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Savannah History: A Tour of the City Isaiah Knew

Originally uploaded by Dizzy Girl

Early Bird Walking Tour: The City Isaiah Knew: Discovering 1820’s Savannah

Jamie Credle, Director of the Isaiah Davenport House Museum, has created an intriguing walk through eight Savannah squares weaving a tale of a city that rose from the ashes of a devastating 1820 fire. She spent over three months researching the fire that destroyed over 460 buildings hoping to identify buildings that survived the disaster and may still be standing today. What she found is the basis for a 100-minute tour departing the Davenport House every Saturday morning in May commencing at 7:30 a.m. and ending with coffee in the house’s garden. The walk will meander past some 44 structures that date back to Isaiah Davenport’s time and will include several Davenport-built structures.

Savannah history states that Isaiah Davenport was a builder by trade and used the Federal-style home he built on Columbia Square to advertise his trade. Isaiah died in the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1827, shortly before the birth of his tenth child, Dudley. In 1849, Davenport’s widow, Sarah, sold the house to the Baynard family of Hilton Head Island, who retained possession until 1950. The house itself was cut up into 8 to 10 single rooms to house low-income families, one family per room, in the 1920’s and was eventually purchased in 1955 by the owners of the Goette Funeral Home to be turned into a parking lot.

Outraged at the demolition of the 1870 Italianate City Market and now the slated demolition of the 1821 Federal-style Davenport House, seven Savannah women organized the Historic Savannah Foundation and hours before its scheduled demise purchased the Davenport House for $22,500. At the time, no local zoning laws existed to protect historic structures, thus the foundation developed a comprehensive strategy to promote preservation through private-sector involvement. The Davenport House, the organization’s first headquarters, now holds a house museum and gift shop.

The Davenport House gained inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and in 2005 then-President George W. Bush presented the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Davenport House with the prestigious “Preserve American Presidental Award for Private Restoration.”

To make a reservation call 912-236-8097 or go to www.davenporthousemuseum.org

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