Which of the following statements about Massie Heritage Center is true?
A) Famed architect John Norris designed it.
B) It was built with Savannah grey brick but coated in plaster for dramatic effect.
C) It was one of the city’s first schools and is part of the Chatham County Public School System.
D) It’s now a museum that interprets Savannah history for schoolchildren and the general public.
How did you do?
Hopefully better than I did — all of the above are correct! Curator Steve Smith chuckles. “Massie Center is a bit of a hidden gem. A lot of people don’t realize what it actually contains.” For one, a gorgeous, fully restored interior appointed with a model of the city plan, life-sized statues of famous figures, and an authentic 19th Century classroom, where groups of schoolchildren are transported to another time. “A lesson is taught in full-on period-correct clothing, and students learn how to properly address the teacher, maintain good posture and work using a quill pen!” Steven enthuses. “The kids absolutely love it.”
Other interactive programs and exhibits delve into Colonial America,
Oglethorpe and Tomochichi, the American Indians of the Southeast, Civil War Medicine, Savannah’s Famous Teachers, its City Plan, Architectural Styles and Historic Preservation. Massie Heritage Center also conducts walking tours that make use of the array of cultural resources peppered throughout the city. During Black History Month in February, the 2-hour “Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs” tour covers segregation and integration, the role of the churches in the civil rights movement and the legacy of Savannah’s own Westley Wallace Law. It ends at Green Square on the steps of the Historic 2nd African Baptist Church, where General Sherman read the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864. Other walkabouts include the “Famous Women of Savannah” during Women’s History Month in March and the “Irish History of Savannah.”
“What we’re doing is really about stimulating curiosity, and there is so much to learn here,” Smith says. “If Savannah is new to you, this is the perfect place to orient yourself to its layout, history and architecture. If you live here, you can really dig into the people and the forces that helped shape this city.” Massie Heritage Center is open to the public 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays from 12-4:00 p.m. Start your Savannah adventure here!
by Dani Ray
Massie Heritage Center
207 E. Gordon