December 2, 2020 – This morning Historic Savannah Foundation (HSF) unveiled its 2021 Master Plan for the Kennedy Pharmacy Addition and the Davenport House Urban Enslaved Exhibit. The nonprofit organization broke ground on these projects, amid a small, socially distanced group comprised of Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, key stakeholders, top supporters, and other community dignitaries, all wielding golden shovels and hard hats.
The groundbreaking ceremony, which included a display of plan renderings and images, is the result of the successful completion of a significant part of a multi-phase fundraising effort and marks a milestone in the institution’s vision for the future. After years of planning, the Murray C. Perlman & Wayne C. Spear Center and the Urban Enslaved Exhibit housed in the ground floor of the Davenport House, sponsored by the Mills B. Lane Memorial Foundation in memory of W. W. Law, are underway and are expected to open to the community in 2022. The center will contain education space, and the Kennedy Pharmacy renovation will house the relocated gift shop, tour ticketing area, restrooms, and upstairs offices for Davenport House Museum staff. HSF’s leadership is excited about the launch of the projects and thrilled to soon share these improvements and resources with the community.
Felder & Associates, LLC architectural firm designed the projects. Managing Principal Architect and firm founder Brian Felder, AIA, is also the immediate past chairman of HSF’s Board of Trustees.
“We are pleased to have been selected, along with DMDG2, who is the exhibit designer, to help HSF with this project. After extensive research and collaboration with the HSF building committee, we have curated the educational interior of the Urban Enslaved Exhibit, keeping the integrity and history of the Davenport House Museum while allowing for thoughtful contemplation and reflection of the lives and living quarters of the enslaved who lived and worked in the Davenport household. We are proud of the work being done by our firm, DMDG2, the Davenport House staff and HSF’s building committee to preserve and recognize the unique history of Savannah,” Felder said.
HSF current Board Chairman Josh Brooks, who was in attendance this morning for the groundbreaking ceremony, is also eager to share the nonprofit institution’s exciting plans, which he thinks will provide exceptional opportunities for the community.
“These projects will not only draw new and returning visitors to the Davenport House Museum, but also will create educational experiences for visitors and make history accessible to all,” Brooks said. “This project has been a real group effort, and I look forward to seeing the Murray C. Perlman & Wayne C. Spear Center and the Urban Enslaved Exhibit become some of the major attractions in the Historic Landmark District.”
The group that collaborated on the projects, Historic Savannah Foundation’s building committee, is led by Gregori S. Anderson, who is also the HSF Board of Trustees parliamentarian. He said this has been a long time in the making, and he’s pleased to finally see the projects come to fruition.
“This new center and expansion are really going to be a gift to this community. While maintained by HSF, the Kennedy Pharmacy is a beautiful old building that, for the most part, has been vacant for some time. We’re revitalizing that building and bringing a wonderful storefront back to Broughton Street. It’s wonderful to breathe life back into a piece of our local history that can also contribute to the economy,” Anderson said. “The Urban Enslaved Exhibit will provide some insight and a unique angle on something that’s not talked about much. It’s a story that honestly hasn’t been fully told.”
Construction of the Murray C. Perlman & Wayne C. Spear Center and the Urban Enslaved Exhibit and the Kennedy Pharmacy renovation is expected to begin immediately, with these new resources and experiences available to the public in 2022. To learn more about the projects, visit myhsf.org and check the nonprofit’s social media accounts for periodic updates and photos of the construction process.
Historic Savannah Foundation, a leading nonprofit preservation and cultural institution, saves buildings, places, and stories that define Savannah’s past, present, and future. Following its formation in 1955, the organization started a Revolving Fund to save endangered historic properties, now totaling nearly 410 buildings throughout several of Savannah’s historic districts. HSF continues to build capacity within its operations, secure new financial resources, improve its image and visibility, and increase public policy efforts to protect Savannah’s historic districts.