James Oglethorpe’s vision for a planned city has stood the test of time and now almost 300 years later, Savannah’s urban landscape is celebrated worldwide. Savannah is one of the few planned cities around a series of town squares. Today there are more than twenty but back in 1733 the plan started with just four. Telfair Square was in that elite original group and today it is still one of the city’s finest.
There are a few interesting tidbits about Telfair Square which makes it unique. First, it was renamed from its original name of St. James Square. A renamed square isn’t so unusual as other squares in Savannah have also gotten a new name from time to time. However, is the only square to this day that is named for an entire family and not for one person. Other squares in Savannah are named after a U.S. President (Washington Square), the founder of Savannah (Oglethorpe Square), etc. Civic leaders chose to rename this square for an entire family because of the contributions several members of the Telfair family made to the Savannah.
The rebranding of of Telfair Square occurred in the late 1800s. This was more than one hundred years after Edward Telfair fought in the Revolutionary War and later became Georgia’s governor. His daughter, Mary, would donate the family mansion before it was 50 years old to the Georgia Historical Society to be used as a museum. That family mansion today is the Telfair Academy which sits on the northwest corner of the square.
Photo courtesy of familyclan
Mary Telfair also was instrumental in donating the resources shortly before her death for the establishment of a hospital that was dedicated specifically to the health needs of women. The Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital is still in operation as part of St. Joseph’s/Candler, the region’s largest healthcare center.
Today Telfair Musuems runs not only the original building donated by Mary Telfair but also Savannah’s newest cultural icon — the Jepson Center. So Telfair Square is not only named to celebrate a famous family from Savannah history but its the location of two of the finest art museums in the United States. For these reasons alone, Telfair Square should be on your list of Savannah attractions to visit on your next vacation.
Also located across Telfair Square is one of the oldest churches in town — Trinity Methodist. The church was erected in 1848. Its congregation arose from the preaching of John Wesley who spent time in Savannah during the 1730s. Wesley is known as the founder of the Methodist denomination within Christianity. In Telfair Square you will find one of Georgia’s historical markers that celebrates this church. It reads “Trinity Methodist Church, Mother Church of Savannah Methodism.
Photo courtesy of faungg's photo
Savannah is known as a city with a rich history. As you can see, within Savannah there are locations that also tell a unique story. Art lovers can see the importance of one family’s dedication to giving back to their community. The two wonderful museums on Telfair square and a church with such a rich history are just two reasons to visit Telfair Square.