Savannah. She’s akin to the older and slightly more wild sister of Charleston. Don’t get me wrong-anyone who reads this blog knows my great love affair with Charleston. I love working there and visiting. But there’s something about Savannah. It has beautiful homes, crazy interesting history, its lion share of ghosts, characters aplenty and yet I can’t quite put my finger on it. It just is Savannah.
You may have been to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day, (the biggest celebration outside of Chicago) or come down for a romantic weekend. But have you ever taken your kiddos? Mr. V and I took the Beans and we had an awesome adventure. I’m not saying that all kids will patiently tour the historic homes or rifle through the stacks of books at neat shops like mine did but there’s plenty to do for all ages.
We stayed at The Mansion on Forsyth Park, a luxury hotel across the street from the famed Forsyth Park. It is part of the Autograph Collection of hotels so it has a super funky vibe inside which contrasts greatly from the 1888 Victorian Romanesque exterior. Truth be told it was used as a funeral parlor at some point and we ate dinner in the room where they used to view the bodies. Yikes!
The food is delicious at 700 Drayton and the lounge upstairs is worth the elevator ride.
The rooms are decorated in a Mad Hatter Baroque style which is fun and totally unexpected. The walls are graced with contemporary art by Richard Kessler and almost everything is for sale. A Lalique chandelier greets you at the entry and the lobby is filled with Versace furniture. If you are looking for a quaint bed and breakfast this isn’t your place. But if you love a spacious room, beautiful views of the park, a great bathroom with soaking tub and comfy bed away from the hustle and bustle of the Riverfront, this is it.
Weddings and events are routinely held here–they were setting up for one as we left. And the outdoor pool is beyond the wall.
I loved getting in the elevator every day to see what the flower arrangement was! It’s touches like these that really endear me to a place.
Haunted? Maybe. But I really enjoyed my stay here.
The hotel is right across the street from Forsyth Park and the famous fountain. Savannah is known for its lovely parks and squares but this one is the most famous. Everyone is in this park from musicians, to marrying couples to moms in fit bootcamps. They have a farmers market on Saturdays and there are playgrounds for the little ones. Built in 1858, the fountain got its design from a model in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Ghosts? Probably. Here is the Mercer House- famous for a lot of reasons including that the famed singer, Johnny Mercer lived here. But what makes it even more intriguing is the shooting that took place here in 1981 when antique dealer and preservationist Jim Williams shot Danny Hansford, his troubled house man and reputed lover. The story was told in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and later made into a movie starring Kevin Spacey and Jude Law. Interestingly, two people had died previously in the house- a former owner after falling over the staircase and a young boy who fell off the roof chasing pigeons.
You can take the tour–and the house itself is nice–but don’t expect a lot of information on “the tragic act of self defense” (as our guide put it) as they seem rather tight lipped about the whole affair. Whatever you believe about the events of that fateful evening, it cannot diminish Williams’ efforts to save the beautiful homes that were being razed for parking lots and his undeniable exquisite taste.
On to brighter subjects–FOOD! This is the line for Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. And it is very typical. A must stop for anyone who loves Southern food and I have to say it was worth the wait. That’s kind of a lie since the Beans and I scooted around the block ducking into various shops while Mr. V patiently held our spots but still….
The dining is family style and the food is non stop. Piles of fried chicken and biscuits. Ham and collards, beans and potatoes. Yum. There’s plenty to eat for vegetarians too. Go with an appetite and a book for the line. You never know who you might meet standing and waiting.
Another great place to eat is The Public. Casual and hip (sorry the picture is terrible), you can sit outside and watch the world go by while munching on shrimp and grits. And trust me, the people watching on this busy corner is phenomenal. The bar got busy with pretty people around 8 pm so if you are into that, put your cute clothes on and head over.
Make sure to take one of the many trolley tours. It’s a great way to see the city, get some history in and snap pictures of the incredible variety of architecture. This is a Queen Anne beauty with double circular porches, scalloped metal roofs, gingerbread and stained glass transoms. Be still my little heart.
The architectural details are astounding. Including this fish downspout on the back corner of a building.
This is a doorway to a map shop. I mean….I about passed out from the sheer fabulousness. It was closed much to my disappointment-because there is little I love more than poking around a dark, old map and book shop. The gate is amazing- there are small owls on the shield and acorns below. I wanted in so badly….
Another gem! I took this as we were whizzing by on the trolley and meant to go back to take a better picture. Rounded double verandas complete with creeping fig covered stairs and palmettos. I’m surprised I didn’t have to breathe into a bag for most of the trip–the homes are that gorgeous.
I could so live here. I would spend my days drinking herbal teas, reading poetry and learning the harpsichord in the alcove room above the entry. Not really. But it’s pretty wonderful.
Double staircases. Wanna know why? Because a lady always walked in front of a gentleman and a lady couldn’t show her ankles and such as she ascended before the man. Pretty close to our societal norms, huh? Hard to imagine that but there it is. Think about how stringent the customs were at that time to build one’s home to preserve the privacy of one’s ankles.
I will end Part One of my Savannah blog with this picture of the Six Pence Pub. It was packed as always when we were there and I had a Reuben Sandwich that was delicious. Julia Roberts stood in her nightgown and pounded on the window at her philandering husband played by Dennis Quaid in the movie “Something To Talk About.” Hard to believe that movie is almost ten years old!
Stay tuned for Part Two—Dolphins, the best ice cream on the planet and more mouth watering homes to chomp on.
Thanks for reading,
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