Strolling Through a Romance Novel Set in the Old South
An urban masterpiece, Savannah is America’s best walking city, with its largest historical district: 2 ½ square miles holding more than 1,000 lovingly restored colonial homes and commercial buildings, all punctuated by 21 of the city’s original 24 green-leafed 1-acre squares.
America’s first planned city, Savannah was laid out in 1733 on a perfect grid by its founder, British general James Oglethorpe, in the name of King George II. “White gold” (King Cotton) subsequently filled the port city’s coffers with real gold, and handsome mansions prospered, those that survived the centuries eventually coming under the protection of the Historic Savannah Foundation, born in 1955 (visit their stately 1820 Davenport House, 321 E. York Street). In 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman ended his “march to the sea” here, sparing the city at Lincoln’s behest – and then offering it to the president as a Christmas gift.
To fully appreciate Savannah’s seductive charms today, stay in one of the dozens of inns or bed-and-breakfasts that have been opened in some of the city’s most impressive historic homes. Competition is stiff, but most agree that the genteel Gastonian is a front-runner.
Encompassing two Italianate town houses and a carriage house dating from the 1860s, it has been painstakingly and magnificently restored using authentic Savannah colors and Scalamandre wallpaper of original patterns. Guest rooms have working fireplaces, most with four-poster canopied beds (with pralines left on your pillow) and lavish baths.
It’s a challenge to walk off the Gastonian’s legendary Southern breakfast, which includes melon soup, home- baked cherry muffins, and scrambled eggs.