Monthly Archives: March 2006

Lifting up historic district audiences with sight, sound, and passion

Shakespeare’s McBeth character adroitly captures the tragedy of the “idiot” side of human kind’s fleetingly brief appearance on life’s “stage” with his often quoted “sound and fury” soliloquy during the “within the castle” scene. Fortunately for much entertained audiences, several recent musical performances during the Savannah Music Festival show an ever evolving dynamic on historic district stages, the blending of sight and sound for the audience’s listening and viewing pleasure. With recent performances prior to this year’s festival by diverse orchestras such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra merging such varied presentations as screening silent film backdrops with tastefully done music to a laser light shows and psychedelic imagery accompanied by Pink Floyd inspired tunes.

Prochaplin_photo This is really nothing more than a local reflection of a growing national trend towards integrating sight and sound, live musical performances in combination with visual effects according to one performing arts director. And this trend of “listening with your eyes” is really gaining traction with live concert performers, especially orchestras and ensembles, and their rapt audiences. Recently, Jacqueline Schwab performed music she composed for the Ken Burns Documentary on Mark Twain at the still running Savannah Music Festival. The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra performed a rousing composition while screening a Buster Keaton silent film in the background. We prefer our stage performances to be uplifting and filled with inspirational sight and sound, so kudos to this emerging genre of live performance experimenters. May this aspect of the performing arts continue to evolve! And good on you Savannah Music Festival for having the foresight for delivering such world class entertainment on this record setting month in the historic district.

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Bluffton’s Heyward House offering museum quality maps for sale

The Historical Preservation Society offers rare museum quality map reproductions for sale to map lovers of coastal Georgia and South Carolina from the colonial and antebellum era at The Heyward House. These museum quality reproductions of two rare maps depicting the Georgia and South Carolina Coastal River Region are available for sale at both the museum and online. The Savannah River Backwater Plantation map dating to the year 1851 and the De Brahm Saddle-Bag Map of South Carolina and part of the Georgia coast originally published in 1757 are characterized as gems for history enthusiasts, map collectors, as well as the home decorator according to the museum curator.

The Savannah River map was originally hand drawn by an unknown surveyor that renders the approximate locale along the Savannah River from Fort Jackson across from Hutchinson Island to just below Hardeeville in South Carolina that was known during that era as the “Backwater” delta area along this low country regional tributary. Genie Woodward of Florida gave her permission to the society for them to have exclusive rights on a first edition print of the map that was released in the early 1980’s.

Savrvrplantmap1lg The more valuable De Brahm map is extremely rare and was donated to the Society in the early 1980’s. The Society is one of the few institutions in this country to actually own a pristine original copy”. Both maps are suitable for framing and can be purchased for $75 for the Backwater Plantation map and $385 for the De Brahm map with the proceeds going to a worthy cause, aiding the society’s ongoing efforts to "preserve the rich heritage of Bluffton and surrounding area.". To find out more about purchasing either map, visit the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society website for ordering information online.

Pardon our growing pains but we are still open for business!

Demolition The now demolished City Market Parking Garage that used to sit adjacent to City Market is a significant location within Savannah’s historic district. This gigantic hole in the ground will eventually house the new underground 1088 vehicle parking facility directly underneath the long awaited Ellis Square rejuvenation. This ambitious construction project along with the renovation of the old Savannah Morning News Building fronting Bay Street could impact this entire section of the district east of City Market at Congress St. north to Bryan St. right on over to Whitaker St. for up to two years – click on link to see this portion of the affected quadrant of the historic district. Daysinnsuitessavannapop_1

This section of the historic district is arguably one of the more heavily trafficked locales within the district with such tourist favorites as City Market’s trendy restaurants and art galleries, popular Express Café and Bakery right across the street from nightspot Tapas, and of course Paula Deen’s Food Channel renowned Lady and Son’s Restaurant. 

Necessity being the mother of invention, a visionary group of business proprietors we previously blogged about have banded together to promote this true “heart of the historic district” (and slightly beyond) under the brand name “The Shops on Ellis Square”. The brain child of one our valued past customers that stayed with us some years ago and ended up purchasing a Savannah based business after scouting out possibilities in the historic district, Michael Meeks is now the founding president of this tourism savvy merchants association. Savannah Getaways is excited to be one of the early members of this association. Stay tuned for future developments as The Shops on Ellis Square plans on initiating $ off coupons on select purchases at participating Ellis Square shops by offering these coupons right here in this blog to tourists visiting Savannah’s historic district in the future. In the meantime, pardon our dust as we prepare the way for your future visits. And don’t forget to stick your head in the door and say hello on your next visit to The Hostess City.

Savannah has become the go to destination for music lovers nation wide

With music lovers from all over the country making last September’s annual nine day Savannah Jazz Festival held at various venues throughout the Landmark Historic District a rousing success and this year’ annual sixteen day Savannah music Festival that kicks off every St. Patrick’s day and runs a similar format on pace to reach record setting attendance marks this yer, Savannah has established herself among music lovers as the place to be during each music festival event held every spring and fall.

Emmylouharris The Savannah Jazz Festival has been quietly running their much anticipated event for nearly a quarter of a century of providing quality music in both indoor and outdoor venues culminating in three final nights of performances under the stars spread out between The City Market and Forsyth Park. Last year’s event attracted in excess of 30,000 jazz loving music fans. Presented by The Coastal Jazz Association and sponsored by the City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Affairs/ Leisure Services Bureau, come prepared to get down with some talented jazzers if past festivals have been any indication. Jazz Festival lovers from previous years have been highly entertained by musicians that perform their compositions in genres that run the gamut from traditional jazz to ragtime.  Acje_10_20_01mhc

Don’t make the mistake that so many of the Savannah Music Festival attendees made this year by waiting until the last moment to nail down accommodations within the historic district only to be forced to make reservations well outside of the historic district when turned away by sold out hotels, inns, and bed and breakfast lodgings as well as vacation rentals within the historic district. So complete your travel plans early as accommodations become harder to come by the closer we get to late September with strategically placed accommodations around Forsyth Park and City Market selling out quicker than usual. Whether attending this free event for just a few days or staying for the entire festival, don’t forget to pack your blankets and lounge chairs for Forsyth Park’s grand finale as you don’t want to miss the perfect opportunity to hang out and enjoy exceptional music with other jazz enthusiasts from all over the country.

TV News Personality to deliver Keynote Address at the Lucas Theatre on Thursday

Calling all history loving visitors that might be visiting the historic district on Thursday, March 30th. Mark your calendar for the Georgia Historical Society’s 167th Annual Meeting Keynote Address by well known television personality Bob Schieffer of the CBS Evening News and Face the Nation fame. His much anticipated talk titled “This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV” is scheduled at The Lucas Theatre in the Landmark Historic District for Thursday, March 30, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. The Lucas Theatre is located at 32 Abercorn Street just off of East Broughton Street. This event is free and open to the public.

Poi213 Savannah Getaways extends a hearty Thank You to The Georgia Historical Society for their continued excellence in providing their thought provoking lecture series to the many history buffs that attend these events. And Kudos for the generous sponsors that also are assisting in bringing Mr. Schieffer to Savannah such as The Savannah Morning News, The Mansion on Forsyth Park, WBMQ, WTOC, with support from Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools through its Teaching American History grant, and finally The Savannah College of Art and Design. For more information, click on this link or call (912) 651 – 2525.

Disturbing the buried in America’s most haunted City, Savannah

Foremost of the better known American soldiers that fell in the Seige of Savannah were Sgt. William Jasper and Polish General Casimir Pulaski. Several monuments and historic markers are found throughout the historic district commending the heroism and ultimate sacrifice of these two celebrated American patriots. The conundrum of where General Pulaski’s final resting place is actually located is a 225 year old mystery that has very recently had some new fuel added to the fire to keep this old mystery brightly burning.

Pulaski reportedly died at sea from his wounds while in transit up the coast to Charlestown shortly after the siege of Savannah ended. Some reports have him being buried at sea while another report has him buried at the Bowen plantation in the Savannah area. His purported bones were disinterred in 1850’s from an unmarked grave and reburied at the newly created Monterey Square in 1854 at the base of the 54’ tall monument erected in his honor. The debate has continued unabated ever since as to whether this was in fact the final resting place of General Pulaski or merely the resting place of some other completely misidentified corpse.

Poi46 Given the advances of modern day forensic medicine, bones were once again exhumed from Monterey Square for the purpose of determining if this square actually did host the remains of Savannah’s well traveled adopted favorite son and Revolutionary War hero, General Pulaski. On completion of an eight year study, a recent report does not offer any definitive answers after DNA testing on Pulaski’s surviving ancestors in his native Poland. A report released by the Associated Press states that “While the strong circumstantial evidence does suggest that the remains are Casimir Pulaski, the inability to obtain a DNA match leads to no viable conclusion.”

And so the controversy continues. Maybe now we can focus on the greater mystery surrounding the reported moans and groans of the dying others swear they hear just off of Monterey Square. Is there a single Polish American accent that can be detected amongst this ghostly symphony from the other side? And if so, is this the ghost of General Pulaski who is forever suffering aloud from the wounds inflicted in a long ago battle or rather is the good General merely protesting those that continue to disturb his final resting place with their constant digging up what remains of his bones, only to rebury his remains once again less a bone or two here or there, time after time

Savannah Garden and Antiques Exposition adds “antiquing” component

The sixth annual Savannah Garden & Antiques Exposition takes root at the Roundhouse Complex starting Thursday, March 30th. The three-day event offers a choice of guided or self-guided walking tours to those who wish to peek into the lush private and public gardens that dot Savannah’s Landmark Historic District. Ticket holders also have access to guest lecturers such as garden designer P. Allen Smith and amateur "junker" and author Mary Kay Andrews. Expo director Laura Lane Smith indicates the Garden Expo is trying to offer visitors a broader experience as opposed to other year’s although tourists have traditionally enthusiastically viewed both private and public gardens throughout the district.

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The addition of antiques to the expo is new for 2006 and promises to be as important in attracting participants to this anticipated spring event as the garden loving aspect has been in previous years. Held annually to benefit the Isaiah Davenport House Museum and Historic Savannah Foundation, the Savannah Garden & Antiques Exposition inspires visitors to discover their own creativity with thousands of ideas, the latest yard and garden products, experts to answer your gardening questions, and many demonstrations to show you how.  If you are fortunate enough to be in Savannah later this week, don’t miss this always insightful event. 

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Savannah resort properties enjoy continued record sales with real estate investors

Real Estate investors continue purchasing vacation condos and townhouses in Savannah’s historic district as more of these properties are under valued versus other geographic coastal resort locations throughout the country in general and the southeast in particular. Prices on these other over-valued resort properties continue to not only rise past the affordability level for only the deepest of pockets for most investors, these properties cease to be viable from a positive cash flow stand point as well unlike Chatham County investment properties.

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Savvy investors seeking value with historic district rental properties that can generate positive cash flow via rentals to Savannah College of Art and Design students and/or renting these town homes out by the week to tourists coming to Savannah’s historic district for three to seven night getaway mini-vacations as “self catered” accommodations continue to pull the trigger on their well researched purchases within the historic district and gated golf course community properties outside of the district. In this perennial “Top 10 Vacation Destination” according to Conde Nast (six of the last ten years), prospects for continued tourism based revenue streams remain solid for those value seeking investors looking for this trend to continue.

There is a marked increase in investors from all over the country, most of them being west coast investors or Florida based investors that are cashing out their over valued homes in those respective markets for the purpose of re-investing in coastal Georgia properties. An increased building boom in “under construction” hotels and extended stay hotel chains within the historic district would indicate to me from their presumed demographic analysis that 13,000+ hotel rooms are not enough to accommodate the travelers traveling to this historic city. And more Hotels are slated to be built over the next few years. In spite of the upward rise of property values in coastal Georgia real estate, these relative values are still appreciably lower than other eastern seaboard coastal properties in other markets. If real estate investments in coastal resort properties work for your investment portfolio in light of a fluctuating stock market and the falling dollar against international currencies, then this might be an appropriate investment vehicle for you to research.

Madison Square’s Sorrel Weed House is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture.

The Sorrel Weed House was built in 1840 by Charles Blaney Clusky, and is one of the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in historic Savannah. In the antebellum days of Savannah, the home was noted for its hospitality and social events. Cluskey was one of the most prominent architects in Georgia, designing the Georgia State Capitol in Augusta as well.

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The home has had several famous visitors, including Robert E. Lee in 1862, and General William Sherman in 1864. General Gilbert Moxley Sorrel, the youngest General in the Confederate States of America, grew up in the home. The house was the first built on Madison Square, with construction beginning in 1839. At that time Madison square was the southern most boundary of the city, and the "green" was where Savannahians gathered for social events and other functions. The house retains its four original open air verandas, and is decorated with the finest period antiques, circa 1810-1840.

In the 1950′s, a shopping center was built around the house, encompassing the entire side yard on Bull street, the back courtyard, as well as the basement and carriage house. In 1996, the home was purchased and the shopping store was demolished, exposing many of the wonderful architectural elements of the home. The double rear veranda which had previously been hidden by the store was restored, and the eastern veranda which had been demolished in the 1950′s was meticulously rebuilt. The original color of the house was a regency burst ocre, which was also prominent on the Owens Thomas house. This color was restored in 1997.

While demolishing the store, parts of the original British defensive fortifications in the American Revolution were unearthed in the rear courtyard. In 1779 this was the site of the British Center lines around the city. The Siege of Savannah was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution, as the United States Continentals and French forces failed to take the city from the British. The only antebellum house in Savannah of this caliber that is not a museum, the Sorrel Weed House is truly a setting to experience past "days gone by" of the old South. View this and other landmark historic district architecturally significant period mansions while visiting The Hostess City.

Recreating historic coastal Normandy in Coastal Georgia

Think your kids or grandkids might enjoy traveling to medieval France via Georgia Southern University’s version of a wayback machine (for those of you long enough in the tooth to remember Sherman and Peabody’s preferred method of travel from the legendary Rocky and Bullwinkle animated cartoon show of our youth) through time and space? Then TimeShop, the medieval France travel event brainchild of Statesboro based GSU Assistant Professor of History Annette Laing might be worth investigating for a coastal Georgia run south of Savannah in early April for a historic re-creation of Norman France circa 1350.

At TimeShop, we believe that history for kids should be inspirational, emotional, unpretentious, unpatronizing, and–above all–fun. At TimeShop we blend together costumed characters, sound, food, games, pure imagination, and a little of our unique brand of magic, to transport kids (ages 8-12) and their student TimeShop Guides to times and places in world history. The TimeShop Team of college students as well as TimeShop Kids are active participants in our interpretations of the past: Nobody has a passive role. As a result, TimeShop is engaging, thought-provoking, and above all, hugely enjoyable.

Pilgrims visited Mont-Saint-Michel for many reasons. Certainly, they were drawn by the chance to visit a holy place. But pilgrimages (the name for a pilgrim’s journey) were not only about religion. They were also the medieval version of a vacation: A pilgrimage was a chance to get out of your village, relax, go somewhere new and meet people! You could see cool sights, while somebody else made your beds and cooked your food. There were no modern hotels for pilgrims in the Middle Ages. However, monasteries and even private houses served travelers: In fact, farmers were required by law to provide a free meal and room for pilgrims! We will meet monks, other pilgrims, and people who live around the abbey.

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Starting to get the picture? Excellent! To learn more about this interactive history filled day or to make reservations for either April 8th or 9th, click on the link.