Historic Johnson Square – Savannah, Georgia
Visiting beautiful Savannah is one of the pleasures that you truly won’t want to miss. The history of the city, the stories you can hear, the music, the flowers, the people and the ocean. It truly is someplace where history comes alive.
While there be sure to stop and explore Johnson Square. It was the first of the original squares in the city and is still the largest. The square was laid out in 1733 as the centerpiece of the Derby Ward. The first 40 houses in Savannah were built in the Derby Ward.
Think back to what you have learned about the history of our nation and the citizens that lived during that time. They didn’t have the stores that are everywhere as we have now. They would gather in places like Derby Ward to get water, see the time of day, which could be read on the sundial which was constructed there, they would post public notices, talk to their friends and neighbors and to bake their bread for the week. Just think about having to go to the square to bake your bread! There weren’t enough bricks available for everyone to have their own oven so the city provided the ovens and the community used them as needed. You won’t be able to see the old ovens, they have long disappeared, but in their place are two fountains.
You can see a sundial, although not the original. The original was replaced in 1933 by the Society of Colonial Wars in Georgia and sits today on the south side of the square.
Take a break and enjoy the memory of the great songwriter from Savannah at the white marble bench in honor of Johnny Mercer. Between 1929 and 1976 Mercer wrote lyrics to more than 1,000 songs, received nineteen Academy Award nominations, wrote music for a number of Broadway shows and co-founded Capital Records. Sit back and hum “Moon River” and you will be taken back to the music that made Mercer a treasure to the city. Don’t know “Moon River?” How about “Days of Wine and Roses,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” and “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe. ”
Enjoy the shade that the live oaks provide during the heat of the day. Look around and see how the early skyscrapers of Savannah that had to follow the rules and not exceed the size of the trust lots or the tithing lots. Sometimes history has lessons to teach and the beauty of this area is certainly an example.
There are a number of other things to see at the square such as the tall white obelisk memorializing the Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. There were other notable historical events that took place here such as a reception for then President Monroe in 1819, for Daniel Webster in 1848 and for the announcement, in 1860 of South Carolinas’ secession from the Union. The Greene Memorial was the site the Secession flag was flown from at this time. Georgia became the 13th colony to declare independence from England.
On the east side of Johnson Square is the Christ Church (now known as Christ Episcopal Church), called the Mother Church of Georgia. This was the first church in historic Savannah and of course, was a Church of England.
So, go, enjoy and then visit other locations in this wonderful pearl of the South!