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Brooklyn, New York
January 18, 2009
From journal Savannah the Beautiful: A Small Taste of the Old South
by Armed With Passport
Miromar Lakes, Florida
May 5, 2002
The first strange thing to note about Monterey Square is the monument in the middle. Based on the name of the square you would expect the monument to honor a hero from the famous Mexican War battle. It is actually a memorial to a Polish aristocrat and officer in the American Army, Cashmir Pulaski, who died in the Siege of Savannah by the British in 1779. He was the highest ranking officer in Washington's army to die in the Revolutionary War.
While it is only slightly odd that there would be a monument to a man from Poland adorning a square in a southern city in the United States, I find it very odd that they didn't put the monument of the eastern European officer in another square in Savannah. Pulaski Square, only two diagonal blocks away and named after the same Polish Count, contains no monument or statue.
Quirkiest of all, is the late Savannahian, Jim Williams, who lived in Mercer House in Monterey Square. Williams is immortalized in the non-fiction classic, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. It was in Mercer House that Danny Hansford, a local ne'er-do-well, was killed by Jim Williams; a court later acquitted Williams of first degree murder. Williams was a nouveau-riche, homosexual rare antiques dealer, who threw Savannah's most infamous holiday party every Christmas. He would evaluate what kind of person you were and how you treated him during the calendar year when deciding whether to put you on the invited list or not.
Monterey Square has been used often for television and movie scenes. During the filming of one movie, Williams asked the producer of the movie if he would make a donation to charity in light of the inconvenience that the movie set was causing to the residents of the square. The producer said no. In retaliation for this snubbing by a Hollywood outsider, Williams decided to get his revenge by sabotaging the set of this Nineteenth Century "period movie". He pulled an antique Nazi flag from his vintage World War II artifacts and hung it out over his veranda, ruining all shots of the square with is display of a hated symbol from the 1930's and 1940's.
While this sabotaged the movie temporarily, it also outraged the nearby Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest synagogue in the United States. Williams reluctantly took down the flag and mended fences with his neighbor.
From journal Savannah - "The Book", St. Paddy's and Beyond