I first visited Savannah one April nearly twenty years ago with my husband Thomas for our first wedding anniversary. I still remember waking up and walking through the courtyard of our inn, the Eliza Thompson House [elizathompsonhouse.com]and being charmed by cascades of Lady Banksia roses, the sound of bells, and the scent of spring. About a decade later, I nestled into the second-floor carriage house apartment of Celia Dunn of Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty [celiadunnsir.com] for two months while researching and directing the photography of my book, Savannah Style: Mystery and Manners. Last week, I spent five days there while scouting and shooting for my new book, Houses with Charm: Simple Southern Style, and found that my passion for the city has only grown with time.
Beautiful, historic, and romantic, Savannah is populated by fascinating (not to mention occasionally eccentric) people and its streets are lined with shops, cafes, and museums to satisfy just about every taste. Upon arriving in Savannah last week, I was honored by a dinner party hosted by Alexandra Trujillo de Taylor, a Savannah tastemaker and designer of interiors, jewelry, and more who goes by the moniker of HRH Duchess of State [duchessofstate.com].
The party was held at her home near Victory Drive, an avenue lined with massive old oaks and equally majestic Colonial and Mediterranean Revival houses. Having earned her title in recognition of the lavish entertainments she gave when in residence on Savannah’s State Street, the Duchess set a beautiful table with a brilliant late-summer/early autumn burst of sunflowers down its center. While the flowers were arranged in bubble vases complementing the stainless-steel table’s modern style, the meal was served on beautiful antique Delft porcelain.
The Duchess brought this same blending of post-industrial chic and European elegance to the atelier she designed in the nearby Starland Dairy complex for the gifted chocolatier Adam Turoni [chocolatat.com]. When we visited Adam (a maker of fine wholesale chocolates whose atelier is open by appointment only), he offered me a superlative morsel of chocolate raspberry ganache that made me long for more.
After two days photographing the Savannah home of Connecticut-based interior design Lynn Morgan [lynnmorgandesign.com] and her husband Jeff, I took a break to enjoy lunch at the Zeum Cafe in the Jepson Center.
One of the Telfair museums, the luminous building designed by Moshe Safdie houses a fine collection of contemporary art and international traveling exhibitions. One of the things I love about the Jepson is the juxtaposition of the modern architecture with the old trees, lush greenery, and nineteenth-century architecture of Telfair Square.
The day ended with a photoshoot at Arcanum [www.arcanumsavannah.com], one of my favorite shops in the city. There, the Canada-based staff of Dabble magazine [dabblemag.com] set up a portrait of me surrounded with antiques and contemporary objéts, all decked out in jewelry designed by HRH The Duchess of State. Although the photograph won’t be revealed (even to me) until it appears in the online style, food, and travel magazine next year, here are pictures of the semi-precious jewels I purloined for the shoot.
I enjoyed so many other aesthetic adventures during my scant five days in Savannah that I can’t fit them all into one post … so watch for future Savannah chronicles. In the meantime, keep Savannah on your travel radar. If you haven’t ever been — or haven’t been in a while — it’s time to go. If you want to join me on a future tour, send me an email at southerncosmopolitan.com and I’ll keep you posted about my next guided tour of this Southern design destination.