Savannah, Georgia has one of the nation’s most carefully preserved historic districts. And it wouldn’t have been possible without some forward-thinking residents who saved historic homes from being bulldozed in the 1960s.
Some historic homes are managed independently while others are handled by the Historic Savannah Foundation. Like in Charleston, you can now visit many of these homes, which have been turned into museums, inns, and even restaurants. Additional private homes are open on seasonal tours of homes. Visit Savannah has great information on historic homes.
A Note On Plantations: These homes have a dark history that shouldn’t be ignored. Only you can decide whether this is something you’re interested in doing. Read this post for more perspectives on both sides of the debate.
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Historic Homes to Visit in Savannah
The Harper Fowlkes House is a Greek Revival historic home dating back to 1842. It was saved by preservationist Alida Harper Fowlkes, who bequeathed it to the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Georgia in 1985.
The home is known for its antiques, with items like 19th-century china, early portraiture from colonial Georgia, and Rococo sculptures. Fowlkes was herself an antiques dealer. The gardens are also stunning.
They operate tours on Monday and Wednesday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. They also allow you to make appointments. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $6 for students, and free for those under 12. The Harper Fowlkes House is located at 230 Barnard Street, near Orleans Square.
The Davenport House Museum was one of Savannah‘s first historic house museums and the Historic Savannah Foundation was created solely to save it from demolition. Built in 1820, the two and a half story brick structure was the home of Isaiah Davenport, his family, and his slaves.
In 1955, the home was nearly demolished to make room for a parking lot. The gardens have been partially restored to feature the plants of coastal Georgia that would have existed during the Davenports’ time.
Tours run Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 1 to 4 pm. They last around 40 minutes and the garden is self-guided. It’s also a popular stop for a Savannah ghost tour. Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for children, and free for those under 6. The house is located at 324 E. State Street, near Columbia Square.
Andrew Low House
The Andrew Low House was built in 1848 in the Italianate style for the self-made Scottish immigrant. He became Savannah’s wealthiest citizen through the cotton trade. Over the years, his lavish home hosted Robert E. Lee and the Earl of Roxbury.
The house was owned by his descendants until the death of his daughter in law, Juliette Gordon Low, who had a house nearby. The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia purchased it in 1928 and it opened to the public in 1950.
Tours are offered on Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 12 to 4 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, AAA and AARP members, and girl scouts, and free for active military. The Andrew Low House is located at 329 Abercorn Street, around the corner from the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Visit on the Garden & Historic Homes Tour, which stops by the Low, Mercer, and Green Houses.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace was the home of the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low. She was born at the home in 1860 and lived here for most of her life growing up. She returned later in life when her husband died.
In 1912, she got the idea of the Girl Scouts of America here. Girl Scout troops from all over the world visit the home, which includes much of the house’s original furnishings. In 1953, the home was purchased by the GSA to operate as a museum. Exhibits include early uniforms from the troops.
Tours run around 40 minutes and cover Low’s life and areas of the home. Tickets are $12 for adults, seniors, students, and military, $10 for girl scouts, and free for children under 4. Tours run every Monday to Saturday but tour times vary. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is located at 10 East Oglethorpe Avenue, south of Wright Square.
The Mercer-Williams House was built in the Italianate style in the 1860s for General Hugh W. Mercer, the great-grandfather of acclaimed songwriter Johnny Mercer. But a few years later, it was sold to John Wilder.
In 1969, the most famous owner, Jim Williams bought the property. It was here that Williams murdered Danny Hansford, featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Williams painstakingly restored the home and furnished it with antiques he’d collected over the years.
The house then passed to sister Dorothy Kingery, who continues to live in the home and support restoration efforts. Tours operate from around 10:30 am to 4:10 pm Monday to Saturday and 12 to 4 pm on Sunday. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $8 for students. The Mercer-Williams House is located at 429 Bull Street, right on Monterey Square.
Visit on the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Walking Tour of Savannah, which discusses the importance of the home in the book and subsequent movie.
Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home
Acclaimed author Flannery O’Connor lived in Savannah from 1925 to 1938 when she moved to Milledgeville. The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home now operates as a museum on her life after her cousin, and neighbor, Katie later purchased the home.
It’s been restored to how it would have looked when the family lived here thanks to generous contributions from director Jerry Bruckheimer. The home also hosts lectures including past talks by authors Pat Conroy and Roxane Gay.
The home is open for tours Monday to Wednesday and Thursday to Sunday from 1 to 4 pm. Guided tours last 30 minutes and are $8 for adults, $6 for students and military, and free for children under 12. The Flannery O’Connor Home is located at 207 E Charlton Street, near Troup Square.
Green Meldrim House
The Green Meldrim House was built in the 1850s in the Gothic Revival style for English cotton merchant Charles Green. In 1864, Mr. Green invited General Sherman to use the home as Union headquarters during the occupation of Savannah during the Civil War.
It was passed to Green’s son in 1881 and in 1892, the house was purchased by Judge Peter W. Meldrim. His family continued to own it until 1943 when the Green Meldrim House to the neighboring St. John’s Episcopal Church. It now operates as their Parish House.
Tours are operated on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. The Green Meldrim House is located at 14 W Macon Street, right on Madison Square.
Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
The Owens-Thomas House was built in 1816 in the Regency style for merchant Richard Richardson and his family and slaves. The family suffered financially and sold it. In 1824, Mary Maxwell operated it as a boarding house. It’s most well known for being where the Marquis de Lafayette gave a speech to the locals during his stay.
By 1830, it was the home of mayor George Welshman Owens and later, granddaughter Margaret Gray Thomas. It became a museum in 1954. It had the first indoor plumbing in the country, created by architect William Jay, who went on to create homes in Charleston and his native England.
Tours are offered from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday to Monday from 12 to 5 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and military, $15 for students, and $5 for children. The 45-minute tours visit the carriage house, slave quarters, and cellar. The Owens-Thomas House is located at 124 Abercorn Street, on Oglethorpe Square.
Visit the home with the combination Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters and Telfair Museums Ticket.
Scarbrough House at The Ships of the Sea Museum
The Scarbrough House was built in 1819 for William Scarbrough, the owner of the steamship Savannah, the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the Greek Revival style, it is one of the earliest examples of this type of architecture in the South.
In 1820, Scarbrough was in great debt and his house and furnishings were sold to a relative. By 1878, it became a school for African American children and continued until 1962. It was abandoned for a time before being restored by the Savannah Historic Foundation.
In 1995, it was acquired by the Ships of the Sea Museum and completely restored, including the portico and garden. Today the museum has pieces like models of the Wanderer and Titanic as well as maritime antiques.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students, seniors, military, and AAA members. Children under 5 are free. The Scarbrough House at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is located at 41 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just a few blocks from River Street.
Visit the William Scarbrough House with the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum Self-Guided Tour.
The Sorrel-Weed House was built for French Haitian merchant Francis Sorrel in the 1830s in the Greek Revival style. The site was where the Battle of Savannah took place in 1779. The Sorrel family lived there through the Civil War and even hosted Robert E. Lee.
Local businessman Henry D. Weed purchased the house in 1862 and it remained in his family until 1914. The home opened to the public in 1940 and features antebellum antiques. It’s also been featured on the show Ghost Hunters for its dark history.
Architecture and ghost tours are offered daily, lasting sixty minutes, and vary based on the tour type. Tours are $10 for adults and $6 for children. The Sorrel-Weed House is located at 6 W Harris Street, north of Madison Square.
The Telfair Academy was built in 1819 as a Neoclassical mansion from architect William Jay, who worked on many Savannah homes. Alexander Telfair lived here until passing it on to his sister Mary, who turned it into an art museum.
Opened in 1886, it’s the oldest public art museum in the South and the first museum in the United States founded by a woman. The collection includes American and European works from the Telfair family. The most well-known piece is the Bird Girl, which graced the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Tours are offered from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday to Monday from 12 to 5 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and military, $15 for students, and $5 for children. Telfair Academy is located at 121 Barnard Street, south of namesake Telfair Square.
Visit the home with the combination Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters and Telfair Museums Ticket.
Some of Savannah’s historic homes and buildings have taken on a new life as restaurants.
The Pirate’s House
The Pirate’s House was built around 1753 on the site of the Trustee’s Garden, an early agricultural project. The building itself is said to be one of the oldest standing structures in the state. It became a tavern and boarding house, hosting seafaring pirates and even Robert Louis Stevenson stayed here while working on Treasure Island.
The building fell into disrepair but was saved in 1945 by Mary Hillyer, wife of the Savannah Gas Company owner. In 1953, it opened as a tea room. Today the popular restaurant has some of the best fried chicken anywhere, not to mention a stellar Southern food buffet. The Pirate’s House is located at 20 East Broad Street, right off River Street.
The Olde Pink House is one of the most well-known restaurants in Savannah, set in a Colonial mansion. It was built in 1771 as the Habersham House for James Habersham Jr., who lived here until 1800. It later operated as a bank and then Union headquarters during the Civil War.
Preservationist Alida Harper Fowlkes not only restored ten homes but also operated The Georgian Tea Room in the basement of the Pink House in 1929. In 1992, it became a restaurant serving traditional Southern food. The Olde Pink House is located at 23 Abercorn Street, right on Reynolds Square.
Historic Inns and Bed and Breakfasts
Many of these formerly private homes now operate as Savannah’s historic inns and bed and breakfasts.
The Hamilton-Turner Inn was built in 1873 for businessman Samuel Pugh Hamilton near Lafayette Square. In 1915, it was sold to Dr. Francis Turner and in the 1960s it was saved from demolition. Today the home has 17 rooms with clawfoot tubs.
Kehoe House, Historic Inns of Savannah Collection near Columbia Square is one of Savannah’s finest properties. Built in 1892 for William Kehoe, it was also saved from demolition before becoming an inn in 1990.
The Alida Hotel is a new build boutique hotel overlooking River Street, named for Alida Harper Fowlkes. It has trendy rooms, a restaurant, and three bars.