February 21, 2020

#206 Savannah’s Historic District

“An urban masterpiece, Savannah is America’s best walking city, with its largest historical district: 2 ½ square miles holding more than 1,000 lovely restored colonial homes and commercial buildings, all punctuated by 21 of the city’s original 24 green-leafed 1-acre squares.”

I agree that the Historic District is super walk-able and I really wish that I could’ve walked it. Unfortunately, I suffered a grievous injury minutes before boarding the hop-on/hop-off trolley that rendered me unable to walk - basically at all. 

Savannah was America’s first planned city, laid out in a grid in 1733 by James Oglethorpe. It was spared General Sherman’s “march to the sea” in 1864.  Sherman offered the city of Savannah as a “Christmas gift” to Abraham Lincoln and when Lincoln accepted the gift the city was spared.

When Oglethorpe established Savannah he also established some rules for the new city.  They're referred to as the Four Prohibitions: 

1. No Catholics - Oglethorpe felt like a war with Spain (over Florida) was imminent and that since Spain was primarily Catholic settlers loyal to the church wouldn't be loyal to Georgia.

2. No Liquor - hard liquor and spirits were banned, but beer, wine, and ales were allowed.

3. No Slavery - that's right, long before the Civil War, Savannah outlawed slavery. It was extremely unpopular and after Oglethorpe left Savannah to go back to England this prohibition was overturned.

4. No Lawyers - Oglethorpe felt that men ought to be able to stand up and speak for themselves, and if they lacked the capacity they ought to have friends that could and would.  He'd had a friend who died in debtors prison, and he blamed the lawyers for his death.

The Telfair hospital was built through a donation from Mary Telfair, fondly referred to as "Our Lady of Stipulations".  She was very rich and very generous with her money, but that generosity always came with stipulations. This was a women's hospital, and her stipulations were that the Telfair name had to appear prominently on the building, that it had to be staffed and run by women (all women medical staff, admin staff, and women board of directors).  The only time a man was allowed in the hospital was if he was born there, and yes, Ms. Telfair stipulated that he had exactly 72 hours to get out.