Originally name St. James Square, Telfair Square was renamed in 1883 to honor the contributions of the Telfair family to Savannah’s cultural and economic success. Edward Telfair emigrated from Scotland and prospered during the Crown colony period, leading up to the Revolutionary War. He acquired large land grants near Augusta and established a successful export business with his business partner Joseph Clay. Telfair later married into a prominent South Carolinian family and ultimately became Governor of Georgia. His wealth reached his third child and last descendant, Mary Telfair, who used the family riches to help fund religious, cultural and social causes to care for the needs of Savannahians.
Located on the southwest corner of Telfair Square is Trinity Methodist Church. The congregation was founded in 1807 and housed from 1813 to 1850 in Wesley Chapel. Completed in 1850, the Greek Revival style church was designed by architect John B. Hogg and is now home of the oldest Methodist congregation in the city.
Designed by internationally-acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, the Telfair’s Jepson Center for the Arts, stands on the southwest corner of Barnard and York Street. The museum is home to a collection of approximately 4,000 works of art from America and Europe, dating primarily from the 18th-21st centuries and a history of dynamic educational programming, community outreach, and exciting exhibitions. The oldest public art museum in the South, the Telfair Museum is known for its sleek 21st Century architecture has been an integral part of Savannah’s social landscape for over a century.
Two tile faced Federal buildings named for Juliette Gordon Low are located on the southeast corner of Barnard and York streets. In front of each building is a mosaic covered column designed by well-known sculpture Ned Smyth. The column to the north symbolizes culture and the palm tree to the south symbolizes nature and is called “Worlds Apart”.
Telfair Square is also the home of two notable moments. In the southeastern corner of the square is a low-lying cement monument honoring the Girl Scouts, while the northeast corner features a cement image of a chambered nautilus.