Monterey Square

Pulaski MonumentOne of our favorite places in Savannah.

The centerpiece of the square is, somewhat incongruously, the monument to the Polish general and American Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski, who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Savannah, October 9, 1779. The square is named after the American victory in the Battle of Monterrey, Mexico, some 67 years later. (FYI, there was a “Battle” of Monterey, California, during the same war, but except for the mix-up in spelling, it had no relation to this square.)

It’s a breathtakingly beautiful square, one of  22 surviving squares in the city. Many of these date back to the city’s founding in the 1730s, although Monterey is one of the later additions. To make things only slightly confusing, Pulaski Square, also dedicated to the General, lies only a few blocks away.

In addition to the monument, the square is home to the Mercer-Williams House, built for the great-grandfather of composer Johnny Mercer and, facing it across the square, to Congregation Mickve Israel, pictured below right, the third oldest Jewish Congregation in America.

Congregation Mikve IsraelIf you haven’t visited Savannah, it’s well worth a trip. So like its older cousin, Charleston, but so different, with its picturesque squares and somewhat kitschy waterfront. Although it boasts a cathedral to rival any in the US, nobody ever called Savannah the “Holy City,” and it doesn’t exude the studied aristocracy one finds south of Broad.

The city is about a 15 minute drive off I-95 just inside the Georgia/South Carolina border, and easily accessible by nearby Savannah Hilton Head Airport, where Gulfstream bizjets are built. In addition to a Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton, the squares host a myriad of boutique hotels and B&Bs, and you’ll find the usual assortment of business & tourist hotels nearby (we like the Residence Inn).

A generation ago, you wouldn’t have dared walk around Savannah much away from the waterfront. Then in 1978, the Savannah College of Art and Design was founded, and the transformation has been amazing. We live 20 miles north of downtown and come in about once a month to stroll the squares and parks, stop in at one of the many coffee shops (art colleges seem to attract them), and maybe take in a museum or antebellum home.

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