Savannah Georgia: Fire or Faux?

trismegistus

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First things first - if you've never visited this city I can't recommend it enough. It is absolutely gorgeous, and one could spend days getting lost in it, especially if you dig architecture. However, the combination of the city's history and architecture is a bit curious. I will start with a hypothesis.

Savannah, GA was not burned to the ground twice as history would say, the architecture that remains is evidence of a previous civilization. In the spirit of SH, we will go with Tartarians as the de-facto civilization.

Let's start with the history of the town. I'm gonna skip around a bit as I'm trying to focus on two periods of time - - late 1700s and early-mid 1800s.
Savannah was, by design, the first step in the creation of Georgia, which received its charter from King George II in April 1732, as the thirteenth and last of England's American colonies. In November 1732 Oglethorpe, with 114 colonists, sailed from England on the Anne. This first group of settlers landed at the site of the planned town, then known as Yamacraw Bluff, on the Savannah River approximately fifteen miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, on February 12, 1733.

British forces captured Savannah in 1778 and reinstalled James Wright as colonial governor of Georgia. In October 1779 a combined force of Americans and Frenchmen, commanded by General Benjamin Lincoln and Count Charles Henri d'Estaing, attempted to retake Savannah from its British occupiers. The allied army sustained heavy casualties and was repulsed on the outskirts of Savannah by British defenders led by Colonel John Maitland and the Seventy-first Highlanders. From this encounter, regarded as one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution (1775-83), emerged two of Savannah's most notable military heroes, Sergeant William Jasper and Count Casimir Pulaski, both of whom were killed during the unsuccessful assault on the British lines.

Savannah fell to Union general William T. Sherman at the end of his army's march to the sea from Atlanta. On December 22, 1864, Sherman transmitted his famous telegram to U.S. president Abraham Lincoln in which he presented "as a Christmas gift, the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition; and also about 25,000 bales of cotton."
This is an extremely old city, compared to most in the USA. It is also claimed to be the first "planned" city in America - - it is built on a giant grid.

savannah_map_1818.jpg


A History of Fires
1796
Savannah has a wealth of 19th century architecture, but almost nothing survives from the 18th century. The reason is two major fires (in 1796 and 1820), both of which burned an enormous portion of the city.
Savannah’s Great Fire of 1796 was one of the most devastating fires ever to have struck an American city at that time.
Only a few years earlier, Savannah and its people had emerged from the years of the Revolutionary War seemingly well poised to capitalize on its growing position as a shipping and mercantile center. Over a single night, most of its progress was lost.
As dusk fell in the early evening of Saturday November 26, around 6 or 7pm, a small fire broke out in the bakery of a Mr Gromet, located on present day Ellis (then Market) Square.
Dawn broke on devastated city. Half a dozen men were dead, killed in their attempts to fight the blaze. Two thirds of the city had burned almost to the ground, the wood frames of the buildings entirely consumed and only the brick chimneys – several hundred of them – left behind.
A reported 229 houses, excluding outbuildings, had been destroyed, leaving 400 families homeless. 171 houses escaped the fire, but many of those fortunate not to lose their home still lost their livelihoods, their places of business and their tools or goods destroyed
By 1798, a census of Savannah found a city of 6226 people (2272 white, 3216 slave and 238 free black), living in 618 houses. There were additionally 415 kitchens, 228 outhouses, plus various shops and stores.
1820
Sometime after 1 a.m., a fire broke out in a livery stable behind a boarding house in Savannah. The fire spread to Bay Street and then on the city market, where illegal kegs of gunpowder were stored. There was a massive explosion, resulting in the fire spreading throughout the city. By the next afternoon, 463 buildings had been burned to the ground, and two out of every three Savannah residents were homeless. The cause of the fire was never officially determined, though it was believed to have been arson.
This is the best info I could find on the web about this fire.

But wait, it gets worse.
On May 1820, the first the deaths from yellow fever were recorded. By December of that year, 666 Savannahians, over one-tenth of her population were dead. Although 1820 is associated with the Year of the Yellow Fever, more than 4000 people had died from the fever from 1807 to 1820. Nine more epidemics would follow. In 1856, 560 people died and in 1876, another 1,066 Savannahians died from yellow fever.
It wouldn't be a juicy topic if 666 didn't show up at least once!

The Architecture
Savannah was founded in 1733, and in a short 30 years starting in 1796 it lost basically all its buildings and homes, and most of its population to fire or disease. Certainly plausible, worse things have certainly happened although it does seem like particularly bad luck. However, I can't help but get this nagging feeling that this story doesn't square with the architecture. I'm going to leave the commentary on each individual building for now, try to imagine all of this being built in the ashes of two major fires and an epidemic.

I will also add that I had a hard time tracking down the dates in which these structures were built, for the most part. Perhaps someone with local knowledge could fill us in, or perhaps there is a book on this city which goes into better detail. That being said, its not like I would take these dates at face value anyway.

14685961887_5dcd586efd_b.jpg22982514091_2e6005ac7f_b.jpg22982507951_32035cb6a8_b.jpgsavannah-ga-city-hall-hyman-wallace-witcover-gold-dome-greek-revival-architecture-national-reg...jpgmickve-israel.jpgCathedral_of_St._John_the_Baptist_-_Savannah_GA_-_panorama.jpg
7720560824_b5bb4a713a_k-700x455.jpgforsyth-fountain-water-fountains-savannah-georgia-ga-historic-architecture.jpgfirstbaptistchurch1.jpg1200px-GA_Savannah_Customhouse02.jpg

One impression I am left with is the sheer amount of differing architectural styles that are found here. According to architects you can find examples of Federal, Georgian, Gothic Revival, Greek revival, Italianate, Regency, Romanesque Revival and 2nd French Empire. It is honestly hard for me to believe that all of these buildings were conceived and built post-1820.

This is a difficult topic, as unlike some of the other major city fires that have been discussed here there is no photographic evidence of the aftermath. Moreover, most of these structures also pre-date photography which makes it very difficult to track down construction photos. Unless this history is all by design to throw people off the trail of the true history of this town.

Here is another curiosity: according to historical sources, Gen. Sherman spared the city of Savannah from his "March to the Sea" in which he was leaving every city he went through razed to the ground. The story goes that he was so stunned by its beauty that he felt that it was worth sparing. This was in 1864. So you're telling me that between 1820 and 1864 a population decimated by fires and yellow fever managed to build these impressive works?

A post script: I can find almost no evidence of a mudflood anywhere in this city. This could be related to its location near the ocean, where flooding and hurricanes could have washed mud back into the sea.
 

KorbenDallas

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I think if you have a devastating "fire" which destroyed everything there was, it would automatically suggest that all the existing buildings were constructed by the currently living individuals. Could be some sort of indoctrination mechanism for existing structures.

I was unable to find a single sketch, painting or image related to both of these fires. Strange. This city appears to be a suspect.

Have you tried to match the location of Savannah with any of the pre-existing cities on the older maps?

1691map.jpg
 
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trismegistus

trismegistus

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savannah.JPG

The first two maps are pretty vague, but this map has the general area. Savannah is south of Port Royal. Doesn't seem like there is anything marking a city, though.

Also, here. Not sure if the names on the interior are names of cities or just general geographic markers.

savannah 2.JPG
 

KorbenDallas

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I just posted a few maps as an example. You would have to look for better ones which there are plenty of. If you are able to match the location, you could dig in much deeper into it.

Here is your possible mudflood evidence, by the way. :geek:
1937. "Stoddard's Lower Range from Factors Walk, River Street, Savannah, Georgia." Cotton warehouses built by John Stoddard on the bluffs above the Savannah River in the late 1850s. This seems ripe for one of those condo conversions where the price features a decimal point.
savannah_mudflood.jpg
Here is something else of interest - Civil War related ruins.

Savannah, 1779, Siege of Savannah, Georgia, Revolutionary War Map.
 

anotherlayer

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So, I tried to line the current satellite view up with that 1779 map. Can anyone pinpoint where that star fort is buried under today?
 
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trismegistus

trismegistus

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Old-Fort-Jackson-Savannah-GA.jpg

This is Old Fort Jackson in Savannah.

ft jackson.JPG

Looks to possibly have been a piece of the original star fort, based off its positioning compared against the older maps.

Named for James Jackson, the fort is the oldest standing fort in Georgia. It was not the first fort to occupy the site, however. In 1776 Savannah residents built an earthen fort, which was destroyed by the construction of Fort Jackson.
:unsure:
 

WildFire2000

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I live in Georgia currently. It is a state requirement that all houses and as many structures as possible are built with a crawlspace underneath. I don't know WHEN that state law was established, but houses everywhere have it. Everything has little window-y things at the bottoms and none of them have a traditional foundation like they have in Florida and other states I've lived in. Not sure if it has anything to do with it or not, but I live several hours from Savannah.
 

BStankman

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So, I tried to line the current satellite view up with that 1779 map. Can anyone pinpoint where that star fort is buried under today?
Would you be able to superimpose this? (Cannot upload due to 1MB size?)
A Map of the County of Savannah

And locate the Indian kings tomb?
It looks like it might be the Bacon Park sand-fly Crest-hill area.

Check out the Savanna Cotton exchange / Mason hall. For basement / mud flood.
Shorpy Historic Picture Archive :: Cotton Exchange: 1904 high-resolution photo

SHORPY_4a11931a.jpgOld-Savannah-Cotton-Exchange-Stairs-from-Off-Loading-Quay-on-the-Savannah-River-Savannah-GA-20...jpg

Fort Pulaski looks interesting for civil war shenanigans.
Fort-Pulaski-in-1924-1024x694.jpgPulaski 2.jpg Pulaski.jpglossy-page1-3581px-thumbnail.tif.jpg
 
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trismegistus

trismegistus

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Would you be able to superimpose this? (Cannot upload due to 1MB size?)
A Map of the County of Savannah

And locate the Indian kings tomb?
It looks like it might be the Bacon Park sand-fly Crest-hill area.
I had more trouble than its worth trying to superimpose it, but I was able to determine that it was located somewhere on a current golf course :LOL: where else would it be?

Anyway, some further digging led me to this extremely interesting blog post. I'll post some highlights below but it is definitely worth reading through.

Irene-composite-1-1280x640.jpg

On behalf of the Trustees of the Province of Georgia, James Edward Oglethorpe had just purchased the land for Savannah. Afterward Tamachichi, the Seller’s Agent, gave Oglethorpe, the Buyers Agent, a walking tour of the real estate, the Trustees had purchased. Colonial Secretary Thomas Christie recorded the conversations. Tamachichi first took Oglethorpe to a cluster of low burial mounds that were located on the edge of Yamacraw Bluff . . . roughly northeast of the Savannah Visitors Center. Tamachichi wanted the British to clearly understand why he WAS not willing to sell this tract of land. The mounds were the burial places of his ancestors. His village was also to remain where it was. There was a Creek village adjacent to Savannah until the American Revolution.
1735-Savannah-Detail2-768x787.jpg
Section of the beautifully drafted 1735 map of Savannah . . . showing the original plan with only two of Oglethorpe’s famous parks. Iola Island (upper left) was later renamed Irene Island. The Yamacraw village was located where the words, Savannah, are located.
I was first astounded to read that the ancestors of the Uchee, the Apalache (Panoans from Peru) and the Itzate Creeks (Itza Mayas) had all first entered North America at the mouth of the Savannah River. Their cultures had blended to create the Creek’s first capital town. Downtown Savannah is located on its site. The town was named Aparashikora (Anglicized to Apalachicola) . . . which means “From the ocean or from Peru – descendants of – people.
Astounding indeed - - how does one sail from Peru on the west side of SA and land on the Eastern cost of GA? There was no panama canal back then (ostensibly), so there is either a route you can take through the rivers of SA to empty out into the Atlantic, or they sailed around the entireity of SA to reach their destination.
That meant the Apalachicola Tribe originated in Savannah. The word merely means “Apalache People.” The historic Creek town of Palachicola on the Savannah River was NOT a branch of the Apalachicola, who had moved east in recent times . . . as all academicians assumed. We also now know that the oldest mound in North America is the Bilbo Mound (3540 BC). It is on the grounds of the Savannah Country Club . . . the United States oldest golf course. It was a mound built in the center of a ceremonial pond . . . very ancient public architecture.
There is your answer, which lines up with my basic sleuthing on google maps.

I can't find anything on Aparashikora through googling - - the anglican spelling has lots of results, but only because there is a town in Florida named after it.

I did manage to find this map, however.

apach.JPG


There seems to be precedence for this area to be known as Apalche as early as 1569 Florida et Apalche

There was also a tantalizing comment in the comment section:
Not in central Georgia, but 500 years ago, the Okefenokee Swamp was a freshwater lake with a large island in the center. On this island was a temple dedicated to the Sun Goddess and staffed by beautiful Sun Priestesses. That island is now known as Billy’s Island.
I'm having a hard time tracking down any kind of precedence for this.
 
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KorbenDallas

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This is why we can not make ends meet. They inverted and replaced everything and anything pertaining to reality. Here is an example.

1691map.jpg

Here they teach us that Tegesta
should be called Florida.
tegesta.jpg

Tegesta aka Florida (whose Province, by the way?)
How are we supposed to figure out what the real name of Savannah was when the outline of the continent changed so much, and places got renamed?
 

blynes

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I just discovered this forum today. I live in Savannah and there are a number of mudflood buildings here. I was in the basement of a building on Bay Street back in the 1970’s there were windows and doors below grade. When I asked about it I was told the street level had been raised. But why? I hope to get some pictures soon to post here.
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Mud flood building in Savannah near Savannah River.
 

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