As we began our third day on a tour of the Deep South, we were thankful we had the opportunity to get a full-night’s rest. Our day began with packing up, and heading out to Macon, GA, where we were scheduled to tour the historic cottage where Sidney Lanier was born in 1842.
Our tour guide, Bernard, kindly led us throughout the historic home. An American musician, poet, linguist, lawyer, and mathematician, Lanier was a well-rounded man of the nineteenth century. In addition, Lanier enlisted to serve in the Confederate Military where he was as a signal scout until he was taken captive. During his captivity, he contracted tuberculosis, which ultimately led to his death years later in 1881. Lanier died at the young age of only thirty nine. However, he accomplished much more in his lifetime than most do. Lanier was extremely intelligent and graduated college when he was only eighteen years old. He spoke multiple languages and taught at John Hopkins University. When he was twenty five, he married Mary Day and later had three sons. We enjoyed learning about Lanier’s most famous works are the “Song of the Chattahooche” and “The Marshes of Glynn”. Of particular interest was his work, “A Ballad of the Trees and My Master,” which is inscribed on the Christus Statue in the Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas. Just before departing on our Southern Tour, we visited Oakwood to see the statue of Christ and to read the poem.
The home displayed many portraits of Lanier and his family, as well as various artifacts from his life. Among the favorites was Mary Day’s wedding dress. Very different than the average wedding dress today, the dress helped us to visualize life in the nineteenth century. Concluding the tour, we took the opportunity to take pictures in front of the beautiful home.
Following the tour, Professor Yawn gave us the opportunity to choose today’s lunch destination. We were nervous about our googled choice, Tropical Flava, but we were excited to try Caribbean and Jamaican food. The tables were beautifully decorated with lavender flower arrangements and the waitress gave us a warm welcome. The selections varied and though I wanted to try everything, I settled with their famous Jerk Chicken. The plate included Jerk Chicken, with red beans and rice, stir-fried vegetables, and plantains. Delicious would be an underestimate to describe the food. The chicken was tender and had a great flavor. Others tried chicken patties, bar-b-que wings, oxtails, and much more! Each plate was unique and tasted great. Along with the authentic food we also sampled their natural cucumber, watermelon, and pineapple juices. In the end, we were relieved to learn that our spontaneity did not disappoint us.
After lunch we headed over to the Hay house for a tour of its elegant interior and to admire its massive and beautiful exterior.
The Hay House, unlike the Sidney Lanier cottage, did not have any air conditioning, which made us reflect upon how it must have been to actually live in the extravagant home when people resided in it. We had a fantastic tour guide who knew an immense amount about the Italian Renaissance Revival style of the home and all of the renovations made by the families that lived in the home. Our tour guide also revealed all of the tromp l’oeil illusions within the home, some of which included a faux pocket door and a disappearing staircase. The group was amazed by the intricate detail on every ceiling of the home along with the hidden passage that is rumored to have housed Confederate gold during the Civil War. As we moved from the first floor up to the third we began to feel the heat because the air system that the original owners of the home built into the home to keep certain rooms cooler during the hot Georgia summers. Various characteristics of the home conveyed details about everyday life in the nineteenth century–such as the importance of food in a world where even basic sustenance was difficult to come by. As if to underscore that point, the pantry was guarded by burglar bars–the only room in the house protected in such manner. Another interesting aspect of the home was the speaker system within the home that was used to communicate with the servants, which made the home very technologically advanced for its time.
There were many interesting things about the home, but the most exciting part of the tour was our visit to the cupola past the fourth floor. A cupola is a small dome which adorns a building, and this one offered a particularly nice view!
Leading up to the cupola, the thin spiral stair case took us to the top where we could exit through a small door and walk onto the widow’s walk and gaze upon Macon from the highest point of the Hay house.
The group thoroughly enjoyed the tour, but was eager to load back into the car where we began our drive to Savannah!
Excited about finally arriving in Savannah, we admired the beauty of the historic district. After freshening up at the hotel, we headed to the Southern Legislative Conference’s Welcome Reception themed “A Taste of Savannah”. Enjoying numerous h’orderves of Southern delicacies, we listened to the live music and gazed at the Savannah skyline along the river.
Locally owned restaurants catered the reception, so we were able to taste Leopoldo’s ice cream and the world famous pralines from Savannah’s Candy Kitchen for dessert. It was great to watch the pralines made right in front of us and taste them freshly made. They were a group favorite! Overall, the welcoming reception was nicely done, with good music, lots of refreshments, and great scenery.
After enjoying the local food we walked over to the river to take many pictures, including many selfies.
The last song literally ended in explosions with the fireworks that lit up the sky behind us.
It was a colorful way to end the night as we departed back to our hotel to get some sleep.