chippewa square, savannah

Chippewa Square


Why You Should Go

Chippewa Square is located on Bull Street between Hull and Perry Streets. Standing here you are at the very heart of Savannah’s Historic District. Named for the Battle of Chippewa during the War of 1812, the square was built in 1815.

  • In the center of the square stands the imposing statue of James Oglethorpe. Sculpted by Daniel Chester French in 1910, the statue depicts Oglethorpe in light armor wearing period clothing and a tricorn hat. Four lions surround the pedestal with shields that bear seals for the city of Savannah, the Colony of Georgia, the State of Georgia and James Oglethorpe’s personal coat of arms. The base is inscribed with quotes taken from the original Georgia charter. Much is made of the fact that Oglethorpe’s statue faces south. This is due to the tradition of facing statues toward their historic enemies. In Oglethorpe’s case, the enemies he faced were the Spanish who had come north from Florida. In a small battle known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh, Oglethorpe and his men secured the lower Atlantic coast for England by repelling Spanish forces from St. Simons Island, about 75 miles south of Savannah.
  • FORREST GUMP – If Chippewa Square looks familiar to you, it should. The square featured prominently in the critically acclaimed film “Forrest Gump.” Tom Hanks’ character spent a great deal of time narrating his life story from a park bench in Chippewa Square, The bench itself was a fiberglass prop, and can now be seen at the Savannah Historical Museum.
  • SAVANNAH THEATRE – Chippewa Square isn’t only known for its contributions to the silver screen. The square is also home to the Savannah Theatre, the oldest playhouse in continual use in the United States. The theater has survived for nearly two centuries, struggled through changes of ownership, and endured a series of fires and reconstructions. Legend has it that Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth played at the Savannah Theater in the 1850’s with his brother, noted actor Edwin Booth. As the years went by the theater would undergo many changes, including being renamed the Savannah Opera House in 1894 and burning to the ground in 1906. It is widely acknowledged that the theater was a victim of arson at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who sought to prevent a production of Thomas Dixon’s controversial play “The Clansman.”

The theater was ravaged by fire again in 1944 and again in 1948. Fortunately, though repairs were made, enough of the original structure was saved to enable the theater to hold on to its status as the country’s oldest playhouse. At present the Savannah Theater is seeking federal funds for further restoration.

  • STODDARD HOUSE – The Stoddard House (also known as the Philbrick-Eastman House) located at 17 West McDonough Street, is best known for its wrought iron fence bearing silhouettes of prominent men. If you completed Tour #1, you have seen the same ironwork around the fountain in front of the Cotton Exchange on Bay Street. Although construction of this Greek revival home was started in 1844 for the Eastman family, it was not completed until 1847 for John Stoddard. This elegant residence has housed several important Savannah families, which is why there is sometimes confusion about the building’s name.
  • FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF SAVANNAH – The First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia, was chartered on November 26, 1800, and the present church on Chippewa Square was completed in 1833. The Greek revival building has been enlarged over the years, with an addition constructed in 1839. Further renovations were completed in 1966, 1989-1990, and 1998-1999.
  • SIX PENCE PUB – Located just north of Chippewa Square on Bull Street is an authentic reproduction of the typical 18th-century English pub. You may recognize it from the movie “Something to Talk About,” when the character played by Julia Roberts shows up in her nightgown to confront her husband, played by Dennis Quaid, about his infidelity.

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