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God’s Day: Savannah’s Sabbath-like Appearance

SAVANNAH Georgia — Today in Savannah the “Sabbath-like appearance” is one of lush greenery, paved streets and clean walkways rather than the dirt streets, squares and walkways in 1886. This is in summer, spring, fall and winter.

Sunday, December 25, 2016, is Christmas.
Easter Sunday falls on April 16, 2017.

Today the bulk of international shipping in the Port of Savannah passes along the mighty Savannah River, arriving by way of Interstate highways — I95 and I16 — rather than through downtown Savannah streets in the historic district.  However, during the late 19th Century summer was the season of naval stores, reports The Industries of Savannah in 1886.

In the birdeye photo of Savannah today (above), we see a sampling of the vast number of steeples — courthouse, churches and synagogue. These few steeples give us a hint of the compromising, competitive price Savannahians paid to be the only seaport in America to receive and ship naval stores — lumber, rosin, and turpentine (related to ship building/repair) and railroad ties — beginning in 1880.

In 1886 … “The streets of Savannah have no longer a Sabbath-like appearance during the summer months, but are lively with numerous teams….” — The Industries of Savannah in 1886.

The name “Factors Walk” on the riverfront in Savannah, Georgia, commemorates an area on the Savannah River harbor where thousands of barrels of [naval store] produce were collected for transshipment. Between 1880 and 1920, Savannah was the [first American port and remained the] largest port for naval stores products and continued to set the world price of naval stores until 1950. — Source: Wikipedia


Many years ago, a local group (unknown to our inn now) provided historical background for a self-paced Tour of Historic Houses of Worship. Armstrong-Atlantic State University hosts that information online.

Second African Baptist Church is on Greene Square  in the historic district, the city square near Green Palm Inn.

The posted tour (link above) is not all conclusive. When we give the tour guide information more than a casual glance, we see that several prominent historic churches downtown are not listed, among them Christ Church on Johnson Square, St. John’s Episcopal Church on Madison Square, and Wesley Monumental Church on Calhoun Square.

In the now world famous City Plan of Savannah, Trust Lots were reserved for churches, the courthouse on Wright Square, and later a jail on Oglethorpe Square. The sites of the Public Oven and House for Strangers were on Johnson Square.


Whether on a Sabbath in Savannah or any day during your stroll along northbound and southbound streets — Bull Street, Abercorn Street, Habersham Street, Barnard Street — look for the many historic Savannah houses of worship.  When walking the steeples point the way. They are most often situated on the east and west Trust Lots, anticipated in the City Plan of Savannah 1734.

Today the walkways and streets are paved and clean. The squares are manicured beautifully.

When church bells toll, we invite you to momentarily imagine the years of the Savannah Naval Stores to envision teams of horses trotting through dirt streets. Boats maneuvering through the Ogeechee Canal and coastal waterways. Rail trains steamed the same rails that The River Street Streetcar runs along today. The destination? The wharfs along Savannah’s River Street, today’s bustling River Street storefronts.

What a transformation! Green Palm Inn appreciates the “Sabbath-like appearance” that we see in Savannah now, everyday. We thank the City of Savannah for keeping our beloved city a showplace.

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