Savannah’s Historical Squares: Wright Square

Originally named Percival Square, Wright Square was later renamed to honor the last Royal Governor of Georgia, Sir James Wright. Commonly called, “Court House Square”, a courthouse has stood on the corner of the square since the early days.

On the northeast, trust lot sits the Lutheran Church of the Ascension. One of Savannah’s most loved churches and landmarks, it was built by the Salzburgers, Lutheran Protestants, who sought religious freedom in Georgia after being expelled from their homeland. The church was built in the Norman and Gothic styles and has one of Savannah’s most dramatic church interiors – especially the various windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ, the Ascension (for which the church is named) and the marble altar, which portrays DaVinci’s “Last Supper”.

The gravesite of Chief Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraw chief who offered peace and cooperation with the settlers, originally occupied the center of the square. It was marked by Savannah’s first monument, the stone pyramid that the settlers built to honor Tomo-Chi-Chi upon his death in 1739. More than 100 years later, after William W. Gordon brought immense wealth to Savannah by constructing a railroad which brought cotton to the docks and wharves of Savannah from distant plantations, the Savanahians of the time felt that he should be honored by a memorial in Wright Square, so they removed Tomo-Chi-Chi’s grave (some say scattering his bones all around the plot of land) and replaced it with a monument to Gordon, which we see today. Later preservationists thought this was unacceptable and created a memorial of simple granite stone at the southeast corner of Wright Square so that succeeding generations would not forget the man to whom the city owed its early safety and successes.

A courthouse and a post office stand on the square, today. The current courthouse was built in 1889, in a Romanesque interpretation that only Savannahians can do. We thought it to have one of the oddest rooflines we have seen. The decoration is pale yellow brick, with terra cotta decoration, an arched entrance on the west side, and a terra cotta botanical pattern over the left door. The lights appearing on the Bull Street side are known as bishop’s crook lights and are like those originally used on the street. Later restoration efforts brought these lights to all of Bull Street so that it could be lit as it was originally.

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