Looking and Lingering in Savannah, Day 3

by Natalie Lo
Looking and Lingering in Savannah, Day 3

When we are in a city long enough, we invariably return to a tried and true restaurant or cafe. In Savannah, this was the Gallery Espresso cafe on Bull Street. The space is open and inviting with an eclectic mix of plush sofas and chairs. The cafe passed two tests for our daughter, Mia. First, it offers a nice selection of gluten free bundt cakes, muffins, and desserts, which in the South, home to many floured and fried delights, is not a given.  Second, a very kind barista searched throughout the cafe to retrieve a pair of kids Ray Bans Mia had left behind the previous day. 

Next door to the cafe is Adam Turoni Chocolate Shoppe.  One of two Adam Turoni Chocolate Shoppes in the historic district, the Bull Street location is fashioned after a Library. Guests are given index card drawer wooden trays and tongs to select their chocolate truffles arranged luxuriously on bookcases decorated with novels and encyclopedias. Their signature chocolate, the Honeycomb Filled Chocolate Bar, gloriously combines dark chocolate with local honey from the Savannah Bee Shop.

A lauded Southern writer, Flannery O’Connor is a native daughter of Savannah, having lived there in her family’s Charlton Street home from 1925 to 1938. We visited the Flannery O’Connor House and learned a great deal about the writer and her work. I left the tour with a great appreciation for her sardonic humor and lively character. 

We then visited the Owen Thomas House, a fine example of the English Regency style.  Completed in 1819, the home has exquisite furnishings from the owners and of the period and a beautiful interior bridge. The tour explores the complicated relationships between the owners and their slaves, making it clear that the functioning of residences like this one often came at a large human cost. We began the tour in the slave quarters. The original ceilings in their quarters show the Blue Haint paint that the slaves used to protect themselves from evil spirits. 

Next, we strolled through Chippewa Square. While Forrest Gump’s famous bench is no longer there, the square has its own unique character. In the 1990s, Forrest Gump and John Berendt’s book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil did a lot to encourage travel to Savannah.

The famous Mercer Williams House depicted in the book stands at the southwestern corner of the stately Monterey Square.  The handsome Italianate red brick mansion,completed in 1869, is the home of Jim Williams, the famed restorationist and antiques dealer, tried four times for the 1981 murder of Danny Hansford. While the tour only showed the rooms on the first floor, (the home is still used as a private residence of the family), the rooms display the collection of paintings, furniture, and China that was part of William’s collection. For fans of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the docent brings to life the extravagant parties and life of Jim Williams and included some details of the famous trials. Forsyth Park, a few blocks due south from the Mercer Williams House, is a city park covering 30 acres.  The most photographed part of the park is the beautiful white fountain, added in 1858 and designed in the style of fountains in Paris and Peru. The park is surrounded by interesting houses.  If you like to dine in the area, try the 700 Drayton in the Mansion on Forsyth Parkor a little further south, Elisabeth on 37th.

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