Crawford Square, hidden behind Colonial Park Cemetery on the far eastern side of Savannah’s Historic District, is one of the squares least often seen by visitors to the city. It was laid out in 1841. See on map
Crawford Ward, in which the square is situated, is bounded by Oglethorpe Avenue and Abercorn, East Broad and Liberty Streets. It is the largest of the wards in the Historic District (double the standard two blocks by five), its size increased to encompass the adjacent Colonial Park Cemetery.
Nearby sights and attractions:
Crawford Square and Ward are named for William Harris Crawford (1772-1834), who served as Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury.
Born in Virginia, Crawford moved to Georgia when still a child. He worked as a farmer, a schoolteacher, and a lawyer before turning to politics. Crawford was an active state politician, serving in the House of Representatives and as a Senator from Georgia to the US Congress. He was later a candidate for the 1824 presidential election.
Unfortunately, many of the historic buildings around the square have been destroyed. The square itself, however, retains several of it original features. A historic water cistern, constructed in the 19th century to aid in firefighting, is still there. So too is a portion of the railing that once enclosed each of Savannah’s squares.
Tabby (lime and oyster shell) paving is another early feature of Crawford Square. Tabby paving was first used in Savannah’s squares in 1889, laid as an experimental surface. Previously, tabby had been used primarily as a construction material for building walls and foundations.
Its main advantage as a paving material was its price: one third of the outlay required for brick. Its use was mostly confined to the more outlying squares. The more expensive – and attractive – brick was still preferred in the squares in the central, wealthier districts.
The police barracks on Oglethorpe Avenue, immediately east of Colonial Park, were built in 1870. Besides being an excellent example of municipal architecture, the barracks are the oldest continually operating police headquarters in the United States.
In front of the barracks are two classic police cars, a 1947 Chevrolet Bel-Air and a 1953 Chevrolet Stylemaster. Dating from the period in which city and county law enforcement were separate, one is a city police, and the other a county, vehicle. Across the road (in the Oglethorpe Avenue median) is a memorial statue to officers killed in the line of duty.
The former county jail is south of the barracks on Habersham Street. A striking building with a beautiful tower, it was designed in the Italianate style, with North African influences.
The building was used for the county jail from its construction in 1887. It continued to be used for various law enforcement purposes for almost a century, until its more recent purchase by the Savannah College of Art and Design.