Sunday, May 12, 2013

Savannah, Georgia ~ Day 1

We really like Savannah!  It is quite lovely – tree-lined streets, beautiful & stately homes, clean and sweet-smelling (there’s something in bloom on every street). We did a bit of research prior to coming here so we’d have some idea what to do (and eat – Brad did that research), but also stopped at the Visitor’s Center for some local information (and a good map of the area). We got some good information, but the most exciting thing to pass along was the was the first time Suzanne’s used a restroom that had a fireplace in it! It was quite the topic of conversation as women entered/exited the restroom. 

First, an overview of Savannah – Savannah was spared by General Sherman during the Civil War and offered to President Lincoln as a Christmas present. The founders of Savannah planned the city to include a “town square” every few blocks, the center of which is a garden. Each “square” included a church, meeting hall, homes and shops. The Historic District is a one-mile by one-mile square that encompasses a dozen-or-so of these “town squares” and quite easy to walk or take one of the many trolley tours.

We called today our “religious” day as we spent time touring both the First AfricanBaptist Church and Mickve IsraelTemple, the longest-standing Jewish congregation in the United States (and the third oldest temple). 


First we went to the First African Baptist Church where we paid $7 each for a tour.  The tour guide was very good at explaining the history of the church and its people -  what fascinated us both about the First African Baptist Church the most, was that it was part of the underground railroad. In fact, the “bottom” floor had holes that were the air holes for slaves as they would spend a day or two under the church, then walk out the tunnel that took them to the (then) 12’ Savannah River. The air holes were  made in a particular pattern, so when asked about the holes, they could say that they were a pattern found in African Churches and was tradition.

We enjoyed the beautiful Forsyth Park for a bit ~ 

then made our way to the Mickve Israel Temple, paid our $5 per person donation and took another interesting tour. The temple looked more like a Catholic Church with ornate architecture and stained glass, and we all assumed it had once been a church. However we were all wrong as it simply was built during a time when building ornate building was the thing to do. Two things really interested us at the temple:
That the Jews in Savannah supported the Confederacy and even had fund-raisers for them. Most everyone in our tour thought that the Jews would have supported freeing the slaves, being a persecuted group themselves for thousands of year, but in fact, Savannah was the only place at that time where Jews could worship freely and without restrictions, so they supported those that supported them. We also thought that this was cool - this is the oldest torah in the United States~

We were hot and tired by the end of our tours, so we headed back to the truck (good parking can be found at the Visitor’s Center – first hour free; $1/hour thereafter) and headed home. All-in-all a lovely, education day in Savannah!
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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