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“Henry Historical” Meets Storytelling Made in Savannah!

SAVANNAH Georgia —  Have you read the American Way Magazine feature interview with Greg Kinnear about his Savannah visit? 

Sago palms landscaping at Henry Ford pool near Savannah (ca. 1937)

Sago palms in landscaping at Henry Ford mansion's pool (ca. 1937), Ford Plantation near Savannah GA

In the question and answer format, Mr. Kinnear stated, “Not to get ‘Henry historical’ here ….” Yet, his conversational replies  about Savannah, Georgia, indicate that he knew a great deal about coastal Georgia’s rich, engaging history.

Kinnear’s unusual phrase, “Henry Historical” captured our fascination.  So, on a Savannah rainy day afternoon we started researching to see how prominent “Henry” is here.  What we found was an amazing treasure trove of “Henry” fun facts.  One of the little snippets brings us full circle to our own Greene Square.

We are no “Henry Historical” either, but we do enjoy the fresh introductions to southern stories and back stories!  Thank you, Greg Kinnear for inspiring our curiosity!

Whimsically, our “Henry” exercise brought memories of  zany afternoons in the sixties singing “The Name Game”, or “The Banana Song”, a children’s singalong rhyming game (released in 1964).  Don’t worry, we won’t even try that song with “Henry”!

Gravure's Artwork Photographer unknown, 1902 'SCENE ON HENRY STREET, E.'

Savannah's Victorian District, Henry Street (ca. 1902)

1947 Henry Street is Jenny’s address in Savannah in the movie, Forrest Gump.  **Before you go looking for the house, it’s a fictional address. A fun Forrest Gump quiz is online at rottentomoatoes.com, the source of this tidbit.

– Ellis Square is the namesake of Sir Henry Ellis, Georgia’s second royal governor during the British colonial rule.  Johnny Mercer’s statue is located in Ellis Square.  Mercer’s lyrics “Save the Bones for Henry Jones” and his movie score collaborations with Henry Mancini cannot go unmentioned. Think “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses”.

Henry Ford Home in Richmond Hill former Ways Station

Henry Ford mansion on Ogeechee River

–  Henry Cunningham (1759-1842) was a free man of color who engaged in the trade of coopering [barrel making]. He served as pastor of Second African Baptist on Greene Square for 40 years (1802-1842).  First named “Second Colored Church”, the original one-story church was built in an affluent white neighborhood.  It was at this church that General Sherman made his famous promise of “40 acres and a mule” declaration during the American Civil War.  Henry’s wife, Elizabeth “Betsy”, a mulatto, was a successful seamstress.

The Henry Cunningham House is at 117-119 Houston St., our neighbor on Greene Square.  It is one of several little-known Savannah dwellings that remind us of African-American life in the 19th century in Savannah, Georgia USA.  Source: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Lane Library | Interesting note: As of March 22, 1833 there were “ten thousand negro Baptists”.  Source: Documenting the American South.

Palms decor in mansion of Henry and Clara Ford on Ford Neck Road in Richmond Hill GA

Palms decor in mansion (ca. 1937) of Henry and Clara Ford

– A Gothic storefront built for Henry Ford as the Ford automobile showroom in Savannah is today’s 307 Bull Street, near Liberty Street and Madison Square.  The Christmas Shop and Saints and Shamrocks are housed there now.

– A pivotal figure in baseball history also has a crucial association with Savannah.  Baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson played ball predominantly at Bolton Street Park off what’s now Henry Street. Long before gaining notoriety for his role on the infamous Chicago “Black Sox” that threw the 1919 World Series, Shoeless Joe Jackson was a stalwart on the South Atlantic or “Sally” League circuit. Playing for the Savannah Indians in 1909, Jackson hit .358, a Sally League performance bested only twice that century. [Source: Moon.Com ]  Joe reportedly lived in the apartment building near Oglethorpe Square, Abercorn Street near York Street.

– Savannah’s diverse architecture is showcased in Henry Street School (ca. 1891, now Eckburg Hall on Henry Street at Whitaker Street).

Henry Street School | Library of Congress photo archive

SCAD's Eckberg Hall formerly Henry Hall and Henry Street School

Today the Queen Anne revival styled building is classroom space owned by Savannah College of Art and Design. In 1910, additions for each end of the building were designed by Hyman W. Witcover. Witcover was architect for Savannah’s City Hall and other buildings, including the Masonic Temple (ca. 1912) which is now SCAD’s Gryphon cafe on Madison Square.

– Established in 1903, the Savannah Public Library consisted of a 23,000 volume collection housed in one room of the Georgia Historical Society. Ten years later the Carnegie Library opened on East Henry Street to serve Savannah’s black community during the era of segregation. The library was built at a cost of $104,041.78 with a Carnegie grant. Its neoclassical design was provided by architect H. W. Witcover, who also designed Savannah’s City Hall.

Henry Solomons (1826-1904; Solomons Brothers) This grocer and real estate business man in Savannah and Tybee Island was successful in politics and as a local steamer agent. He is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery (Lot 1706).  At the time of his death, his residence was 219 Jones Street (no mention of “east” or “west”).  [Source: Armstrong-Atlantic State University, Lane Library]

Interestingly, one gourmet product carried at Solomons Brothers in the 1800s (OTC® (Original Trenton Crackers) Wine Crackers, today a product of Panorama Foods) is still served in the tasting rooms of over 150 wineries and at Green Palm Inn.

Johnson Square, Flag of Independence by artist Henry Cleenewerck

– The first flag of independence raised in the South, by the citizens of Savannah, Ga. November 8th, 1860 was drawn by Henry Cleenewerck, Savannah, Ga. ; lithographed by R.H. Howell, Savannah, Ga.

Henry Constantine Wayne (born in Savannah and buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery; September 18, 1810 – March 15, 1883) –  Henry Wayne was the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Moore Wayne (1790-1867) — the owner of Wayne House (now Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Mayor of Savannah and as host, entertained US President Monroe (1819) at Wayne House).  Judge Wayne was a staunch Unionist from Savannah, Georgia. “Later, Henry Wayne (the son) served as a major general in the Confederate army and helped defend Savannah against Sherman’s advance in December 1864. With father against son in the mighty struggle that was to come, the Civil War for the Wayne family was personal.” [Source:  Dissertation] Henry is known for commanding the expedition to test the U.S. Camel Corps [camels imported from Asia and Africa] as part of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis’ plan to use camels as a transport in the West.  Ultimately, however, the camels failed.  Their soft-padded feet were unsuitable for travel over much of the rocky southwestern terrain. They frightened horses and they were detested by their handlers, who were accustomed to more docile mules. The camels fell into Confederate hands at the beginning of the Civil War, then back to the Union Army in 1865.  Most were sold at auction in 1866. A few escaped into the west Texas desert and are known to have survived until late in the nineteenth century.

Stay tuned! Katie may be next.

“Katie, Katie, bo-batie,
Banana-fana fo-fatie
Katie!” — The Name Game, lyrics

Savannah this way! TM — We would love for you to come for a fun-loving visit, of course with a stay at Green Palm Inn.

Diane McCray, Innkeeper & Foodie
Green Palm Inn
Cozy and historic bed and breakfast

548 East President Street, Savannah, GA USA 31401
Telephone 912-447-8901 / Toll Free USA & Canada 888-606-9510 greenpalminn.com | Twitter @GreenPalmInn | Facebook
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Copyright (c) 2012 Sandy Traub/Green Palm Inn.

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