What a difference five decades has made in Savannah's Historic District. By the early 1950's, much of the architecture in the historic district was dilapidated and decaying as residents slowly moved to Savannah's outlying suburbs. It was only in 1955, when the pending destruction of a historically significant building, the Isaiah Davenport House, led to the creation of the Historic Savannah Foundation, that the downtown area's restoration efforts were begun.
The popularity of the book "Midnight in the Garden of Evil" in the early 1990's, the 1996 Summer Olympics, and over thirteen recent movies shot in Savannah and the surrounding area have raised the nation's awareness of Savannah's desirable and unique Historic District.
Savannah's Historic district abounds in architecture and history. It is the largest registered urban historic district in the United States. The city was planned around squares and small parks. Because of the restoration that has taken place in the historic district it has made it an attractive place for people of all ages to live. Culture activities, restaurants and waterways are all easily accessible from here. As in many historic districts there is a diversity of charming homes. The homes in Savannah's Historic district can range from 500 square feet condos to 10,000 square feet estates. The average prices of homes are also a wide range. Ranging anywhere from $100,000 to $10,000,000. Many of the restored homes have retained all the richness of history while updating the baths and kitchens.
The Victorian District
Just south of Historic Downtown, the Victorian District is several blocks roughly bounded by Victory Drive, Gwinnett Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Broad Street. Two and three-story Victorian frame houses in various stages of disrepair (or repair) can be found here. Renovators and investors with an eye for reconstruction of historic properties will find many affordable opportunities available in this section.
As the number of available homes needing renovation in the historic district declines, Savannah's Victorian residential area continues to see growth from those interested in renovation work. From an investment standpoint, it isn't unusual to find a very large Victorian home dating back to the 1800s, with porches, fireplaces, three or four bedrooms and other unique features for well under $80,000 to over $800,000. However, these properties generally need a large amount of restorative work before they are finished. Additionally, since the push for restoration in this area has only recently begun, restoration is sporadic. It is not unusual to find two or three houses that have been restored surrounded by others, which haven't been touched.
Gordonston is a small neighborhood on Savannah's eastside, adjacent to the Victorian District. It is experiencing a large amount of rekindled interest and is becoming a popular spot for many local professionals including professors and others working in education. Bordered by Skidaway Road, Gwinnett Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, it was initially developed in the 1920s by the brother of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, on property that was once part of the family farm. In some ways it is like a miniature Ardsley Park. Similar to its bigger cousin, throughout the development you will find tree-lined streets filled with a variety of older homes on large properties with front and back yards. Home styles include bungalows, cottages and large mansions, and they tend to be less expensive than those in Ardsley Park. Property prices for a small two- or three-bedroom bungalow go for around $70,000, while larger three- or four-bedroom homes can be found for around $175,000 - $300,000.
Laid out in 1910, this rural neighborhood was developed as an adjunct subdivision to Savannah's historic district when the advent of automobiles made the commute to downtown Savannah's commerce district feasible.
Although it was laid out as a single residential subdivision, it has grown to include an area bounded by Victory Drive on the north, 55th Street on the south, Bull Street and Waters Avenue on the west and east. Lined with statuesque oaks, landscaped squares and crescent-shaped avenues, the Ardsley Park area is now listed as a National Historic District.
Home prices primarily range from $100,000 to $700,000+, however some craftsman style bungalows can be found in the $200,000 range. Ardsley Park's midtown location makes it a favorite for professionals working in the Historic business district, which is only minutes away by car.
Bound by Habersham, Waters and DeReene Avenues, Kenningston Park is a small community of approximately 300 homes located between the older Ardsley Park and Savannah's southside.
Homes generally are in a traditional brick ranch style and run between $125,000 and $300,000 range. This is a mature community with well developed foliage, wide streets and some charming residences favored by a mixture of young new homeowners and older residents who initially settled in this development in the early 1960's.
Bound by the Wilmington River, Victory Drive and Skidaway Road, Thunderbolt is an incorporated town between Savannah and Whitemarsh/Wilmington Island. On the south side of Victory Drive, it is laid out in a square grid pattern and is primarily older, ranch style homes developed during the 1940's and 1950's. To the north side of Victory Drive are slightly more upscale suburb developments, in addition to some commercial businesses. Many homes in the Thunderbolt area are available as rentals since this area is adjacent to Savannah State University, one of the two University of Georgia campuses located in Savannah.