The Hamilton-Turner House: Savannah's Grand Victorian Lady



The Hamilton-Turner House, now an inn, is a Second Empire home built in 1873 that is nicknamed the "Grand Victorian Lady.'' The house is located on Lafayette Square in the Historic District of downtown Savannah. Lafayette Square is home to the Andrew Low House, the Flannery O'Connor House and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The Hamilton-Turner House is also within walking distance of the Green-Meldrim House and Forsyth Park. The Historic District can be reached from Interstate 16. CAT, Savannah's public transit system, has a free downtown shuttle that stops very near the Hamilton-Turner House.

The house was built in 1873 for Samuel Pugh Hamilton, who would become mayor of Savannah. He and his wife entertained lavishly, and wanted a house to suit that need. It was the first home is Savannah to have electricity. The house is built in the Second Empire style of architecture, a mid-Victorian era style characterized by quoins, or prominent cornerstones, a very steep mansard roof and iron accents. The house was nearly demolished in 1965 when the Cathedral wanted the land for a parking deck, but it was saved by the Historic Savannah Foundation. Before the house became an inn, it was a site on tours for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, known from the book as "Mandy's house.'' In 1997, it became the Hamilton-Turner Inn.

The inn, a AAA Four Diamond award winner, offers 17 rooms and suites, each decorated with its own style. Some rooms have a private garden entrance and some are in the separate carriage house, which can also be rented as one unit. All rooms come with bathrobes, complimentary wireless high-speed Internet service, and luxury bed and bath amenities. Some rooms have extras like fireplaces, balconies and claw-foot tubs. Each room is named for a prominent figure in Savannah history, and a guest could get a fairly complete history of the city just by studying the room names. The inn provides a full Southern breakfast every morning, afternoon tea, early evening wine and hors d'oeuvres and late evening port. Access to a fitness facility is complimentary. Forbes calls it "one of the city's chicest bed and breakfasts.''

Several packages are available at the inn. The Christmas package invites guests to spend Christmas Day at the Hamilton-Turner and have a traditional Southern Christmas dinner. A carriage ride through the city the next day is included. The Romantic package includes chilled champagne upon arrival, a bouquet of roses and an $80 gift certificate to an area restaurant. The Elopement package provides a minister or justice of the peace, champagne and a small cake, although the inn can arrange anything the couple wants with advance notice.

Internet reviews of the Hamilton-Turner Inn are overwhelmingly good. Nearly 90 percents of guest on one popular website give it an "Excellent'' or "Very Good'' rating. One woman starts her review by saying she always thought it would be "nice'' to stay there, but she was wrong. It turns out that her stay was "wonderful!'' She "highly recommend[s] this to anyone that wants to be treated like a king or queen.'' The service and the breakfasts get wonderful compliments. This woman sums up her visit to the inn, saying "The Hamilton-Turner is flat out the best overall inn my husband and I have every stayed in.''

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