History of Waring Park Buildings in Savannah GA
Two small stone buildings nestled in a small park on the northeast corner of Bull Street and Victory Drive have quite a building history in Savannah. While it’s easy to miss, this site packs a punch when it comes to history.
The irregularly shaped lot is located along the tracks that were originally part of the SF&W Railway. It was purchased by the City of Savannah from the Gorrie Ice Manufacturing Co. in 1899, when Victory Drive was still known as Estill Avenue. In 1908, the city council passed an ordinance establishing a park on the land, indicating the continued suburban growth of the city in the southerly direction.
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As a park, the property then fell under the supervision of the Parks and Trees Commission, created in 1896 and responsible for the maintenance and beautification of the city’s public green spaces.
The unnamed little Southville Ward Park, measuring just 0.17 acres, was improved in 1914-15 with leveling and planting, including a large specimen of living oak in the center, and dogwoods and red buds in the ‘front and sides.
In 1923-24, a police station was built in the park for around $ 2,500 from old granite cobblestones based on architectural plans prepared by the municipal engineer’s office. There were already substations in Thomas and Grayson Parks, and they supported Police Headquarters and Habersham Street Prison by allowing easier access to new suburban neighborhoods.
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The Southville Ward Park Substation consisted of only an office, closet, washroom and double garage. It was built north of the existing Live Oak tree. Known as Substation No.1, the building was only used by the police department for about 10 years. The building was later used by community groups like the Boy Scouts and as a suburban office for the Parks and Trees Commission (in addition to their town hall offices).
At one time, the city’s entomological laboratory (entomology being the scientific study of insects) was located in the building, overseen by Marvin Hulst Mead, who came from New Jersey with Henry Ford to study the breeding of worms at silk.
In 1950, under the leadership of President AJ Waring Sr., the Parks and Trees Commission left the town hall and established permanent offices in the substation building and constructed a second building on the edge south of the property. Completed in 1951 as a Belgian block, the second building closely matches the first with similar decorative eaves and arched porch openings. The new building served both as a meeting place for the Commission, as well as for local garden groups, and there was also a proposal for the building to house a library with specimens of flora and fauna.
On October 8, 1951, Waring passed away. After his death, City Council approved a resolution naming Southville Ward Park “Waring Park” in his honor, recognizing that “Waring has made a significant contribution to the beautification of the parks and streets of the City of Savannah… (and) to the crusade for the preservation of monuments. “
The next time you pass through tiny Waring Park, be sure to notice the two small stone buildings that have now served our community for almost a century.
City of Savannah Municipal Archives, [email protected], Discover the archives: savannahga.gov/MunicipalArchives.