(HARDEEVILLE, SC) Taken a stroll through downtown Savannah, lately? Few cities can compare to the breath-taking beauty, stimulating scenery and unique beat to be found there.
Recently ranked as one of the top 10 best walking cities in the U.S. by Walking Magazine, downtown Savannah is one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts in the country.
Enchanted Oaks, cobblestone streets, elaborate mansions, and historic squares make Savannah a very special place. Founded in the 1700’s, downtown Savannah is made up primarily of brick and stone, with streets that are laid out in a perfect grid, demonstrating early colonial city planning.
The art of masonry can be seen throughout downtown Savannah and is certainly part of its unspoken appeal. The beautiful stone work involved in constructing these downtown hardscapes is significant, and gives Savannah its distinct essence.
Bluestone, an organic stone derived of sandstone and quartz crystal, along with Savannah Grey Bricks which are the large reddish-brown bricks found throughout the historic district, are the elements which combine to give Savannah’s signature look.
According to William Rhangos, who co-owns the company Savannah Hardscapes with his brother Jonathan, Bluestone is a key element featured throughout this area and has historical precedence which dates back over one hundred years.
“Bluestone pavers are visually appealing pavers of natural stone ranging in color from blue-grey and green-grey to lilac,” says Rhangos. “These muted tones make up a pleasant color palette and blend well with Savannah’s current structures and scenery.”
Savannah Hardscapes—a Savannah company importing and distributing products globally—specializes in the sale and installation of stone, pavers, brick, stucco, mosaics, antique materials, fountains, fireplaces, outdoor furniture and architectural elements for both residential, commercial and public projects throughout the southeast.
Savannah Hardscapes has been involved in a variety of public and private historic renovations and decorative outdoor installations throughout the downtown area including Ellis Square, Johnson Square, Forsyth Park and the sidewalks surrounding City Hall.
The city squares are among the most delightful features in the area. Savannah Squares are small parks shaded by oak trees that are dripping with moss. Rich in history and complete with benches, fountains or monuments, the 22 squares are a Savannah staple.
Two of the most popular squares in town are Johnson and Ellis Squares. The recently renovated Johnson Square is one of Savannah’s first and largest.
Ellis Square, newly raised in the space of Savannah’s original “city market”, is located between the new Avia Hotel and the current and very popular City Market. Interactive fountains and an artistic hardscape of natural stone makes Ellis the most progressive of squares, adding a contemporary vibe and making it a current hot spot for tourists and locals alike.
The Historic Savannah Foundation’s long standing preservation activity has ensured that the historical appeal and character of the City be maintained and enhanced. Since the utilization of masonry pavers is historical in itself, the art of masonry is key in the design, construction and renovation of structures within the downtown area.
Many of these structures are also designed sustainably through the re-use of Savannah Grey Bricks in order to maintain the quality and look of old. Using reclaimed materials is a central aspect of green building practices.
According to Rhangos, Savannah Hardscapes works with a network of sources to locate and retrieve reclaimed bricks of many varieties which only become available when old buildings and streets are torn down.
Part of the fabric of masonry construction in the area, Savannah Grey Bricks are commonly used in residential renovations to repair and create consistent looks along walk ways, walls and exterior structures such as patio gardens—all common features within the fashionable Georgian style homes lining the streets.
The recently renovated Forsyth Park—a 30 acre park established in the 1840s containing a Confederate monument, magnificent water fountains, a large lawn where locals play and lounge, and now a popular café with outdoor seating—is a local favorite. Savannah Hardscapes facilitated the decorative outdoor installation of pavers and bricks during the large scale Forsyth renovation project, adding to the character and beauty there.
City Market, as well as River Street—a water front cobblestone drive of old cotton warehouses and stone buildings—are within walking distance to one another and the most frequented spots among visitors. These areas feature an eclectic and fun collection of restaurants, clubs, art galleries, and souvenir shops.
Downtown’s private spaces, however, including historic residences and spectacular patio gardens are Savannah’s secret gems.
To capture the true essence of Savannah, visitors stroll the squares where they discover over 1,700 restored homes, museums, galleries, and shops worthy of their attention, accompanied by a backdrop of Spires from various colonial period churches which punctuate the skyline.
Residents maintain extraordinary living spaces here. According to Rhangos, Savannah Hardscapes regularly works with clients in the area to create or modify a design, or to suggest materials for the existing structures.
“Private residences such as these contribute to the overall beauty and feel of Savannah,” Rhangos points out. “These historic homes are now owned and resided in by individuals living and working in Savannah.”
On any given day hundreds of folks can be found enjoying any one of Savannah’s many daily walking tours. The Savannah Historic Foundation’s Annual Tour of Homes & Gardens is the most popular of all walking tours, offering residents and visitors alike a rare opportunity to enter some of the City’s finest private homes to admire these restored interiors, decorative patios, gardens and special furnishings that have been treasured for generations.
The historic ambiance along downtown Savannah’s attractive and varied walking paths draws an increased number of tourists to the City each year. “Savannah Hardscapes is proud to be part of the continued restoration of this area,” says Rhangos. “It is great to move about the city and see people enjoying these spaces. It makes this work even more rewarding.” www.savannahhardscapes.com 843.784.6060
William Rhangos and Jonathan Rhangos, owners of Savannah Hardscapes
Ellis Square Hardscaping by Savannah Hardscapes
Bluestones on City Hall in Savnanah provided by Savannah Hardscapes
Bricks provided by Savannah Hardscapes in Forsyth Park
Paving at the Forsyth Park Cafe, provided by Savannah Hardscapes