Photo courtesy of jeffgunn
Lafayette Square is located on Abercorn, between Harris and Charlton Streets within walking distance of many of Savannah’s downtown attractions. Located in the center of Savannah’s Historic District, Lafayette Square affords visitors a short walk (about 12 blocks) to the popular River Street entertainment district, making it one of the favored destinations in the area.
Gleaming with historic properties, Lafayette Square was laid out in 1837 and named for Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette, the French hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette was wounded in the Battle of Brandywine in 1777 and considered one of the heroes of the Revolutionary War. The Frenchman became George Washington's aide and remained a very close friend while serving as a major-general in the Continental Army. Regretfully there is no monument of Lafayette in the square itself, but visitors can still appreciate the cobblestone sidewalks and fountain given to the city by the Colonial Dames of America commemorating Savannah's 250th anniversary.
Don’t be surprised if you hear bagpipes a singing while walking down Abercorn Street. Also known as the Celtic square, many of the surrounding homes and structures were built or occupied by residents of Scottish or Irish heritage. This influence and culture can be appreciated as one admires the surrounding historic properties, and architecturally significant buildings. One of the most popular architectural venues in the square is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. This cathedral is the home of the oldest Roman Catholic congregation in Georgia. The current church was completed in 1900 after the previous building was destroyed in a fire. The architecture of the building shouts Gothic styled features complete with pointed arches and a beautiful rose window. It is no wonder that this Cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in Savannah and a highly sought after venue for weddings.
Another favorite attraction of Lafayette Square is the Flannery O'Connor House. Flannery O’Connor is recognized as one of the 20th century's most important American writers. She was born in this home in 1925 and lived there until 1938. Today, known as the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home this museum serves as a tribute to her life’s work and tours of the home are given daily.
Built on a trust lot facing Lafayette Square, the Andrew Low House’s Italianate exterior features are clearly the work of architectural talent and passion. Designed by famous Savannah architect John Norris the intricate cast iron railings, side balconies, contrasting with the smooth stuccoed brick walls, provide visitors with a glimpse of the well-mannered life of old Savannah. The Andrew Low House is open to the public and tours are offered daily, a must see while in the area.
Battersby-Hartridge-Anderson House built in 1852, by Andrew Lows partner in the cotton business, William Battersby, is among the few Charleston Style homes found in Savannah. Because of its side-facing orientation with a two-story porch, this West Indies-style home is considered rare architecture for this region.
Lafayette square in known to be the central hub of celebration for the Historic District. Parades, weddings, celebrations of all kinds can be frequently experienced at this popular destination. If you have a hankering to stay on the square, you may want to consider the Hamilton-Turner House. Now known as the Hamilton Turner Inn, this grand mansion will make you feel like a movie star since it played a cameo role in the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
If you have a passion for history, romance, or just plain old southern elegance, make sure to include this square during your visit to one of the South’s most significant historical regions.