It was an honor this week to have my open letter to Savannah’s Mayor & City Councilmen published in the newspaper, CONNECT Savannah regarding what has been a several year battle over saving the 1929 SEABOARD Freight Station which is a stone’s throw from The Roundhouse Complex, the old Central Railroad of Georgia facility that is now an interactive museum. Nearly every historic city with reminders of the past like this, confront these battles, often losing to developers who have all of the money, legal team and in many cases, the legal right to do as they please. Savannah, however, has a protected Historic District, of which the SEABOARD building is outside of, and to be honest? This one at some level may be on the shoulders of Historic Savannah Foundation in that they haven’t much expanded the vision to include these peripheral structures but am not here to sort out the faults on that as they’re certainly weighing in on the fight. They’ve even offered up some beautiful alternative proposals to what the developer originally offered (SEE GALLERY). Cost wise the developer saw no way to have an effective property here and the plan was to demolish the building and build your standard fare, overpriced hipster apartment complex that as a genre, continue to ruin cityscapes and skylines across the world offering no connection to the surrounding neighborhoods. I will spare the reader here how my view is that this “trend” is part of The United Nation’s push through various foundations and Agenda 21 to influence politicians and planners to show preference to these sorts of structures and their developers, but I do hold that viewpoint and encourage others to read more about the subject.
All the same, it appears that through much rabble rousing from various individuals in the community, leadership alike, the developer JSR Properties, LLC (aren’t they always), has felt the pressure and has responded by promising to present a new plan to The City of Savannah that includes the building! Empty promises? We shall see! But I like to think my letter is another spiritual tip of the hat to not only the effort of saving the building, but a nod to my friend Lee Adler, founder of Historic Savannah Foundation and board member of The National Trust. He was a legend in his lifetime but also a special friend to me and although he’s no longer with us sadly, the good work must continue through individuals making efforts large and small. I know he’d be proud of everyone doing their part. My letter below with original link:
READ Original Letter Here
Open letter to Mayor and Council about the Seaboard Freight Station
Honorable Mayor DeLoach and Aldermen,
As a tour company owner and operator in Savannah, I often tell my guests that in order to truly appreciate Savannah, you have to understand that it’s not only a story of what’s here but also what’s left. It’s a war story of sorts.
We’ve lost The Mulberry Grove. We’ve lost Mary Musgrove’s Savannah Town. We’ve lost The Hermitage.
A lot has been lost. Too much to list really and lots of arguments as to why they were. Everyone’s got an angle or an agenda or a right, etc.
I don’t know much about the Seaboard building to be honest. I don’t have any romantic stories about it.
I just know that I like driving by it and then glancing at the other nearby railroad buildings of history. And while it seems a little lost sheep where it sits, it just makes sense that it’s there.
I’ve always felt a sort of satisfaction that it exists and that it speaks esthetically and historically to that side of town where so much life and commerce was oriented around it. That it was part and parcel and even central.
It’s really more monument than building at this point. It’s sacred space somehow.
To knock it down in my view is a crime even if the letters have been dotted and the T’s crossed. Albeit it isn’t The Davenport House, I do wonder in this day and age, where are those ladies or people willing to stand in front of the wrecking ball? Have we all gotten so comfortable?
I realize that leadership is often a thing where one’s hands are tied. But why is it that it seems that this developer didn’t have more vision to include it from the beginning?
No architectural class or tour will ever make a point to marvel at another blightful residential complex in our town.No tour company 100 years from now will ever race to show it to their guests. No books will boast of its architect.
In fact, in my opinion, it would be quite the opposite. It would be discussed loathingly as part of the “Atlanta” or “Charlotte” trend of building ugly condos up that tower and overshadow the nearby neighborhoods and have no connected feeling.
And that the leadership allowed a beloved structure to be sacrificed for them.
If the Seaboard is to be demolished, that might also be seen by the developers as a victory for more. More as in other buildings will meet the same fate and more will be lost.
And historians and storytellers like me will have to bemoan the leadership who didn’t fight harder to both hold the line for that loss and then push for a better vision. Your names will in effect, be tied to one of those outcomes forever in the history books.
So I say let there be development, but push for a vision that keeps a valuable member of the family.
Shannon Scott/Shannon Scott Tours