Things to do in Savannah: Stroll through Forsyth Park
Publish Jul 26, 2017
One of Savannah’s best features is our squares.
But Savannah’s Forsyth Park is one of the city’s crown jewels: shaded, beautiful, and or course, packed with history!
Savannah’s version of “Central Park” is a great place to throw a frisbee with the dogs or kids, have a picnic, or tie up your hammocks to the shaded oaks and relax.
Play tennis on the hard courts, or join a pick-up game on the basketball courts. Get in your morning jog; Forsyth’s outer loop is nearly a perfect mile.
Bordered by some of Savannah’s Great Houses, a walk of the outer loop showcases some of the city’s best architecture.
Named for John Forsyth, the Governor of Georgia who had just died in 1841, the park began as just 10 wooded acres set aside to become Savannah’s first recreational park. Over the years, the park was improved and expanded.
Explore the 30 acres of Forsyth Park’s interior, and you’ll see why locals and visitors flock here everyday.
Some things to check out in Forsyth Park during your Savannah dream vacation:
Forsyth Park Fountain
Surrounded by oaks dripping in Spanish moss, the gleaming white fountain setting is like something out of a fairy-tale.
Originally placed to be the focal point in a gardened park called “Forsyth Place”, the fountain sits in the direct path of Bull Street, were it to continue through the park.
The placement of the fountain creates a perfect line of sight from both the northern boundary of Forsyth Park at Gaston Street, and the southern border of the park at Park Avenue.
Running 24 hours a day, the two tiered fountain lights up gloriously after dark.
Adorned at the top by the lady with her staff, above wading cranes, the spray creates soothing sounds and cooling mists.
Four intricately detailed tritons blow their bullhorns, and swans spout into the air, while water falls from the tiers above into the pool.
One of the most photographed places in the city, some lucky couples even get married at Savannah’s Forsyth Park fountain.
History of the Forsyth Fountain
The centerpiece and stunningly beautiful backdrop of Savannah’s Forsyth Park, the historic fountain was installed in 1858.
But what many people do not know, is that Savannah’s most famous fountain came from a mail-order catalog! Ordered from Janes, Beebe & Co’s Illustrated Catalogue of Ornamental Iron Work at a cost of $2,200 (or $65,000 today), our famous fountain was known as Model No 5!
Though unique to Savannah, the fountain was not custom, and thus has doppelgangers.
Savannah’s fountain has been altered, added on to, and restored through the years.
Though not exactly identical, her three sister fountains can be found in Madison, Indiana, Poughkeepsie, New York (known as Soldier’s Memorial Fountain), and even as far away as Cusco, Peru!
Garden of Fragrance
(Open 9:00 am – 2:00 pm Monday to Friday Except Holidays)
In 1867, 21 acres of a military parade ground were annexed to extend Forsyth Park.
Training forts were built in 1909 and were used for exercises during World War I.
Just south of Forsyth park’s fountain, inside the walls of the West Fort, you’ll find the Fragrant Garden.
Walled on three sides with concrete meant to lock in the scents from the garden, and a wrought iron gate facing north, the Fragrant garden project began in 1959.
Originally called the “Fragrant Garden for the Blind in Savannah”, the project was completed in 1963.
Coincidentally, the landmark Union Station train terminal was demolished the same year to make way for Savannah’s portion of Interstate 16.
The gates of the newly demolished Union Station were salvaged by a local garden club, and donated to the Fragrant Garden.
They are the same gates, made in 1902, that you enter the garden through today.
Forsyth Park’s Fragrant Garden fell into disrepair, and was locked for decades. Renovated in 2002, the Garden is now owned and maintained by the City of Savannah for enjoyment year-round.
Inside the Fragrant Garden, have been placed plants and flowers selected specifically for their fragrance.
Designed to be enjoyed by scent alone, the markers for each specimen are presented in English and in braille.
Perfect for relaxing, a bench is positioned against the northern wall, covered to be a shaded place to enjoy the serenity of the secluded area. If you are lucky, a local musician playing calming music can be heard – but not seen- on the other side of the wall.
At the north entrance to Forsyth Park at Bull Street and Gaston Street you’ll find the large piece of Georgia white marble that is the Marine Monument.
Dedicated two years after the end of World War II, on Armistice Day, the monument was originally placed to honor the 24 members of the U.S. Marine Corps from Chatham County that died overseas during World War II.
Unfortunately, the monument had to take on new significance, as more of Savannah’s Marines were killed in action in Korea and Vietnam.
Today the monument displays bronze plaques with the names of Savannah’s sons who died as Marines in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Forsyth Fort and Bandshell
Visit Savannah’s Forsyth Park, and you certainly can’t miss the Forsyth Park Bandshell.
Six Million Dollar Bathrooms
It took over five years and $6.5 million dollars, but Forsyth Park now has probably the nicest public restrooms in the city!
Built from the restored remnants of the eastern practice fort built in 1909, the structure features a stage covered by a huge white canopy that lights up brightly at night with all colors of the rainbow.
Out in front of the stage, fountains shoot water high into the air, attracting kids (and adults) to cool off in their swimming gear.
At the back of the building is Forsyth Park Cafe, where you can get coffee, water, snacks, and food.
Monument to the Confederate Dead in Forsyth Park
Looming large in the center of Forsyth Park, and separating the two large quads where soldiers drilled before going off to war, is the Confederate War Memorial.
One of the earliest Confederate monuments, and over fifty feet tall, perched at the very top, stands a bronze statue of a soldier in Confederate uniform.
He looks to the north, facing his enemy for as long as he stands.
The Savannah Ladies Memorial Association raised $10,000 for the structure, and left most of the design up to the designer.
But the ladies demanded some very strict, very interesting, requirements for the construction…
No part of the monument could be made of any materials sourced from the North. No portion of any component could be built by anyone in or from the North, and no part of the memorial could even travel through a Northern state!
The first iteration of the monument was unveiled in 1875. It featured two Greek goddesses: Silence, and Judgement.
The statues, for whatever reason, were removed in 1879 and replaced with the soldier at the top of the structure.
The statue of Judgement was relocated to a cemetery in Thomasville, Georgia.
Savannah’s Laurel Grove cemetery is now home to “Silence”, in the section dedicated to Savannahians who died at Gettysburg.
At the exact opposite end of Forsyth Park from the Marine Memorial, stands The Hiker.
The statue was created by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson (say that ten times fast!), and commemorates soldiers that died in the Spanish-American War.
The original design was made for the University of Minnesota in 1906, and was so well liked, that fifty copies were created and placed all over the United States.
Placed on June 7th, 1931, at the south end of Forsyth Park at the intersection of Park Avenue and Bull Street, our version of the statue is officially called “The Georgia Volunteer”.
Savannah was selected to receive The Hiker, because the city contributed more soldiers to the Spanish-American War than any other city in Georgia, per capita.
The man in the statue is portrayed as a hero stripped of his parade uniform, shown as a soldier reacting to the realities of the battlefield.
Stay on Forsyth Park
Savannah Dream Vacations can give you a vacation rental directly on Forsyth Park!
Our Victorian District homes have so much character inside and out, and feature modern kitchens, bathrooms, wi-fi, and incredible views of Forsyth Park.
Stay in a vacation rental with Savannah Dream Vacations and your historic home is part of your Savannah experience, instead of just a hotel room to throw your stuff in and sleep!
Wake up with a cup of coffee, or watch the sunset with a glass of wine on the park view balcony of the Jepson Estate.
Enjoy a couple’s getaway in the Romantic Cottage.
Or step out your front door at the Hummel House, and step right across the street into the Park.
Each of the properties has access to the shaded, secluded courtyard; open the gate and walk right into Forsyth Park.
At Savannah Dream Vacations, we’re all Savannah locals, we’re just a phone call away if you need anything, and we can all give you a local’s view of things to do in Savannah!
Ready for your Savannah Dream Vacation? Call us anytime, contact us, or book your Savannah vacation rental now!
The Jepson Estate
Zen Garden on Forsyth Park
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Romantic Parkside Carriage House
On Forsyth Park
George Hummel House
Newly renovated home
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