Each year, millions of visitors flock to Savannah throughout every season. And they come from all over the world. But why? Well, there are many reasons. We have a thriving culinary scene, nightlife that manages to be at once wildly fun and elegant, and a diversity of natural landscapes to stand in awe of. But another main reason we welcome tourists to the Hostess City is its history. Savannah is lush with fascinating stories, and so many of the places where they take place are still standing beautifully today. Let’s explore them! In this blog post, we’re sharing some of the stories behind legendary Savannah homes.
The Davenport House
We’ll start with a true legend of Savannah. No tour of the city is complete without a stroll by the Davenport house. Its background also portrays the beauty of our community.
A Federal-style home (for more on Savannah architecture, check out another of our recent posts) built in 1820, it was the creation of Isaiah Davenport. After his death, his wife, Sarah Clark Davenport, transitioned it into a boarding house before selling it to the Bayard family. They would go on to own it for 109 years, but it was crumbling all the while. Eventually, it would inspire the creation of the Historic Savannah Foundation, when a group of citizens banded together to save it!
The Armstrong Kessler Mansion
A 100-year-old, four-story estate in the Italian Renaissance style, the Armstrong Kessler Mansion is a masterpiece. Originally owned by the family of its namesake, it would go on to become the Armstrong Junior College in 1935 and today, it is the home of one of Savannah’s most revered law firms: Bouhan, Williams & Levy.
The Mercer Williams House
Designed by famous New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, who was the great grandson of the legendary Johnny Mercer, the Mercer Williams house is one of the Savannah homes with the most history. Its construction was put on hold during the Civil War and picked back up by a new owner some eight years later.
Later, it became a project for Jim Williams, one of Savannah’s most beloved restoration specialists. Fun fact: He brought new life to more than 50 houses in the South during his career. Today, Williams’ sister, Dorothy Kingery, owns it. She welcomes visitors to view her late brother’s private collection of furniture, portraits and more.
The Flannery O’Connor House
Lovers of literature should look no further than Flannery O’Connor’s former home (and birthplace) for a rewarding visit. You can take a tour of the restored Depression-era home while learning facts about O’Connor’s family and upbringing. And of course, you can also view some fantastically rare books.
The Green Meldrim House
While it seems all Savannah homes could fit the description, the Green Meldrim house is truly “the room [or rooms] where it happened.” Built in the 1950s by English cotton merchant Charles Green, it would later become a headquarters for the Union army. Green invited General Sherman to occupy it as long as needed.
In 2021, it operates as the Parish House for the neighboring St. John’s Episcopal Church. Unlike some historic properties, the Green Meldrim house has only changed hands a few times. From Green it went to his son, who sold it to Judge Peter W. Meldrim in 1892. The next to own it would be the church.
We hope you’ve enjoyed strolling through the stories behind legendary Savannah homes with us! If you’re thinking of starting a new chapter to your own story here, might we suggest taking a peek at our available homes? Or, watch our short film, which is aptly titled, Find Your Place in the New South.