Experience Hospitality at Our Historic Inns in Savannah GA

Our city’s 22 historic squares, stunning architectural details, and Low Country landscape make it one of the nation’s top travel destinations. Culture, shopping, and recreational activities fill the days while dining, entertainment, and romance extend into the nights.

Come, let Savannah romance you, and fall in love with the city’s hospitality hosted by one of our member inns.

Founding Savannah
On February 12, 1733, James E. Oglethorpe and 114 colonists from Gravesend, England arrived at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River to found America's thirteenth colony, Georgia. The outpost was established to increase imperial trade and navigation along the coastal waterway and to establish a protective buffer between Spanish Florida and the northern English colonies during the Spanish-American War. It is said that Oglethorpe had four rules for his new community: no slaves, no Roman Catholics, no strong drinks, and no lawyers.

Oglethorpe designed the basic layout of the city into blocks of five symmetrical 60-by-90-foot lots. Included in his plan were 24 public squares (22 of which are still in existence). They were intended to serve both as public meeting places and as areas where citizens could camp out and fortify themselves against attack from natives, Spaniards (who ruled Florida), and even marauding pirates. Thus Savannah became "America's first planned city." This system of public squares was intended to provide central areas of fortification, as well as social areas for the colonists.   Immigrants from around the world were attracted to Oglethorpe's city. By the time the American Revolution started, the population of Savannah exceeded 3,000, making it the twentieth largest town in the American colonies.

Savannah During the Revolution
During the Revolutionary War, the city was taken by colonial insurgents. The following year, in 1778, the British recaptured it, and in 1779, the American Army was unsuccessful in its attempts to retake the city. Finally, in 1782, the British left the city to return to England. Until the war ended in 1783, Savannah was the chief city and capital of the Georgia colony.

Cotton Dominates Economy
From the outset, Savannah was an important seaport. Before the American Revolution, the products of agriculture and trade with the Indians were sent back to England. At one time, rice paddies almost surrounded the city. Savannah prospered, and many of its historic homes were built. When the scourge of yellow fever swept through the city in 1820, the rice culture was abandoned and cotton became the dominant crop. For nearly a century, trading in the Cotton Exchange on Savannah's waterfront set world cotton prices. Cotton farming was greatly expanded following Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin, an event that took place nearby in 1793. Shortly thereafter, cotton shipments from the area soared to more than two million bales annually.

Marine History Events
Transportation history was made in 1819 when the SS Savannah became the first steamship to cross an ocean, traveling from Savannah to Liverpool, England.  Later, in 1834, the shift from sail to steam was furthered when the country's first all-iron vessel, the John Randolph, was built, owned, and operated in Savannah.

The City During the Civil War and Beyond
Savannah, which had a large free African-American population before the Civil War, suffered from the Union Navy's coastal blockade during the war. The city was captured by General William T. Sherman in 1864 after the citizens surrendered rather than risk total destruction of Savannah (as had already happened in Atlanta). When Sherman entered the glorious historic Savannah district he was so taken back by its beauty that on December 22, 1864, a legendary telegram was sent from Savannah, Georgia to President Abraham Lincoln in which Sherman said; "I beg to present to you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah with 140 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also about 25,000 bales of cotton."

The capture of Savannah brought on rampant vandalism. Throughout the reconstruction period (1865-1877) and beyond, the city went through hard times. Nevertheless, the first art museum in the Southeast, Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, was opened in 1886. Still, it is said that the city's civic pride did not revive until the early 1900s, when the National Park Service restored nearby Fort Pulaski. This revival inspired a group of Savannah citizens to begin restoration efforts. In March 1912, Savannah citizen Juliette Gordon Low formed the first Girl Scout troop in the nation, and later her birthplace was made into the national Girl Scout museum and national program center. World War I and its aftermath put restoration efforts on hold. The years following the war were harsh ones for Savannah. The boll weevil wiped out cotton crops, and the city fell into a decline. Many of its beautiful structures fell into disrepair.

In 1955, city residents created the Historic Savannah Foundation (purportedly established to prevent the demolition of the 1815 Davenport House) whose purpose was to restore old buildings in the city's original town center. Many sites in and around Savannah received the National Historic Landmark designation in 1966, and the city has been heralded as a masterpiece in urban planning. A multi-million-dollar riverfront revitalization in 1977 was peaked with these restoration efforts.

Today, the Historic District encompasses more than 2,300 architecturally and historically significant buildings in its 2.5-square-mile area. Restoration of these buildings continues to the present day. Restoration efforts have also included the existing City Market, including adaptive re-use of historic warehouses. Construction of the $83-million waterfront complex of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center was completed in May 2000 on Hutchinson Island.