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Love Savannah Georgia

Updated on November 12, 2014

Savannah Ga.

Since my first visit to Savannah Ga. I have been in love with this city ever since. The rich history and culture that flows through these streets is remarkable and the old southern charm is seen everywhere you look. To me Savannah is like a "Little New Orleans".

Savannah has a lot to offer the visitors that come here year after year. My family and I have been frequent visitors to this wonderful southern town that offers true south hospitality to all its visitors. Savannah offers everything from great nightlife to some of the best tasting food that has ever crossed over these lips to some of the most amazing architecture and great historic sites for your eyes to see.

One account that I have read is that in the last ten years there have been over 50 million visitors to Savannah. Lets take a look at what Savannah is all about.

Some historical facts about Savannah

Savannah was founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe when the General and about 120 passengers sailed down what is called today as the Savannah River on the good ship named “Anne”. When they sailed down the river they came upon a bluff (Yamacraw Bluff,) that is today the City of Savannah

General Oglethorpe laid out the city into grids with 24 public squares, Savannah was later called the “Americas First Planned City”. Today there are still 21 of the original 24 public squares still to this day through the preservation program that Savannah has.

Later on Oglethorpe named the thirteenth colony Georgia after King George II, and Savannah became the first city. The city was designed to offer aid to the poor, increase trade, and to provide protections and work as a buffer zone between the English Colonist to the north and the Spanish that were coming north out of Florida.

Over the next several years more and more settlers from Moravians, Salzburgers, and Jews, three heavily persecuted religious groups flooded to Savannah and all were welcomed except for the Roman Catholics because Oglethorpe and most of England, viewed Catholics as being persecutors. Later on the Catholics were welcomed to this new land.

During the American Revolution the British took over the city of Savannah in 1778 and held it for four years. After independence Savannah took off economically, farmers in the area found out that the ground and the climate was awesome for growing cotton and rice. When Georgia legalized slavery the Trans-American slave trade brought many African Americans through the port of Savannah.

With the invention of the cotton gin on a plantation just outside of Savannah the city took off as a commercial port. Cotton prices were set on the steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange, (which the building is still in existence today).

Then in 1796 and 1820 two devastating fires struck Savannah and burnt a good portion of Savannah to the ground. Then in 1820 yellow fever broke out across the area which took the lives of about ten percent of the population. These devastating things did not break the back of Savannah, after each crippling set back the city took it always bounced back.

Jumping ahead in time to the Civil War. The city of Savannah suffered economically since the city was cut off do to sea blockades. The For Pulaski at the mouth of the Savannah River was taken over by the Union Army in 1862. General Sherman took over the city after he burned Atlanta and everything in its path on the way over to Savannah. But the General was taken aback by the beauty of the city that he could not burn it but gave it to President Abraham Lincoln as a Christmas present.

When the Civil War was over the reconstruction of Savannah took place. The economy was in ruins and the city was in devastation. But Savannah bounced back once again. Cotton soared and new industries moved in, the port was busy again moving lumber and resin. Slaves were freed and many stayed in Savannah and built churches and schools and Savannah became one of the most historically African American cities in the country.

The main entrance to Colonial Park Cemetery
The main entrance to Colonial Park Cemetery

Savannah Famous Cemeteries

Many visitors including my family and I while visiting Savannah always make it a point to go and visit the cemeteries in Savannah. There are several cemeteries around Savannah but the three most visited are The Bonaventure Cemetery, The Colonial Park Cemetery, and the Laurel Gove Cemetery. All three are rich in history and legend; if at all possible I recommend a tour of each of these to find out the history behind each one.

Here is my breakdown of what I have learnt about each of these great tourist sites that are free to the public to go and visit.

The Colonial Park Cemetery

The Colonial Park Cemetery sits right in the heart of the historic district of Savannah on the corner of E. Oglethorpe Ave. and Abercorn St. Parking is available along the sides of the cemetery on the street. Bonaventure Cemetery gets a lot of publicity but for me the Colonial Park Cemetery is my favorite. The cemetery is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm and to walk the cemetery and read the grave and historical markers is free of charge. The cemetery was established in 1750 for the First Church Parish and then in 1780 it was opened to the public. In 1820 more than 700 victims that fell ill and died of Yellow Fever were buried in this cemetery. By the start of the Civil War the cemetery was full and closed. There is no record of any Confederate Soldiers being buried in this cemetery.

During the Civil war many Federal troops took over the cemetery and the area around it during the occupation of Savannah. Many of the cemetery graves were looted and many of the headstones were ruined or disfigured by the Union soldiers.

The cemetery is one of the stops on most of the ghost tours around Savannah. There is many tales of ghost lurking around the cemetery. I can only tell you of mine and my wifes encounter at the cemetery.

It took place one night when we were out doing some night time photography. We were down by the cemetery so we decided to take several still shots at micro burst speed settings. We did encounter several shots with the famous orbs, but one of our shots was of a tomb, the tomb was perfect in the first shot but the second picture there was a bight glow around the edge of the lid, and a bright light coming out from one corner of the lid. It was a very spectacular picture.

Before visiting this cemetery I would recommend doing some history research about the cemetery, it has a lot of rich history wrapped around it.

The Bonaventure Cemetery

The Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the most visited and photographed cemeteries in the country. It is also known for its role in the book and movie “In the Midnight of Good and Evil”. The cemetery sits on the banks of the Wilmington River just a short drive from the historic
downtown Savannah. The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk. I would not
recommend being locked in this cemetery after dark. There are many tours for
the public or one can just stroll at your leisure through the grounds. The Bonaventure
Historical Society Visitor's Center is on site an open weekends and holidays: 10am-4pm.

Many famous people from the area around Savannah are buried in this cemetery. The cemetery was founded in 1760 but the city of Savannah took over the cemetery in 1907. The cemetery has some of the most interesting tombstones and vaults that I have ever seen. The lanes on the grounds have gorgeous camellias, azaleas, dogwoods and magnolia trees, and some 200 plus year old moss covered oak trees. With all this beauty no wonder it is the most photographed cemetery in the country.

The Laurel Grove Cemetery

The Laurel Grove Cemetery used to be a plantation that was owned by the Stiles family back before the city of Savannah took over the land in 1850 and made the land the primary burial ground for the city. The cemetery has some remarkable history. The land is divided into two primary sections, the north and the south. The north part of the cemetery which is landscaped with magnolia, live oak, dogwood and pine trees was the burial place for white people. A section of the land was devoted to the Civil War dead including eight generals. One famous site is the grave of Juliet Gordon Low who was the founder of the Girl Scouts.

The south side of the cemetery which is thirty acres was and is used for burial of “free persons of color and slaves”. The cemetery is one of the oldest black cemeteries currently in use.

The cemetery is a must to see. There are many elaborately made tombstones to see. Many of the grave markers tell of the rich history that is not found in books today. Many tour groups make this one of the stops to see while on their tours. Make sure you check it out next time you are in town.

The Lucas Theater

The Lucas theater is a must see while in Savannah. The historic theater was built in 1921 by Arthur Lucas and architect C.K. Howell. Mr. Howell designed theaters all across the country, and Mr. Lucas owned more than 20 of them across the south. The Lucas Theater in Savannah was built as a movie palace and with a big stage up front it was also used for traveling road shows.

The theater was a grand hit for many years, but with the invention of the television the theater began to lose business. Then in 1976 the theater closed its doors. Many attempts were made to reopen the theater as different types of businesses were tried but none succeeded. Then in 1986 a group of people came together to save the theater from demolition. The group turned the theater into The Lucas Theater for the Arts. With much help from locals and celebrities they were able to reopen the theater in the year 2000.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

A must see while staying in Savannah is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. This French Gothic cathedral is one of the most popular cathedrals in the South. The cathedral sits on Harris St. in Lafayette square in the historic section of Savannah and every time I have been there it has been open to the public to walk in.

The history of this great place dates back to 1873 when the cathedral was built. Then in 1896 the spires were added on. But in 1898 the cathedral was almost destroyed by the great fires that hit this city. Most of the interior was destroyed and only the outside walls and the two spires survived the devastating fire.

Thirteen years after the fire and the church was rebuilt major decorating took place along with major artwork was put in to finish the interior of the church. The interior of the church is so awesome with beautiful murals, fantastic stained glass windows, and a 9,000 pound alter made of Carrar marble. The Cathedral is a must to see.

Perhaps one of the most photographed landmarks in Savannah you can stop by the Cathedral and take some amazing pictures of this great piece of architecture but please be respectful to the people that are at the Cathedral for worship and prayer. The Cathedral is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If while you are in town on a Saturday or Sunday you can come to a worship service and enjoy an awesome religious ceremony.

Perhaps one of the most photographed landmarks in Savannah you can stop by the Cathedral and take some amazing pictures of this great piece of architecture.

Forsyth Park Fountain

The amazing Forsyth Park fountain.
The amazing Forsyth Park fountain.

Forsyth Park

One cannot come to Savannah and not drive over to see the famous Forsyth Park in downtown Savannah. This park is over 150 years old and is over 20 acres in size. The park is bordered by Gaston Street, Drayton Street, Park Ave, and Whitaker Street. The park offers a lot of amenities for the public to enjoy.

Standing in the middle of the park is the Confederate Memorial Statue. The statue was donated to the park to remember the volunteers who gave their all for the Confederacy.

On the north end of the park is the famous massive Forsyth Park Fountain. The fountain was added to the park in 1858 and was inspired by the Parisian fountain in the Plaza de la Concorde in Paris. This beautiful landmark appeared in films like the 1962 “Cape Fear”, and the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.

With huge like oak trees covered with hanging Spanish moss walking around the park is like taking a stroll back in time. The neighborhoods that encompass the park are featured with old stately Victorian styled mansions which a lot of them are inns or bed and breakfast today. There is much to see and do in and around the park, make sure you have your camera charged up and ready to go when you visit Forsyth Park and the surrounding area.

Forsyth Mansion

Forsyth Mansion on the edge of Forsyth Park.
Forsyth Mansion on the edge of Forsyth Park.

Savannah Ga. Timelapse

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