A couple of weeks ago Tom and I drove up to Savannah and met Ranger Caitlyn for a fun day in the city. We worked with Caitlyn here at Fort Frederica two years ago when she was a seasonal ranger. She now has a term position at Fort Sumter in Charleston. So Savannah seemed like a good meeting place to explore together with a walking tour.
We met Caitlyn in the parking lot of the Savannah Visitors Center, one of the few places in the city that can accommodate our big truck. We parked here when we took the Hop on Hop Off Trolley Tour two years ago with Mom and Dad. After meeting Caitlyn we went in the tiny information center to find out about a walking tour.
A very helpful man showed us a map of historic Savannah and highlighted the places we might want to see. He discouraged us from walking all of it, however, because he said we would get too tired. We just laughed. But his map and his directions were very helpful in getting us oriented to the city.
Historic downtown Savannah is really very small. It is one mile from the Savannah River to Forsyth Park (north to south). Then it is one mile from the Visitors Center (west) to East Broad Street (the east side of historic downtown). Of course there are tons of things to see, so you can spend days exploring. We decided we weren’t interested in museums on this visit. Instead, we would focus on the parks.
Historic Savannah is dotted with parks. They range in size from tiny (Greene Square) to huge (Forsyth Park) and you find them every couple of blocks. Row houses line the streets around the parks, so almost every house looks out on a park. James Oglethorpe and William Bull originally laid out four wards in two rows along the Savannah River. Each ward centered on a park and had four tythings on the north and south sides of the square. Tythings were rows of house lots, ten lots long. On the east and west sides of the square, there were lots used for public buildings such as churches or the courthouse. Oglethorpe only laid out the first six squares, but city leaders followed the design for decades after he returned to England. The city grew to include twenty-four squares. Today, Savannah includes twenty-two of the original squares.
Our walking tour started from the Visitor Center and headed east down Liberty Street. We turned at Bull Street to see Madison Square and Monterey Square before coming to Forsyth Park. These squares included the Sergeant Jasper Monument and the Pulaski Monument. We also looked at St. John’s Episcopal Church and Temple Mickve Israel as the religious buildings on those squares. Forsyth Park is the biggest park in Historic Savannah at 20 acres. It includes the Confederate Monument and the beautiful Forsyth Fountain. After taking the requisite selfie, we headed to the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. Because there are so many trees in the parks, it is hard to get good pictures of the tall churches bordering them.
We walked by Calhoun Square and Lafayette Square, before heading to the Colonial Park Cemetery. Our walking tour included the Andrew Low House and the First Girl Scout Headquarters. I took Caitlyn’s picture in front of the Girl Scout Headquarters because she was a Girl Scout. After finding the original site of the house where John Wesley held the first church services in Savannah, we were ready for a little break.
I wanted to eat at the Pirates House Restaurant and Tom and Caitlyn were willing. So we walked to East Broad Street, the furthest east street in Historic Savannah. I will write more about this tomorrow because it is too cool to keep to one paragraph today.
Our walking tour continued after lunch with stops at Telfair Square and Wright Square, two of the original Oglethorpe parks. Wright Square has the Gordon Monument and Tomochichi’s grave and rock. Tomochichi befriended Oglethorpe and was instrumental in aiding the first colonists in Georgia. He is an important part of our story at Fort Frederica. We walked around the US Courthouse, the Wayne-Gordon House, and the Independent Presbyterian Church.
The Oglethorpe Monument is the centerpiece of Chippewa Square. We also walked by Oglethorpe Square but the Oglethorpe Monument is not in Oglethorpe Square. Confused, we decided to get ice cream at Leopold’s, “A Savannah Tradition Since 1919.” The line to get in was down the block, so we decided to hit Ben and Jerry’s instead. Yum!
We finished off our walking tour of Savannah Parks with a visit to Reynolds square. The John Wesley monument is the centerpiece of the square and I had to get my picture taken next to John. We walked by Trinity United Methodist Church that claims to be the Mother Church of Methodism. Our final stop was the City Market, where we found a statue of Johnny Mercer, composer of “Moon River.”
We ended up walking about seven miles in our walking tour of Savannah but it was all easy and interesting. Tom, Caitlyn and I enjoyed our time together and exploring the beautiful and historic parks of Savannah. We had a wonderful day.