Historic Savannah

Four hours and twelve minutes from Fayetteville is the historic city of Savannah. Founded February 12, 1733 by General James Oglethorpe, who designed the now famous ward system of streets and parks, the city was originally created as a buffer colony to protect South Carolina from Spanish occupied Florida. During the American Revolution the city was occupied by the British until the Americans won the war, and Eli Whitney…famous for inventing the cotton gin, lived and worked in Savannah as a tutor on the Mulberry Grove Plantation. In January of 1861, after 13 of the Southern colonies rejected ties to the Union over State’s rights and the issue of slavery, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union.

Today downtown Savannah is a thriving marketplace rich in history and culture.  The River Walk is part is the jewel of their historic district. Many of the buildings date back as far as 1817 when Savannah was the leading Atlantic cotton seaport. The Cotton Exchange, built in 1887, and the row of red brick buildings soon became known as “Factor’s Row’ or ‘Factor’s walk’ after the cotton factors (brokers) who traded cotton along the river banks.

Today the entire district is thriving with hotels, restaurants and retail shops for the history enthusiast. While the cotton ships are long gone, the river bank is now a docking station for colorful paddle boats and historic sail boats. Just south of the River Walk are 22 of the original 24 squares designed by Oglethorpe…9 of these squares are fabulous parks with amazing statues and their own historical points…like the park bench Forrest Gump sat on to tell his amazing story. At the corners of Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Street is the Colonial Park Cemetery or ‘The Old Cemetery’.

Established in 1750, it’s been estimated more than 9000 people are buried here, including many of the 700 people who died in the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1829. During the Civil War Union soldiers stabled their horses in the cemetery and desiccated many of the graves…looting them for valuables and altering dates and names. Most of those grave markers are now attached to the eastern wall.

Five miles south of the River Walk is the Bonaventure Cemetery made famous in John Berendt’s best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

The Bird Girl, statue made famous by the book cover, was sculpted by Sylvia Shaw Judson in 1936.  A family in Savannah purchased on of the four bronze castings, named it ‘Little Wendy’ and placed it in their family plot in Bonaventure.  Now it’s on loan to the Telfair Museum and can be seen at the Jepson Center for the Arts.

French for ‘good fortune’ Bonaventure was established as a formal cemetery in 1847 by Peter Wiltberger and is the final resting place for some of Savannah’s most notable figures:  Conrad Aiken – poet and 1929 Pulitzer Prize winner, Johnny Mercer – a singer and songwriter who penned hits like ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘Hooray for Hollywood’, many of Savannah’s founding members, and veterans of the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.  The grounds are breathtaking and the grave markers are some of the most interesting and often reflect the life’s work of the deceased.  Noted artist John Waltz sculpted dozens of statutes used throughout the cemetery and the grounds are sprinkled with a liberal dose of live-oaks and Spanish moss.

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RALEIGH FLEA MARKET

Through some ironic twist of fate, Jim and I have almost always lived in small towns…Abilene Texas, Moore Oklahoma, Bossier Louisiana, Hope Mills North Carolina!  There were exceptions…two stints in DC (land of terrorists traffic jams and blizzards) but somehow the military always sent us off the beaten path.  Which means we’ve never been to a proper flea market.  We’ve never experienced the joy of finding funnel cakes conveniently located yards away from stuffed alligators, locally grown tomatoes and Louis XIV paintings.  Until now!

Saturday morning we loaded the Tommy Bahama Beach cart into the car and headed to the Raleigh Flea Market.  We took the scenic route through Fuquay Varina because seriously…who wants to drive the interstate?  The Flea market is hugely popular and Saturday was the first really nice day we’d had in a while so the place was packed.  We had to circle and wait for someone to leave then grab their parking spot.  While we were debating whether or not to take the cart…he was worried the aisles would be too narrow so we left it in the car…we watched someone back out and hit another car…almost knocking it off the tiny dirt ledge and onto the railroad tracks below.  Yah and then they just drove off!

Remember when I said Jim wanted to leave the beach cart in the car?  Well..the first stop we made was at a booth that sells corn hole beanbags.  We replaced his torn and broken set with a Carolina Panthers set…which he LOVES.  But…they’re kind of heavy so i made him carry them.  Then we bought two horns…

…this one lives on the coffee table

We’re not entirely certain what kind of horn they are.  I Googled ‘exotic African animal horns’ and I’m pretty sure this is…not.  I think it’s actually a Texas longhorn…horn.  Either way we love them.  But they’re long and awkward and sharp when you’re carrying them around in a crowd….trying not to stab people…or yourself.

Our next stop was an antiques dealer.  He had gorgeous chandeliers…most of them cost more than my car but a girl can dream.  He also had some amazing paintings.  But the real score was an antique golf club!  Before 1920 golf club shafts were made of hickory wood.  It was light but inconsistent and fragile so they switched to steel.  Today it’s kind of hard to find good examples because the wood was so easily broken or the grips are missing or the head has rusted.  We’re still searching for a second one so we can cross them and hang them.  By now Jim was desperately regretting his decision to leave the beach cart and we needed a pee break.  We lugged our swag back to the car, grabbed the cart and headed back.  This was my first opportunity to really look at the buildings.  The flea market is held at the NC State fairgrounds.  The main buildings were built in 1928 in the Mediterranean revival style.  They’re awesome…and totally look out of place in NC.  Seriously…it just screams Texas…maybe even the Alamo?  Across from the Alamo is the Dorton Arena.  the two buildings couldn’t be more different…

It’s new-agey and kind of has a sci-fi look to it.  This one was built in 1952.  It was designed by architect Michael Norwicki who died before construction could begin so local architect William Henley Dietrick oversaw construction.  I’m sure it has some kind of architectural cred…but I totally don’t know what Norwicki was thinking or why he put this next to the commercial buildings with their stucco finish and terracotta shingles or their turrets!  But Dorton does provide a shaded area to sit and rest and have a beverage when you’re all tuckered out from shopping.  So it’s got that going for it.

Jim refused to let me buy a single dish all afternoon and absolutely put his foot down when I suggested we needed some kind of taxidermy in the living room.  To be fair, the only two examples we found all afternoon were the very awkward looking alligator (as a Tennessee girl i can NOT have an alligator in my living room) and a somewhat deformed duck.  To be fair i don’t think he was always deformed.  Either his stuffing process went awry…or somewhere along the lines he was shoved into a storage unit and it didn’t suit him.

But we did find a few more treasures.  He purchased a leather wrist band for himself and bought me a large bottle of perfume.  Then i found a sterling spoon bracelet at Free Spirit Creations.  I’m developing a large collection of spoon jewelry….don’t know how that happened but I could write for hours about her lovely boutique and the unique treasures she had to offer!

Last but not least are the local growers with their honey and fresh veggies.  This area smells soooooo good!  The sun was beating down on the booths and you could smell strawberries and corn and vine ripened tomatoes all mingling together!  We didn’t buy any…we were afraid the ride home would wilt them so the next time we go we’re taking a cooler with us so we can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

It was…a lovely afternoon…and well worth the wait.  I kept waiting to be disappointed…you know I’m a skeptic at heart…but the whole place is charming and exactly what I wanted in a flea market.  I highly recommend it and we can’t wait to go back again.

(most photos were borrowed from the Raleigh Flea Market’s website and/or facebook page)