Category Archives: -CHATHAM COUNTY

Ruins of Wormsloe, 1740s, Savannah

Noble Jones was one of the original settlers of Georgia, coming to the colony with General James Oglethorpe in 1733. He applied for a land grant on the southern end of the Isle of Hope but the grant wasn’t formally approved by George II until 1756. Construction on the fortified tabby-and-wood house began around 1739 and was completed around 1745. The fortifications were seen as a necessary foil for a potential Spanish invasion.

Jones named the plantation Wormslow. It was originally thought that this was a reference to the silkworms that optimistic early colonists hoped would make Georgia a leading producer of silk, but in fact it was a prominent place name in the English-Welsh borderlands from which the Joneses came to the New World.

Noble’s son, Noble Wimberly Jones (c. 1723-1805) was the next owner and spent little time at the estate, preferring life in the city of Savannah. His sister, Mary Jones Bulloch also had a life estate in the property. The ruins of the first house remain today as material evidence of Georgia’s earliest days.

In contrast to his loyalist father, Noble W. Jones was a Whig, and after service in the provincial and state legislature pursued a career in medicine. He was elected to the Continental Congress but was unable to serve. Still, his dedication to the cause of revolution earned him the moniker “Morning Star of Liberty”.

George Jones, son of Noble Wimberly, was the next owner, and his son, George Frederick Tilghman Jones changed the spelling from Wormslow to Wormsloe. He also changed his own name to George Wymberly Jones and then added the surname De Renne. He was an active builder of improved structures on the property and was a large slave owner. De Renne was also an important collector of early Georgia documents and manuscripts, reprinting many rare items. The family is still involved in these pursuits to this day. A later descendant, Wymberly Wormsloe De Renne fell on financial hard times just before the Great Depression and opened the estate, with the fine gardens he had developed, to the public. Wormsloe Gardens became a prominent tourist attraction. Wormsloe House remains in the family but the surrounding grounds became a state historic site in 1979. One of the best events in Savannah, the annual Colonial Fare & Muster is staged here each year.

National Register of Historic Places




Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Isle of Hope GA, Savannah GA

Thomas H. McMillan House, 1888, Savannah

Now known as the McMillan Inn, this imposing Italianate Victorian was originally the home of Thomas Hasley McMillan (11 March 1854-21 September 1941), one of late-19th-century Savannah’s most successful businessmen. He came to Savannah from Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1878, to open a branch of his McMillan Copper Works. The most successful supplier of turpentine stills in the South, they once had plants in Fayetteville, Jacksonville, Pensacola,  and Savannah. Mr. McMillan also served as chairman of the Savannah Park & Tree Commission.

Some sources note that it was originally home to the “McMillan Brothers” and was designed as a duplex. I’ve been unable to track down information about the brother but will update when I learn more.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Pinkie Master’s, 1953, Savannah

Savannah has always been a drinking town and Pinkie Master’s dive bar at 318 Drayton Street was its epicenter from 1953-2016. Luis Christopher Masterpolis, better known as Pinkie Master, wisely located his establishment across Drayton Street from the old DeSoto Hilton, in its day Savannah’s hotel of choice for politicians and businessmen. Masterpolis loved politics and over the years local and state elected officials made unofficial campaign stops here. An urban legend that Jimmy Carter announced his presidential run standing atop the bar has been refuted but Carter dropped in on the evening before St. Patrick’s Day 1978 and paid tribute to Pinkie, who had died about a year earlier.

The perfection of Pinkie Master’s, as anyone who ever drank a beer there would tell you, was its lack of pretense. It was a dive bar in the truest since, serving cheap American tallboys and never taking credit cards. The booths and seats were often sticky and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes (long after the smoking ban) lingered in the air. You had to walk up to the bar and order as there was no table service. And fist fights were common from time to time. Just what you’d expect in a dive bar.

A good friend of mine who owned the building at one time stated that he loved having Pinkie’s as a tenant. There were occasional complaints, he noted, but Savannah loved the place and the complaints generally went unanswered. With new ownership came myriad changes. Legal issues brought on by unclear ownership and the sorts of things one might expect to befall a dive bar came front and center and a new owner took over by early 2016. A PBR sign still hangs outside, but a new nameplate identifies the restructured establishment, The Original Pinkie Masters. Varying camps will debate whether it’s anything near the original, but I’ll leave that to locals, being just an occasional patron myself.



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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Factors Row & Factors Walk, Savannah

In the years following the Civil War, much of Savannah’s riverfront was filled with four- and five-story cotton warehouses. The lower riverfront level was where the cotton was stored and the top floors (facing Bay Street) served as offices for the cotton factors (brokers), who set prices and traded their most valuable product around the world. The offices are known as Factors Row, while the iron bridges which connected them to the city are known collectively as Factors Walk. They date variously from the late antebellum to late Reconstruction era. Today, the buildings are home to shops and restaurants, but the city and business owners have worked hard to retain the historic integrity of the structures.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Taylor’s Art Store Ghost Mural, Savannah

Murals were very common as advertising in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most have been painted over but some have been saved and some exposed during restorations. This one, for Taylor’s Art Store is a favorite. The supporting advertisement for Seal of North Carolina Plug Cut Tobacco is quite rare and likely dates the mural from 1880-1890.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Tybee Pier & Pavilion, 1996

The Central of Georgia Railroad built a line to Tybee Island in 1887 and to meet the demands of a growing number of tourists constructed the first public pier on the island in 1891. This was influential in transforming Tybee into the popular destination it is today. In the 1930s and 1940s the Tybrisa Pavilion, as it came to be known, was a popular spot on the Big Band circuit, hosting all the big names of the day.

The Tybrisa Pavilion burned in 1967 and was replaced by the present pier and pavilion in 1996. It has reclaimed its place as one of the most popular spots on Tybee.

It’s also a good spot for nearshore fishing, but shark fishing is prohibited.

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Tybee Island GA

Georgian Revival Houses, Ardsley Park

Ardsley Park-Chatham Crescent was developed beginning in 1910 as one of Savannah’s very first planned subdivisions. It remains largely intact and is one of the most pleasant neighborhoods in the city.

Early 20th century revivals are abundant in the district, as in these examples along Washington Avenue, adjacent to Daffin Park.

The neighborhood is great any time of year, but especially in late winter/early spring, when the azaleas are in bloom.

Ardsley Park-Chatham Crescent Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA