Wright Square, at Bull and President Streets (the second in the Bull Street chain – see map), is one of the most delightful of Savannah’s small parks, both for its own beauty and for the variety and historic appeal of its surrounding buildings.
Surrounding Percival Ward has several historic municipal, religious and residential buildings worth seeing, the chief attractions among which are the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace on Oglethorpe Avenue and the Lutheran Church on the east side of the square.
Things To See & Do Near Wright Square
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
The main tourist attraction in the area around Wright Square is the birthplace of Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low. The birthplace is currently operated as a Girl Scout Center and historic house museum, open to the public most days of the week.
The imposing white and brown mansion (located two blocks south of Wright Square) is also known as the Wayne-Gordon House, after its former owners: James Wayne, a mayor of Savannah, and railroad magnate William Washington Gordon I. Gordon, Low’s grandfather, is himself commemorated by the monument in Wright Square.
Lutheran Church of the Ascension
The Lutheran Church of the Ascension, on Wright Square’s northeast trust lot, is one of Savannah’s most beautiful historic churches. It was established by Salzburgers who traveled to the new colony as exiles from their native Austria in 1734.
Most of the Salzburgers moved away from Savannah soon after their arrival, founding the settlement of Ebenezer and then of New Ebenezer, when the first town proved to be at an unhealthy and unproductive spot.
Some settled in Savannah, however, building a house of worship for themselves in the city. The current church was built in 1875, on the site of a former building; the Lutherans has acquired this Wright Square trust lot over a century earlier.
Wright Square’s principal memorial is the Gordon Monument, one of the very few monuments in Savannah dedicated to a civilian, rather than a military figure. William Washington Gordon (1796-1842), co-founder of the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia, later known as the Central of Georgia Railway, was a noted local politician and businessman. The Central had the memorial to Gordon constructed in Wright Square early in 1883.
The square’s other memorial is to Creek Chief Tomochichi (c1644-1739), friend and associate of James Oglethorpe and an important figure in the establishment of Savannah and the Colony of Georgia.
Tomochichi was the first person to be memorialized in Wright Square. He had lent considerable assistance to Oglethorpe and the British in the settlement of Savannah, and it was said to be his wish that he be buried within the confines of the city.
Accordingly, upon his death in 1739 Tomochichi was transported along the river to Savannah. He was laid to rest in Wright Square (still Percival Square at that time) in a ceremony attended by General Oglethorpe, the city magistrates and a sizeable crowd of the public. A pyramid of stones was placed to mark the spot.
Chief Tomochichi’s grave was lost at some unknown point over the ensuing decades. Women of the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames erected a replacement monument in his honor in the southeast corner of the square in 1899.
Architecture & Historic Buildings
Most of the historic buildings around Wright Square date from the later 19th century, with many of its most significant edifices erected in the 1890s.
The old Chatham County Courthouse, a large yellow brick building in the Romanesque style popularized in Savannah by its designer William Gibbons Preston, was built from 1889. It occupies the entirety of Wright Square’s southeast trust lot.
Another Romanesque building is the striking four-story, red brick Schwarz Building, on the south of Wright Square (136-140 Bull Street). This commercial building was erected by John Schwarz in 1890. It was designed by Alfred S Eichberg, and later remodeled.
From the same period, but not in the same style, is the Tomochichi Federal Building and United States Courthouse spanning both blocks on the western side of the square. The courthouse, built on the same site as an earlier one, was built in the 1890s, and enlarged in 1932. It houses the southern Georgia district court.
Its history began with plans to provide a new home for the Savannah post office. A building for this purpose was begun on the corner of York and Abercorn Streets, but construction was halted in 1889. Citizens decided that the building was too small and undistinguished for the purpose, and the city would do better to plan a far larger building that might serve other uses too.
They chose as its new site the lots on Wright Square once occupied by the courthouse from which John Wesley had preached in the late 1730s. The current courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and renamed to honor Tomochichi in 2005.
Nearby Squares & Attractions
East is Oglethorpe Square and one of Savannah’s most-visited historic homes, the Owens-Thomas House. West is Telfair Square, home to two of Savannah’s art museums, one traditional and one contemporary.
Metered on-street parking is available around and near Wright Square. The nearest parking garage is the city-owned State Street Parking Garage, entrance at State and Drayton Streets.
Two stops on Savannah’s fare-free Historic District shuttle are within four blocks walk of Wright Square. One is on the west side of Telfair Square, itself west of Wright. The other is at Abercorn and Broughton, two blocks north then two blocks east of Wright.
Paid bus services make several stops on and around Wright Square, along Bull Street. Get public transport directions