"Reading the City" is a Public Programs Series presented by the Society of Architectural Historians and Savannah College of Art and Design, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Georgia Humanities Council.
These programs are designed to support and help publicize the Buildings of Savannah book, authored by Robin Williams with David Gobel, Patrick Haughey, Daves Rossell and Karl Schuler. Buildings of Savannah is part of the Buildings of the United States series sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians and published by the University of Virginia Press.
- 6 public lectures
- 1 closing panel discussion (preceded by the 6th lecture)
- 12 public walking tours
All six lectures and the panel discussion will be video recorded and broadcast live online through the SCAD Virtual Lecture Hall
, where the lectures will thereafter be available for viewing.
No reservations necessary for the public lectures.
April 20, 2016, 5:30 pm, SCAD Museum of Art Theater
Robin Williams, “Broadening Savannah’s Urban Identity: From the Ideal to the Real”
WATCH THE VIDEO
The original idealistic vision and impetus for Savannah and the design of its urban plan gave way to a variety of social and economic realities, yet aspects of that idealism shaped the city’s evolution. Throughout its history, Savannah has adapted to changing circumstances, while retaining urban and architectural characteristics that have been widely celebrated. As Savannah enters the 21st century, how will the city’s identity evolve and will it become more inclusive of its true diversity and complexity? (Williams is the chairman of the architectural history department at SCAD.)
April 27, 2016, 5:30 pm, SCAD Museum of Art Theater
Karl Schuler, "The Urban Legacy of Volunteer Militias in Savannah's Bull Street Corridor"
WATCH THE VIDEO
Savannah’s volunteer militias served as important civic and social institutions into the 20th century. The lecture will explore the architecture and urban fabric associated with Savannah’s citizen-soldiers in the development of Savannah's Bull Street Corridor. The legacy of the militias along Bull Street remains evident today in architecture, monuments and urban space, from the Washington Guns at City Hall, through the city squares and across Forsyth Park, to the American Legion post at Park Avenue. (Schuler is a professor of architectural history at SCAD.)
April 27, 2016, 6:15 pm, SCAD Museum of Art Theater
David Gobel, “Street Smarts: Savannah’s Streets as Architecture”
WATCH THE VIDEO
(talk begins at 43:34)
Streets are essential to a city, and Savannah has more streets per square mile than almost any city in the US. Praised for its historic architecture and landscaped squares, it is Savannah’s streets that define its famous plan. Street Smarts will explore the plan through its streets, which will be viewed as architecture, with surfaces of particular shape, size and structure. (Gobel is a professor of architectural history at SCAD.)
May 4, 2016, 5:30 pm, SCAD Museum of Art Theater
Daves Rossell, “Everyday Places and Spaces”
Savannah’s renowned plan and nationally recognized heritage preservation privilege an elite and idealized impression of the city. "Everyday Places and Spaces" will introduce audiences to the effects of social forces on vernacular architecture, such as African-American and working-class housing and neighborhoods, confectionaries and other commercial enterprises, trolley car and automobile influence, which shaped its evolving design and function from the 18th to the 21st century. (Rossell is a professor of architectural history at SCAD.)
May 4, 2016, 6:15 pm, SCAD Museum of Art Theater
Patrick Haughey, “Global Savannah: Building Culture and Commerce in the 21st-Century City”
Savannah hosts a complex economic network of international trade and global commerce, has the fourth busiest port in the US. Savannah, despite its reputation as an historic city, still bears the scars of the recent housing crisis, as well as intermittent development. This lecture will weave an economic, urban and human narrative of the post-war decades of development and the conflicted politics of heritage in what is still and always has been a modern city. (Haughey is a professor of architectural history at SCAD.)
May 11, 2016, 5:30 pm, SCAD Museum of Art
Richard Longstreth, “Savannah: Urban Identity and Threatened Heritage” – followed by Panel Discussion with Longstreth, Daniel Carey, Vaughnette Goode-Walker and Justin Gunther
Although Savannah has enjoyed a long and successful history of preserving buildings and monuments, those efforts focused mainly on the downtown area and on buildings erected prior to World War II. Recent demolitions of both post-war modernist buildings and historic African American architecture highlight the uneven preservation landscape in Savannah. How can an expanded and more inclusive approach to the appreciation of the city’s diverse architectural and urban resources help shape not only future preservation issues, but also the city’s identity?
(Richard Longstreth is the Director of Historic Preservation and Professor of American Civilization at George Washington University; Daniel Carey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Historic Savannah Foundation; Vaughnette Goode-Walker is the Curator of the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, Savannah; Justin Gunther is a professor of Historic Preservation at SCAD and a member of the Historic District Board of Review, Savannah.)
All tours are free and open to the public. Reservations required.
These tours are co-sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians and SCAD, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Georgia Humanities Council. Savannah: Reading Urban Form Tour
This tour includes highlights from each of the five talks presented as part of the Reading the City lecture series, while focusing on the downtown area. Topics include how the idealistic origins of the city’s urban plan adapted through time to new social or economic needs; the impact of militia companies and other military influences on the city’s growth; the unique role of public space—squares, streets, trees, pavement—in defining the city’s architectural character; and how humble architectural components of the city, including the architecture of slavery, and global trade networks have shaped the city’s character.
Saturday, April 23, 10:00–11:30 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 10:00–11:30 AM
Saturday, April 30, 2:00–3:30 PM
Friday, May 6, 2:00–3:30 PM
Saturday, May 7, 10:00-–1:30 AM
Tuesday, May 10, 10:00–11:30 AM
Friday, May 13, 2:00–3:30 PM
Where: Meet in Johnson Square (Bull Street between Congress and Bryan Streets). Register Here Savannah from the Ideal to the Real Tour
This tour investigates the how the utopian and idealistic vision for Savannah and its urban plan adapted to a succession of changing social priorities. When founded, Savannah was to be a colony of equals where power was distributed across the settlement and slavery was banned (along with liquor, lawyers and Catholics). The failure of Oglethorpe’s utopian vision paved the way for a very different and very real Savannah, but where elements of the original vision continue to make important contributions to the remarkable urban and architectural character of the city.
When: Saturday, April 23, 2:00–3:30 PM
Where: Meet in Johnson Square (Bull Street between Congress and Bryan Streets) Register Here Urban Legacy of Militia Companies on Bull Street Tour
This tour explores the rich and remarkable role played by volunteer militia companies in shaping the urban and architectural character of downtown Savannah and especially its Bull Street ceremonial corridor. Attention will be given to the various militia company headquarters that have lined Bull Street (both lost and surviving), the various military monuments—statues, markers and cannons—and Forsyth Park, which was the most profound militia company legacy, with its “dummy forts,” parade ground and commemorations.
When: Saturday, April 30, 10:00–11:30 AM
Where: Meet in Wright Square (Bull Street between York and State Streets). Register Here African American Architectural Traditions Tour
This tour explores the rich architectural heritage of the city’s African American community, focusing on the Cuyler-Brownville neighborhood and Laurel Grove Cemetery. The distinctive characteristics of African American houses, businesses and churches, from Shotgun house forms to hand-painted commercial signage will be addressed. The tour concludes with a visit to Laurel Grove South Cemetery, where distinctive commemorative traditions, such as using concrete grave markers, can be found.
Saturday, May 7, 2:00–3:30 PM
Sunday, May 15, 2:00–3:30 PM
Where: Meet at the corner of Montgomery Street and W. 41st Street. Register Here Post-War Modern Architecture Tour
This tour explores the rich but often uncelebrated post-World War II architectural modernism that characterizes parts of downtown, especially along Broughton Street. Beginning in the 1940s, downtown Savannah enjoyed a relative building boom of new theaters, commercial structures and apartment buildings. Stripped of traditional ornament and often rejecting traditional classical symmetry, modernist buildings reflected the enthusiasm for all things new after the war, yet they also often reflect a degree of respect for the city’s urban traditions that is not always obvious.
When: Friday, May 13, 10:00–11:30 AM
Where: Meet in front of Drayton Tower (Drayton and Liberty Streets). Register Here
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
This project is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.
Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs. Learn more at sah.org.