Saturday, March 3
Old Town Trolley Architectural Connections Tour
10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Tickets $25 (includes all four tours) Students and children are free, when accompanied by an adult.
You will be amazed to learn just how much of Savannah was created by John Norris and Henrik Wallin, two architects from two eras. The John Norris Era began in Savannah in the mid 1840’s and ended when he returned to New York prior to the Civil War.and Henrik Wallin’s career in Savannah began in 1910, the Beaux Arts Era. spanned the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and ended with his death in 1936.
John S. Norris (1804 – 1876) was born in New York City, where he began his career as a stone mason. He later became a builder and, as he concentrated on building design, his career evolved into architecture. One of Norris’s first commissions was the Customs House in Wilmington, North Carolina, which set the stage for his commission to build the U.S. Customs House in Savannah, Georgia.
Norris’s move to Savannah proved to be the highlight of his career, and his prolific work established the fabric of Savannah’s Historic District. His buildings are easily the most important of the city, including both commercial and residential designs.
Much of John Norris’s work can still be seen today in commercial structures such as the U.S. Customs House (famous for the trial of The Wanderer); Massie School; Abraham’s Home (now SCAD’s Norris building); Independent Presbyterian Church Manse; The Unitarian Universalist Church (where the Jingle Bells song was written); and the Cockspur Island Light House (briefly the home of Florence Martus, known as The Waving Girl).
The Andrew Low House was Norris’s first residential design, which led to numerous other elegant and prominent homes throughout the Historic District. One of these homes was the Green-Meldrim House; at the time of its completion in 1853, it was the most expensive and luxurious home in Savannah. The trolley tour will take you from the Green-Meldrim House to the Andrew Low House, with a detour to see several other Norris designs along the way, including the famous Mercer-Williams House, immortalized in The Garden of Good and Evil. Built for Civil War General Hugh Mercer, the great-grandfather of legendary Savannah composer Johnny Mercer, this house was Norris’s last commission in Savannah.
“The growth and wealth of the coastal South prior to the outbreak of war was the mortar which held every brick and expensive piece of granite together in Norris’ fine architecture, and the South is richer for it, and richer still to have so many of his buildings preserved for history.” Mike Walker, “The Savannah Architecture of John S. Norris.” From PorterBriggs.com.
Henrik Wallin (1873-1936)
An additional “Architectural Connection” on tour this year is Henrik Wallin, the architect chosen by George F. Armstrong to design his spectacular Savannah mansion. The Armstrong House was completed in 1918.
Wallin, who assisted Henry Bacon in the design of the Astor House in New York City, was born in Sweden in 1873. By the early 1900’s he had relocated to Savannah and had established his prominence as an architect with his numerous buildings throughout the city’s now Historic District. Many of his designs of commercial buildings, churches, and schools remain prominent in Savannah’s landscape today.
The Architectural Connections Trolley Tours will run continuously from 10 am to 4pm on a meandering route between the Green-Meldrim House and the Andrew Low House. Pick-up/drop-off locations are at the NW corner of Bull and Harris Streets and at the front of the Andrew Low House.
Your ticket allows admission to all four tours. Allow 30 minutes per tour.