Davenport House Museum
In 1955 saving the Davenport House from demolition was the first effort of Historic Savannah Foundation, which has gone on to national prominence as a preservation leader. They began the preservation renaissance of Savannah.
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Davenport House Museum
The 1820 Federal-style dwelling was built by upwardly mobile artisan Isaiah Davenport and his crew for his growing household, which included his wife, children and slaves. It was his family home until his death in 1827 when his wife, Sarah Clark Davenport, converted it into a boarding house. She lived in the residence on Columbia Square until 1840 when she sold it to the Baynard family of South Carolina. The house remained in their hands for the next 109 years.
As time passed, the once stately home in a fashionable neighborhood became a rundown rooming house in a seedy part of town. Even in an advanced state of neglect, New Deal surveyors recognized the architectural significance of the home when they identified and measured it for the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s.
In the spring of 1955, downtown Savannah was in deplorable condition. Beautiful old houses and significant commercial buildings were being destroyed. Others were fast deteriorating. Although some restoration efforts were going on at the time, the core of the city was rotting.
Threatened with demolition in 1955, a group of community-spirited citizens joined forces to purchase the Davenport House. This was the first act of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which has gone on to save hundreds of buildings in this historic city. Sensing the potential for a historic site, the first floor of the house was restored and opened to the public as a museum on March 9, 1963. Years later the second and third floors were opened. In the mid-1990s the museum began a re-restoration process, which resulted in a more authentic experience for museum visitors, including period wallpaper and period room furnishings which reflect the inventory taken at the time of Isaiah Davenport’s death in 1827.
Good To Know
- One of the finest examples of Federal architecture in America
- On the National Register of Historic Places
- Recent restoration and quality preservation
- Authentic period Interiors and Exterior
- Professional and friendly tour guides
- Court-yard garden made by English landscape designer Penelope Hobhouse
- 2005 Recipient of Preserve America, Presidential Award for Private Preservation
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