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Our Second Visit to Savannah
 
 
 
 
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Massie Common School is the only remaining building of Georgia’s oldest chartered public school system. Built 1855-56, the Greek Revival building was
Savannah’s first free public school, ten years before there was a state charter for public education.
Peter Massie: In 1841, Peter Massie, a Scottish planter from Glynn County, Georgia, left a $5,000 bequest to the City of Savannah “for the education of the poor children.” Steamship passenger lists show that Mr. Massie was often in Savannah on the way to and from his summer home in New Jersey. He noticed many uneducated youth roaming the city’s sandy streets. City authorities invested Peter Massie’s gift in stock of the Central Railroad and the Savannah Gas Light Company “until a large enough sum should be accumulated to build a school.” The centre portion cost $9,000 is the original structure - the west wing was built in 1872 from plans by John B. Hogg and in 1886 the east wing was added.
The First Day of School: On the 15th of October 1856, the doors of Massie School opened to admit its first pupils. Mr. Bernard Mallon was the school’s first principal, hired at an annual salary of $1,200. His faculty consisted of two assistants paid $600 each and three assistants paid $400 each. Two hundred forty pupils, approximately six to sixteen years old, enrolled that first year. Of this number, forty-two paid a small tuition and the rest attended free of charge. The school was operated by the city government.
Savannah in the Civil War: Public education continued at Massie School with few changes until the occupation of Savannah by General William T. Sherman in December 1864. When the Union army entered the city, they took possession of the Massie building to use as a hospital. At the end of the Civil War, Massie was briefly used as a Freedmen’s Bureau School for the education of newly-emancipated slaves. In 1866, an Act of the Georgia General Assembly established a permanent Board of Education and a system of public education officially began in Savannah. Bernard Mallon, Massie’s first principal, became the new school system’s first superintendent.
A New Direction for Massie: Because of the deterioration of Savannah’s downtown, resulting in a dwindling student population, Massie School closed as a regular school in 1974. The school reopened in 1977 as a teaching museum for history and architecture, a mission that continues today. Massie provides educational and cultural programs for student and adult groups, the community and visitors to the city. For over 150 years years this building, an important part of Savannah’s history, has housed primary, intermediate, grammar, high or elementary schools, educating many generations of Savannahians.

In 1977 Massie School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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Bimbling round Savannah on our second visit to the city we both had a few things on our wish list, one of mine was to see Chatham Square having lived in Chatham, Kent for sixteen years. Imagine my initial horror when I got hold of what I thought would be a metal sign – turned out to be plastic – the sort you buy in B&Q.

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Each year Savannah attracts over eleven millions visitors, who enjoy the city's architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and the first house in the city to have an elevator), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the U.S.), Temple Mickve Israel (the third oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America, own blog).

Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District and twenty two parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the U.S. (designated by the government in 1966). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.

 

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Geography: According to the United States Census Bureau, Savannah has a total area of 78.1 square miles, of which 74.7 square miles is land and 3.4 square miles is water (4.31%). Savannah is the primary port on the Savannah River and the largest port in the state of Georgia. It is also located near the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway. Georgia's Ogeechee River flows toward the Atlantic Ocean some 16 miles south of the city.

Savannah is prone to flooding. Five canals and several pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects.

 

Consolidation with Chatham County:

In 2003 Savannah and Chatham County voted to merge their city and county police departments. The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police was established on the 1st of January 2005, the department has a number of specialty units, including: K-9, SWAT, Bomb Squad, Marine Patrol, Dive, Air Support and Mounted Patrol. This was very important when Bear had to choose a base in his role as POWOR (Planning Operative Wise Owl Recovery).

 

 

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Economy: Agriculture was essential to Savannah's economy during its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities; by 1767 almost a ton of silk per year was exported to England.

Georgia's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production under the plantation system and shipment through the Port of Savannah helped the city's European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity.

In the nineteenth century, the Port of Savannah became one of the most active in the United States, and Savannahians had the opportunity to consume some of the world's finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy. In the early years of the United States, goods produced in the New World had to pass through Atlantic ports such as Savannah's before they could be shipped to England.

Today, the Port of Savannah, manufacturing, the military and the tourism industry are Savannah's four major economic drivers. In 2006, the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reported over 6.85 million visitors to the city during the year. Lodging, dining, entertainment, and visitor-related transportation account for over $2 billion in visitors' spending per year and employ over 17,000.

For years, Savannah was the home of Union Camp, which housed the world's largest paper mill. The plant is now owned by International Paper, and it remains one of Savannah's largest employers. Savannah is also home to the Gulfstream Aerospace company, maker of private jets, as well as various other large industrial interests. TitleMax, a privately owned title lending company with over 600 stores across 12 states, is headquartered in Savannah. Morris Multimedia, a newspaper and television company, is also based in Savannah.

In 2000, JCB, the third largest producer of construction equipment in the world and the leading manufacturer of backhoes and telescopic handlers, built its North American headquarters in Chatham County near Savannah in Pooler on I-95 near Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport.

In 2009, Savannah was North America's fourth largest port by container traffic.

 

Savannah built the first golf course in America in 1794.

 

 

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ALL IN ALL SO PLEASED WE VISITED