Museum Hopping in Savannah
Although every house inside the historic district has a history and is a work of art unto itself, Savannah still has some top notch museums and galleries to fill those moments when you’ve seen just too many hand carved Colonial staircases for one day. For the purposes of this post, the Jepson Center for the Arts, featuring the Telfair family home and art museum, will be the focus of the photographs. In between, I’ll slip in some really cool places that you see on the way to and from the museums.
The Telfair mansion was completed in 1819, and the last Telfair occupant donated the house to be part of an art museum in the 1880’s. Telfair Academy opened in 1896, and features two large rooms furnished in 1840 style, along with two massive galleries, and many smaller exhibition spaces. This photo is from Destination America Travel…
“The Fugitive Slave”, by John Adam Houston, anchors an exhibition of selected pieces from the Johnson Collection of Southern fine art in Spartanburg called “Romantic Spirits”. The painting was completed in 1853, and supported the Abolitionist cause with its sympathetic depiction of a runaway enslaved man.
“In Sight of Home”, by Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919), continues the slave theme with a much less passionate approach. Children run to greet their mother and father who are returning from a trip to town, while a young slave child hitches a ride on the back of the wagon.
“Morning on the French Broad”, circa 1880, by Andrew Melrose (1836-1901), is one of the earliest depictions of this ancient Western North Carolina stream. On a high bluff sits a blockhouse that seems to be the remnant of a decaying fort.
You can’t have a show about Southern art without featuring a well known work that depicts the futility of the just ended struggle. “Lost Cause”, 1868, was painted by a Jewish artist named Gustave Henry Mosler (1841-1920). We see a dejected soldier leaning on his firearm, while behind him is the broken shell of a log cabin. We also see a Spring landscape and rising moon that shows the infinite possibilities of rebirth and renewal.
Don’t let the surly and disinterested tour guides spoil your visit to this 1819 Oglethorpe Square masterpiece by English Architect William Jay. It is the third piece in the Telfair Museums collection. Elements in the remarkable house include internal cisterns for running water and sewerage, a bridge connecting the two sides of the upper floor, and furniture actually from the original families. The house is a treasure trove of amazing architecture and engineering.
Designed in the Second Renaissance Revival style, the original portion of the building is constructed entirely of white Georgia marble, and features the typical Italianate tripartite facade divisions characteristic of the style. Today the building houses Federal Court offices. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Today, it is the home to The French Market retailer, but 125 years ago, this 1870s building was where the streetcar turned off of Broughton. Many historic buildings along this venerable thoroughfare have been restored to their late 19th century appearance.
After a long day at the museums, our hotel is a welcome sight. The Marshall House was originally The Marshall Hotel, built in 1851, but it was used as the main hospital during the Civil War. After extensive rehabilitation, it reopened as The Marshall House in 1999, and is now one of Savannah’s premiere hostelries.