Savannah Founder, James Oglethorpe - An Original Southern Gentleman

General James Oglethorpe was 37 years old when he first laid eyes on what was then referred to as “Open Grassy Plain, King George II” in the Winter of 1733.

Not even knowing exactly where he was going to put this utopia-like debtors and poor person's colony, Oglethorpe embarked on a mission to aid those under stress.

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A Man Named Forrest and a Box of Chocolates

If you were standing on the corner of Bull and Hull Streets in the early 90’s, you’d see a forgotten quiet city nestled among Live Oaks and Spanish Moss. Locals would quietly leave their offices at the closing bell and retreat to their homes outside of Savannah’s historic district. Because inside, Savannah lacked restaurants, hotels, and was overshadowed by empty buildings. Still beautiful by nature, the Hostess City didn’t have anyone to host. 

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Southern by Birth. Savannah Gentleman by the Grace of God.

Thankfully, he’s a Savannah boy. Blessed by the genteel grace of the South, kissed by the Georgia Sun, and loved fiercely by his Southern Belle of a mother. To be a Southern Gentleman is not God-given. It’s earned through lessons of “yes ma’am”, opening doors, and looking into people’s eyes with genuine care. It’s leading by faith, and not fighting with words, but proving through actions.

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Weddings on the Front Lawn

By the time we’ve poured our second cup of coffee and settled into the cushioned wrought-iron chairs on our front porch, the bride and her ladies will have shown up, looking all like flower petals twirling and floating into position for pictures and poses and procession.

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Savannah's First Murder

For Alice, an indentured servant, her life's goal was to work off the debt she owed in exchange for her passage to America - an all-too-common ritual in 1734.

But as fate would have it, William Wise found his entertainment in beating and abusing Alice daily. And her only companion, and suspected lover, Richard, was forced, day after day, to angrily look on as his beloved was abused by the lecherous old man.

One of Alice's duties was to bath William night after night.

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Sounds of Savannah

Among the easy distraction of today’s technology, the Hostess City wins every time. I could care less about scrolling on a screen - give me Savannah’s daily orchestration.

Wherever you are in Savannah, you got the best seat in the house.

Can't capture that on a screen. 

'Reckon we've known that all along. 

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Pure Savannah - “Hey y’all” - "{Insert Compliment Here.}" 

Savannah isn’t just a city of parks, squares, history, and public drinking. It’s home… Home for those who check on each other after storms. Home for those who pray for each other. Home for those who look into each other’s eyes, smile, and ask, “How are you?” Then they listen.

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The Confederate Jasmine's blooming.  - 'Course it is.

A Savannah courtyard is the kind of secret oasis we dream of in books. 

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A Part and All The Same

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting guests from Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Austria, Ireland, Russia, Bulgaria, Columbia, and Israel to name a few. Most of them have only read about the South, seen pictures, and Savannah never disappoints any preconceived notion. For me, I become a student of their country as much as they become a student of ours. For the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that we’re all incredibly similar. 

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Is there anything more southern gothic than a Savannah Live Oak?

Your heart breaks in the best kind of way, and it’s just as if you’ve stepped back in time one-hundred years, or one-thousand. And you breathe deeper, and slower, and whatever hurry you were in sort of peels off you like a wet sweater.

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The Forgotten Slave Burial Ground 'Neath Calhoun Square

Of all of Savannah’s hidden locals, one of the most somber is the east end of Calhoun Square. Over her history, Savannah played home to thousands of African American slaves. At the time, the place where Calhoun now sits buttressed on all sides by beautiful stately mansions and draped in the shade of moss-laden oak trees, all was overgrown wilds, just past the edge of town, where it was deemed that those seen as property could bury their dead.

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RATTLE HIS BONES OVER THE STONES

And this old shaded town started out as a debtors colony, after all. The first people who settled this place, they were the paupers, the cast-offs of English society. And so it’s no wonder that as the city grew, and as the original generations grew old and died off, the bricks of buildings and sidewalks paved right over the top of Savannah’s original burial grounds, snuffing out any record of the old paupers forgotten underneath. And so it continued. Generation after generation until untold burial plats, caskets, and bones were forgotten and hidden forever.

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The Union Soldiers Of Colonial Park Cemetery

Upon entering Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery, you're immediately taken back in time to the Hostess City's rich past, both dark and triumphant. 

You'll walk past monumental historical figures including Button Gwinnett, who signed the Declaration of Independence. You can't help but stroll by graves of those perished by Yellow Fever in 1820. Dive deep enough into the details, and you can easily find yourself there for hours.

And you're sure to notice the back wall of the cemetery. It's covered with tombstones, oddly displaced, mounted to the brick like carefully preserved banners that would have otherwise been lost forever.

But take a closer look. You'll notice something strange. 

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Navigating Savannah's Historic District Map

There's not a day that goes by when I don't walk down Bull St. and enjoy our visitors' eyes down on a map of Savannah's picturesque Historic District.

The grid-like appearance of the map can be confusing to the first-time visitor, but at least the benefit is that we don't have 71 "Peachtree" streets, circles, industrials, or avenues like our neighbor to the north, Atlanta.

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A fascination with graveyards

This wasn’t the burial place of tin men, heartless and void of story. The ones who lay here possessed singing voices once, running feet, and lips made for kissing.

Here was a place of rest and remembrance, the ground a spongy bookshelf, filled to bursting with volumes closed, but carefully remembered. Destined to open again.

For me, the truest legends rested beneath the soil of the graveyard.

Blame it on the famous mystique of Savannah, but I’ve held a fascination with graveyards.

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T.C. & Brenna Michaels