Photo courtesy of kenlund
Reynolds Square is surrounded by ancient brick pavers and lies on Abercorn Street. Peeking through the oaks and lush foliage you can just make out a large bronze statue in the midst of the Square. This is the statue of Reverend John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist denomination and of the first Sunday school in America. Ironically, though the statue was named after a “man of the cloth”, the area in which it stands was home to what was considered the best brothel in town at the turn of the century.
Laid out in 1734, Reynolds Square was named for Captain John Reynolds, who became governor of Georgia in the mid-1750s. Reynolds was the first Royal Governor of the Colony of Georgia and remained so for four years. Although Reynolds was known for his political shortcomings, historians will note that Reynolds Square was the actual center of colonial government and originally the site of the House of Assembly. This assembly was where the first reading of the Declaration of Independence took place in Georgia.
Like many of Savannah’s historic squares, Reynolds Square is sheathed in legend and myth. Records show one of the old buildings located on the square was used as a hospital for malaria patients but legend has it that inside this building was a makeshift crematorium where bodies were gathered from the hospital and neighboring homes and as a precaution to prevent the spread of disease, victims were wrapped in bed sheets and burned. The question remains as to the thoroughness in the examination of the bodies. While most of the victims were likely deceased, it is thought that some may have only lapsed into a coma-like state from the disease. These people were literally burned alive.
Photographic anomalies sometimes occur when attempting to photograph Reverend Wesley’s monument. Often the photographs will include bazar colors or unexplainably strange patterns. Many feel that these anomalies are the spirits of those poor souls that were mistakenly burned alive in Reynolds Square. Take some photos of your own and test the theory of those who make these claims!
Also among the notables of the Square, the Oliver Sturges House is considered one of Savannah’s most architecturally important houses in the historic district. Built in 1813 by Sturges himself, this successful Savannah merchant was one of the planners involved in the Atlantic crossing of the Steamship SS Savannah. In 1971, the Sturges House was purchased from the Historic Savannah Foundation by the Morris Newspaper Corporation who meticulously restored the home for use as their corporate headquarters. The Sturges House is an easily recognizable three story red brick building slightly elevated from the street by the underlying basement.
Whether or not romance is your plan make certain to visit the Lucas Theater as it is one of the city’s most romantic theater buildings. Located at 22 Abercorn Street, this building was built in 1921 for Colonel Arthur Lucas as a silent movie theater. When sound was introduced to film, the theater was remolded to accommodate “talkies”. Reynolds Square is always bursting with excitement, so, if you get overwhelmed, just take some time to relax on one of the many park benches around the square.