Districts of Savannah
Savannah’s famous Historic District comprises several distinctly different Historic Districts that have come to be encompassed by the overall designation of the Savannah Historic District. These descriptions feature the four districts that lie within the downtown area, although there are several others in areas a bit further from the central downtown neighborhoods.
Each of these, the downtown Landmark Historic District, the Victorian District, the Thomas Square District, and the Gordonston Historic District, has its own neighborhood flair. Residents of each of these areas, however, share much in common; above all a love of Savannah’s history and character.
Runs from River Street on the north to Gwinnett Street on the south, and from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK) on the west to Broad Street on the east. The downtown Historic District, designated in 1966 as a National Historic Landmark District, was the first area in Savannah to be restored to so much of its original grandeur.
Most of this gorgeous 2.5 square mile block neighborhood remains as General James E. Oglethorpe planned it in 1733. Lovely, landscaped public squares adorn the center of each ward; the entire district opulent with Greek Revival, Federal, Victorian and Italianate houses. Tree-shaded streets, magnificently crafted ironwork on balconies, porches, and gates, exquisite courtyards, and mysterious passageways all combine to make Savannah what so many have called America’s most beautiful city.
Runs from Gwinnett Street on the north to Anderson on the south, and from MLK on the west to East Broad St. on the east
Towards the end of the 1800s, as the Historic District’s population grew and the streets became crowded, builders began constructing houses further south. Thus, the Victorian District was born, featuring beautiful, exuberantly detailed Victorian and Queen Anne Victorian frame houses. Most of the houses were constructed between 1870 and 1910.
In 1974, this charming neighborhood received its National Register District designation.. Many of the streets are lined with trees, both Spanish Moss draped Live Oaks and the Mulberry trees so attractive to Oglethorpe nearly 300 years ago. Unlike the squares of the Historic District, this area was planned on a grid pattern and the green planting areas abound between sidewalks and streets and small gardens often decorate the front of the houses.
Restoration of this area began in the late 1960s, escalating in the late ’80s and ’90s to the point that on any given day, dozens of sagging Queen Anne’s were getting their facelifts.
Thomas Square Streetcar Historic District
Runs from Anderson on the north to Victory Drive on the south, and from MLK on the west. and East Broad on the east
This thriving section received its historic designation as a National Register Historic District in 1977. Since then, its revitalization has escalated at a rapid pace. Lovely Victorians, stately Colonial Revivals, and charming Craftsman cottages dot the area, which is rapidly becoming an enclave for artists, musicians, and writers
The beautiful Little Sisters of the Poor convent, which encompasses the entire square block from Abercorn to Drayton and 37th St. to 36th St., was completely restored between 1999 and 2000, and now houses a striking condominium complex. Much of 37th Street itself, once known as “Millionaires Row,” and now on the precipice of becoming that again, is perhaps the most beautiful thoroughfare in this area, having been extensively restored and renovated, with the remainder of its grand old buildings underway.
Savannah’s main library, at 36th and Bull Streets recently underwent an extensive expansion at a cost of more than $13 million, now stands as a centerpiece of the revitalization of Bull Street. Next door is the lovely Thomas Square Park, and across the street is Savannah’s famous Gingerbread House, the site of fabled weddings and parties nearly every weekend.
The National Register designated Gordonston as a historic district in 2001. This uniquely lovely neighborhood, only five minutes from downtown Savannah, is the city’s oldest suburb. It rests on a triangle between Skidaway Road on the south, Pennsylvania Avenue on the East, and Gwinnett on the north. The neighborhood was planned and designed by the Gordon family, whose best-known member, Juliette Gordon Low, founded the Girl Scouts.
The streets of Gordonston fan out from its central focal point, Pierpoint Circle, like spokes of a half wheel. Designed in the first two decades of the 20th Century, it was convenient to downtown via the new trolley line which ran along Kinzie Avenue from the historic district all the way to Thunderbolt, which lies just a few miles further along Skidaway from Gordonston.
The neighborhood was planned to include varying sizes and types of houses, ranging from magnificent brick mansions to relatively small craftsman-style cottages. Today, about 200 families live in this beautifully kept neighborhood, where they often enjoy parties in the residents-only Gordonston Park and the closeness and camaraderie of a true neighborhood, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.