41 Martin Luther King Blvd.
One block east of Franklin Square
Scarborough House / Ships of the Sea Museum
National Historic Register
The Ships of the Sea Museum is located in the William Scarborough mansion. One of the earliest examples of the Greek revival in Savannah, this beautiful home was designed by famed English architect William Jay, for William Scarborough, president of the Savannah Steamship Company, and one of the principal owners of the steamship Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. Completed in 1819, the mansion is one of the most austere of Jay’s Savannah designs. It features Roman-style windows that flank the entrance and a monumental Doric portico with a fanlight overhead. This magnificent mansion soon became a center of Savannah social life and was the focal point of colorful festivities during President James Monroe’s visit that year.
Scarborough lost the home in 1820 after suffering severe financial setbacks. By 1827 the home back in the hands of the family, and was owned by his daughter, Charlotte Scarborough Taylor. From 1870 to 1876, the house was run as a boys’ orphanage. In 1878, it became the first public school in Savannah and one of the first in the south for African-American children. After the school closed in 1962, the house remained vacant for a number of years. The dilapidated mansion was purchased and renovated by the Historic Savannah Foundation. Over $1 million dollars was spent on the renovation. Recognized for its extraordinary architectural and historical significance, the Scarborough House was designated a National historic Landmark in 1974 and opened to the public in 1976. It now houses the Ships of the Sea Museum.
The museum features a wonderful collection of ship models, paintings, and maritime antiques that will interest both children and adults. Special student programs include educational tours. The museum offers classes on the art of scrimshaw, sailor's valentines and painted merchant signs to Girl Scout troops.
The gift shop contains a large selection of books and gifts related to the maritime theme of the museum.