To stroll Savannah is to encounter the past at every turn.
Less obvious to the casual observer, though, is the extensive network of professionals working to unearth and interpret the city’s history. One such network is Coastal Heritage Society (CHS). Since its founding in 1975, CHS has grown to include teams of archaeologists, curators caring for tens of thousands of artifacts, preservationists restoring more than a dozen structures and, of course, those who artfully spin the stories that bring history to life.
CHS curates a total of six museums in Savannah. One of its most unique sites is a refurbished crab and oyster factory overlooking Savannah’s tranquil Moon River. “The Pin Point Heritage Museum is one of the last Gullah-Geechee communities to avoid destruction by development,” says Sandra Baxter, CEO of CHS. Settled in 1896 by freedmen, the community sat in quiet isolation for the next one hundred years, holding tight to vivid language, religious and culinary traditions. “It’s an incredible opportunity to learn about Gullah-Geechee culture and history directly from individuals who still live there within the community,” Baxter adds.
Under the vast CHS umbrella is the Georgia State Railroad Museum.
Enjoy a site tour by train (Fridays and Saturdays); Savannah History Museum, featuring the “Loyalists and Liberty” tour, an immersive experience on its nearby Revolutionary War battlefield (Thursday – Saturday); Old Fort Jackson, with daily cannon firings, educators in period dress and some of the city’s best river views; and Harper Fowlkes House, an 1840s Greek Revival that presents one of Savannah’s most imposing facades.
Perhaps the most unexpected of the CHS offerings is Savannah Children’s Museum (SCM). It’s unlike anything else you will find in the Lowcountry. A sprawling, outdoor, two-tiered fun zone, SCM is an activity space for learning through open-ended play. There’s a sensory garden, a dress-up closet, a maze, music and block-building sections and even a giant Connect 4 game. “Each station is intended to develop gross motor skills in our youngest visitors and foster imaginative, dynamic play for older kids,” says Baxter.
Beyond the permanent “exhibits,” SCM also offers daily programs for creative learning in art, science and more. And if it gets too hot, too cold or too wet, there is a temperature-controlled caboose on-site. It houses an elaborate train set, a cozy reading nook, toy bins and sometimes a turtle! Located downtown in Tricentennial Park, SCM is ideal for kids aged two to eight.
If you’re wondering how to decide among these offerings, fear not!
The CHS “See 3” ticket affords entrance to any three museums of your choosing. Find out more about some of Savannah’s most fascinating experiences at www.chsgeorgia.org.
by Dani Ray