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Green Palm Inn Points to Savannah Firsts and “Leaders Who Dreamed Great Dreams”

Johnny Mercer Bench in Johnson Square | Photo (c) James Byous

Johnson Square with Johnny Mercer memorial bench in foreground

Beautiful, pace-setting Savannah, Georgia is rich in history and “leaders who dreamed great dreams”. (1)   Today’s modern posterity steps forward, eager to stand on big shoulders and to point to what is extraordinary here.

Green Palm Inn offers cozy bed and breakfast lodging along with the  great tales of Savannah!

Many “Savannah Firsts” turn our focus to interesting places where Savannah sightseeing and tour storytellers devote themselves and their resources to enrich the Savannah traveler’s experience.

Did you know? By 1734 “a house for strangers (22-24 Congress Street, West) had been built by Savannah’s first colonists.  Interestingly, the colony’s first Public Oven was on the northeast corner of Congress and Whitaker Street.  Paula Deen’s popular restaurant, The Lady & Sons is at that location today.

Dreaming great dreams, millions of travelers plan and choose to visit Savannah annually  … taking time to explore and participate in the rich local culture, character and charisma, arts, history, food, beauty, architecture, nature, and multicultural things to do.


1733 FIRST “Colony of Georgia in America”, is founded by British Parliamentarian (later General) James Edward Oglethorpe, February 12. Oglethorpe and the first 144 Georgian colonists landed on the 200-ton galley “Anne” at Yamacraw Bluff and selected the town site of Savannah along the Savannah River.  The colony was named in honor of England’s King George II.  “Oglethorpe’s Bench” marks the spot — Bay Street near Whitaker Street.

1733 FIRST Capitol of America’s 13th Colony, February 12, 1733 — SAVANNAH (America’s 13th Colony, which later became the State of Georgia. “Liberty Boys” met in the pubs. Try Planter’s Pub in the lower level of Olde Pink House restaurant on Reynold’s Square).  Did you know, Georgia was the last to vote on the first U.S. Constitution?

1733 FIRST Jewish Congregation arrives in the South (USA), July 11. Visit Mickve Israel Synagogue, today’s place of worship for ancestors of those first Jewish immigrants to Savannah, GA.

1734 FIRST Agricultural Experimental Garden in North America — Trustees Garden.  Visit The Pirates’ House restaurant to see the oldest structure in Georgia, the old Herb House, the gardener’s cottage.

1734 FIRST City planned on a system of squares in North AmericaAll but 2 of Savannah’s garden and entertainment squares remain for strolling, weddings, socials, visiting and joyful special occasions and festivals.

1735 FIRST Silk Exportation from America (Port of Savannah, GA).  The old filament building was on Reynold’s Square.  Today, it holds the Emaeus House (homeless food outreach of Christ Church) and the offices of the widely popular Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens, held each spring.

1736 FIRST Moravian Church in America. A plaque to honor the Moravian missionaries is in Oglethorpe Square. Oglethorpe granted 600 acres of Savannah land for the founding of the 1st Moravian church  on the continent. It was these missionaries who brought musical instruments to the fledgling colony, playing music at Tomochichi’s funeral.  Oglethorpe purchased the instructions as the Moravians made plans to exit the colony rather than first a war.  Tomochici died October 5, 1739. His gravestone is in Wright Square.

1736 FIRST English Hymnal in America. The Reverend John Wesley (rector of Christ Church 1736-1737, and later founder of Methodism) published the first English Hymnal in America at Christ Church.  Visit Christ Church on Johnson Square. Johnny Mercer was a choirboy here.  On Sunday night, 9 p.m. a community choir sings goodnight to God in a candlelight Compline Service.

1736 FIRST Sunday School in the world founded by John Wesley, Rector at Christ Church Parish in Savannah.  Welsey preached his first sermon in America, upon a lot fronting present Telfair Square (formerly named St. James’ Square), opposite Trinity Church. Years later, Wesley founded Methodism.

1740 FIRST orphanage in America, March 25th, George Whitfield “laid with his own hands, the first brick for the Orphan House at Bethesda.” Bethesda was founded under guidance of George Whitefield and John Wesley, both regarded as great preachers.  Their request for a college or seminary charter is credited with opening the way for the charting of the University of Georgia in later years.  Bethesda is older than America itself and was a site frequently visited by many of the country’s founding fathers.  Benjamin Franklin was an early investor.  Note: Bethesda is not open to the public.

1736 FIRST Lighthouse on the South Atlantic Coast, Tybee Island, Georgia. In 1736 the Tybee Island Lighthouse was the tallest building of its kind in America.  Visit and climb the 178 steps, if you dare!

1740 FIRST Horse Race in Georgia, “from gate of Public Garden [Trustees Garden], on present East Broad Street, to middle of Johnson Square, Dr. Tailfer and others bettors.”

1741 FIRST porcelain clay discovered in or near Savannah by Mr. “Duchet, the potter” [sic Andrew Duché, pioneering potter], and china cups made that year. Trustees gave him £50, to “encourage him in his enterprise.”  Duche is the first documented potter to experiment with native kaolin clays.  this reference post “Andrew Duche, a Potter ‘a little to addicted to Politicks” [Source: Great & noble jar: traditional stoneware of South Carolina by Cinda K. Baldwin]

1754 FIRST Capitol of the State of GeorgiaSAVANNAH, GEORGIA. With Georgia’s transition from a trustee to a royal colony in 1754, the Board of Trade declared Savannah the “seat of government,” and thus the royal governor (William Stephens), new legislative assembly, and courts established headquarters there.

1763 FIRST Garden for the Blind in the Southeast.  Today’s Garden for the Blind is in Forsyth Park.

1763 FIRST Newspaper in the Colony — The Georgia Gazette

1777 FIRST and oldest black church in North America — First African Baptist Church of Savannah, GA.  Free men and slaves built the church located on Franklin Square. Artifacts at the church include benches carved by slaves and remnants of the Underground Railroad, which assisted runaway slaves.

1788 FIRST Public School in Georgia. Massie School in downtown Savannah, GA, has been recently renovated.  Savannah native Johnny Mercer (born November 18, 1909) attended Massie School on Calhoun Square.

1793 FIRST practical Cotton Gin was invented near Savannah, GA on Mulberry Grove Plantation by Eli Whitney.  The cotton gin set in motion the American Industrial Revolution and led in making Savannah a rich, world market city, thanks to the era of “King Cotton”.  As early as 1734, Elisha Dobree reported to sow and plant 200 cottonseeds.  It was William Stephens, Secretary for the Trustees, who on March 26, 1740, wrote to the trustees that he “purposes experiment with cotton,” from the West Indies, “where it grows perennial.”

Soon to be released, a new movie, “Savannah” (filmed in downtown and the Savannah River countryside in 2010) portrays the friendship between Christmas Moultrie, the last African slave born on Mulberry Grove, and the bigger-than-life river hunter named Ward Allen. The river hunters sold ducks, geese and wild turkeys in Savannah City Market (formerly located in today’s Ellis Square).

1794 FIRST Golf Course in America built at Savannah, GA.  It is today’s Savannah Golf Club, still in private (membership only) operation.

1799 FIRST steamship to cross the Atlantic, “S. S. Savannah” was built in Savannah, GA.  Visit the Ships of the Sea Museum, located in the William Scarborough mansion on Martin Luther King Boulevard. It was Scarborough who headed the company which built the S.S. Savannah.

1819 FIRST Steamship to Cross an Ocean. (SS Savannah crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Savannah to England.  The United States celebrates National Maritime Day May 22 each year. The American steamship Savannah set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. May 22, 1819.  The holiday was created by the United States Congress on May 20, 1933.

1832 Georgia Infirmary: FIRST hospital in the United States for African-Americans, the FIRST training center in the nation for African-American nurses, and the FIRST Medicare-certified comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility. It was Chartered on Christmas Eve — December 24, 1832, and established under the authority of the General Assembly. Thomas F. Williams left $1,000 in his will for this hospital, rebuilt in part at 1900 Abercorn Street.

1834 FIRST Iron Sea Vessel, “John Randolph“, was built in Savannah.

1862 FIRST use of Rifled Cannon in modern warfare during the American Civil War at Fort Pulaski

1886 FIRST Building in the United States built over a public street See Cotton Exchange on Bay Street at Drayton Street.

1886 FIRST art museum in the South — Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences on Telfair Square.

circa 1900 FIRST Public Health Agency established in Savannah, GA

1911 FIRST Motorized Fire Department in the United States.

1912 FIRST Girl Scouts of America founded in Savannah, GA (March 12) by Juliette Gordon Low.  In 2012 Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary. Visit the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace on the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe streets.

1912 FIRST registered Girl Guide in the United States, Registered March 12, 1912, MARGARET DAISY GORDON (Niece of Juliette Low) in Savannah, GA. (The name “Girl Guides” was changed to “Girl Scouts” in 1913.)

1993 FIRST City to introduce a Computerized Reservation System available to 290,000 travel agency computer terminals throughout the World.

Note: “Leaders who dreams great dreams” is a quote from “History of the University of Georgia by Thomas Walter Reed” History of the University of Georgia by Thomas Walter Reed

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