Tag Archives: National Historic Landmarks

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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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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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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Bay Street, Savannah

This view looks west with the monumental United States Custom House in the foreground. The Custom House was built on the site of one of James Oglethorpe’s homes by prolific Savannah architect John Norris. Notably, it was the site of the last documented trial involving the illegal importation of slaves, in re: The Wanderer.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Mercer House, Circa 1868, Savannah

Due to the success of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the book Savannah loves to hate, the Mercer House is perhaps the most famous in town. T0day, it’s officially the Mercer-Williams House Museum. [I added the hyphen; I don’t know why they don’t use one]. It is owned by the sister of Jim Williams, the antiques dealer who shot and killed one of his lovers, a hustler named Danny Hansford, in the house. Everyone knows the story. Wiliams’s eclectic collections are highlighted throughout.

The house was designed by John Norris [architect of the Savannah Custom House and the Andrew Low House, among many others] for General Hugh Mercer, great-grandfather of Johnny Mercer, though the general nor the songwriter ever lived here. Construction began in 1860 but was interrupted by the Civil War. It was completed about 1868 by its new owner, John Wilder. In the 20th century it was used for a time as the Savannah Shriners Alee Temple and was purchased and restored by Jim Williams in 1969.

Two other tragic deaths are associated with the Mercer House. An owner tripped over a banister and eventually died from a concussion in 1913 and a boy chasing pigeons on the roof fell off and impaled himself on one of the iron fence posts in 1969.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Andrew Low House, 1849, Savannah

Built between 1848-1849 on a trust lot facing LaFayette Square by architect John Norris, the Andrew Low House is one of Savannah’s most iconic residences and its most popular house museum. Vanity Fair author William Makepeace Thackeray described it as the “most comfortable accommodations in America”. Low was self-made, with early  success in retail and shipping. He eventually became Savannah’s premier cotton factor and wealthiest man.

Andrew Low persevered through numerous personal losses and a Union blockade and was even captured and briefly imprisoned for his part in procuring the largest successful shipment of guns and munitions to reach the Confederacy. Losses brought on by the war and the instability of the cotton market led Low and his remaining family to relocate to Leamington, England in 1867. Andrew Low, who always maintained ties with Savannah, died at Leamington in 1886. He was buried alongside his wives and son at Laurel Grove.

Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, was married to Low’s son William Mackay Low. They planned to divorce but before it was final, Low died in 1905. Juliette, known to friends as Daisy, inherited the house and lived here until her death in 1927.

Juliette Gordon Low Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Silas Fulton House, 1860, Savannah

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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