Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Savannah, Georgia

The Story Behind Savannah, GA’s Unique Architecture

Savannah, GA is a city well-renowned for many different things, from its charming streets to its stunning architecture. A jewel of the South, Savannah brings in tourists from across the world throughout the year. The city is full of beautiful squares, lush vegetation and awe-inspiring buildings, all of which can be experienced either by foot or through one of the city’s guided tours. Regardless of the time of year, Savannah visitors should expect to discover a city full of life, history, art, culture and so much more.

It is said that Savannah’s architecture is the center of the city’s charm and appeal, and for good reason. Considered America’s first planned city, Savannah’s roots can be traced back to 1933 and has gone through several different periods of change and influence. One of the characteristics that sets Savannah a part from other cities is the story that is told through its architecture. From the Colonial Period through the Civil War and Savannah’s Renaissance, the buildings that stand today make a statement.

It is said that more than 40% of the 2,500 buildings in Savannah have some level of architectural or historical significance. This is impressive in several ways, and is representative of the level of importance and pride Savannah has for its architectural past. Not only can one experience the various styles and influences of past periods when perusing the city, but Savannah also added the College of Art and Design in 1970, which has been a strong advocate for the restoration of many buildings throughout the city.

Savannah’s History

Savannah was settled in 1933 by General James Oglethorpe, marking the beginning of this beautiful city. During the Colonial Period Oglethorpe and his counterparts developed the now-famous public squares and parks that can still be found throughout the city today.

The Revolutionary War and Antebellum Periods served as transition period for the city, as it was first taken by the British then became a hub for slave trade and wealth from cotton farms. Many of the mansions and buildings that were prominent during this period still stand today.

Next came the Civil War, which was both a time of turmoil and struggle and a story of indestructible beauty. Considered one of the most beautiful city’s pre-war, the city was not left without scars and areas of destruction, but it was still considered a beauty of the South. The reconstruction of Savannah at the turn of the century was marked by a new community of freed slaves and community togetherness. During this period, Savannah saw many new schools and churches being built.


Savannah’s Renaissance Period is admittedly one of the most important times in regards to the city’s architecture. The Historic Savannah Foundation worked to save the beautiful architecture that the city was so well known for, including many churches from the mid-18th century and important homes from the late-18th century.

Savannah Architecture Styles 

There are numerous architectural styles that can be found throughout Savannah today that are representative of the 18th and 19th century. Many homes were saved and have since be beautifully restored, giving Savannah an added dose of charm, sophistication and history. Some of the most common styles of architecture that can be found include:

  • Federal – Depicted by prominent square or rectangular exteriors and curved iron stair railings
  • Georgian – Shown through symmetrical square facades and hipped roofs
  • Gothic Revival – Shown through intricate details on chimneys, inviting entryways, and in many churches
  • Greek Revival – Depicted through a temple facade or portico
  • Italianate – Inspired by farm houses common in northern Italy
  • Regency – Shown through triangular pediments, large window openings, alcove entryways, and semi-circular staircases
  • Romanesque Revival – Depicted by an arch and dome construction
  • Second French Empire – Shown through vertical accents on building tops

As you can see, Savannah is a city rich in history and full of many different architectural styles. A city with such a deep and interesting city, it is no wonder why Savannah architecture brings people from around the world, and impresses every time.

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