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Countdown to Savannah: The Gingerbread House and the Victorian District

Kathy Wood (kaydee)

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

Example of Steamboat Gothic Gingerbread Carpentry

The first official event of our Gathering weekend was the Friday night kickoff party, held at one of Savannah’s most classic, yet unique, locations: The Gingerbread House. I thought today we would share some more information about this very special place.

The Asendorf House (now known as the Gingerbread House) is located in Savannah’s Victorian District, south of the Historic District beyond Forsyth Park. In the late 1800's, as the population of Savannah grew and the Historic District became crowded, the Victorian District developed as Savannah's first suburb. This 50-block area features beautiful, exuberantly detailed Victorian and Queen Anne Victorian frame houses, mostly constructed between 1870 and 1910. The streets are lined with oak and mulberry trees. This neighborhood has been designated a National Register Historic District since 1974, and in recent years many homes in this area have been restored.

Built in 1899, The Gingerbread House is considered one of the most outstanding examples of “Steamboat Gothic gingerbread carpentry” in the United States. Soon after its construction, local residents began calling the house "The Gingerbread House" because of the elaborate gingerbread arches and spindles adorning the front porches and side balcony. The house is one of the most photographed homes in Savannah and has been featured in magazines and movies.

Photo of the Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread House

Jan, Leslie and I visited The Gingerbread House this past January and met with the owners, Herb and Jan Galloway. The minute we walked in the front door, we knew this was the ideal place for our Slow Travel group. We like the fact that it’s a real house and has indoor and outdoor spaces—not a sterile banquet hall. It’s unique and interesting and definitely Savannah.

We had the exclusive use of the house for our kickoff party: entrance foyer, parlor, dining room, 2000 square foot conservatory, mezzanine, and large landscaped courtyard. The Gingerbread House has been lovingly restored inside and out, including the addition of a conservatory that blends perfectly with the original house. There are three fireplaces, a beautiful wooden staircase, and extensive wood trim. Many of the furnishings are antiques of the original period. (I especially liked the elaborate English pub bar in the conservatory.) The courtyard is extremely private and attractively landscaped, with areas for sitting and mingling. There’s a gazebo and even a small waterfall.

The property has had only three owners during its 108 year history and has been a venue for private parties, weddings and receptions for over 25 years.

Learn more about The Gingerbread House:

The Gingerbread House: A Legacy of Elegance Touches Three Centuries - a detailed article about the history and restoration of the house

Victorian architecture

Resources

All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)

Woods Family Grand Tour of Europe: List of articles and photo albums by Kathy Wood


Kathy is a former Human Resources executive who now works as a consultant and part-time college professor. She and Charley also lead The Luberon Experience (www.luberonexperience.com), a week-long, small-group trip based in Provence.

© Kathy Wood, 2007


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