A Savannah Architect
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 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.
An abbreviated list of his familiar work aside from the Armstrong House includes: Wallin Hall (a former elementary school) built in 1912 in the prairie style which was acquired by The Savannah College of Art and Design in 1968 and now houses their Foundation Department.
Savannians will be interested to know that when Ardsley Park (an early residential subdivision) was developed in 1910, Wallin was chosen to design the Hotel Georgia which was to be the centerpiece of the development. The Spanish Revival-style hotel was to be located at the end of the palm-lined vista where ultimately Savannah High School (now Savannah Arts Academy) was located, when the plans for a hotel were set aside. The developers had hoped that wealthy Northerners would check into what was to be a luxurious hotel and decide to purchase a second home in Chatham Ardsley Park.
Other examples of Wallin’s work include the Savannah Senior High School (now the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education Building), the original Municipal Auditorium (demolished and now The Civic Center), the Derenne Apartments, the Realty Building, Charles Ellis School, the General Oglethorpe Hotel on Wilmington Island, and the First Baptist and Bull Street Baptist Churches. He also designed the Torrey’s 1926 Spanish Colonial revival style home on Ossabaw Island.
To underscore the prominence of Wallin’s work in Savannah, on Chippewa Square alone you will find four examples of his work: the original Savannah Senior High School, the First Baptist Church, the Parker Building, and the Oglethorpe monument. His palatial Armstrong Mansion is located a little further down Bull Street, across from Forsyth Park.