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Countdown to Savannah: Washington Square
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.
One of Savannah's Most Beautiful Garden Squares
In a couple of the remaining Countdown posts, we’ll visit some of Savannah's famous squares in more detail. Today, we’ll focus on Washington Square, one of Savannah’s most beautiful garden squares. Several Slow Travelers are staying in the area around Washington Square for the Gathering weekend.
Washington Square is in the northeast corner of the historic district of Savannah, in the row of squares closest to Bay Street and the river. It’s a quiet square in a residential area, but an easy walk to many of Savannah’s main points of interest. Developed in 1790, Washington Square was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States. It is one of only two squares named to honor a then-living person.
In its early days Washington Square was also called “Eastern Common,” since it was at the eastern edge of the city and adjacent to an agricultural area called Trustees Gardens. The original colonists grew experimental crops in these gardens.
“Virtually every home on Washington Square and the immediately surrounding streets has been owned by a person or family of historical interest or has some unique attribute, such as having been moved from another location or rebuilt in the late 1900s in order to preserve it.” The most notable buildings on Washington Square are The International Seaman’s House, the Mulberry Inn, and the Hampton Lilliford House.
The International Seaman's House at 25 Houston Street is operated by the Port Society to serve the needs of visiting seaman. The Mulberry Inn, built in the 1860's, was originally a cotton warehouse and then a Coca-Cola bottling plant before being converted to an inn. The Hampton Lillibridge House at 507 East St. Julien Street was built in 1796 and is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in Savannah. In 1963, the Bishop of Georgia even performed a rite of exorcism at this house.
For many years, until the 1950’s, Washington Square hosted New Year’s Eve celebrations, including huge bonfires, often taller than the houses around the square. Today, Washington Square is better known as a special site for outdoor weddings. And, I'm sure Slow Travelers who visit Savannah will relax on the benches at Washington Square, under the trees dripping with spanish moss, enjoying a beautiful day with friends or family.
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 Wood, 2007
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