Crawford Square in Savannah Georgia
Upon strolling into Crawford Square, it’s easy to see that this square is unlike any of Savannah’s other historic squares. While Orleans Square or Forsyth Park give the impression of stepping back into a different era, Crawford Square is very much present-day Savannah—although not without some of its own particular history.
(Fun fact: Crawford Square in the only of Savannah’s historic square to still retain its original fence).
Crawford Square was laid out in 1841 in honor of William Harris Crawford. Born in Virginia in 1772, Crawford amounted to a great many different feats in his life, including (but not to limited to) Georgia senator, Minister to France (1815-1816) and Secretary of War. Crawford ran for President of the United States in 1824, but was edged out by John Quincy Adams (the winner) and Andrew Jackson (runner-up). Nevertheless, as Secretary of the Treasury it’s possible that Crawford wasn’t too put out by the loss.
Attractions at Crawford Square
Crawford Square, In and Around the Area
Crawford Square and its ward (or surrounding 8-block neighborhood) are home to various historically important buildings and locations.
Colonial Park Cemetery, which was established in 1750 and holds many of Savannah’s earliest colonists. Enlarged in 1789 in order to accept the dead of different religious denominations, Colonial Park Cemetery is also widely known for being the final resting place for the 700 victims who died during the 1820 Yellow Fever Epidemic. (And also for being an incredibly popular location for 18th and 19th century dueling.)
235 Habersham Street: Located at this address is Savannah's former 19th century County Jail. Today, the 42,8884 sq. ft. stucco Moorish Revival building belongs to the Savannah College of Art and Design, but it once served as the county jail and police department when it was built in 1887.
Crawford Square, Within the Fence
Although Crawford Square is sometimes the most least visited Square in Savannah, there are many interesting attractions to see even within the Square itself. Here are just a few to check out when you stroll through:
The Gazebo: Perhaps the most attention grabbing feature of Crawford Square is the pretty gazebo positioned almost directly in the center of the Square. (Claim to fame: Not only does Crawford Square have the only remaining enclosed fence, but it is also the only historic square to have a gazebo).
The 19th century Cistern: Early on in the colonization period—and leading well into the 19th century—cisterns (tall, column-like jugs) held water for local citizens. Cisterns were possibly used for drinking water, but most assuredly used for fire protection. After a major fire destroyed much of Savannah in 1820, a cistern was subsequently installed in each and every square for the firemen to have on hand. As it happens, the cistern in Crawford Square was probably built around the same time as the Square itself was laid out. It remains one of the only 19th century cisterns to still exist today within Savannah.
Don’t forget the basketball court! Crawford Square stands out from the pack mainly because it is a recreational park. Sure enough, the council has suggested removing the playground facilities and basketball court to make room for more flowers and green space, but this Square is a place to go and have fun. It sparkles with vitality and its love for the present-day. The court itself was added in 1946 after the council of Savannah held a city-wide basketball tournament. Whichever square/ward claimed the victory would also be given a basketball court. It was Crawford Square’s participants who took home the prize, and it is that prize that is still used today whenever locals break out their sneakers and basketball and play on the court.
Today, Crawford Square remains the only recreational square in all of Savannah. But is also historically significant, as well. During the Jim Crow era of the Reconstruction period and early-to-mid 20th century when racial segregation was legally mandated, Crawford Square was the only square in all of Savannah in which African-Americans were allowed to use or enter. Though today perhaps the least visited, this Square stands today a place where historical events has occurred, but that history is still being created today.
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