According to a Savannah Historic Foundation inventory, 2,500 buildings there have historic or architectural significance. A lot of these have been restored, are in private hands, and can only be admired while passing by. The most popular walking tour appears to be Jonathan Stalcup’s; 349 of 358 on tripadvisor rated it Excellent. Of the 18 Homes and House Museums listed on visit-historic-savannah.com, 2 are inns, the Pink and Pirates Houses are restaurants, Scarborough House contains the Ships of the Sea Museum, and the Oliver-Sturgis is Morris Multimedia, Inc.’s headquarters. That leaves 9 opened to the public for tours. Most do not allow interior photography. Ruth & I visited 5 of them, and my favorite was the Andrew Low House on Lafayette Square.
Born in Scotland in 1812, red-haired, good-looking Andrew Low arrived in Savannah, age 17, and went to work in his Uncle’s company. When that Uncle, also named Andrew, retired to England in 1839, Andrew II became an increasingly wealthy cotton factor whose ships bound for Liverpool often carried million dollar cargo. In 1844 he married Sarah Cecil Hunter and within a year they had baby Andrew, the name surprising no one. When 2 daughters were added, Andrew II bought a lot and hired John Norris to design and build a house for them. It’s neo-classical and has 2 sad-faced lions to greet visitors.
But then tragedy struck. Within one year Andrew’s wife, son, father, and mentoring Uncle all died. He inherited a lot of money and moved into his new house with his 2 young daughters. Five years later he remarried. His 2nd wife, Mary Cowper Stiles, was 20 and he was 42. They had 2 daughters and a son, William Mackay Low, who was probably rather spoiled. He married the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, and she called him Billow. The marriage was messy.
The Andrew Low house is not. It’s elegant and beautifully maintained. Many of the furnishings belonged to the Lows, like the table set for 24 in the celedon green dining room. Since cotton was like gold as a commodity, the Lows became the wealthiest family in Savannah. Celebrities like General Robert E. Lee and author William Makepeace Thackery stayed with the Lows while visiting Savannah. The Lows were so wealthy that they had an in-house bathing room. There are only 2 piano fortes in the world like the one the Lows owned. The other is in Buckingham Palace.
The Andrew Low home lets 21st century travelers see how a 19th century Georgia 1%er and his family lived.