I have a lifetime connection to the city of Savannah as I have family there, I lived there during WW 2 and started to school there in the first grade in 1942. B. J. also has family in Savannah. Across the years, Savannah has become a kind of second home to us.
ome of the finest restaurants in the world are in Savannah if you know where to look for them. One of these restaurants is one of our old favorites, the Pirate’s House on East Broad Street in Old Savannah near the river. Last Saturday, B. J. and I took a nostalgic tour of Old Savannah and wound up at the Pirate’s House for lunch.
Situated in the Trustees Garden, the famous Pirate’s House is the most historic spot in Georgia. When General Oglethorpe and his band of colonists arrived from England in 1733, Trustees Garden, named in honor of Oglethorpe’s men, was established as an experimental garden. The garden was modeled closely after the Chelsea Botanical Garden in London. Consisting of ten acres, botanists hoped Trustees Garden would provide ideal conditions for the grapes for the wine trade as well as Mulberry trees for the production of silk. Both of these crops failed due to weather and soil conditions. From this garden, however, were distributed the peach trees which have since given Georgia a major crop and the upland cotton which later comprised the greater part of the world’s commerce.
The Herb House, located inside the Pirate’s House, is said to be the oldest house in Georgia. The Herb House was erected in 1734 to house the gardener for the Trustees Garden. His office and tool room were in the front section, while his stable occupied the back room and his hayloft, upstairs. The bricks used in the construction of this old Herb House were manufactured only a block away under the bluff of the Savannah River where the colonists began brick making as early as 1733.
The Old Pirate’s House first opened in 1753 as an inn for seafarers, and fast became a meeting point for heavy drinking bloodthirsty pirates and sailors from the Seven Seas. Here seamen drank and discoursed, sailor fashion, on the exotic high seas adventures from Singapore to Bombay and from London to Port Said. Stories persist of a tunnel extending from the old rum cellar beneath the Captain’s Room (where we like to dine because of the view) that led to the river through which men were carried unconscious to ships awaiting in the harbor. Indeed many a sailor drinking in carefree abandon awoke to find himself at sea on a strange ship bound for a port half a world away.
A Savannah policeman, so legend has it, stopped by the Pirate’s House for a friendly drink and awoke on a four-masted schooner sailing to China from where it took him two years to make his way back to Savannah. The feel of those exciting times still hangs in the air.
Presently, even though every modern restaurant facility has been installed, the atmosphere of those exciting days of wood ships and iron men has been carefully preserved. The hand-hewn ceiling joined with wood pegs is prominent in the Captain’s Room, and the original brick walls and heart pine floor are well-known attractions. The historic validity of the Pirate’s House has been recognized by the American Museum Society, which lists this tavern as a “House Museum.”
In the classic Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Savannah is mentioned numerous times. “Tis said, old Captain Flint, who originally buried the famous treasure on Treasure Island, died at the Pirate’s House in an upstairs room. In the story, his faithful mate, Billy Bones, was at his side when he breathed his last muttering, “Darby, bring aft of the rum.” Even now, many employees and guests alike, swear that the ghost of Captain Flint haunts the historic Tavern.
Aside from all the history, the food is abundant and fun delicious.
Our next visit to Old Savannah will probably see us reining either Little Red or Big Red along the cobblestones on River Street.