10 Interesting Facts About Savannah’s Squares
Savannah’s squares are among its most famous landmarks. Millions of residents and tourists enjoy the oasis provided by the squares throughout its Historic District. But there are some things about the squares you may not know.
- Savannah’s squares were carefully planned out by James Olgethorpe even before Savannah was founded. In 1733, Olgethorpe was a member of the British parliament who the city. The first thing he did was sit down with a ruler and map out Savannah’s first four squares. Fortunately, Savannah kept the original city plan for many years to come.
- There are 22 squares but there used to be 24. In 1851, Savannah had 24 beautiful little green squares, but three of them were lost to urban sprawl in the 1900s. One of them – Ellis Square – has since been restored, and the historic foundation has managed to save the rest of them from destruction.
- Johnson Square is Savannah’s very first square and still to this day, its largest. It was laid out in 1733 and surrounded by the first 40 houses built in Savannah. It served as a commercial hub for the new city.
- A monument in Franklin Square commemorates the contribution of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue to the fight for an independent America. This was a French regiment of black troops from Haiti that participated in the American Revolution War and the Siege of Savannah.
- Franklin Square, named for Benjamin Franklin, is also the site of the oldest black church in North America. First African Baptist Church was established in 1777 and built by slaves in 1859. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
- The large granite stone in Wright Square marks the grave of the Yamacraw chief, Tomochichi, who welcomed Oglethorpe and the first settlers to the region.
- You may recognize Chippewa Square as the site where Forrest Gump sat on a park bench with a box of chocolates. The movie-prop-bench isn’t there, though. It resides in the Savannah History Museum.
- The squares are located in what is essentially a large college campus. The Savannah College of Art & Design owns 67 buildings in Historic Savannah, all preserved. They are residence halls, academic buildings, galleries, student services, guest housing and professional buildings. Students can roam the squares of Savannah to find inspiration.
- That “Spanish moss” you see hanging from Savannah’s oaks isn’t moss at all. It’s actually a bromeliad, which is more closely related to pineapples than moss. It’s not from Spain either. It’s native to Mexico, Central and South America.
- When you visit Savannah, you can stay in a rental that faces one of these squares. Savannah Oaks is a charming one-bedroom property on Oglethorpe Square. Orleans Square is a garden-level, two-bedroom, two-bath property facing, you guessed it, Orleans Square. For larger groups, Washington Square Manor offers four bedrooms, two and a half baths and a beautiful new kitchen.