More Savannah notes


* Savannah has a number of historic home tours, and one is presenting a variation on the traditional haunted house. The Isaiah Davenport house (Historic Savannah Foundation's first preservation success) has a living history presentation this month called "Deadly Pestilence", a depiction of the yellow fever epidemic of 1820, based on the diaries of a doctor and other historical records. Small group tours watch as the doctor treats a victim of the "black vomit", as it was also known, and hear period characters discuss the epidemic and the evacuation of the city.

* One of the pleasures of visiting several times over the last six years is seeing the city's progress. Broughton Street has improved by leaps and bounds, most notably with the restoration of the 150-year oldMarshall House Hotel. The beautiful Lucas Theatre is finally open -- the long restoration was finally getting back underway when I first visited in '97. The Pulaski monument had been taken down in 1997 before it fell down -- now it's back in place, fully restored. Vacant lots in the southwest corner of the Historic District are being replaced with new townhouses done in the local style -- an area now called the "Gardens District". (Infill development that fits its surroundings is another lesson Tulsa can learn from Savannah.)

* Another example of sensitive infill is the Hampton Inn on Bay Street, where I stayed this trip. It was built in 1997, with the right materials, scale, and details to make it a good fit for the area.

* A great example of adaptive reuse is Parkers' Market, an old gas station on Drayton Street restored a few years ago as a gourmet convenience store. (Think of a small Wild Oats Market. Here are pictures of the inside.) The covered forecourt is striped for three lanes of customers -- left lane has three gas pumps, the right two lanes are for other shoppers -- and each lane can accommodate three or four vehicles. You pull up as far as you can, and you may have to wait a bit for the person in front to leave, but usually not long. The forecourt was a convenient shelter on Saturday night. I was out for a late walk, stopped in for a bottle of pop. It was close to midnight but the store was full of shoppers -- many of them students from nearby SCAD residences. While inside, the skies opened up, and so I spent the next twenty minutes under the canopy drinking my Diet Dr Pepper, watching the downpour and the customers come and go, and waiting for the rain to slacken enough so I could walk back to the hotel. (The only exterior photo I can find is this one, as it's being boarded up for an oncoming hurricane.)

* Sunday morning, I worshipped (with only 22 others) at Thunderbolt Baptist Church, and after lunch went for a walk in Bonaventure Cemetery, remarkable for the variety of statuary and monuments, the last resting place of Johnny Mercer and Conrad Aiken, and famous as the site of the photo that graces the cover of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". (The "bird girl" statue in the photo is now in the Telfair Museum downtown.) It was a beautiful afternoon, a fine day for contemplating one's mortality (particularly as one's 40th birthday is rapidly approaching). And there is something wonderful about a live oak tree draped with spanish moss, and the way it filters the sunlight, and even more wonderful to walk down a lane lined with live oaks.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 25, 2003 12:22 AM.

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