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4 Unmissables in Savannah, Spring 2014, According to Green Palm Inn B&B

SAVANNAH Georgia — Tourists who visit Savannah are amazed at this historic city’s wonderfully modern cafe society, how easy it is to sportively take happy chances for last minute trips, how contentedly kick back this genteel city of live music is, and how easy it is to convivially explore on short or long urban walks. 

Savannah is known as the southern USA city of legendary beauty and friendly people. Popular as one of the local friendlies, Green Palm Inn, a top-rated bed and breakfast cottage, recommends four unmissables in Spring 2014 — unique places you may have missed before.

We hope you’ll joyfully welcome these Savannah tips and local insights as much as we enjoy sharing them.

KUMBYAH | REBEL JAIL PEN | FOREST CITY | AFFLUENT OLD SOUTH

KUMBYAH (Come By Here). Long regarded as a city of music even from its colonial era British settlement of 1733, the Savannah Music Festival is an annual celebration of world music each spring (March 20 – April 5, 2014).

We think Savannah is the perfect city for a gumbo of world culture and music.

The name and chorus of the Christian hymnKumbaya” is said to be Gullah for come by here. Source: Library of Congress, Folk Life.

The Soweto Choir isn’t playing at the Savannah Musical Festival, but when you listen to the Soweto Gospel Choir sing the tune here, we think you’ll get a fresh appreciation of the appeal to “come by here”.  African heritage is celebrated in Savannah. A stop at the Pin Point Heritage Museum, converted from the A. S. Varn oyster and crab factory, is a tribute to Gullah/Geechee enclave founded by first-generation freedmen following the Civil War.  It was a summer playground of little Johnny Mercer, influencing his love of the river, The South, and quiet philanthropy to African generations in and around Savannah, Georgia.

For the Savannah Music Festival, in his Director’s Choice, Rob Gibson recommends “African Interplay”:

March 25 – African Interplay: Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal/Lionel Loueke Ensemble.  People often associate African music with drumming, but this special production is for people who love chamber music and soulful and melodic playing. The first half features a mesmerizing duet by the phenomenal French cellist Vincent Segal (best known for his work with Sting) and Malian kora (21-string harp lute) master Ballaké Sissoko performing gorgeous music unlike any you’ve ever heard.  The 2nd half premieres a new ensemble led by guitarist Lionel Loueke (best known for his work with Herbie Hancock) featuring new arrangements for guitar, winds, reeds and percussion created just for this occasion by Grammy-winning producer Robert Sadin. Truly a one-time only event. Watch Sissoko & Segal perform on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series.”

Civil War Jail Pen in Savannah | Robert Knox Sneden / Virginia Historic Society

Robert Knox Sneden illustration of Rebel Jail Pen (October 1864) in Savannah, Georgia, which was torn down before Sherman arrived in December. Licensed by Green Palm Inn from Virginia Historical Society.

REBEL JAIL PEN.  Famously Savannah was spared the destruction which Atlanta suffered during the Civil War (1861-1865). In the years of the Civil War Sesquicentennial– 2011 – 2015, little has been said in tourism circles about Savannah and the Civil War — called “recent unpleasantries” by some staunch southerners long ago (and by some, still today!).  At Green Palm Inn we celebrate the city’s survival, the southern stories, the art, the people, and the places.  Amid the good and bad, it’s part of this city’s rich heritage.

The Civil War-era illustrations of Robert Knox Sneden came to our attention, including the illustration of the “Rebel Jail Pen” (above) on the “South Commons” (now Forsyth Park). Amid the central park’s beauty, it’s hard to imagine 5000 Union soldiers lived in tents in that area now. In the print you’ll see the historic fort, in recent year refurbished with an entertainment stage and also hosting the Fragrant Garden for the Blind and the Forsyth Fort Cafe.

Eye Of The Storm: A Civil War Odyssey by Robert Knox Sneden is available through Amazon.com

SAVANNAH, “FORREST CITY” / P. D. DAFFIN.  In reading the blog “To the manner born“, we spotted a photo of Savannah’s chairman (ca. 1898) of the Park and Tree Commission — P. D. Daffin, a prominent cotton merchant.  We followed a link to his biography (Philip Dickinson Daffin, “Lover of Trees”).

“He was a great lover of trees and through his works and deeds Savannah was given the name “Forest City….” — Source: Robert P. Bennett (1982, Armstrong.edu Lane Library manuscript)

Amid the city’s beauty sometime we forget the pioneers of the early years. One of P.D. Daffin’s first achievements as chair of the city’s Park and Tree Commission was the improvement of Colonial Park (the Colonial Cemetery, located on Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Avenue). “A state of wildness and desolution existed there,” we read. “The next major project was the building of the mall on Oglethorpe Avenue. The live oaks which extend from East Broad to West Broad [now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard] streets today are part of that project.” Years earlier Pride of India Chinaberry trees had lined the mall. Green grass in Emmet Park, Bay Street, city squares, and palmetto trees on the Coastal Highway (U.S. Highway 17) and along Victory Drive were projects under Daffin’s “steady leadership”.

Today City of Savannah’s Park and Tree department keeps Savannah’s forest beautiful.  Did you know that Forsyth Park is an arboretum?  We hope you visit also Daffin Park, located along Victory Drive at Waters Avenue. It is named in tribute to P.D. Daffin, “Lover of Trees”.

AFFLUENT OLD SOUTH. Trails.com points to “High Cotton, High Times, High Tea: The Affluent Old South“. We add that there is no better time to appreciate the affluent Old South than during during springtime’s Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens (March 27 – 30, 2014).

“Savannah’s opulence can be attributed to wealthy cotton merchants who ventured to this city seeking fortune and, as a result, displayed their affluence in the form of fine homes. Their desires brought some of the world’s most masterful architects to the riverside city during the nineteenth century, and the efforts of late twentieth-century preservationists have now created from these masterpieces one of the most intriguing historical districts in the country. Grab your love by the hand and take off for a chance to touch the lavish furnishings in these treasured mansions, break for the elegant English tradition of “high tea,” and dine where cotton once was king.”  Source: Trails.com

Call or contact us early for reservations. It’s the busiest time of year in Savannah. “Kumbaya”, come by here … and stay at Green Palm Inn — greenpalminn@aol.com.

Copyright © Green Palm Inn / Sandy Traub

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