Historian, curator, and classic-car buff Tanya Bailey-Smith opened the Great Savannah Races Museum as an homage to the cultural significance of the Great Savannah Races of 1908, 1910, and 1911. Her facility doubles as a micromuseum and gift shop with media and fine-art items on display and a collection from the Automobile Club of America, whose members chose Savannah to host the first American Grand Prix.
In 1820, an upwardly mobile carpenter named Isaiah Davenport designed a 6,800-square-foot Federal-style home to live in with his wife, children, and slaves. After his death, Davenport’s wife turned the stately brick house into a boarding house, though it later devolved into a run-down tenement—until the Historic Savannah Foundation saved the landmark when it was threatened with demolition in 1955. The organization’s award-winning preservation, their very first effort, jumpstarted an organized preservation movement that spread across the entire port city.
Today, the Davenport House Museum’s rooms are filled with antique furniture from the 1820s, acquired after careful research relying on estate inventories and detailed artist renderings of long-ago games of musical chairs. These period-accurate tables and chairs join ceramics, textiles, and books to form the museum’s collection of about 500 historical items. Behind the home, where a carriage house, garden, and privy once stood, a garden designed by renowned landscape artist Penelope Hobhouse flourishes. After walking among its flowers, visitors can drop by the museum shop to pick up jams and jellies, books about Savannah, and reproductions of early 19th-century items.
Built in 1842, The Harper Fowlkes House incorporates many of the popular styles of the era, such as an exterior of Savannah gray brick stuccoed and scored to resemble stone blocks. Visitors can still see the craftsmen?s handiwork during educational tours of the three-story Greek Revival mansion, held four days a week. A curving stone staircase leads to the mansion?s front doorway, surrounded by a two-story porch whose roof rests on elegant columns. Inside, antique artwork abounds, such as a portrait of Colonel Habersham, who played a key role in the Revolutionary War by originating the backward tri-cornered hat. Other period antiques decorate the house, and an enclosed garden adds an outdoor element. Further antique details permeate the house, from ceilings bordered by original plaster crown moldings to six chandeliers that were originally gas-burning but have been retrofitted to host light bulbs.
To tell the heroic tale of the Mighty Eighth Air Force requires more than a simple history book or channel can handle. At the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, displays of tangible, lovingly preserved relics preserve the harrowing and inspiring stories of the Eighth Air Force's greatest achievements, paying respect to those who risked, and often lost, their lives. The exhibits narrate how the Mighty Eighth earned its nickname as the all-time largest air armada for its role in World War II, and a combat gallery of scale models and authentic flying machines, including a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber that's now being painstakingly restored, allows visitors to nab up-close views of the planes that made it all happen. Other exhibits detail how the men and women of the Eighth helped repel the Nazi menace, while the memorial gardens and Chapel of the Fallen Eagles salute all of those in the armed forces from WWII through today.
In 1968, Vagabond Cruise’s captains had only one small vessel to operate. It was a military patrol boat, and the crew used it to explore the crystal-clear waters and opaque coastlines of Hilton Head Island. But throughout the course of five decades, the fleet has bloomed into a family of four vessels—each paired with the various tours offered by the company. On the 74-foot yacht, The Spirit of Harbour Town, passengers enjoy an express dining cruise to Savannah. On the open deck of the 42-foot Mystique, passengers can enjoy cocktails while searching for views of dolphins and elusive sunsets. The Stars and Stripes boat carries guests with the aid of the wind blowing through the sails of its 92-foot mast, and the two-level Vagabond swiftly moves in on groups of dolphins so that guests can watch them play and observe their bookkeeping practices in the unspoiled estuaries behind Bull Island.
Operated by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, the Heyward House is an antebellum home (ca. 1841) that offers daily tours of the restored home as well as walking tours of Bluffton's charming and eclectic historic district.