This month we found ourselves in Reynolds square to learn a little Savannah History. We went to our favorite breakfast place downtown, Henry’s, we have known him for years and love seeing him when we go downtown.
John Wesley Monument in the center of Reynolds Square was erected in 1969 by the John Wesley Monument Committee. and consists of a stepped and blocked rectangular granite pedestal, inscribed on all sides, supporting a bronze statue of John Wesley.
John Wesley is the founder of Methodism. Wesley came to Savannah in 1736 as an Anglican clergyman to the Colony of Georgia. Returning to England in 1738, his stay in Savannah was short. inspired by his associations with Moravians in Georgia and later in England, he revised his ideas and eventually formed the United Societies, a Protestant sect which evolved into the Methodist Church. In Savannah, Wesley resided near Reynolds Square. The Wesley Monumental Church, located on the periphery of Reynolds Square, is named in his honor.
Next we read about Italians in Georgia Genesis; When James Oglethorpe left England to begin the new colony of Georgia, in 1732, one of the passengers was Paul Amatis, an Italian artisan, skilled in producing silk. He was later placed in charge of Trustees Garden. Later, more Italian families came to pursue the task of producing silk. Joseph Ottlenghe is responsible for erecting a public filature in Savannah, on what is now Reynolds Square. It was at this filature that a record number of 15,212 pounds of cocoons were delivered for processing into raw silk. High hopes for success in this undertaking is exemplified on one side of the original Georgia Seal which depicts a mulberry leaf, a silkworm, and a cocoon, with the encircled words: ´Non sibis sed aliis´: ´Not for ourselves but for others.´
The next marker was Savannah: Colonial Capital and Birthplace of Representative Government in Georgia: In March 1750, the Georgia Trustees in London resolved to allow colonists to elect a representative assembly to meet in Savannah, Georgia’s colonial capital. Sixteen delegates met on January 15,1751, for a twenty-four day session. Representative government continued in 1755 in the Commons House of Assembly, which by 1770 began meeting in a building on the southeast lot of Reynolds Square. In 1777, the new state constitution provided for an elected House Assembly. The Georgia constitution of 1789 expanded the legislature to two houses, known as the General Assembly.
Next was the Wesley Chapel Trinity – We will have to find this church another day but here is what the marker said: In 1812 The Methodist Church in Savannah was formally established with the founding of Wesley Chapel at Lincoln & Oglethorpe Streets. Bishop Francis Asbury dedicated that building in 1813. In 1848 the congregation built a new church on Telfair Square. Since the Methodist Centennial of 1884, Trinity has been recognized as “The Mother Church of Savannah Methodism.” In 1995, the General Commission on Archives and History expanded the National Historic Landmark to include Wesley Chapel/Trinity, thereby celebrating the permanent return of the Wesleyan Spirit to “John Wesley’s American Parish.”
The neatest thing we found in Reynolds Square was a fairy house – with a door that says please knock – I am glad other have a crazy since of humor like us.
Last was the Oliver Sturges House: his house, built-in 1813 by Oliver Sturges, successful Savannah merchant, occupies the site of the parsonage of John Wesley, minister of the Church of England in Georgia 1736-37 and founder of Methodism.
Mr. Sturges was a two-fifths owner of the Steam Ship Savannah, first steamship ever built and first to cross the Atlantic. The Savannah’s historic voyage was planned in the Sturges House, which was one of a pair of brick Federal style residences located on Trust Lot T, Reynolds Ward. Mr. Sturges’ partner, Benjamin Burroughs, lived in the other residence, where the John Wesley Hotel is presently located.
Morris Newspaper Corporation, owner and operator of newspapers throughout the United States, purchased the Sturges House from Historic Savannah Foundation in 1971 for conversion into corporate headquarters. The careful restoration of the house was completed in 1973.