The Davenport House was completed in 1820, and (as the name suggests!) built by Isaiah Davenport.
In it lived Davenport, his wife Sarah Clarke, their children (they eventually had ten, seven of which survived past infancy) and enslaved labourers. Bella and her four children Jack, Jacob, Isaac and Polly lived here, alongside Ned and Davy, who were enslaved in Davenport’s construction business, and Nancy and Peggy, who were domestics in the house, as well as Mary and her daughter Ann, who were seamstresses.
The Davenport House tells the story of the enslaved workers and the Davenport family, but also the story of the birth of historic preservation in Savannah.
In the early twentieth century, the house was lived in as a tenement building. It fell into disrepair and caught the eye of a funeral directors opposite, who bought it in 1955 with plans to demolish it to create a car park.
Local newspaper journalist Anna Hunter assembled a group of women who became known as the “Seven Ladies”, who founded Historic Savannah Foundation and raised the money to buy it off the funeral directors ($22,000) and restore it.
In 1963, the museum opened and Historic Savannah Foundation has gone on to save hundreds of houses around Savannah.