Please join the Downtown Garden Club for our annual Victorian Tea on Saturday, December 14th. We will serve light refreshments and sweets, while dressed in authentic Victorian costume. This elegant event is hosted in a private residence located in the historic district of Savannah.
This year, the Victorian Tea will be served at the John Williams Townhouse located at 19 West Gordon Street. Tea service will be offered at 3 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. This is a ticketed event. Tickets may be purchased here.
Built in 1882 by the developer John M. Williams, this Italianate-inspired house was “cutting edge” for its time, having the unique feature of closets as well as the traditional trunk rooms. It has four floors: garden, parlor, second and third. These floors cover 6,593 square feet. The house spent more than half a century subdivided into six apartments, all with small kitchens and baths. In 2004 the house was purchased by Morgan Kuhn who coordinated the complete renovation and restoration in 2006. The house was returned to its historic function as a single-family residence. The restoration goal was to retain everything as it was originally while introducing modern conveniences.
The house now has an art gallery, The Downstairs Gallery, on the garden level and an art studio on the fourth floor. All eleven fireplaces feature original mantles, true marble for the parlors, faux marble on the third floor and wood on the fourth floor.
The gentle, yet complete, restoration of this house was recognized by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division, as one of the outstanding rehabilitations of 2007. The Historic Savannah Foundation also gave a Historic Preservation Award in 2007 as one of the City’s best renovations.
Transcript of the announcement in a Savannah newspaper, circa 1882:
On Gordon near Whitaker, a splendid private residence is being rapidly completed under the personal supervision of the owner of the property, Mr. J. M. Williams. It is three stories on basement, with very handsome octagon front. The exterior is roughcast, and then washed with Georgia and Portland cement giving it the appearance of freestone color. The cornice is of elaborate design and quite handsome, as also are the window cappings. The house has a double entrance, wide and attractive looking, and will be approached by neat wooden steps, with railing. There will be no portico, but the door will be shadowed by a heavy Corinthian cornice, supported by iron pillars. The basement comprises three large rooms, besides wash room and kitchen. The front basement room is well lighted, and admirably suited for a billiard room. In the yard immediately connecting the kitchen is a large covered coal house, with a good size wooden window opening on the lane, through which the fuel can be passed, and thus will the littering of the yard be avoided. On the first floor above the basement are the parlors, a library and the dining room, the latter a specious, splendidly lighted and ventilated apartment, in which a table for twenty persons can easily be set. On each of the upper floors are bathrooms and water closets, with linen closets. Each of the rooms is provided with commodious closets, which nevertheless do not seem to take up much space owing to the excellent design. Throughout the entire house provision is made for gas and water, the hallways and stairways are commodious: the plastering of the finest kind, and the ceiling, particularly in the parlors, exceedingly handsome; marble mantles, with grates, are in every room. In fact in all its appointments, this residence is one of the most complete and desirable that can be found in the city. It will probably be finished by the 15th of July and can be ready for occupation. It occupied a lot which has been vacant for years and will enhance the desirableness of the neighborhood, already one of the most desirable in the city.