Marker Monday: Colonial Town Gate: Davenport House

To highlight this year’s Georgia History Festival theme, “A Legacy of Leadership,” February’s #MarkerMondays explore the history of the Colony of Georgia and it’s first city, Savannah.


Colonial Town Gate; Davenport HouseThis week’s #MarkerMonday highlights the colonial town gate of Savannah, near the present-day site of the Isaiah Davenport House. Originally built in 1820 by architect Isaiah Davenport and restored by the Historic Savannah Foundation in 1956, the site of the Davenport House also holds significance for Georgia’s colonial history. During the Royal Colony era of Georgia’s history (1752-1776), Governor Henry Ellis and his administration worked to establish good relations with the Creek Nation, thereby securing an ally against the French during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Governor Ellis also worked to fortify the City of Savannah against the threat of invasion by potential enemies such as the French, Native Americans, and pirates. In 1757, a line of earthwork defenses and palisades, or a defensive wall, were erected around the city. The city could be accessed from the surrounding area through six different gates or at the city’s docks.

In his 1757 map of Savannah, William Gerard De Brahm depicts the fortifications around the city and denotes the six gates. Near the future site of the Davenport House, stood the Bethesda Gate which connected Savannah to smaller settlements to its east and southeast. In the years following the American Revolution, Savannah continued to grow, eventually pushing past the fortification line erected under Governor Ellis’ administration. No longer under threat of invasion following the American Revolution, the City of Savannah sought approval from the public to develop the common areas outside the city, originally laid out by James Edward Oglethorpe. Having received the necessary approval, Savannah established six new wards in the 1790s, including one centered around Columbia Square at the site of what had been the Bethesda Gate. A map of Savannah indicates that by 1796, the bulk of the city’s colonial fortifications had been removed to accommodate Savannah’s growing population.


Explore the links below to learn more about the colonial town gate, colonial Savannah, and the Davenport House.

GHS is proud to house several collections items relating to Georgia’s colonial history, including Governor Henry Ellis’ papers, which can be referenced by searching the GHS Collection.

The Davenport House a participating site in the 2018 Super Museum Sunday. For more information, visit the http://georgiahistoryfestival.org/.

Full Marker Text

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Trustee Georgia, 1732-1752)

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Henry Ellis, 1721-1806)

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Royal Georgia, 1752-1776)

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Savannah)

Our Georgia History: Early Savannah

Isaiah Davenport House

National Register Nomination Form: Isaiah Davenport House

Savannah.com: Columbia Square

Go South! Savannah: Savannah’s Great Fire of 1796

Further Reading

Byous, Jim. “The Fortresses of Savannah.” Savannah Images Project. Accessed January 29, 2018. http://www.sip.armstrong.edu/Forts/Essay.html.

Elliott, Rita Folse. LAMAR Institute Publications Series, Report Number 195. “Deep, Dirty Secrets: 2014 Archaeological Excavations at the Isaiah Davenport House, Savannah, Georgia.” The LAMAR Institute. 2015. Accessed January 29, 2018. http://www.thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_195.pdf

Fraser, Walter J. Savannah in the Old South. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2003.

Harden, William. A History of Savannah and South Georgia. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.

Lee, F.D. and J.L. Agnew. Historical Record of the City of Savannah. Savannah: J.H. Estill, 1869.

McCall, Hugh. The History of Georgia: Containing Brief Sketches of the Most Remarkable Events Up to the Present Day (1784). Atlanta, GA: A. B. Caldwell Publisher, 1909.

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