. The English Regency style flourished in the beginning of the 19th century and included Greek, Roman and Egyptian elements. William Jay, the young English architect, came to Savannah to supervise the construction. The ironwork, bricks, furnishings, paintings, and wallpaper for this house came from England.
Go east on State Street to Columbia Square to the Davenport House, Mon.-Sat 10-4, Sun. 1-4, 324 E. State Street, (912) 236-8097. This brick 1818 Federal style house was the house that started in earnest the preservation of Savannah. In 1955 seven women banded together to save this elegant home from bulldozers. Davenport was a builder and showed off his talents to prospective clients in the grand parlor with its original marble mantelpiece, Tuscan columns and arches and fancy plasterwork. The house is furnished as it would have appeared in the early 1820s with period pieces especially the fine Hepplewhite settee and table, Chippendale chairs and Sheraton reeded four-poster bed. The Kehoe House also overlooks this square.
In the Victorian era people went to the old cemeteries just as we would go to a park - to walk and picnic. In the spring the cemetery is particularly attractive as wisteria and azaleas are in bloom. Paths lead through the old cemetery which is shaded by live oaks draped in moss. Johnny Mercer, the famous lyricist, is buried here. Conrad Aiken, Pulitzer prize winning Georgia poet, had a stone bench placed over his grave and the inscription on the bench invites visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the view of the river. Tours based on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil generally include a trip to this cemetery. The cover jacket of the book is of the statue Bird Girl, sculpted by Sylvia Shaw Judson in the 1930s, which was on a gravesite at Bonaventure but had to be removed because of vandals. It is now on permanent loan at the Telfair Museum. The cemetery is about a 20-minute drive from Savannah. Take Liberty Street to Wheaton Street to Bonaventure Road.
To The Eliza Thompson House From I-95
- Take Exit 99A onto I-16 East
- Take Montgomery Street Exit
- Turn right at first light onto Liberty Street
- Turn right at next light onto Whitaker Street
- Go three blocks and turn left onto Jones Street
- The Eliza Thompson House is on the right