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The SCAD Museum of Art hosts the first posthumous exhibition of Oscar de la Renta's designs.
Where were you when Savannah magazine was born? Or rather, who were you? I was a painfully awkward 13-year-old with chapped lips and an outgrown perm. I had a closet full of turtlenecks, ruffled skirts and “Hammer” pants. Sci-fi and fantasy novels lined my bookshelves. A movie reviewer for the school newspaper, I sat through such thought-provoking master works as Home Alone and Witches with a notebook and pen in hand. A Mason-Dixon baby with a Southern mama and a Yankee dad, I danced to Salt ’N’ Pepa and sang along with John Prine. I wanted desperately to belong to something and someone, but I didn’t know how—or where. Meanwhile, editor Georgia Byrd (then Whitley) and publisher Don Harwood were already making this magazine. “Savannah’s Identity Crisis,” reads a line on the cover of the very first issue, and the crisis is apparent. “Will she remain a pretty lady rooted in the 18th and 19th centuries? Or will she move forward into the millennium with a futuristic attitude to match?” asks the feature article inside. That was 1990—a quarter of a century ago. Since then, hundreds of contributors have made their mark on this magazine, and hundreds of thousands have made their mark on the city. I can’t take credit for the past 25 years, but I can join you in marveling at how far we’ve all come. What a joy to be part of something bigger than ourselves—a collaborative organism of writers, photographers, local businesses and readers that has spanned the turn of a century and the change of an age. Savannah has grown—from a small town with an identity crisis to a tourist destination with a global reputation. The magazine has grown—from a stapled, 64-page quarterly to a glossy, perfect-bound lifestyle brand that produces 10 issues a year and frequently exceeds 200 pages. And we, as individuals, have evolved in ways impossible to quantify. Those are the stories I want to tell this year: stories of evolution and discovery. In this issue, you’ll hear from many of the people who have grown with this city—and many more who are changing it still. From energetic expats and enterprising young leaders to well-known pillars of the business community, we talked to more than 100 locals with memories of the past—and visions of the future. But this issue is only the beginning. We plan to party all year, with playful nods to our past and hopeful strides into the future. And the celebration isn’t complete until we hear from you. Send us your picture from 1990 and tell us how and why you’ve changed. Tell us a story about how far we’ve come as a city—and how far we still need to go. Join us in honoring a relationship of 25 years—and help us make the next 25 even better than the last. Say what you like about Savannah—please, do—but one thing’s for sure: We belong here. Now, let’s make ourselves at home. What a difference 25 years make! Annabelle Carr, Editor
What were you up to in 1990?Send us a throwback photo and you could win a pair of passes that will get you in to all of Savannah magazine’s parties this year.
Do you have a story to tell?What have you learned in the past 25 years? What do you wish you knew when you were 25? Email a letter to the editor today.
Older than America by more than three decades, Bethesda Academy stands as Savannah’s most storied educational institution. Allison Hersh ventures beyond the school’s signature arch to celebrate. Photography courtesy of Bethesda Academy,Teresa Earnest and Chelsea Warlick In the past three centuries, Bethesda Academy has seen a lot of change, but some things remain the same. Just ask one of the school’s hundred or so all-male students. “We are a family, not a school,” raves John Wyatt Ingram, the valedictorian of Bethesda’s class of 2012. “Bethesda is such a special place to learn and grow because of the history that surrounds us.” Now a sophomore majoring in pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin, Wyatt is one of more than 13,000 success stories who have passed beneath the iconic arch at Bethesda. This venerable institution celebrates its landmark 275th anniversary this year, continuing its legacy of transforming lives on a scenic 650-acre campus nestled along the banks of the Moon River. Like the majestic live oaks lining the school’s main entrance, Bethesda has deep roots that run far beyond the surface. In fact, its story dates back to 1740, just seven years after Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe established Savannah as England’s 13th colony along the Atlantic coast.
A Love of LearningFounded by the Rev. George Whitefield as a home for 61 orphans, Bethesda has the distinction of being the oldest childcare facility in the United States. In its earliest days, Bethesda was visited by many of America’s founding fathers, and Benjamin Franklin was one of the institution’s earliest supporters. Over the past three centuries, Bethesda has upheld Whitefield’s founding mission to teach “a love for God, a love of learning and a strong work ethic.” The Bethesda Home for Boys provided young men with a stable alternative to their home environment through 1991, adding an on-site academic program the following year. In 2011, the school was re-branded as Bethesda Academy, linking the institution back to Whitefield's original vision that Bethesda always be “a seat of sound learning.” Over the years, Bethesda has evolved into an award-winning middle and high school serving a diverse student population—and focused on helping boys succeed in the classroom and beyond. Today, the school has a deep commitment to college preparatory learning and high-quality instruction. With an emphasis on integrated learning and spiritual development, the academy tailors its academic and hands-on educational opportunities to the developing minds of young men. “We make learning dynamic,” the school’s long-time president, David Tribble, explains. “Bethesda is a unique culture with traditional classrooms as well as out door living laboratories.” “Our boys are a living expression of Bethesda’s core values,”adds T. Mills Fleming, a partner at HunterMaclean who serves as the chairman of the Board of Governors. “Bethesda provides the infrastructure within which the boys cangrow and prosper. They know we care, that they matter and that we will give them the necessary tools to succeed.”
A Living LaboratoryToday, Bethesda Academy is a school for more than 100 young men, with a curriculum designed specifically around the ways boys learn most effectively. With residential and day school options, Bethesda is home to a wildlife management program, an organic farm and garden (complete with Dwarf Nigerian Goats, egg-laying hens and grass-fed cattle) and a nationally ranked chess team. Instead of lugging expensive books, each student receives a laptop loaded with the necessary texts, as well as interactive games and activities designed to engage and stretch his attention span. “We teach the boys the value of discipline, responsibility and hard work in the classroom, on the playing field, and through our popular farm and garden work-study program,” Fleming says. “The boys can also earn credit towards their tuition by working on the farm (and other programs), and this makes them more appreciative of what it means to be a part of Bethesda’s rich heritage and culture.” The school’s lush campus boasts stunning waterfront views, picturesque moss-draped live oaks and an informative visitor center that is open to the public, sharing Bethesda’s incredible story through multi-media exhibits and rare artifacts. “There is no place like Bethesda in the United States,” Fleming declares. “We do not receive any state funding, so we have to raise close to $3.4 million per year to operate. Every dollar raised is a dollar well spent to give the boys a second chance to succeed.” During the past 275 years, one constant has remained: a commitment to Whitfield’s founding values. “Traditional values create a sense of brotherhood among our students,” Tribble explains. “They’re classmates, workmates and teammates who share a bond in a very unique learning culture.”
The Power of PlaceBethesda Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers students a wide range of academic, athletic, vocational and spiritual development opportunities. “Bethesda is a powerful place, with carefully designed curriculum, programs and work study, producing boys and outcomes that are beginning to gain national recognition,” raves board vice-chairman John C. Helmken II, South State Bank regional executive and executive vice president. More than 85 percent of the school’s graduates attend college after graduation. Bethesda alumni have gone on to become acclaimed business leaders, scientists, teachers, doctors and professional athletes. Many institutions have come and gone over the past 275 years. So, what is the secret to Bethesda’s longevity? “We have learned that as the needs of our youth change, we need to change as well, while keeping our connection to traditional values,” Tribble muses. “You have to adapt and grow and learn and re-invent yourself.” That versatility has been key to Bethesda’s impact over nearly three centuries. With strong leadership, committed teachers and a clear mission, this is one Savannah institution with an illustrious past—and a bright future. “We will do everything we can,” Helmken promises, “to make sure that those who come after us are able to celebrate thousands of additional success stories.” That’s a promise for the next 275 years.
Beyond the ArchAllison Hersh takes notes at Georgia’s oldest—and, arguably, most breathtaking—educational institution. Practical Values: Bethesda’s founder, the Rev. George Whitfield, wanted the institution to be a place of strong Calvinist influence defined by a wholesome atmosphere and strong discipline. Boys were taught a variety of trades so they could earn a living as adults. Family Friendly: Although Bethesda was founded as an orphanage in 1740, its mission and focus have evolved over the years to include students of all backgrounds. Approximately half of the school’s students participate in the boarding program, while the other half live at home and attend Bethesda as a day school. Smart Moves: Bethesda is home to one of the nation’s top competitive chess teams. In 2014, Bethesda’s chess team competed in an intense three-day tournament in San Diego, California, ranking ninth in the nation in the Under 800 Division. Fighting Spirit: Reverend Whitefield’s legacy has a proud military history. A brave Bethesda boy has fought and died in every war in which the U.S. has been involved, dating all the way back to the American Revolutionary War. Historical Romance: The school’s Whitfield Chapel is one of the South’s most romantic places to tie the knot. With herringbone brick floors and vintage wooden pews, this historic chapel has hosted dreamy weddings for celebrities such as Paula Deen, actress Mandy Moore and country singer Joe Nichols.
Editor's LetterApparently, I can’t say it enough in this era of blurred lines: There is no pay to play in Savannah magazine.
Our advertisers support ethical content and choose to align their brand messages with our authentic cultural identity. That’s something worth considering—if, like many Savannahians, you tend to let your values influence your purchasing decisions.Thanks to the support of many wonderful locals, the editorial pages in your hands are the product of curiosity and community spirit, not bribery or backscratching. That includes this issue’s Best of Savannah™ reader poll, a straightforward popularity contest that depends entirely on your choices. No one on our staff may influence the outcome. We simply eliminate duplicate ballots and tally up your votes. This year, we’ve added editors’ picks in an effort to highlight the movements and makers that are enhancing the Savannah lifestyle. Those choices were influenced by our own observations, enthusiasm and educated guesses about what impassions our community of invested Savannahians. Nothing more. To round out this Best of Savannah™ issue, we started out by looking at the concept of “the best” from many different story angles, among them competition and pursuit of excellence. In particular, the city’s traditions of hunting, automobile racing and artistry captured our imaginations—you’ll see why—and we explored those topics thoughtfully, by unraveling the stories of numerous local characters. I’m proud of the work we do at Savannah magazine, and I see us getting better at it every day. Nothing makes us happier than a good story. And nothing crushes us like the assumption that our stewardship can be bought or sold. Your trust is important to us, and we work hard to earn it. That’s why ideas are the only editorial currency. Shady streets and squares: yes, please. Shady transactions: no, thank you. Now, what’s your story? —Annabelle Carr
Boho-rocker chic designer to show latest collection at Savannah Fashion Week.
In an open letter, a local artist urges city leaders to embrace our creative spirit.
Vote for your local favorites and WIN in Savannah magazine's 14th annual BEST OF SAVANNAH readers' poll.No one knows Savannah like Savannah magazine's readers ... and that's why we are asking you, the most invested Savannahians, to tell us who's the best in dining, nightlife, shopping, community, services and personalities in our 14th annual Best of Savannah Readers' Survey.
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The Grand PrizeOne lucky reader will receive a grand-prize couple's package that includes a one-night stay at The Brice—A Kimpton Hotel, tapas for two from Jazz's Tapas Bar ($60 value, excluding tax and gratuity), the "You Deserve The Best" package from Glow MedSpa & Beauty Boutique (a $500 value) and a round of golf for four at The Club at Savannah Harbor. Five other entrants will each receive a complimentary one-year subscription to Savannah magazine. To select prize winners, ballots will be drawn at random by a member of our staff, and the winners will be notified by phone or email. Participation is open to all readers 18 years and older, except employees of Morris Communications.
Starting this evening with Scott Turow's Opening Address, Savannah will become a literary hub once more as the 7th Annual Savannah Book Festival kicks off Presidents Day Weekend. Bestselling authors Mitch Albom and Dr. Eben Alexander will join Turow as headliners. Jane Thimme takes roll of the nearly 35 additional authors who will grace podiums all day Saturday, Feb. 15 for free presentations open to the public—where among them will be some of the biggest names in nonfiction. A. Scott Berg Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling writer, A. Scott Berg’s recently published Wilson, is an authoritative biography on America’s 28th president. One hundred years after Woodrow Wilson took office for the first of two terms, he still stands as one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. Berg sheds new insight with benefit of being the first scholar to access two sets of Wilson-related papers and hundreds of the president’s personal letters. Shortly after taking the oath for his second term, Wilson declared war against Germany because of its unrestricted submarine warfare and efforts to get Mexico to attack the U.S. “The world must be made safe for democracy,” the president said. With congressional approval, America entered WWI. Essentially all American foreign policy to this day goes back to that one sentence, Berg said. America's isolationism ended and a new era of American military and foreign policy began. From the idealist determined to make the world “safe for democracy” to the man who suffered a massive stroke in 1919, Berg has written an intimate and revealing portrait of Woodrow Wilson. John Rizzo John Rizzo’s Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA spans more than three decades during which he served under eleven CIA directors and seven presidents. Rizzo never anticipated that he would become “a symbol and a victim of the toxic winds swirling in post-9/11 Washington.” From serving as the point person answering for the Iran-contra scandal to approving the rules that govern waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Rizzo witnessed and participated in all of the significant operations of the CIA’s modern history. Company Man is an authoritative insider account of the CIA—a timely and candid history of American intelligence. Lily Koppel New York Times writer Lily Koppel draws readers back to the fifties with The Astronaut Wives Club. As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on perilous missions, television cameras focused on their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine and quickly grew into fashion icons as the country raced to land a man on the moon. Annie Glenn, Rene Carpenter and Trudy Cooper were among the women who formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship to each other. As their stars rose, and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives, they continued to rally together. They have been friends for more than fifty years. Lily Koppel tells the story of the very human, vulnerable and disillusioned women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history. Deborah Solomon Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell justifies a fresh look at the artist’s life. Art critic and frequent contributor to the New York Times, Solomon offers new and disturbing biographical material. She has illuminated a life utterly different from Rockwell’s humorous and optimistic paintings. As the star illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post for nearly 50 years, Norman Rockwell “…mingled fact and fiction in paintings that reflected the we-the-people, communitarian ideals of American democracy.” (Amazon) Many Savannahians viewed Rockwell’s captivating Four Freedoms series (inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt) at the Telfair Museum in 2002—Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship and Freedom from Fear. Solomon opens a door to Rockwell’s darker side revealing his anxiety, depression, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy. Although disparaged by critics in his lifetime as a mere illustrator, Rockwell has since attracted a passionate following in the art world. American Mirror intensely explains why he deserves to be remembered as an American master of the first rank. Daniel James Brown Daniel James Brown’s compelling book, The Boys in the Boat, tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for Olympic gold. Publisher’s Weekly lends high praise, “For this nautical version of Chariots of Fire, Brown crafts an evocative, cinematic prose…he makes his heroes’ struggles as fascinating as the best Olympic sagas.” John McMillian John McMillian’s Beatles vs. Stones explores the multifaceted relationship between the two greatest bands of our time, each launching in the 1960’s. “The Beatles want to hold your hand,” wrote Tom Wolfe, “but the Stones want to burn down your town.” Both groups maintained that they weren’t really rivals, but they plainly competed for commercial success and artistic credibility. In Beatles vs. Stones, the author goes after the truth behind the ultimate rock ’n’ roll debate. McMillan, a history professor at Georgia State University, reveals how music managers helped to promote the Beatles-Stones rivalry and engineered moneymaking empires. The author explores how the Beatles were marketed as cute and amiable, when in fact they came from hardscrabble backgrounds in Liverpool. Ironically, the Stones who were cast as an edgy, dangerous group, mostly came from the London suburbs. Beatles vs. Stones tells the dynamic story of this classic rock culture battle with sophistication, keen storytelling skills and passion for the subject. Claudia Roth Pierpont Claudia Roth Pierpont’s Roth, Unbound is not a biography of Philip Roth, one of the most renowned writers of our time, but a critical evaluation of Philip Roth—the first of its kind—that takes on the man, the myth, and the work. Philip Roth is one of the most renowned writers of our time. From his debut, Goodbye, Columbus, which won the National Book Award in 1960, and the explosion of Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969 to his haunting reimagining of Anne Frank’s story in The Ghost Writer ten years later and the series of masterworks starting in the mid-eighties—The Counterlife, Patrimony, Operation Shylock, Sabbath’s Theater, American Pastoral, The Human Stain—Roth has produced some of the great American literature of the modern era. And yet there has been no major critical work about him until now. Here, at last, is the story of Roth’s creative life. Roth Unbound is not a biography—though it contains a wealth of previously undisclosed biographical details and unpublished material—but something ultimately more rewarding: the exploration of a great writer through his art. Claudia Roth Pierpont, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has known Roth for nearly a decade.Her carefully researched and gracefully written accountis filled with remarks from Roth himself,drawn from their ongoing conversations. Here areinsights and anecdotes that will change the waymany readers perceive this most controversial andgalvanizing writer: a young and unhappily marriedRoth struggling to write; a wildly successful Roth,after the uproar over Portnoy, working to help critical evaluation that takes on the man, the myth and the work. From his debut, Goodbye, Columbus, which won the National Book Award in 1960, and the explosion of Portnoy’s Complaint in 1969, to his poignant reimagining of Anne Frank’s story in The Ghost Writer, and then the series of masterworks starting in the mid-eighties including The Counterlife, Patrimony and American Pastoral, Roth is considered to have produced some of the greatest American literature of the modern era. Pierpont, a staff writer for the New Yorker who has known Roth for nearly a decade, has captured the story of Roth’s creative life by studying the writer through his art. Her carefully researched account is filled with remarks from Roth himself, drawn from their ongoing conversations. Readers will learn more about his family, his inspirations and friendships with such figures as Saul Bellow and John Updike. Other quick glimpses include Mike Ritland, a former Navy SEAL who trains select dogs for SEAL missions. His memoir, Trident K9 Warriors is an insightful account of these highly trained work dogs, their extraordinary loyalty, courage and the lifesaving role they play in military missions. We each read through our individual lenses to conjure up personal interpretations, but seeing and hearing the authors up close can garner new meaning and understanding—and provide grist for great discussion.