Ardsley Park, Savannah, Georgia
Ardsley Park is a neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia. The area was first developed in 1910, but most homes were built in the 1930s and 1940s. The neighborhood is considered one of the most affluent within city limits by local residents.
Location and topography
It is located south of present-day Victory Drive (originally Estill Avenue) and north of Columbus Drive. Bull Street is Ardsley Park's western boundary and Waters Avenue is its eastern boundary. Sometimes the Chatham Crescent neighborhood is included in Ardsley Park. The eastern edge of the neighborhood is situated on high ground, twenty-five or more feet above sea level. The western portion is former swampland, and experiences frequent flooding during summer storms and tropical systems.
The idea was the brainstorm of Harry Hays Lattimore, William Lattimore and anonymous partners in the Ardsley Park Land Corporation. No one is certain how the Ardsley name evolved though some have theorized that it was borrowed from a British neighborhood. The area was laid out in grids with squares, similar to the plan used in downtown Savannah by Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the colony. The northern and western boundaries of Ardsley Park were marked at Estill Avenue and Bull Street by an impressive looking retaining wall made of Belgian block similar to those used as ballast on ships sailing from England. At key intersections stone pillars with Spanish-looking tile roods marked the entrances to the park. Adjacent to Ardsley Park was a much larger piece of acreage known as the Granger Tract. Owner Harvey Granger was something of a transportation visionary who is credited with paving the first concrete road in the state and finishing the Atlantic Coastal Highway, which ultimately connected the seaboard states with Florida.
Marketed as Chatham Crescent by Granger’s Chatham Land and Hotel Company, the Granger Tract took its design from the Beaux Arts plan popular at the time. At various points in the neighborhood, city blocks were punctuated with 1-acre (4,000 m2) circles (named for city and county officials), a crescent-shaped street, and a landscaped mall.
At the end of the palmetto-lined mall stretching between Maupas Avenue to 47th Street was to be the centerpiece of Chatham Crescent – a magnificent tourist facility called the Hotel Georgia. The Spanish Revival-style hotel was designed by noted architect Henrik Wallin, who assisted Henry Bacon with New York’s Astor Hotel. Apparently the developers hoped that wealthy Northerners would check into what was to be a luxurious hotel and decide to purchase a second home in Chatham Crescent. Unfortunately, the hotel encountered numerous problems and barely got off the ground. Eventually, Savannah High School (now the Savannah Arts Academy) was built on the nearly eight acres of land set aside for the hotel.
Ardsley Park was designed with tree-planting strips, or tree lawns, between the streets and sidewalks, while Chatham Crescent featured large trees planted directly on the front lawns. More than 5,000 trees were planted in Chatham Crescent under the direction of Georges Henri Bignault Sr., a landscape architect trained at the Ecole de Beaux Arts.
By the 1930s, for the most part, development of Ardsley Park and Chatham Crescent was complete. The Lattimore’s next project was Ardmore, to the south of both Ardsley Park and Chatham Crescent. At the northern end of this new neighborhood was diamond-shaped Hull Park, which became a popular recreational site. Bordering one side of the park with the Gould Cottage for Children, funded by millionaire philanthropist Edwin Gould and designed by architect Cletus Bergen. All in all, the Lattimores developed and sold six residential subdivisions, involving more than 1,500 lots.
In 1985, Ardsley Park and Chatham Crescent were named to the National Register of Historic Places under the collective name of Ardsley Park.