Harper-Fowlkes House

Open Wednesday-Saturday and Monday. Adult admission $10.

See below: full visitor information

See also: overview of Savannah’s historic house museums

The Harper-Fowlkes House, a striking Greek Revival mansion in the west of Savannah’s Historic District, was once owned by the influential Champion and McAlpin families. It stands today as testament to the preservation work of Alida Harper-Fowlkes. A surviving example of the large homes that once graced the formerly-fashionable Orleans Square, its imposing double-story columns hint at the square’s lost grandeur.

Advertisements:

History Of The Harper-Fowlkes House

The Greek Revival mansion on Barnard Street was originally built, in 1842, for Stephen Gardner. Financial troubles forced Gardner to sell his new home almost immediately. It was bought by businessman Aaron Champion, who owned the house until his death in 1880.

The McAlpin family, founders of the famous Hermitage Plantation, where much of Savannah’s gray brick was made by artisan slaves, was related to the Champion family by marriage. Champion’s daughter Maria and her husband James McAlpin inherited the house, which was to pass to Maria’s children after her death.

Maria Champion McAlpin survived her father by only a decade. She died in 1890. By 1895, her five children – Aaron, James, Henry, Mary and Maria (neither the Champions nor the McAlpins looking far for inspiration in naming their offspring) – had reached an agreement over the division of their inherited property.

One of the children, Henry, lived in the house with wife Isabel, the pair embarking on extensive renovations and improvements that added a third story in the Second Empire style to the Greek Revival house and also reconfigured the stairway. Following Henry’s death in 1931, the house was embroiled in an inheritance dispute.

The eventual outcome was the sale of the property, in 1939, to Savannah preservationist Alida Harper (Harper-Fowlkes after her marriage). Although the Champion-McAlpins together owned the house for almost a century, she is to date its longest single occupant, having lived in the house for 45 years from her purchase of the property in 1939 until her death in 1985.

Alida Harper was never very active in Savannah’s leading preservationist organization, the Historic Savannah Foundation, but she became an influential force on her own account in the restoration of the city’s old houses and neighborhoods.

Harper substantially restored the historic Orleans Square home, later deeding it to the Society of the Cincinnati with the proviso that it would never be sold.

What To See & Do

Guided tours The Harper-Fowlkes House can only be seen by guided tour. Allow around an hour for your visit, which will usually include time for a brief viewing of the gardens.

Tours visit the half dozen or so rooms on the first and second floors of the house, highlighting the home’s architecture, artworks and antiques and Alida Harper’s preservation work. Currently, the third floor is undergoing renovations.

Architecture The Harper-Fowlkes House, believed to have been designed by Irish architect Charles B Cluskey, represents the Greek Revival architectural style, its two-story columns on the front porch an imposing addition to the neighborhood around Orleans Square (another grand mansion in the Neoclassical style, designed by William Jay, once stood across the square from the Harper-Fowlkes House).

The house is constructed of Savannah grey bricks, many of which were produced on the Hermitage Plantation. The brick was overlain with stucco, scored to resemble large blocks of stone.

The third floor of the house is a later Second Empire style addition to the original, classically-designed building (this floor is not currently included on the tour). There are comparatively few examples of Second Empire architecture in Savannah; one notable example is the Hamilton-Turner House, now an inn, on Lafayette Square.

Artworks and furnishings The Harper-Fowlkes House has a good collection of antiques, many of them original to the house, some from the 19th-century Champion-McAlpin period and others added during Harper’s restoration.

Highlights include the house’s antique china, in 19th-century Derby, Chamberlain Worcester and Worcester patterns (Worcester, pronounced “wusster,” is one of the oldest brands of china still in production today); a collection of mid-19th century chandeliers, original to the house; historic 18th- and 19th-century oil portraits of local Revolutionary Era politicians; besides many other items of antique furniture (much of it American-made), rugs, artworks and other of the house’s original architectural details.

Advertisements:

Visitor Information

The following is correct at the time of writing. Please verify details before planning your trip. For additional information, call 912-234-2180 or visit the official website.

Opening hours Open for guided tours Monday and Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm. Last tour at 4pm. Please note that tour hours may occasionally vary if special events are hosted at the house. Private tours are available by appointment. Tickets can be purchased in advance, but specific slots cannot currently be reserved ahead of time.

Admission Adults $10, students $5, children (0-12) free.

Getting There

Address 230 Barnard Street, Savannah, GA 31401
GPS coordinates N 32.076074, W -081.094932

The Harper-Fowlkes House is located on the southeast corner of Orleans Square, close to the center of Savannah’s Historic District. See on map

Parking There is no on-site parking at the house, but street parking will usually be available nearby. The Civic Center parking lot is just across the square; the nearest covered parking garage is either the city owned Liberty Street Parking Garage at Liberty and Montgomery, or the Liberty Street Parking Deck at Liberty and Whitaker (city parking passes are not valid at this garage). More about parking in Savannah

Public transport The nearest free shuttle stop is two blocks away, at Liberty and Jefferson Streets. The house is also accessible by paid public transit. Get directions by public transport or read more about Savannah’s bus and shuttle system.