Surrounded by West Bryan Street and West Congress Street, Franklin Square was named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s founding fathers and Georgia’s colony agent in London from 1768-1775.
On the western side of Franklin Square Franklin Square is the First African Baptist Church, the oldest black Christian fellowship in the country. Andrew Bryan, a slave baptized by an itinerant black preacher, organized the congregation just outside of Savannah in 1788 with sixty-seven active members. Later, the congregation relocated to Savannah in 1794 and then moved to Franklin Square in the early 1830’s.
The present church was built by members, many of whom were slaves, from 1859-1861. The First African Baptist Church is said to be the first building constructed of brick in the State of Georgia that was owned by African Americans. The beautiful stained glass windows depicting George Liele and other early church leaders were installed 1885. The original lectern and pews are still in use. The pews are marked with African symbols etched in their ends by African-American carvers.
The City of Savannah’s water tower stood in the center of the square for many years, and has commonly been known as “Water Tower Square,” “Water Tank Square,” and “Reservoir Square.”
Franklin Square was destroyed in 1935 when Montgomery Street became a federal route, but the square and much of the surrounding area were restored in the 1980s to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Georgia.
Now located in the middle of the square, the Haitian Monument pays tribute to the group of Haitian soldiers who fought for American Independence during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. James Mastin created the sculpture to portray the Freedom Fighters. The young boy is 12-year-old Henri Christophe, who later became the commander of the Haitian army and King of Haiti.