Live from Savannah with E.W. Nash & Son

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As promised, here’s a report “Live, from the field”……..the antique guy’s attempt at Travel and Leisure. Not quite, but I did just return from the American Society of Appraisers International Conference in Savannah and got pumped up about our show’s theme this year. How was the conference?……well, it’s kind of torturous to be trapped in a conference room in a place like Savannah. Who wants to learn about silver marks and Georgian furniture when you could walk around and experience it for yourself? After a couple of days, I decided to sneak out of a few lectures and thought of you all.

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We are always longing for historic places to “get away”;  and Savannah is in our own back yard. As old as most New England cities, and just as beautiful, how do we forget about this place two hours north of us? An integral city in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and a cultural beacon of light throughout the centuries, Savannah is one of those places I had brushed aside as “too touristy” to be enjoyed.

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If you don’t want to play Scarlett O’Hara and Gone With The Wind every time you go to Savannah, here’s the off-the-beaten path version that I found when I got the courage to duck out of the appraiser’s conference…..

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You want to know what I think is the best restaurant in town? It’s a little place called The Gryphon. No doubt named after the 19th century debating society at Oxford, this little restaurant run by SCAD is like none I’ve ever been to. For those of you who liked last year’s lecture, The Gryphon’s atmosphere has William Morris and Downton Abbey written all over it.

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I was trying not to be that dorky tourist who kept snapping pictures, but the place was amazing. Kilims and leopard prints, Audubons and chintz…..this anglophile was in heaven.

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We popped in with two kids (a one and six year old) right at closing. The gracious hostesses, all SCAD students, seated us and told us we could have anything not sold out on the menu. Luckily, that included this delicious artichoke panini with goat cheese, arugula, and all sorts of other good things I forgot to write down. If you want to feel like you are dining in an intimate London library, go to The Gryphon.

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For a little boxwood love, we toured the Owens-Thomas House.  I can’t say enough about it…..just go see it

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Owned and operated by the Telfair Museum, the Owens-Thomas House is considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. Designed in 1816 by William Jay, the house and garden make you feel as though you are in England.

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Then I discovered Jere’s Antiques. I had heard about this place my whole life and avoided it because I thought it was just another tourist trap. Boy, was I wrong. This wholesale antiques warehouse blew me away. Jere, who is the nicest, most down-to-earth man, is the “Last of the Mohicans”. He’s been importing furniture from the UK since 1976 and his inventory is still fresh and beautiful.

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If you want quality, antique English furniture, go to Jere’s. My dad, who has been in this business for over thirty years, came out of that place saying, “That is some of the best English furniture I’ve seen in a long time.”  Go there, my friends. Ask questions. Jere will answer them and you’ll come away with something special.  You name it, he’s got it. Whether a young collector or a seasoned connoisseur, Jere has pieces for all price ranges and tiers. I know I can’t wait to go back.

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Don’t have the money for Europe? Experience the same cobblestone streets and architecture just two hours away. Get ready for Bowties and Boxwoods with a little day trip to Savannah. If you think you have “done Savannah”, think again…

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William’s Picks…

Where to Stay: The Eliza Thompson House– a lovely hotel in the heart of the historic district. Near everything, particularly The Gryphon and the antiques district, and just far enough from the loudness of Bay Street.

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Where to Eat: The Gryphon Tea Room and 22 Square Restaurant. 22 Square, though modern and sleek in its atmosphere, is one of the only farm-to-table restaurants in Savannah. This place was truly special….and around the corner from Jere’s.

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What to See: The Owens-Thomas House and Jere’s Antiques (obviously I left out a few things…but I did say day trip).

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