Owen Thomas House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by zabelle on March 19, 2005

William Jay was a young architect when he came to the Savannah and designed what is considered by many to be the finest English Regency House in the United States. The house was designed for the Richardson family. Mrs. Richardson was the sister in law of William Jay. The house was completed in 1819, and by 1820, Mr. Richardson had suffered financial reverses forcing the sale of the house.

For the next ten years, it was used as a boarding house, and it was at this point that its most illustrious guest visited. The Marquise de Lafayette stopped here in 1825 and he addressed the citizens of Savannah from the cast iron balcony on the side of the house.

In 1830, the house was purchased by George Owens and it remainded in the family for over 100 years. The last owner, Margaret Thomas, the granddaughter of George Owens left the House to the Telfair Musuem. If you plan to visit both, there is a combination ticket for $12, a $4 savings.

The house must be visited on a tour. You begin in the carriage house. You are given a brief introduction. I have to tell you that the staff at this house was the least friendly and least helpful of any we met on this trip. There are no postcards and no guide book of the house. My first instinct is to tell you to skip this house because of the staff, but don’t--it has some unusual aspects that make it worth tolerating the help, and I use the word "help" loosely.

You enter through the rear porch and move to the front of the house. The tour begins in the formal drawing room. The ceiling is circular with spandels in the corners which create the illusion that the room is eliptical. One indication of the wealth of the previous owners is that the house was heated with coal, which had to be imported and was very expensive.

Our tour had about 15 people on it. We had to take turns touring the rooms. Painting from the museum are on display through out the house. There is period furniture in all the rooms some of which is original. The bridge on the second level is like nothing we have ever seen, come here just so that you can see it. It made it possible to enter the bedrooms without having to pass through any other rooms. Another interesting aspect was the cistern located in the attic that provided running water to the house.

When we were there, restoration work was going on in the dining room and we were able to watch one of the conservators working on the paint. The tour finishes in the basement from there you can walk in the garden for as long as you like. Do visit the slave quarters on the second floor of the carriage house.

Owens-Thomas House
124 Abercorn St.
Savannah, Georgia, 31401
(912) 233-9743


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