July 31st, 2008
The postcards in this exhibit are from the Savannah Postcard Collection, MS 016, from the Jen Library’s collection, the Savannah College of Art and Design. Most of the postcards are in the public domain, but not all. Postcards published after 1923 may be covered by copyright. The Jen Library of the Savannah College of Art and Design cannot provide permission to publish.
National Guard Armory/Poetter Hall
Boston architect William Gibbons Preston designed the National Guard Armory in 1892. Located on the corner of Bull and Charlton Streets, adjacent to Madison Square, it was the site of the Savannah Female Orphan Asylum. Preston’s original commission was to add to the existing building, but it was later decided to demolish it and build the whole complex anew. It was constructed of pressed red brick, red mortar, brownstone, wrought iron, terra cotta, and wood and featured the rounded arched windows of th the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The building was purchased by the fledgling Savannah College of Art and Design in early 1979 and renovated extensively into classrooms, office space, and studios by the fall of that year when the college opened its doors to students.
Jewish Educational Alliance / Pulaski House
The Savannah chapter of the Jewish Educational Alliance built this facility on Pulaski Square in 1914. It was later owned by both the Tabernacle Baptist Church and the Salvation Army, and functioned as a church, a lodge, and a shelter for homeless women and children. It was leased then purchased by SCAD in 1995. Now an apartment-style residence hall for female students, Pulaski House accommodates up to four students in each unit, with private baths and kitchenettes.
Chatham County Jail / Habersham House
The Old Chatham County Jail was built in 1887, to replace an earlier structure. A competition was held and the McDonald Brothers, Harry P. (1848-1904) and Kenneth (1847-1904), of Louisville, Kentucky, were selected. Kenneth arrived in Savannah in 1886 and hired local project architect, DeWitt Bruyn and contractor, W. F. Bowe. Their design specified a jailer’s residence to be on the southern elevation and the cell block running to parallel Habersham. Prisoners would be separated by gender. Their plan contained 117 cells, 2 small basement level dungeons, a cell for condemned prisoners, an infirmary, and the 93 foot high clock tower. It featured such innovations as an elevator to bring food to the upper floors, speaking tubes, and gas lighting. The structure was built of brick, iron, stone, and stucco and stood four stories. It covered 42,884 square feet. Both the jailer’s residence and the cell block had rusticated granite bases with upper walls of gray Savannah brick, covered with stucco and scored to resemble masonry.
A fire destroyed the original tower with a Byzantine style dome in 1898. The rebuilt tower was designed as a Moorish turret, rising 106 feet with four cast iron balconies. The jail was in use until 1978, with a renovation in 1957 by Bergen and Bergen Architects. In 1983, a group of investors considered developing the building into condominiums, but the project failed. The property was donated to SCAD in 1986. For a while, it was thought that the building could be renovated to house the college library, but that plan proved problematic. The area that was the jailer’s residence and the tower have been renovated, but the cell block area remains gutted. The building has been renamed Habersham Hall and houses English as a Second Language.
Masonic Temple/ Scottish Rite Building / SCAD Security
Hymen W. Witcover, architect for Savannah’s City Hall and other buildings, designed the Masonic Temple, which was built in 1912. The building was better known as the Scottish Rite Temple. Witcover, a Freemason, incorporated a great deal of symbolism into the building. It was constructed of reinforced concrete with terra-cotta overlays. If you are interested in the Freemason symbolism, please see their article about the building. The building is located on Madison Square at the corner of Bull and Charlton Streets.
Solomon Drug Store, one of the oldest drug stores in the country, leased the ground floor when the building was completed. In 1870, Solomon Drug Store filled a prescription for General Robert E. Lee, on a tour through the South and a few months before his death, where he met with General Joseph E. Johnston. The drug store has been acquired by the college and is now operated as the Gryphon Tea Room.
U S Marine Hospital / York Hall
The Marine Hospital, located at the corner of York and Drayton Streets, opened in 1907. Part of a federal program constructing hospitals in various port cities to provide health care for Merchant Marine sailors, the hospital also played a key role in monitoring and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. The hospital’s mission grew over the first few years it was open to include a wider variety of public health functions and in 1912, the name was change to the Public Health Service. It operated as a low income out-patient health facility until 2003. The college acquired the building shortly after that and remodeled it into administrative offices. It is now known as York Hall.
There are rumors that the Marine Hospital is one of the most haunted structures in Savannah. Many sailors arriving with a fever were sent to the hospital’s quarantine ward to prevent a disease outbreak. It is thought that some of those who died in the quarantine ward still are present in spirit and are occasionally seen in the upstairs windows.
Downtowner Motor Inn / Oglethorpe House
The Downtowner Motor Inn, later to become the Civic Center Ramada Inn, was built in 1966. Centrally located on Ogelthorpe Avenue, it was convenient to the downtown and the Civic Center as well as the Historic district. Its style, a segmented box on stilts with lots of glass, gives a nod to Le Corbusier’s Savoye. The college purchased and renovated the structure to serve as a residence hall, paving the way for similar hotel to dorm conversions.
Anderson Street School /Anderson Hall
Gottfried Norman designed the Anderson Street School at 412 East Anderson Street in 1896. The building cost $20,000 and was 20,478 square feet. It was designed using elements of classical and Colonial style and constructed of an ornate red brick with gray terra cotta detailing and other architectural details of granite, concrete, and limestone. A wrought iron fence using simple geometric elements enclosed the school grounds. Some features included hollow walls for coolness, steam heat, and a southern exposure. An octagonal cupola with faceted pilasters and a lantern shaped dome is at the summit of the roof. The school was acquired and renovated by SCAD in 1988, and renamed Anderson Hall.
Barnard Street School / Pepes Hall
The Barnard Street School, at 212 West Taylor Street, was designed by Norman using the same floor plan as the Anderson Street School. It was built on the site of the original Barnard Street Elementary School, which had been designed by John Norris and built in 1854. It had been used as a military hospital by Sherman’s army during the Civil War. The new 20,759 square foot school building was $75,000 in 1905. The two story building was designed in a Mediterranean revival style with a battered brick basement level, a terra cotta roof, and a central bell tower. The building was originally covered in rusticated stucco with sandstone detailing around the windows. The school closed in 1956 and served as administrative offices until 1961. It reopened as a school in 1961. It was acquired by SCAD in 1988, renovated, and renamed Pepe Hall.
Henry Street School / Eckburg Hall
The Henry Street School, located at 115 Henry Street, was designed by Gottfried Norman and built by Andrew J. Aylesworth. The plans for the Queen Anne revival styled building were accepted in 1891, with costs estimated at $30,000. It is constructed of red brick with terra cotta ornamentation by Southern Terra Cotta Works of Atlanta and accented with rusticated granite. A large arched entrance under a gabled center pavilion made an impressive portal. The rounded arches were Richardsonian Romanesque and an iron fence ringed the perimeter. The first floor windows were topped by arched transoms with small multiple square lights.
In 1910, additions for each end of the building were designed by Hyman Witcover. He used the same façade treatment and added gables to the side elevations of the building. The building was used as a school until 1975. In 1986, it was purchased by SCAD and renovated to provide classroom space. Most of the original design elements were kept in tact. It was renamed Henry Hall, and later changed to Eckburg Hall.
Arthur Lucas built the Lucas Theatre in 1921 with architect C.K. Howell. Howell was the architect for a number of theaters all over the country. According to a 1920’s era postcard of the theater it was built on the site of the home of Sir John Houston, the first Governor of Georgia. At the time, it was state of the art and sumptuous, and was an eclectic mix of many styles including Adamesque, Italianate, Art Deco, and others. The Lucas was built primarily as a movie palace, but also included a stage for live performances. Arthur Lucas owned more than 20 theaters throughout the South, including the Fox Theater in Atlanta. The Lucas Theatre in Savannah is the only one named after him.
The popularity of the theater began to diminish as the population moved to the suburbs and television became the entertainment choice. In 1976, the Lucas Theatre closed. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to convert the theater into an alternate use, but the building was eventually slated for demolition.
In 1986, Lucas Theatre for the Performing Arts, Inc. was established as a not-for-profit corporation by Savannah residents Emma and Lee Adler and the building was purchased. The restoration took 14 years campaign and 14 million dollars. The effort was aided by donations from Savannahians and such celebrities as Kevin Spacey, as well as the cast and crew of Forrest Gump. In December of 2000, the Lucas had a grand reopening.
The Lucas Theater now enjoys a relationship with the Savannah College of Art and Design. The college uses the space for a number of events such as the Savannah Film Festival while supporting the theater’s overhead. The college’s support makes the Lucas available for many community uses also. The theater has presented not only film entertainment, but also concerts and performances, plays, and musicals, bringing in an average of more than 1,000 people per week