Top 7 Savannah Historic House Museums to Visit

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Savannah’s historical house museums are a treasure that all should experience when they visit Savannah. Below you’ll find our picks for the top house museums in the city.

Your Guide to Visiting the Top Historic House Museums in Savannah Georgia

owens thomas house

Owens-Thomas House Museum & Slave Quarters


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

Built as a beautiful Regency style mansion in 1819, the Owens-Thomas House, along with its adjacent gardens, carriage house, and slave quarters, allows visitors to explore the complicated relationships between the most and least powerful people in the city of Savannah in the early 19th century.

History of the Richardson-Owens-Thomas House

In November 1816, work began on the new home of banker, shipping merchant, and slave trader Richard Richardson and his wife, Frances. The home was designed by English architect (and relative to Richardson by marriage) William Jay, but was constructed by builder John Retan and the team of free and enslaved men in his charge. The site also included a two-sided privy and a building located on the east end of the lot, which was divided into a carriage house and slave quarters.

The Richardsons moved into the home with their six children and nine enslaved men, women, and children in January 1819. Unfortunately for the Richardsons, the next three years saw steady decreases in their prosperity, including the financial Panic of 1819, a yellow fever epidemic, a fire that destroyed half the city, and the death of Frances and two of the children. By 1822, Richardson decided to sell the house and move to Louisiana, where he had family and business interests. He had been shipping enslaved people, mostly children, from Savannah to New Orleans for years.

By 1824, the Bank of the United States owned the house, which they leased to Mary Maxwell as a boarding house. The Marquis de Lafayette was a guest of Mrs. Maxwell when he visited Savannah in March 1825 as part of his whirlwind tour of the United States for the 50th anniversary of the American Revolution.

In 1830, George Welshman Owens, then mayor of Savannah, purchased the property at auction for $10,000. Owens, who was also a lawyer, planter, and politician, moved in with his wife, Sarah, and their six children in 1833. Over the years, Owens kept nine to 15 enslaved people on the property and held almost 400 men, women, and children in bondage on his plantations.

The last Owens descendant to live in the home was George Owens’ granddaughter, Margaret Gray Thomas. When Thomas passed away in 1951 with no direct heirs, she willed the house to the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences to be run as a house museum in honor of her grandfather, George Owens, and her father, Dr. James Gray Thomas. The site opened to the public in 1954.

Carriage House & Orientation Gallery

The south half of this building originally housed horses and carriages on the first floor with a hay loft on the floor above. Beginning in November 2018, the first level of this building will house our Orientation Gallery. Exhibits in this space help put the story of the site into the larger context of local, regional, and national history. The site of the original hay loft now houses The Loft, a workspace for Telfair’s historical interpreters to study primary documents, examine archaeological artifacts, and research our sites’ history.

Slave Quarters

The north half of the building contains the original slave quarters for the site. This two-story structure was composed of three rooms on each level. Nine to 15 enslaved people, about half of whom were children, lived and worked on the site at any given time between 1819 and the end of the Civil War. Once the war ended, the space became servants’ quarters, housing many of the same people.

Now these these wonderfully preserved spaces offer new interactive exhibits to help visitors understand the day-to-day lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked in the space, as well as the most unique architectural feature of the house, the indoor plumbing.

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green meldrim house tour savannah

Green Meldrim House


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

General William Tecumseh Sherman used the house as headquarters when the Federal army occupied Savannah during the Civil War, upon the invitation of Mr. Green. It was at this time (December, 1864) that General Sherman sent his famous telegram to President Lincoln offering him the City of Savannah as a Christmas gift. In 1976, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.

Mr. Green was not possessed of great wealth when he arrived in Savannah. He became a cotton merchant and ship owner. By 1850, he had amassed a fortune sufficient to build the most elaborate house in Savannah at a cost of $93,000. According to Green family records, $40,000 of the cost of the building materials including flagstones, laths, planks and bricks, were brought from England as ballast on Mr. Green’s ships. Recent restorations have revealed that the bricks were actually made at a foundry in Macon, GA. The Green-Meldrim House is one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture to be found in the South. The house was constructed in the early 1850’s as the residence of Mr. Charles Green, an Englishman who came to Savannah in 1833.

The architect for the house was Mr. John S. Norris of New York. Mr. Norris was in Savannah from 1846–1861 and during that time he designed not only the Green-Meldrim House but also the Custom House and numerous other fine residences. There are many unusual architectural features throughout the house. The front entrance has three sets of doors. The heavy outer double doors fold in and form a small closet on either side of the entrance. Of the other two sets, one has glass panels to give light and the third set is louvered for ventilation.

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Juliette gordon low birthplace museum

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is offering guided tours exploring the fascinating life and world-changing legacy of Juliette Gordon Low, Founder of the Girls Scouts, through stories, art, and artifacts held in her childhood home. Learn more about what you’ll see on the tour. Please allow at least an hour for your visit, so you can fully enjoy the tour, garden, and museum store.

A tour of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace provides an exciting look into the history of our remarkable founder and her home, as well as a glimpse into a movement that is still building girls into strong women of courage, confidence, and character over 100 years later.

During your visit to the Birthplace you will be guided on a journey through the life of Juliette Gordon Low. Original and period furnishings adorn seven spacious rooms with high ceilings. You will see unique architectural features, including elaborately carved millwork, decorative plaster ceilings, and the impressive staircase with its curved mahogany rail. Numerous works of art, including many pieces created by Daisy herself, are on display throughout the house.

You may browse the garden independently before or after your tour. Be sure to look for the monogrammed gates that are believed to be forged in part by Daisy herself.

Before you head back out into beautiful Savannah, you’ll want to visit the shop for great local gifts, items made by girls and women around the world, and Girl Scout merchandise.

davenport house museum, savannah

Davenport House Museum


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

The Isaiah Davenport House is one of the best examples of Federal-Style architecture in Savannah. The simple but elegant exterior was constructed of English brick and brownstone and features an ornamental iron railing and handsome double entry stairway.

The interior of the home has been authentically restored and features beautiful woodwork, original plaster-work and a hanging staircase. Filled with furnishings of the period, visitors are able to get a glimpse of what life was like in Savannah in the 1820s.

The Isaiah Davenport House is one of the best examples of Federal-Style architecture in Savannah. The simple but elegant exterior was constructed of English brick and brownstone and features an ornamental iron railing and handsome double entry stairway. The interior of the home has been authentically restored and features beautiful woodwork, original plaster-work and a hanging staircase. Filled with furnishings of the period, visitors are able to get a glimpse of what life was like in Savannah in the 1820s.

A native of Rhode Island, Isaiah Davenport, arrived in Savannah before 1807 after completing his apprentice as a builder. He soon became known as one of Savannah’s most famous and prosperous builders and built a number of brick houses in the late Georgian and Federal styles, all with high basements made necessary by the dusty unpaved streets of Savannah.

Davenport’s heirs sold the Davenport house to planter William E. Baynard in 1840, and remained in the hands of that family until 1955. Unfortunately, the house was a run-down tenement building by the 1930’s and destined for destruction in 1955 to make way for a parking lot. The historic home was saved by seven Savannah society ladies who raised $22,500 to purchase the home. This effort was the first act of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which would be responsible for saving and preserving many of Savannah’s historic sites.

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Want to save money and visit all that Savannah has to offer? If so, then we recommend purchasing TourPass Savannah. You can purchase a 1-day pass which will more than pay for itself by visiting only 3 attractions. 

andrew low house museum tour

Andrew Low House Museum


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

The lovely brick Andrew Low House combines Grecian details with elements of the Italian Villa style and boasts one of Savannah’s most stunning ironwork balconies. A shuttered piazza overlooks a beautiful brick-walled garden in the rear of the home. The front garden remains much as it did when first planted, with two hourglass-shaped flowerbeds. Handsome inside as well as the out, the Andrew Low House features spacious rooms decorated with beautiful plaster cornices and carved woodwork.

New York architect, John Norris, designed and built this lovely home in 1848-1849 for Andrew Low, a wealthy cotton factor, who came to Savannah from Scotland when he was only 16 years old. He started working in his uncle’s cotton firm and later became a partner and later director of the Savannah operation. In 1843 he married Sarah Cecil Hunter. Unfortunately, Andrew’s wife and 4-year old son died before the house was complete. Five years later, Andrew married Mary Cowper Stiles, daughter of William Henry Stiles, United States Minister to Austria. During the Civil War, Andrew Low was imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston harbor on suspicion of collaboration with the Confederacy.

The Andrew Low House was host to several important visitors over the years. One such visitor was English author, William Makepeace Thackery, who visited in 1853 and 1856 while on lecture tours.

Know that I write from the most comfortable quarters I have ever had in the United States. In a tranquil old city, wide stretched, tree-planted, with a few cows and carriages rolling through the sandy road, a red river with a tranquil little fleet of merchant men taking cargo, and tranquil ware-houses barricaded with packs of cotton; a famous good dinner, breakfast, etc. and leisure all morning to think and do and sleep and read as I like. The only place I stay in the United States where I can get these comforts — all free gratis — is in the house of my friend Andrew Low of the great house of A. Low and Co, Cotton Dealers, brokers.
William Makepeace Thackery

In 1870, Robert E. Lee, former commander of the Army of Northern Virginia paid a visit to Savannah with his daughter, Agnes. The general left the train to face one of the largest crowds that ever assembled to welcome him. Cheer followed cheer. As soon as the crowd would permit, Lee was driven to the home of General Lawton, at the corner of York and Lincoln Streets. Later in the evening he was taken to the Andrew Low House, where he was to sleep.

The Lowes invited some of Lee’s old comrades to dinner on April 2. General Joseph E. Johnson, General Andrew Lawton and General J. F. Gilmer came to pay their respects. It was the first time Lee had seen Johnson since the war. Before leaving Savannah, Lee paid a visit to Joseph Johnston, who was then living at 105 E. Oglethorpe Avenue. At some point during his stay, Lee and Johnston were photographed together at Ryan’s, a local photography studio in downtown Savannah. The familiar picture shows them, “grizzled, old and feeble,” seated on opposite sides of a small table.

That spot of spots! That place of places!! That city of cities!!!
Robert E. Lee to Savanahian Jack MacKay

Andrew Low’s son, William Mackay Low, married Juliette Gordon in 1886. Juliette, commonly known as Daisy, moved in the family home on Lafayette Square. It was here that the widowed Juliette founded the Girl Scouts of America. Daisy had become friends with General Robert Baden-Powell, former of the Boys Scouts of England. Baden-Powell and his sister, who had formed a society of “Girl Guides” in England, inspired Daisy to found a similar organization in the United States. She formed two such groups of girls in Savannah in 1912. Members of the Girl Guides, later known as the Girl Scouts, held their meetings in Daisy’s carriage house. Juliette Gordon Low died in 1927 and bequeathed the carriage house to the Savannah Girl Scouts. The National Society of the Colonial Dames in Georgia purchased the Andrew Low House in 1928. After painstaking restoration, the Colonial Dames used the home as their headquarters, and officially opened the home to the public in 1952.

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harper fowlkes house tour, savannah

Harper-Fowlkes House Museum


 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

This Greek Revival mansion located in Savannah’s historic district was built in 1842, and graciously opens their doors for tours. The house is beautifully furnished with antiques, yet continues to retain the feel of a warm and inviting home.

The Harper-Fowlkes House has served as the headquarters for the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Georgia since Alida Harper-Fowlkes bequeathed the house to the Society in 1985.

The exterior and interior architectural features of the home have intrigued students and travelers from all over the world. One of the featured treasures of the house is the elliptical opening viewed from the lower and upper levels of the entry and stairwell.

What to Expect: 

  • Docent led tour of Greek Revival historic home.
  • See fine furnishings and architectural features of the home.

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ships of sea maritime museum, savannah

Scarbrough House & Ships of the Sea Museum

 Full admission is included with TourPass Savannah

The Museum is arranged for self-guided tours. Please expect to spend at least one hour on site to explore the galleries and gardens. For groups of 10 or more Ships of the Sea can provide a guided tour of the Museum with a reservation in advance. The Museum also offers many educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. All student programs include educational tours. The Museum offers classes on the art of scrimshaw, sailor’s valentines, and women pirates.

The Scarbrough House is the elegant setting for the Museum’s collection of ship models, paintings, and maritime antiques. It was built in 1819 for one of the principal owners of the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Scarbrough’s architect, William Jay from Bath, England, created one of the earliest examples of domestic Greek Revival architecture in the South. Used as a public school from the 1870s – 1960s, the mansion was then abandoned for a brief period but later restored by Historic Savannah Foundation in the 1970s. After another period of vacancy, Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum restored the house again in 1996-97, building a new roof based on a documented William Jay design, adding a new rear portico and enlarging the garden.

What to Expect: 

  • Self-guided tour.
  • gift shop.
  • May be closed for private events with short notice provided.

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