Telfair Academy, Savannah

4.1
#8 of 27 in Museums in Savannah
The Telfair Academy is a historic mansion at 121 Barnard Street in Savannah, Georgia. It was designed by William Jay and built in 1818, and is one of a small number of Jay's surviving works. It is one of three sites owned by Telfair Museums. Originally a family townhouse belonging to the Telfair family, it became a free art museum in 1886, and thus one of the first 10 art museums in America, and the oldest public art museum in the South. Its first director, elected in 1883, was artist Carl Ludwig Brandt, who spent winters in Savannah. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Telfair Academy is located in historic central Savannah, on the west side of Telfair Square. It occupies an entire block, bounded by Barnard, West President, North Jefferson, and West State Streets. It is a two story masonry structure, built out of brick finished in stucco. Its entrance is a form typical of architect William Jay, with a projecting four-column portico that is accessed via side-facing stairs. The columns are of a composite order, and the portico's entablature is continued around the building as a stringcourse. Unlike the symmetrical exterior, the interior of the house is asymmetrical, its unusually shaped rooms including an octagonal drawing room, round-ended dining room, and long drawing room with rounded ends. The building's west wing is its former carriage house, which was adapted in the 1880s as part of the building's conversion to a museum, and has fine Adam style woodwork.
The house was designed by William Jay and built in 1818 for Alexander Telfair, son of Edward Telfair, one of Georgia's early post-independence governors. The site on which it was built previously housed the official residence of Georgia's colonial royal governors. In 1875 Alexander's sister Mary bequeathed the house, including its furnishings and family collections, to the Georgia Historical Society, which opened the first art museum in the southeastern United States here in 1886.
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Telfair Academy Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
679 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • By all means, if interested in history, the history of Savannah, and the incredible contributions of the Telfair family to Savannah, this is a "must see." Take the docent tour of the history of the fa...  more »
  • Part of the tour package to see Owens house, and interesting to see someone in early history wanting to share art and home set up to do so.  more »
Google
  • I'll be honest, this isn't really my thing and I'd probably not visit something like this very often. Nevertheless, there was a lot of hospitality during our visit and the help desk was just that. They answered every question we had and were truly eager to help, not just there to take your money. It had a big focus on historic art, some of it was stellar, some of it was a tad bit more nostalgic for the local community. The bird girl was very nicely displayed on the top floor seeing she no longer resides in the Bonaventure Cemetery, and it was very cool that she hasn't been moved from the Savannah community. So yes, great visit if you're into historic art, not so much if you're not. I'll give it 2 thumbs up for keeping the spirit of Savannah alive, great job.
  • I give it 3 stars and was very hesitant in deciding between 1 or 5 stars because Lacey Wilson (tour guide) was definitely worth more then 5, the house was amazing to see, the pain, misfortune, and what the slaves had to abide by or put up with was definitely brought up. This is what I was looking for in a tour like this. So thanks Lacey! I recommend if you go to see this place you ask for her as a tour guide if you truly want to know and understand what slaves went through not just the beauty of the home and old times. I felt it while I was there! One star because I asked one key question. “This home was built by those for free and their is a wall to show for this now. So now that the owner is making millions off the home of a slave seller and slave owner through tours, donations, and whatever else, are they doing anything for the black community such as college funding or scholarships?” Though she didn’t think so or was uncertain I went to look it up and guess what. Nope!! Sure they are providing summer art camps for kids or it says 500$ will underwrite tech classes for girls in underserved areas but that’s definitely not enough and what about specifically for the black community? What about the black men? I’m sorry but once the bills are paid maybe pay some dues to black society. And to think I almost donated money or bought an item from the gift shop. Absolutely not.

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