The last of the 24 squares in Savannah ’s original grid, Calhoun Square is also the only square with all its original buildings intact—a rarity indeed in a city ravaged by fire so many times in its history.
Dominating the south side of Calhoun Square is Savannah’s first public elementary school and spiritual home of Savannah educators, the Massie Heritage Center (207 E. Gordon St., 912/201-5070, www.massieschool.com , Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–4 p.m., self-guided tour $5 adults, $3 children, guided tour $8 adults, $3 children).
In 1841, Peter Massie, a Scots planter with a populist streak, endowed the school to give poor children as good an education as the children of rich families, like Massie’s own, received.
Another of Savannah’s masterpieces by John Norris—whose impressive oeuvre includes the Low House , the Mercer House , and the Green-Meldrim House —the central portion of the tri-fold building was completed in 1856 and is a great example of Greek Revival architecture (the two large wings on each side were added later by different architects).
After the Civil War, the “Massie school,” as it’s locally known, was designated as the area’s African American public school. Classes ceased in 1974 and it now operates as a living history museum, centering on the period-appointed one-room “heritage classroom.”
Catty-corner to the Massie School is the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church (429 Abercorn St., 912/232-0191, www.wesleymonumental.org , Sunday services 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m., sanctuary open to public daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.).
This home of Savannah ’s first Methodist parish was named not only for movement founder John Wesley but for his musical younger brother Charles. Built in 1875 on the model of Queen’s Kirk in Amsterdam and the fourth incarnation of the parish home, this is another great example of Savannah’s Gothic churches.
Its acoustically wonderful sanctuary features a magnificent Noack Organ, which would no doubt please the picky ears of Charles Wesley himself, author of the lyrics to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”