Above: The "Bird Girl" statue, Telfair Academy - ANDREW HARPER EDITOR

Touring Savannah’s Mansion Museums

The "Bird Girl" statue, Telfair Academy - Andrew Harper editor

In the 19th century, Savannah amassed great wealth relative to its size thanks in large part to the cotton and slave trades. The richest members of society built numerous impressive mansions fronting the city’s famous squares. Some of them have been converted into hotels and/or restaurants, some of them remain private residences, and others have become museums open to the public.

During our recent stay in Savannah, we toured as many historic homes as we could to ascertain what each had to offer. The properties have various emphases, including antiques, fine art and even the origins of the Girl Scouts. Several homes also offer fascinating and moving exhibitions about the experiences of Savannah’s enslaved population. In many cases, it’s possible (and advisable) to purchase tickets in advance online.

Andrew Low House

Entrance on Lafayette Square, Andrew Low House - Andrew Harper editor

Star Savannah architect John Norris designed this imposing neo-Renaissance mansion, along with two other homes on this list. This one, on Lafayette Square, he built between 1847 and 1849 for Savannah’s then-wealthiest citizen, Andrew Low. But the grand pile is famous neither for its architecture nor its cotton-trading namesake. It was here, in 1912, that Low’s daughter-in-law, Juliette Gordon Low, founded the Girl Scouts. An engaging guide took us and eight others through the elaborately decorated salons and bedrooms, which contain various objects that belonged to the Low family along with other impressive period-appropriate furnishings. He explained the provenance of certain pieces, but he rightly focused on the more interesting history of the family and the early Girl Scout years.

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Above: The "Bird Girl" statue, Telfair Academy - ANDREW HARPER EDITOR

Read More from Our Trip:

Inside Savannah: A Luxury Hotel and Enviable Mansions Savannah’s Top Guided Tours Hideaways in Historic Savannah Five Fashionable Savannah Cocktail Bars Savannah’s Haute Lowcountry Cuisine