First African Baptist Church#14 in Best Things To Do in Savannah
A National Historic Landmark, the First African Baptist Church was first organized in 1773 by Reverend George Leile and is the oldest continuous Black church in North America. The reverend, a slave who was later granted freedom by the British for his loyalty, became the church's pastor in 1775 and the church was officially established as a body of organized believers in 1777. After the British lost the Revolutionary War, rather than chance re-enslavement in the South, Leile fled to Jamaica. Before leaving for Jamaica, he ordained Andrew Bryan (one of the congregation's original members) to be the second pastor of the church until 1812 when his nephew Andrew Marshall took over. Under Marshall's leadership, the church acquired the property where it currently stands in downtown Savannah.
The church still features many historical elements, including stained-glass windows and the original lighting fixtures, balcony pews and baptismal pool. Today, visitors can attend a service or take a tour to admire its beauty. Previous travelers highly recommend stopping here to learn about its history and importance as part of the Underground Railroad.
The First African Baptist Church is located in central Savannah, near City Market. Tours are available Tuesday to Saturday at 11 a.m., and 2 and 4 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tours cost $10 for adults and $9 for seniors and students, kids 5 and younger are free. (Note: Tours are currently suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.) For more information, visit the church's website.
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#1 Forsyth Park
Go to this 30-acre park in the heart of Savannah's Historic District to relax after a long day of sightseeing. Keep your camera ready, though, as there is plenty to see here as well. Stroll past the stunning white-stone Forsyth Fountain, memorials dedicated to the Confederacy and the Spanish-American War, the Fragrant Garden for the visually impaired and the 300-year-old Candler Oak tree. From the park, you can see several historic sites within walking distance, including Hodgson Hall (home to the Georgia Historical Society) and the old Poor House and Hospital, which was used to treat wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
Recent visitors noted the park's urban cosmopolitan vibe, with locals and tourists alike picnicking, dog walking and even painting. They also say that street parking nearby the park is free on Sundays.
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