One of Savannah’s smaller squares (those on the eastern side were laid out on a smaller plan, in order to fit the required number of wards into the available space), Columbia Square presents a particularly open appearance. The buildings surrounding the square – mostly examples of subdued but substantial 19th-century architecture – are always visible from each point around it, and have therefore a particularly strong influence on its character.
The square is also home to one of its most significant historic homes, the Davenport House. The 1820 Federal-style house was one of the first restored by the Historic Savannah Foundation, which now operates it as a museum. Inspired by the successful completion of the Davenport House project, Savannah’s preservationists substantially restored Columbia Square itself in the 1970s.
Columbia Square was laid out in 1799, along with Greene Square, to its east, and Liberty Square (since lost), on the western margin of the city as it then stood. It is named for the female figure once used to personify the United States.
Columbia Square is in the northeast of Savannah’s Historic District, at the intersection of Habersham and East President Streets. Columbia Ward is bounded by Broughton, Lincoln and Price Streets, and Oglethorpe Avenue. See on map
North of Columbia is Warren Square, in the vicinity of which are some of the city’s oldest surviving houses. East is Greene Square, significant in the history of Savannah’s black citizens and home to Second African Baptist Church.
West is Oglethorpe Square and the Owens-Thomas House museum; southwards is Colonial Park Cemetery and the historic police barracks (and classic police cars) of western Crawford Ward.
On the north side of Columbia Square is one of Savannah’s oldest house museums, an imposing Federal style brick mansion constructed in the 1820s by builder Isaiah Davenport (another of Savannah’s historic house museums, the Owens-Thomas House, is only a block away).
By the mid-20th century, the house had fallen into disrepair; its restoration would be the first major project of Savannah’s preservation movement, led by the Historic Savannah Foundation. Today, the house and gardens are one of the few visitor attractions in the northeast of Savannah’s Historic District.
Columbia Square has no monument, bar a small memorial fountain dedicated in honor of Augusta and Wymberly De Renne. The De Rennes were descendants of Noble Jones, founder of nearby Isle of Hope’s colonial-era Wormsloe Plantation.
The small, rustic fountain features representations of vines and flowers atop a pedestal styled to resemble a tree trunk. It is painted in a historic local paint color, known as “Swamp Root” green.
The fountain was originally located at Wormsloe Plantation, gifted to the city and placed in Columbia Square around 1970 as part of the square’s redevelopment.
The Sheftall House, on the south of Columbia Square (321 East York Street) was once owned by one of Savannah’s most prominent Jewish businessmen, Abraham Sheftall, who built the house in 1818, then at a different address on Elbert Square.
Sheftall was descended from one of Savannah’s oldest families. His ancestors, Benjamin and Perla Sheftall, were among Savannah’s very first settlers, arriving in 1733, the year of the city’s founding.
The house is currently occupied by the Historic Savannah Foundation, which uses the property as its administrative headquarters.
On the west side of Columbia Square stands the Kehoe House, constructed by Irish immigrant and iron foundry owner William Kehoe for his wife and family in the 1890s.
The Kehoes’ former residence was the smaller but attractive ivy-covered house diagonally opposite across Columbia Square, on the southeast trust lot between York and President Streets. It was built in the mid 1880s.
The new house was completed in 1893, and stayed in the Kehoe family for almost four decades. It was put to a variety of uses thereafter, its most recent and current use as a bed and breakfast inn, still called the Kehoe House.
Like most of the Historic District’s eastern squares, the area around Columbia Square is short on dining options. There is one restaurant in the immediate vicinity of the square, the historic, upscale 17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant (with a separate pub lounge) which claims to be both haunted and the oldest of the city’s surviving inns. It is open from brunch-time onwards.
There should usually be metered street parking available in the streets around Columbia Ward or nearby. The nearest parking garage is the city-owned State Street Parking Garage, three blocks west of Columbia on the north of Oglethorpe Square.
Savannah’s free shuttle bus stops at Abercorn and Broughton Streets, four blocks from Columbia Square. Several paid city bus services also stop within a few blocks of the square. Get public transport directions