Savannah City Hall - Savannah Historic District - Savannah, GA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member onfire4jesus
N 32° 04.860 W 081° 05.477
17S E 491385 N 3549417
Quick Description: This building was built in 1906. It is located at the corner of Bull and Bay Sts in Savannah, GA.
Location: Georgia, United States
Date Posted: 6/10/2008 8:09:18 AM
Waymark Code: WM3Z9T
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 99

Long Description:

From the City of Savannah web site:

Savannah's City Hall is located on Yamacraw Bluff overlooking the Savannah River. This is the same bluff where General James Oglethorpe landed in 1733 with the first group of colonists who would establish the City of Savannah and the last of the 13 colonies of England.

City Hall was designed and built by local architect Hyman Wallace Witcover in 1901. The original cost estimate of $205,167 included ornate statues of chariots and horses atop the structure. Budget considerations forced their deletion from the final plans, but they can still be seen in the architect's original rendering. City Hall is a Renaissance Revival building with classic proportions and detailing. The structure replaced a circa 1799 City Exchange building which had housed City government for many years. On January 2, 1906, ten thousand visitors attended the opening reception for City Hall. The first City Council meeting in the new City Hall was held the following day.

Exterior: The building's base is of rough-hewn granite blocks. Footings for City Hall rest more than 27 feet below the sidewalk level on Bay Street. This space houses the basement and sub-basement levels and can be seen from the River Street side. Stone steps lead down the east side of the building from Bay Street to the Drayton ramp and Factors' Walk. The cornerstone is located at the Bay Street level, on the northeast corner of the building, and can be seen from the stone steps, or from a nearby pedestrian bridge spanning Factor's Walk. The exterior building material changes at the Bay Street level to a four foot high skirt of polished granite. Then the building is divided into three major levels. The first floor exterior is made of smooth granite with deeply recessed joints. The second and third floors make up the second level which is sheathed in sand colored limestone with matching terra cotta trim. The fourth floor and dome base, constructed of the same materials, make up the final level. Two statues representing art and commerce adorn the fourth floor balcony. The dome rises 70 feet into the air. It was originally clad in copper but was gilded in 1987. The $240,000 project was a gift from a local philanthropist. Tissue-paper thin sheets of 23-karat gold leaf were applied to the dome, cupola, and clock hands.

Just outside the main entrance are two tablets put in place in 1918 to commemorate Savannah's importance to the maritime industry. One tablet marks the 100th anniversary of The Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. The second tablet commemorates The John Randolf, the first iron vessel seen in the Americas. The John Randolf was assembled in and launched from Savannah in 1834.

Interior: The four floors at and above the Bay Street level house various public services, while the two basement floors contain maintenance functions. One enters City Hall from Bay Street through a foyer that leads into a dramatic rotunda reaching four stories and peaked by a leaded glass dome of yellows, golds, and blues. Eight equally spaced windows belonging to an outer dome provide natural light to the stained glass.

White tile is used on the floors in both the foyer and the rotunda; however, different shaped tile and patterns are used to articulate each space. The seal of the City of Savannah is laid in the tiles of the foyer. The main floor rotunda's central feature is a circular fountain surrounded by a simple brass railing. It is highlighted by a bronze fountain composed of four dolphins with backs arched so that their tails extend above their heads to support a cherub sitting upon four large scallop shells. In his hands rests a horn of plenty. The bronze City Seal was returned to the fountain in 1987 after an absence of many years. No one knows how or when the seal disappeared, but it was rediscovered in an Atlanta flea market.

The Savannah City Hall Historical Marker reads:

"City Hall is the first building constructed by the citizens of Savannah expressly and exclusively to serve as the seat of municipal government. Opened on January 2, 1906, it has served continuously in this role since that date. City Hall was preceded on this site by the City Exchange, built in 1799 and razed in 1904. Along with municipal offices, the City Exchange housed the custom house, a post office, and newspaper offices. City Hall was designed by Savannah architect Hyman W. Witcover and built 1904-1905 by the Savannah Contracting Company during the administration of Mayor Herman Myers. It is a Renaissance Revival structure of granite and limestone exterior. The original copper dome was first gold leafed in 1987."

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Savannah Historic District

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

Bay St & Bull St Savannah, GA 31401

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Other (Please explain in the Private Message field)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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