Monday, September 30, 2013

Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah River consists of two arms with islands between.  Savannah lies on the lower arm and is easily accessible from the St. Rt. 17 bridge.

Around the corner and down the street is the visitors center and a small museum.

Savannah was a planned city with 24 parks placed every two blocks.  At the end nearest the river was an experimental garden designed to find out what would grow in the area and what could be used as a cash crop for export.

 Savannah is the birthplace and home of Juliet Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America.  There is a nice display dedicated to  her in this museum.  The Gordons and the Lows were two of several very wealthy families in Savannah.  Juliet was on an European tour with her husband when she became bored with her life as an idle socialite and decided to spend the rest of her life on worthwhile pursuits.  Soon after she met Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in Britain.  I couldn't get a pic of her home because it was swathed in scaffolding while the outside is being redone.  Next to it is Chippewa Square where the movie Forrest Gump was filmed.  Next to the Andrew Low house is the first Girl Scout Headquarters.

Horseless carriage

Savannah is very tourist friendly.  There is on street parking, parking garages, small off street metered parking lots, and several trolley tours to choose from right in the parking lot of the visitors center.  We opted for one of these.  Our guide told us that the city buildings are all tiled with this white tile.  He said the locals call them the bathroom buildings.  We agreed they look like a lot of restrooms we've seen.

Interesting building front.  We learned that there is a lot of ironwork decorating the city.  Some of it is original hand-forged, most of it is cast.

There are a boatload of historic homes with stories.  This one was the first one with running water.

This one was the first one with electricity.

Along the riverfront is a row of shops and restaurants.  This one is for granddaughter Maddy. 

The waving girl.  Duane and I have seen this sculpture before--we think on St. Augustine, FL

City hall,  the pic doesn't really show it, but the dome is 23 carat gold.

This rail around the fountain above is described in the above sign.

The cotton exchange is now the Masonic Lodge

This street runs along the offices of the cotton graders.  They walked out of their offices and stood on these walkways judging the wagon loads of cotton at they were driven down the street.  The world-wide price of cotton was decided in two places:  Liverpool, England and Savannah, Georgia.

Strolling and relaxing room along the river.  The shops are behind me as I took the pic.

Interesting info explaining the importance of Savannah.

Love this sign holder

We left the river and walked into town to the (Catholic) Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  This was the best pic I could get.  The front and the farther steeple were covered in scaffolding.

A guy on the street told us to come here for two things:  this mural of five saints.  Notice the middle one is holding his head in his hands

The man on the right is apparently sticking out his tongue in a gesture of derision.

Organ pipes in the choir loft 

Several movies were made in town.  This little cafe was featured in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

The school is now part of SCAD--the Savannah College of Art and Design

Ivy covered gas light holder

A father of identical twin girls built these identical houses for his girls.  They argued about who would get which side!

The Mercer house was built by the grandfather of Johnny Mercer, famous singer/song writer.  It was used in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  The murder scene took place in the lower left hand room where the chandelier is lit.

This fence is an exact replica of the fence surrounding Buckingham Palace.  Sorry for the tilt.  I took these pix from a moving trolley.

There are many fine restaurants in town.  We picked 5 Guys Hamburgers, with dessert at Leopolds.  The homemade hand-dipped is really good.

The Davenport House is credited with the start of efforts to save more historical buildings.  This one was slated to become a parking garage.  The double stairway was designed for women on one side, men on the other.  That way they could both ascend at the same time and the men couldn't see the ladies' ankles.  Such a scandal could lead to a shotgun wedding!

Stopped for gas on the way home--didn't think we were this tired!

We really enjoyed our visit to Savannah.  The traffic was light, the city is very tourist friendly and easy to get around.  Of course everything costs because the various non-profit Historical Societies are responsible for the upkeep of the sites.  There is something for everyone--parks, shopping, restaurants, museums, historical sites.  We didn't feel confused, overwhelmed or stressed as we did in Charleston.

Join us next time for more Savannah history.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fort Moultrie

We had allowed ourselves a week to visit Charleston and Savannah, GA, but rainy weather curtailed our touring time so we had to be selective with our options. We wanted to visit the several forts in the area but decided on one and a short visit of the Charleston historic area.  Our ride took us across the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge from the Peninsula to Mount Pleasant.  This bridge was designed to last 100 years, thus the arches and cables

We drove through Mount pleasant then took the drawbridge to Sullivan's Island.  The island is small with the typical coastal or island housing and businesses--mostly eating places.

Some of the few large manors

and a big church

Our goal 

The National Park Service maintains the visitor center and fort.  After a short film we toured the small but informative museum.   The cap below is part of the uniform for the SC army.  The color of the flag and crescent emblem on it were incorporated into the state flag, along with the palmetto.

It was the tradition to add a star and a red and a white stripe whenever a new state was added to the Union, but after 15 that got rather unwieldy, so the flag went back to the original thirteen stripes and added only stars for new states.

At Fort Moultrie five section of the fort and two outlying areas, each mounting typical weapons, represent a different historical period in the life of the three forts.  The first fort saved Charleston from British occupation.  After the Revolution, Fort Moultrie was neglected and by 1791 little of it remained.  

In 1794 Congress, seeking to safeguard American shores, authorized the First American System of nationwide coastal fortifications.  A second Ft. Moultire, was completed in 1798.  It too suffered from neglect and was finally destroyed by a hurricane in 1804.

This info-board explains the nickname of the fort, the flag, and the state nickname--the palmetto state.

By 1807 many of the other First System forts were in need of extensive repair.  Congress responded by authorizing funds for a Second American System.  By 1809 a new brick fort stood on Sullivans Island.  Between 1809 and 1860 the fort changed little.  After the Civil War Fort Moultrie lay hidden under the bank of sand that protected its walls.  The new rifled cannon used during the Civil War had demolished the brick-walled fort.

A view of Fort Sumpter.  Fort Moultrie is out of the pic on the right.

Fort Moultrie was modernized in the 1870's  Huge cannon were installed, magazines and bombproofs were built of thick concrete, then buried under tons of earth to absorb the explosion of heavy shells.  In 1885 the coastal defenses were again modernized.  New batteries of concrete and steel (the one in the distance is Battery Jasper) were constructed in Ft. Moultrie.  Larger weapons were placed elsewhere on Sullivans Island and the old fort became just a small part of the Fort Moultrie reservation that covered much of the island.  Today Fourt Moultrie has been restored to highlight the major periods of its history, from the site of the palmetto-log fort of 1776 to the WWII Harbor Entrance Control Post.

For all the modern engineering efforts in the fort, the restroom at the visitor center seems to have a small problem.  Another inch to the left would have made a big difference!

Down the street a bit the Charleston Light has guided mariners since 1962.  The lighthouse is part of the US coast Guard Historic District that included historic buildings dating back to 1864.  The National Park Service protects and preserves the historic district.  Not a typical circular shape, the lighthouse is triangular with steel girders for framework and aluminum alloy for siding.  The unusual design was chosen for its ability to withstand winds up to 125 mph  Its strength was demonstrated when it withstood Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  Originally painted red-orange and white, the siding was repainted in its current black and white pattern in response to complaints from island residents.  Adjacent to the lighthouse is the former US Life-Saving Station established in 1894 Its purpose was the protection of lives and materials in the maritime trade.  Today this Historic District serves as quarters for seasonal park staff, a carpentry shop and garage.  These historic structures are accessible to the public only during quarterly open houses.

After our tour we rode back to Charleston.  We had never seen a bike like this.

We had only a couple of hours to see a bit of old Charleston so we took Meeting St. to Market then looked for street parking.  The place was packed and the parking full.  We drove around until we found an open spot (one hour limit).  Our first stop was Hyman's General Store at 213-221 Meeting St.  for homemade hand-dipped ice cream.  It was worth the walk.  From there we walked down the street reading historic information, admiring the hand-forged ironwork, and taking in the different architectural designs.

Charleston has more than 199 churches and a skyline  pierced with steeples.

For our firefighter friend.

The oldest public building in the Carolinas, the powder magazine stored the powder crucial for defending Charleston.  Although replaced by a newer magazine in 1748, it served effectively until the American Revolution.  Here it is restored to its mid-nineteenth century appearance.  On the building next to this one are gas lanterns, two of several to be seen around the historic district.

This building has been replaced with a modern building.

Nice piece of ironwork.  Too bad a piece of the light fixture is broken.

Out of time, we walked one block west to King Street.  This is mostly high-end shopping.

The Hyman also own and operate a deli and seafood restaurant.  The General Store is in the right.

Historic church

The bulk of historic homes open for tours were further south.  This one was north on our way out.  This is the Aiken-Rhett House.  It is the city's most intact antebellum urban complex, c. 1820.  Historic interiors, surviving virtually unaltered since 1858, have been conserved and stabilized.  Many family objects are still found in the rooms for which they were purchased.  This home and many others are open for tours.  The typical fee is $10.  Also available for tours are area plantations.

This is a typical neighboring house of the Aiken-Rhett house.

Time to head for home to arrive before dark.  While crawling along Meeting St. with the afternoon outgoing traffic, I had time to photo this ant on the lawn of a pest control business.

We decided this might have an interesting story.  May have to research it on the net.

A beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Next, tour Savannah with us.

Louise and Duane