Savannah, Ga, By Lynn Jones (March 2012)
Just a short and sweet drive away (a mere 160 miles) is a historical landscape rich with history and loaded with interesting things to do! Savannah, Georgia – made world famous by the hit book and movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” offers the weekend traveler a real experience.
On my weekends agenda was restaurant b. Matthews, a trolley tour, Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons” restaurant and the Freedom Trail Tour.Matthews, lodge in a historical building, erected between 1789-1790s’, features post and bar fixtures taken from the mass of the many ships that docked at the local pier. The building was a former saloon that has been family owned for 101 years. My gourmet breakfast selection included Italian sausage and cheese filled croissants, hash browns and a waffle with apple chutney and bacon. After breakfast, I walk the historic cobblestone streets to begin the Freedom Trail Tour. I tried to understand how Savannah was so close to Jacksonville, yet Savannahs port has much great history when it comes to the importation of slaves and early African American history. The tour begins at Savannahs Visitors Center and takes about two hours to complete. Tour conductor and historian Johnnie Brown takes visitors to slave burial grounds, remnants of the Underground Railroad, places where slaves were brought and sold, and black communities where free people of color lived during slavery. Historic buildings on the tour include the First African Baptist Church, often called the oldest black church in North America.
What is most remarkable to African Americans is that Savannah was founded as a city where slavery was forbidden. That lasted until Georgia law changed in 1750 when the economic attractiveness of slavery became too much to resist. Savannah practiced modest forms of slavery until 1779, when Americans in the Revolutionary War captured it. Prior to that date, slave owners gave nominal freedoms to their slaves, allowing many of them to live on their own, pay their owners a stipulated weekly fee and work for extra money of their own. These forms of slavery were more akin to indentured servitude.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what Savannah has to offer historically. Today, Savannah has a black mayor, you can live anywhere you can afford, and racial relations in this visual historic masterpiece of a city are mostly upbeat. Last and surprisingly, for such a small town you can still get your swerve on with the nightlife.