Historic Wright Square

Wright Square is the second square, moving south into the city from the river, and it contains many interesting historical relics.

Laid out in 1733, it was originally named Percival Square, for Right Honorable John, Lord Viscount Percival, Earl of Egmont, the Georgia Trust President. The ward surrounding it was also named after him and continues today as Percival Ward. The square was later re-named Wright Square to honor the last Royal Governor of Georgia, Sir James Wright. However, it has also been commonly called “Court House Square” or “Post Office Square”. A courthouse has stood on the square since the time of Oglethorpe and in the early days the square was a gathering place full of public activity. Due to the presence of the courthouse, monthly auctions of livestock, government bonds, furniture and other goods were held in Wright Square.

In addition to the name change, there have been other changes to Wright Square, as well. Originally, the grave site of Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraw chief who offered peace and cooperation with the settlers, occupied the center of the square. It was marked by Savannah’s first monument, the stone pyramid that the settlers built to honor Tomo-Chi-Chi upon his death in 1739. More than 100 years later, after William W. Gordon brought immense wealth to Savannah by constructing a railroad which brought cotton to the docks and wharves of Savannah from distant plantations, the Savanahians of the time felt that he should be honored by a memorial in Wright Square, so they removed Tomo-Chi-Chi’s grave (some say scattering his bones all around the plot of land) and replaced it with a monument to Gordon, which we see today. Later preservationists thought this to be an unacceptable way to treat Tomo-Chi-Chi and they created a memorial of simple granite stone at the southeast corner of Wright Square so that succeeding generations would not forget the man to whom the city owed its early safety and successes.

Today, a courthouse and a post office stand on the square. The building which you see on the west side is the US Post Office and is a relatively newer building. It was constructed in 1898 in amalgamation of styles – Spanish, French, Romanesque and Italian Renaissance. It is a huge building, but the ornamentation and loggias bring it into scale with its surroundings. On the southeast corner is the Chatham County Court House. A courthouse stood here as early as 1736. The current courthouse was built in 1889, in a Romanesque interpretation that only Savannahians can do. We thought it to have one of the oddest rooflines we have seen. The decoration is pale yellow brick, with terra cotta decoration, an arched entrance on the west side and a terra cotta botanical pattern over the left door. The lights appearing on the Bull Street side are known as bishop’s crook lights and are like those originally used on the street. Later restoration efforts brought these lights to all of Bull Street, so that it could be lit as it was originally.

On the northeast trust lot sits the Lutheran Church of the Ascension. This is one of Savannah’s most loved churches and landmarks. It was built by the Salzburgers, Lutheran Protestants, who sought religious freedom in Georgia after being expelled from their homeland. This church has many beautiful attributes. It was built in the Norman and Gothic styles and has one of Savannah’s most dramatic church interiors. Of note are the various windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ, the Ascension (for which the church is named) and the marble altar, which portrays DaVinci’s “Last Supper”.

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William Washington Gordon Monument
Wright Square
Tomo-Chi-Chi Monument
Wright Square