Photo courtesy of gsleader2012
While walking the streets of Savannah, you’ll frequently see a large group of young girls in their Girl Scout uniforms. The reason is simple — Juliette Gordon Low -- founder of Girl Scouts of the USA -- was born here. Girl scouts come to Savannah Georgia to learn more about their founder and see a piece of history in her birthplace.
The Wayne-Gordon House, on the corner of Oglethorpe & Bull Streets, has been owned by The Girl Scouts since 1953 and its simply referred to as "the birthplace."
Sixty years ago, the building was slated to be demolished. It was a time when progress was destroying historic homes and buildings in Savannah and around the United States. But the Girl Scouts recognized that a piece of history would be lost. And so, they stepped in to purchase the home and restore it. Other buildings in downtown Savannah were also saved during the 1950's as Savannah's preservation movement was beginning -- such as the treasured Isaiah Davenport House.
After a time of restoration, the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace opened to the public. The little girl who would grow up in this house would start a group later in life that continues to improve the lives of young girls one hundred years later.
The contributions of Low to American life are so important that her birthplace has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It is one of seven federally recognized landmarks in Savannah (the others are The Green-Meldrim House, Owens-Thomas House, Telfair Academy, William Scarbrough House, the old Central Georgia railroad terminal and the Savannah Historic District itself). What’s notable about the recognition of the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace is it was the first of Savannah’s important locations to gain the highly respected status of National Historic Landmark.
More interestingly, while the original designation was for the Wayne-Gordon House only, it’s been expanded to now include 2 other buildings — the Andrew-Low House, the residence of Juliette Gordon Low as an adult — and the Andrew-Low Carriage House — which served as the very first Girl Scout Headquarters. These three buildings now make up what is recognized as the Juliette Gordon Low Historic District.
It’s easy to visit all three sites important to Girl Scout heritage. After touring the Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, it’s less than a half-mile to walk to The Andrew Low Carriage House at 330 Drayton Street. The Andrew Low House itself sits to the east of the carriage house facing Lafayette Square — one of the most beautiful of Savannah’s oak covered city squares that makes the city unique in North America.
The home where Juliette Gordon Low was born was in her family for generations. It was constructed over the course of three years between 1818 and 1821 for the Mayor of Savannah — James Moore Wayne — who would sell it to a family member after he moved to Washington D.C. Mayor Wayne became a member of the United States Congress and was later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court — serving for 32 years. But before leaving Savannah, Mayor Wayne arranged to sell the property to his niece, Sarah, who had married William Washington Gordon. Sarah and William were the grandparents of Juliette Gordon Low. For generations, the Gordon’s would own this home. It is now almost 200 years since it was first constructed and it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Savannah.
Visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low to grow in your understanding of this important woman from Savannah. Come to learn more about the little girl known as “Daisy” who started the Girl Scouts — originally known as the Girl Guides. Today that organization seeks to empower young girls with the values of character, confidence and compassion. What began with humble beginnings in Savannah in the early 20th Century, has grown into an organization that seeks to empower young girls with the values of character, confidence and compassion. Today, the organization founded in 1912 in Savannah is recognized as one of the top ten charities in the United States.