Savannah’s Historic Sites Offer Free Admission Day Highlighting African American History August 20th

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Eight Savannah cultural organizations and sites are collaborating to honor the community’s African American history in celebration of the recent opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Lift Every Voice: Savannah’s African American Historic Sites Free Day will take place on Sunday August 20 from 12-4pm, offering visitors free admission.
The participating establishments are: Beach Institute, in partnership with the City of Savannah’s Research Library and Municipal Archives; Davenport House Museum; Georgia Historical Society; Georgia State Railroad Museum; Ossabaw Island Foundation; Pin Point Heritage Museum; and Telfair Museums’ Owens-Thomas House. Programs at each site will focus on African American history connections and will include a variety of activities for guests of all ages.
Residents and tourists will also have the opportunity to learn more about preservation, historic interpretation, and archiving. Several of the locations, including the Owens-Thomas House and Davenport House Museum, are undergoing reinterpretation projects that will further explore the history of the African Americans related to their historic properties. Patrons can learn more about these upcoming projects during the event on August 20.
Lift Every Voice, whose name comes from the popular song of the same name by James Weldon Johnson, is a global initiative that encourages partners, organizations, and individuals who study, love, or support African American history and culture to join NMAAHC in their inaugural year celebration.
“Savannah has begun to make strides in presenting a more inclusive and nuanced history.” Says Telfair Museums Curator of History and Decorative Arts and event organizer, Shannon Browning-Mullis. “We’re excited to come together with other local, national, and international institutions to highlight and honor this rich part of our past, through engaging tours and activities, at our respective properties.”
Schedule of activities
Beach Institute in partnership with City of Savannah, Research Library & Municipal Archives, will present the exhibit Law & Music, where guests will discover music through the collection of Civil Rights leader and local historian W. W. Law. City of Savannah archivists will also share artifacts and records from the City’s Municipal Archives that document Savannah’s African American history.
The Davenport House Museum will deliver tours on the world of urban slavery in early 19th century Savannah, as illustrated by the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the property. Community members will share ongoing historical research and discuss plans for expansion of the site to tell a richer, fuller story through exhibitions in its house museum setting.
Georgia Historical Society will have one-of-a-kind archival materials relating to African American life in Savannah on view. Attendees can share their stories at a recording station. Guests can “Ask an Archivist,” to learn more about the Georgia Historical Society’s resources, research and preservation.
Georgia State Railroad Museum will give tours exploring the unique African American contributions to the history of the Central of Georgia Railway and other railroads throughout America. Visitors will learn about their expanded historical interpretation to share more diverse stories at this museum.
Ossabaw Island visitors will enjoy a walking tour of North End plantation, including three restored tabby cabins built by enslaved Africans for their housing. Learn about Hercules & Betty in the 1770s, the Bond brothers in the 1850s and 1860s, and their descendants who founded Pin Point community in the 1880s. The tour is limited to 35 people and is only accessible via ferry for an additional fee.
Pin Point Heritage Museum will offer tours about Gullah/Geechee culture, given by the residents who grew up in the small, close-knit community. Guests can learn about the unique lifeways, from daily life to religion, language and food. The Pin Point community was founded in 1896 by freedmen, from Ossabaw Island, after the Civil War.
Telfair Museums Owens-Thomas House tours will focus on the lives of the enslaved people who lived on the site. Listen to stories about Emma, Peter, and Diane and hear about Telfair’s plans for a more inclusive experience coming soon.