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In Historic Savannah the Odds-on 17 Swirls Around the Miles and Legends

SAVANNAH Georgia (December 9, 2012) – Seventeen miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean is America’s most beautiful city — historic Savannah. Georgia.  That least random number – 17 – has popped up often lately, according to Diane McCray, the aunt-like innkeeper at Green Palm Inn in Savannah.

Civil War Savannah Green Meldrim House

Inside Green Meldrim House where Union General Sherman stayed in Savannah

A magnificent Savannah Christmas tree is a show stopper on Chippewa Square — 17 West McDonough Street — at The Barrow House. It is also known with hyphenated old-Savannah family names — the historic Eastman-Hull-Stoddard-Barrow House, Philbrick-Eastman House, and Eastman-Hull-Stoddard-Barrow House. Salvaged from another mansion, the medallion fence features the busts of U.S. ‘Presidents’ and Poets’. More of the iron fence is on Bay Street in front of the Cotton Exchange.

In a Seventeen magazine blog, a former Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) student posted Style Council: Local Trends in Savannah, GA. In her recommendations, the youthful academic highlights fashion, personal style, “palm trees & the beach, while at the same time the comfort of living in such an eclectic southern town.”  Of course, Green Palm Inn loved the palm tree mention!

We add to her spot-on list of comforts the living museum that is Savannah. Out in the wide open spaces you’ll see and experience where and how the past and present live so comfortably together for every day, extraordinary enjoyment today.

In our #17 rundown we could easily start with the mammoth St. Patrick’s Day Irish celebration that happens on March 17th each year.

Inescapably, however, the Christmas holidays are upon us.  Dates like December 17, 1864, haunt the natives. It was on that day that Union General William T. Sherman wrote to Confederate General William J. Hardee, demanding “the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts”.   During the American Civil War, Union forces blocked every avenue to the city. Sherman threatened alternatives — starvation of Savannah’s citizens, bombarding and burning the city. Famously, upon its surrender, the City became a Christmas gift to President Abraham Lincoln on December 23, 1864.  Certainly, during the Civil War Sesquicentennial (2011 – 2015) Savannah’s prominence in the pivotal March to the Sea and more southern stories, lore, and places will captivate visitors.

This year December 17th [2012] is a Monday, not too late to make plans to be in Savannah.  Just as we are completing our #17 rundown – ending up with about 17 recommendations, to our own surprise — an email notice arrives.  “It announces last minute jewelry purchases for Christmas,” Diane adds.  “December 17 appears to be a big FREE SHIPPING DAY for online jewelry orders.  ‘As for me and my house …’, however, we hope locals and travelers will shop in the little shops and do something unique – like stay at our small Savannah bed and breakfast inn.”

You guessed it! But by now our interest is peaked to discover additional wonderment tuck around the edges of #17!

If your time permits, a few places and stories follow.  Some you may otherwise miss during your Savannah visit.

–          November 17, 1732. James Oglethorpe and the 114 colonists on the frigate Anne set sail from Gravesend down the Thames River into the Straits of Dover, then southward into the English Channel, and then westward along the southern coast of England before embarking into the Atlantic Ocean.  Settlers were being sent at Trustees’ expense on their way to build the first settlement in the new colony of Georgia.  The Oglethorpe Memorial Bench on Bay Street strand near City Hall marks the place where the new English settlers arrived on the Savannah bluff.  Interestingly, the Savannah Morning News story, Bench that Colonial Dames are to Erect, was published September 17, 1905.

–          1733 is the year that Georgia, originally a British colonial colony in North America, was founded.

–          “Highway 17” or “Route 17” is part of the old King’s Highway between Savannah and Darien.  Much of the highway, plus a side trip to Tybee Island, is the Colonial Coast Birding Trail through Georgia.

–          “King Cotton”, at first a small-scale crop in the South, boomed following Eli Whitney‘s invention in 1793 of the cotton gin, a machine that separated raw cotton from seeds and other waste.  Only in Savannah and London could cotton prices be quoted. By 1850 “the South provided three-fifths of America’s exports — most of it in cotton …. If [Whitney’s] genius led King Cotton to triumph in the South, it also created the technology [manufactured muskets] with which the North won the Civil War.” Source: Archives.gov

–          December 17, 1799. One of Savannah’s “Liberty Boys”, Major James Habersham died. On that day President George Washington laid in state at Mount Vernon.  Major Habersham’s ghost frequents the Planter’s Tavern [“the place to be”] in the Olde Pink House as well as other rooms in the pink stucco mansion.

–          September 17, 1807. Former Georgia governor Edward Telfair died in Savannah. Born in Scotland c. 1735, Telfair came to Georgia in 1766. Almost immediately he became a successful businessman in partnership with his brother. After 1793 he retired from public life. He left a large fortune upon his death in 1807, which his descendant Mary Telfair used to establish the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences.

–          Robert E. Lee spent 17 months in Savannah beginning in 1829, his first engineering assignment after graduating from West Point. He designed the dyke system at Fort Pulaski (now Fort Pulaski National Monument in the National Park Service). The fort is located on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island and is open to visitors.

–          March 17, 1866. Governor Charles Jenkins signed legislation declaring “persons of color” to be defined as “all negroes, mulattoes, mestizoes, and their descendants, having one-eight negro, or African blood, in their veins.” The act also authorized persons of color in Georgia the same rights as whites with respect to contracts, suits, inheritance, property, and punishments for violation of the law.

–          June 17, 1898. The U.S. Post Office Department issued a stamp commemorating the legendary ‘pathfinder’ John C. Fremont, who was born in Savannah and was the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate in 1856.

–          December 17, 1898.  President McKinley visited Savannah as part of the nation’s Spanish-American War victory celebration

–          The year 1932 saw Savannah native and lyricist Johnny Mercer publish 17 songs with eleven different composers.  A bronze statue of Johnny Mercer is located in Ellis Square in0 downtown Savannah, Georgia.  Engraved with song titles, Mr. Mercer’s grave in Bonaventure Cemetery is a popular and photogenic place to visit.

–          A 17-gun salute is a tribute to U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps Generals, and Navy and Coast Guard Admirals.  Monuments and statues are found along the Bull Street corridor, ending at the Spanish American solider statue and American Legion Post on the north end of Forsyth Park. The Vietnam Memorial is located on the Bay Street strand. The World War II monument is on the Savannah riverfront, near the Hyatt and Bohemian hotels.

–          January 17, 1927.  Georgian Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America, died in Savannah.  Decked out in antiques and holiday finery for personal and group tours, her birthplace home is on the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe streets.  Mrs. Low is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, just off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Gwinnett Street.

–          November 17, 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in Georgia for his twenty-seventh visit to his “second home”. On this visit he gave a speech in Savannah celebrating Georgia’s bicentennial, before moving on to Warn Springs for his annual Thanksgiving vacation.

–          At the age of 17 Carson McCullers had a brush with Savannah. The novelist, short story writer, and playwright is considered among the most significant American writers of the twentieth-century.

–          August 17, 1973.  Famed Georgia poet Conrad Aiken died in Savannah. His birthplace home is now the oft photographed Magnolia Hall on Whitaker Street overlooking Forsyth Park. It is now a private guest house owned by Savannah College of Art and Design.  Look for the historical plaque in the median near his townhome(s) – 228 and 230 on Oglethorpe Avenue (near Abercorn Street, across from Colonial Cemetery).  Named Georgia’s Poet Laureate in 1973, Aiken will always be remembered in his native state as the first Georgia-born author to win a Pulitzer Prize — in 1930, for his Selected Poems. Mr. Aiken is buried in Bonaventure Cemetery.

–          Weyerbacher Seventeen is Saison Ale brewed with pink peppercorns, orange zest, lemon zest, and grapefruit zest. It’s available at World Class Beer on Broughton Street in downtown Savannah.

We hope to see you in Savannah GA, soon and often – if not on the 17th, make it any date you can get here.  Merry Christmas!

Diane McCray, Innkeeper & Foodie
Green Palm Inn, a 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 |
Pinterest | YouTube Travel Video: The Softer Side of Savannah
Copyright (c) 2012 Sandy Traub/Green Palm Inn.

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