In search of the city’s secrets, Andrea Goto sidles up to Savannah’s most infamous monuments—with a to go cup in hand. » Photography by Michelle L. Morris.
Tourists feverishly snap photos of them and soak up the stories pressed into plaques. Residents regard them like the live oaks that blend into the backdrop of our Southern existence. Pigeons use them as a regal resting place from which to spot crumbs falling from the fingers of passersby. But, with the exception of late-night revelers who’ve hit the daiquiri soft-serve a little too hard, no one really takes the time to talk to Savannah’s most statuesque storytellers—until now.
SavannahMagazine: Jimmy—may I call you Jimmy?
James Oglethorpe: No.
James: General Oglethorpe will do.
SM: Right, sorry. General Oglethorpe, I imagine you’ve seen a lot over the past century you’ve resided here in Chippewa Square.
James: Mostly bald spots. And I’ve attended more weddings than I can count.
SM: Any drama?
James: The Savannah Theater caught on fire a number of times—maybe three. Folks get very excited, but a little heat is not going to affect me.
James: Shortly after my unveiling, a man named Thomas Archer Bryson constructed the Bryson Auto Exchange across the square there—it was 1904, I believe. It was the showroom for Packard Motorcars. Beautiful machines. With those at my disposal, the invasion of St. Augustine would’ve had a much different outcome.
SM: As in, you would’ve been successful?
James: If you recall, I did prevail against the Spanish forces at St. Simons and never again would those land thieves try to mount an offensive against Britain’s colonies!
SM: You’re talking about the Battle of Bloody Marsh?
James: Ah, you do know your history.
SM: I Googled you.
James: Pardon me?
SM: Never mind. Any other noteworthy moments?
James: There was all that codswallop about some bloke on a bench. I settle this city and people walk right past me in search of some bench. I never even saw the bloody thing.
SM: That’s because it was directly behind you. It was in the film Forrest Gump but they had to remove it from the square because it was causing too much of a ruckus.
James: Fiddlesticks! People worrying about such nonsense while I spend my days looking southward for invading Spaniards!
SM: Yeah, about that—
James: —I’m armed and ready!
SM: Hasn’t that sword been stolen three times?
James: I’d rather not talk about it.
SM: Were you actually 9 feet tall, as your statue indicates?
James: This interview is over.