No visit to Savannah is complete without a visit to the Savannah Historic District. The largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, situated in one of the world’s loveliest cities, is a destination in itself, featuring beautifully manicured gardens, quaint cobblestone streets, and Spanish moss clinging to magnificent oaks in district parks.
The city square is the highlight of any historic district. As with every aspect of its beauty and charm, Savannah outdoes itself in the square department. Boasting 22 park-like city squares, Savannah offers many places to relax and enjoy the beauty of the city and the historic district. Savannah has gained new squares over the years, with the first four being part of the original city and new squares added in the 1790s and the 19th century. Visitors to Savannah will enjoy the rich history and beauty of the city squares.
Churches in the Savannah historic district offer visitors opportunity to enjoy historic architecture, including some of the most important churches in the country, both historically and architecturally. Churches in the historic district include Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, First Baptist Church, Christ Church, Saint Philip AME Church, the Masonic Temple, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Wesley Monumental Church and several more. One must-see church is the First Bryan Baptist Church, the longest-operating African American church in the United States.
The historic district is home to several museums showcasing the history of Savannah. The Jepson Center for the Arts is a surprisingly modern edifice in the middle of historic Savannah. The center’s permanent exhibits include photography, Southern art and African-American art, as well as a sculpture gallery and kid-friendly exhibits. The Owens-Thomas House and Museum resides in the first Regency mansion built by British architect William Jay in Savannah. The carriage house features slave quarters with the original furniture and “haint-blue” paint, made by the slaves who occupied the quarters. Also worth noting is that the Owens-Thomas house had indoor plumbing and toilets before either the Palace of Versailles or the White House. The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is just one more of the several museums worth visiting in the Savannah Historic District. 15 exhibits tell the story of segregation, beginning with emancipation, straight through the Civil Rights Movement. The permanent exhibits include archival photographs detailing desegregation in Savannah.
The Savannah Historic District is filled with beautiful natural scenery, architecture and history. This is not only a place to spend some time while visiting Savannah, but worth the trip all on its own.