In 1966 Savannah was designated a National Historic District, due to its unique, well preserved city plan and historic building stock. Begun in 1733, General Oglethorpe’s city plan now extends from the Savannah River to Gwinnett Street, and East Broad Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Oglethorpe’s plan began with six wards; at the center of each ward was a public square, flanked on the east and west by trust lots designated for public buildings, and 60′ x 90′ lots on the north and south sides. Recognizing the brilliance of this plan, city fathers implemented it in the southward expansion of the 1800′s, ultimately creating twenty-four squares from the Savannah River to Gaston Street. Savannah’s city plan is celebrated because it has been utilized throughout the City’s history and remains as valid and effective today as in its inception.
The Landmark District is also lauded for its outstanding variety of architectural styles, including residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. Washington, Warren, and Greene Wards hold examples of Savannah’s early architecture. As the city expanded, so did the repertoire of architectural styles among builders and architects. The 1820′s witnessed a proliferation of federal style brick townhouses with a sidehall plan, both paired and in rows. Renowned English architect William Jay designed several high style Regency residences during this period, such as the Owens-Thomas House and Scarbrough House, which are distinguished by symmetry and innovative interior effects. Greek Revival, the predominant architectural style in the Landmark District, began its reign in the 1830′s. Constructed from Savannah grey brick, these residences are defined by a raised basement, side hall, simple lintel above the door and windows, transom lights, and classical elements such as Doric or Ionic columns and dentils. Greek Revival design was also applied to many institutional buildings such as Christ Church (1838) and the United States Customs House (1848-1852). After 1850, Savannah saw the rise of Italianate, Queen Anne, and Gothic and exotic revival styles. Many of these buildings are high style residences, exhibiting the prosperity of Savannah before the Civil War. Thus, Savannah’s Landmark District holds a wealth of historic architecture from simple, vernacular structures to the high style Greek Revival and Italianate houses, many of which have been carefully restored ad/or maintained to retain their original grandeur.