Nearly three centuries old, Savannah is a place where the past has been gently folded into present day, preserving its lore and luster. Even after all this time, decades of history come alive in the surrounding streetscapes, architecture, cuisine and culture. From streets that lure you to step back in time to restaurants drenched in an atmosphere of traditional Southern charm, visit these six historic sites and submerse yourself in Savannah’s rich and marvelous history.
Today, Broughton Street is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Once filled with Savannah skyscrapers – buildings 12 to 14 stories tall – many of these taller buildings were torn down by the 1980s for safety reasons. As a result, Broughton Street businesses began to decline during that same time period. The once-thriving commercial street turned into a hub for vacant residential spaces. But these vacant spaces didn’t stay empty for long and eventually filled back up in the 1990s, attracting even more residents, businesses and nightlife than ever before.
The History of the Broughton Street House
Georgia State Railroad Museum
Constructed in 1853 by the Central of Georgia Railway before the outbreak of the American Civil War, the Georgia State Railroad Museum is considered the most complete antebellum railroad complex in the United States. Savannah Shops and terminal buildings were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and was expanded in 1978 to include additional buildings in the complex. Since then, the railway was transferred to the City of Savannah and the non-profit organization Coastal Heritage Society opened the museum on the site in 1989. Today, you can visit this beautiful National Historic Landmark in Tricentennial Park and experience the fully operational turntable, historic railcars and handcar.
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Savannah’s historic district is home to The Grey, a landmarked 1938 Art Deco Greyhound Bus Terminal turned Southern-style restaurant. The restaurant was restored to its original luster and still features many of the original elements of the terminal including the original gate numbers which can be seen on the wall, safety glass salvaged from the original skylights were used to make partitions and the old ticket booth was transformed into a new open kitchen.
Here, restaurant goers can experience deep, layered, soulful dishes with a healthy side of history.
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The Pirates’ House
Initially established in 1753 as a refuge and meeting spot for pirates and visiting sailors of the seven seas, The Pirates’ House has since been transformed into a beloved, world-famous restaurant. Located on one of the most historic spots in Georgia, The Pirates’ House has been entertaining visitors with a bounty of delicious food, drink and rousing good times. Fun fact: it’s said that Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write his classic adventure novel, Treasure Island, while visiting the inn. Early edition pages can even be found in the Treasure Room today.
Treat yourself to a Savannah treasure
Originally the Telfair family mansion (a stately two-story mansion, designed by William Jay in the Neoclassical Regency style and built in 1819), Telfair Academy became a free art museum in 1886, making it the oldest public art museum in the South and the first art museum in America founded by a woman. Housing over 200 years of history, the academy contains three nineteenth-century period rooms as well as paintings, works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts. Bird Girl, made famous by the Jack Leigh photo on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, can now be found at this Barnard Street museum along with the museum’s permanent collection of American Impressionism.
Step into Savannah’s historic art scene
The Olde Pink House
Originally known as Habersham House when it was built in 1771, the Olde Pink House was one of the lone survivors of the 1796 Savannah fire that destroyed 229 buildings in the city. Over the years, many businesses have called the house home. In 1812, the home became Planters Bank, the first bank in Georgia. In 1864, the house became a military generals’ headquarters for Union troops. After the Civil War, the house changed hands several times, becoming an attorney’s office, bookstore and Alida Harper Fowlkes’ Georgian Tea Room before eventually birthing the Southern cuisine restaurant that locals love today.
Get a taste of history
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