Urban Neighborhoods: Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent

March 12, 2012 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a visit to Savannah's first automobile designed neighborhoods: Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent.

About Ardsley Park/ Chatham Crescent

Ardsley Park-Chatham Crescent is a large, highly intact residential area developed, beginning in 1910 as two adjacent planned subdivisions. The plan of Ardsley Park, a regular grid with landscaped squares, is extremely important as it is a twentieth century variant of Oglethorpe’s original city plan. Chatham Crescent is an rare example in Georgia of a Beaux Arts influenced, “City Beautiful” type plan with a grand mall, crescent-shaped avenues, and small circular parks incorporated into a basic grid pattern.
The architectural styles in the district include textbook and local interpretations of almost every revival and eclectic style popular in the early twentieth century. They are predominantly one- and two-story, single family homes, many of which have free standing garages in the rear.

Ardsley Park

Ardsley Park is laid-out in a series of grids with homes overlooking squares very similar to the layout in downtown Savannah historic district. Homes overlooking the various parks are larger in scale with smaller homes in between.

Developed in 1909 by Harry Hays Lattimore, William Lattimore and anonymous partners as Savannah’s first automobile subdivision, was quickly followed by the much larger Chatham Crescent development. It is marked by the impressive Belgian block walls and Spanish-style roofed pillars at its entrances. Laid out much like the original plans of Gen. James Oglethorpe for downtown Savannah it features six squares with homes facing them on either side of Abercorn Street.
Although the intention was to draw wealthy residents from out of state, the neighborhood attracted some of the most wealthy and prominent Savannians.

Originally a streetcar route, Abercorn Street is Savannah's main north/south thoroughfare connecting the historic waterfront with booming suburbs south of Savannah.

Chatham Crescent History

Chatham Crescent takes its name from the county of Chatham and the beautiful Beaux Arts master-plan that incorporates the crescent and several circular parks as the centerpiece of the neighborhood.

Homes are similar in varying architectural style to Ardsley Park with a distinct difference in regards to the lot configuration on the street side and many of the lots are irregular because of the sweeping curves. Whereas Ardsley Park has a front yard, sidewalk, tree lawn curb configuration, Chatham Crescent has the trees planted in the front yard then the sidewalk and curb.

Originally known as the Granger Tract, Chatham Crescent was developed by Harvey Granger. At around 174 acres, it is significantly larger than its predecessor Ardsley Park. The neighborhood design is Beaux Arts which was popular at the time and is characterized by the sweeping crescent and circular parks named for the city officials. The centerpiece is a center mall lined with palmettos and ending at Tiedeman Park, named for the then Mayor of Savannah. Early photographs show very little trees, so the developers planted over 5,000 trees. Today they form tree canopies and shade most of this beautiful neighborhood.

Guckenheimer Park

U.S. Highway 80 is also called Victory Drive. Previously a section of it through Chatham Crescent was known as Estill Avenue and was a beautiful grass and palmetto lined street with grand homes. It was expanded and renamed in 1919 as a memorial to all of the soldiers, sailors and marines who died from Chatham County in World War I and extended from Ogeechee Road all the way to Tybee Island.

Hedeman Park

Savannah Arts Academy / Savannah High School, 1936

Washington Street.

Daffin Park

Designed by landscape architect John Nolen, a student of Frederick Law Olmsted, in 1907, Daffin Park was built as a formal Beaux Arts-style park with two circular nodes joined to the four corners by tree-lined diagonal roads. Daffin Park is a rare example in Georgia of the Beaux-Arts influenced, “City Beautiful” type plan.

The 8,000 seat Grayson Stadium is the centerpiece of Daffin Park. It is primarily used for baseball, and is the home field of the Savannah Sand Gnats minor league baseball team, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Mets. It is also the part-time home of the Savannah State University college baseball team. It was also used from 1927 until 1959 for the annual Thanksgiving Day game between Savannah High School and Benedictine Academy. Known as "Historic Grayson Stadium" it was built in 1926 and is the oldest working minor league ballpark in America.

Ardsley Park/Chatham Crescent and Daffin Park in relation to downtown Savannah.

Images by Ennis Davis