William Scarbrough House - Savannah, GA
N 32° 04.866 W 081° 05.835
17S E 490822 N 3549429
Quick Description: William Scarbrough was a wealthy shipping merchant in the early 1800s in Savannah. This house was built in 1818, designed by architect William Jay. It is located at 41 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in Savannah, GA.
Location: Georgia, United States
Date Posted: 8/8/2008 3:43:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM4DC4
From the Ships of the Sea Museum web site:
"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 England, created one of the earliest examples of the Greek Revival in the South. Used as a public school from the 1870's, the mansion was abandoned for twenty years and then restored by Historic Savannah Foundation in the 1970's. After another period of neglect, 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.
William Scarbrough was a shipping merchant, born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Edinburgh, who came to Savannah in 1802, at the age of twenty-six. Soon prosperous and respected, he became a bank director, manager of elections, member of the Board of Health, vestryman of Christ Church, Vice Consul of Denmark and Sweden and Consul General of Russia. In 1818, at the zenith of his wealth and importance, he became a principal investor and president of the Savannah Steamship Company. He also began construction of a new house--which he later called "the Castle"--on West Broad Street. In the early 19th century this was one of Savannah's most fashionable neighborhoods.
Scarbrough's architect and builder was William Jay, only twenty-five years old when he came to Savannah from England in December, 1817. Born at Bath, Jay had apprenticed to David Riddall Roper, an architect and surveyor in London who participated in the rebuilding of Regent Street for George IV's favorite architect, John Nash. Jay brought to Savannah the opulent architecture of the great city during this high-living, luxury-loving period, with lavish Classical ornament, the new Greek Revival style and pioneering use of cast iron for structure as well as decoration. During a stay of about four years, Jay produced at least five houses, a school, theater, custom house, bank and a hotel. Scarbrough House is the earliest example of the domestic Greek Revival in the Deep South. Jay moved to Charleston about 1820 and returned to England in 1822. His time in America was brief, his influence limited and his later career anticlimax. Fifteen years later Jay died on the remote, storm-tossed island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, where he was working as a low-paid civil engineer.
Despite all the fanfare, the steamship Savannah was not a commercial success. In November, 1820, forty-four-year-old William Scarbrough, in the midst of an emotional and physical collapse, was declared an insolvent debtor by the court and his house and furnishings were sold. Later owners of the home included Godfrey Barnsley and the Dominick O'Byrne family. In 1878 it was purchased and given to the Board of Education which used it as the West Broad Street School until 1962. By the time it was abandoned by the Board of Education, the mansion was a mouldering ruin, battered by several generations of school children and painted neck-high with institutional green paint. In 1972 the Historic Savannah Foundation began restoring the house under the direction of Pennsylvania architect John Molner. In 1995, after another period of neglect, the building was acquired by Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum and another restoration began. This restoration, completed in 1997, featured a new roof based on a documented design by the original architect as well as a new rear portico and an enlarged garden."