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Countdown to Savannah: The Scoop on SCAD

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.

A Leader in Historic Preservation

Historic preservation is alive and well in Savannah, thanks in large part to leadership and growth of the Savannah School of Art and Design known as SCAD.

SCAD is one of the largest art schools in the USA and is considered by many to also be one of the best. Founded in Savannah in 1978 as a private nonprofit institution, today the school has over 7000 students, coming to Savannah from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. The college offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts and master of urban design degrees, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates. The 30+ possible majors cover all areas of the arts and include architecture, commercial photography, contemporary writing, fashion, film and television, historic preservation, interactive design and game development, scultpure and sound design. The maximum class size is 20 students.

The college occupies approximately 2,000,000 square feet in nearly 60 facilities in the heart of Savannah’s historic and Victorian districts, a truly unique urban campus. Most of the school’s facilities are restored historical or abandoned buildings—beautifully renovated—providing an inspirational and living laboratory for the study of the arts, architecture and design. One of the most impressive SCAD buildings is Poetter Hall on Madison Square, the former Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory, built in 1892.

Photo of SCAD's Poetter Hall on Madison Square

Poetter Hall on Madison Square

When Jan, Leslie and I visited Savannah in January, most of the most beautiful buildings we ooohed and aaahed over were SCAD facilities. We saw several new SCAD restoration projects underway. SCAD has won many awards for their work in historic preservation, including this one from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Other Campuses

In addition to its main campus in Savannah, SCAD also has campuses in midtown Atlanta and Lacoste, France, a small medieval village in the Luberon that our family knows well. (One of our friends in Provence is the director of SCAD Lacoste, so we've had some first-hand experience with the school there.) SCAD now owns a large portion of this ancient village that was once the home of the Marquis de Sade. Lacoste is an equally unique venue and provides another set of opportunities for SCAD’s historic preservation focus. SCAD students come to Lacoste for a study abroad program and live, learn and create in buildings that date back as far as the 12th century.

In the Community

SCAD’s faculty, staff and students definitely contribute to a vibrant and eclectic arts and cultural emphasis in the Savannah community. The college operates 10 galleries in town, showcasing professional and student work, including its own retail store called ShopSCAD which is located in Poetter Hall. Throughout the year, SCAD sponsors a variety of lectures, performances and film screenings at two historic theaters, the Trustees Theater and the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. These theaters are the base for the Savannah Film Festival, held each year in late October/early November, now with an attendance of almost 40,000 people.

SCAD hosts its annual Sidewalk Arts Festival in Savannah’s large downtown park, Forsyth Park. The highlight of the festival is an extensive chalk-drawing competition with a variety of categories. In May, SCAD sponsors a Sand Arts Festival on the beach at Tybee Island. (SCAD Events Calendar)

Learn more about SCAD and its role in historic preservation in Savannah:

Savannah's Colorful Palette of Art - Southern Living article about SCAD’s galleries
New Georgia Encyclopedia


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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