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History of The Marshall House:
One of the Oldest Hotels in Savannah, Georgia

Among all the Historic Savannah hotels—including of course, the historic district—The Marshall House holds the singular distinction of being the oldest hotel in one of the country's most beautiful cities—Savannah. The historic district is home to a wide array of beautiful hotels, homes and businesses, complete with 24 historic squares. You'll love strolling through this beautiful old city, and when it's time to turn in, the history stays with you when you retire to your room or suite and enjoy the amenities of our historic Savannah hotel. 

A Gem Among the Finest
Hotels in Savannah Historic District

Original features of this historic hotel in Savannah, GA include authentic 19th Century doors, windows, railings, moldings, and high ceilings. Some rooms have antique clawfoot tubs and access to a wrought iron balcony re-constructed to replicate the building's original veranda of the early 1900s. Discover the most elegant and unique hotel in Savannah at The Marshall House. Experience true historic Savannah for yourself by reserving a room at The Marshall House—the perfect compliment to venturing out and immersing yourself in the illustrious history of Savannah.

A Historical Account of the First Hotel in Historic Savannah 

In 1851, businesswoman Mary Marshall, noting that Savannah was woefully in need of visitor accommodations, built the four-story Marshall House Hotel. It served as a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War. It was also home to Joel Chandler Harris, author of the famous Uncle Remus stories. By 1956, the hotel had closed and the first floor was used for businesses.  In 1999, $12 million was invested in its spectacular restoration. The award-winning results are stunning, combining elegance and historical authenticity with 21st century conveniences. There is truly no place in Savannah like it.

A Name in the History Books

The Marshall House was named as a National Historic Building on April 1, 2000 by The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The Hotel has its original staircases (some of the spindles and gingerbread have been recreated), original wood floors, fireplaces, brick walls, and the doors to each guest room are original as well. The Atrium was the courtyard and has been encased with a glass ceiling to give the sensation of what once was. The artifacts displayed on floors two and three were found during the renovation.

Milestones of The Marshall House - First of Historic Hotels in Savannah, GA

  • 1851—Mary L. Marshall opens The Marshall House on Broughton Street in Savannah's premier shopping district.
  • 1857—Ralph Meldrim, proprietor of The Marshall House, erects an iron veranda in front of the property 120 feet in length and 12 feet wide and high. The veranda becomes one of the signature features of The Marshall House.
  • 1859—Having been fully renovated, repainted, and refurbished, the hotel reopens to the public.
  • 1864/1865—The hotel is occupied by Union troops led by General William Tecumseh Sherman. The building was used as a Union hospital for wounded soldiers until the end of the Civil War.
  • 1867—Marshall Hose Company (Volunteer Fire Department) was founded to protect The Marshall House and other properties in Savannah.
  • 1880—The adjoining building, known as the "Florida House", was annexed as part of The Marshall House, increasing the hotel's capacity by about one third.
  • 1895—Hotel closes.
  • 1899—Hotel reopens as The Marshall House and features electric lights and hot and cold baths on every floor.
  • 1933—Herbert W. Gilbert, prominent hotel and real estate man of Jacksonville, leases the building and changes the name to the Gilbert Hotel.
  • 1941—Herbert Gilbert sells hotel and eight stores. The property is now steam heated and features a lobby, dining room, living room, reading room, 66 guest rooms, one suite, an apartment and six storage rooms.
  • 1946—The Marshall House reopens with a complete renovation.
  • 1957—The 106 year old Marshall House closes. Extensive alterations to put the hotel in full compliance with state fire laws were not possible on a short-term lease.
  • 1998—Renovations to The Marshall House begin once again.
  • 1999—The Marshall House, having been fully restored and renovated, reopens to the public as Savannah's oldest hotel.
  • 2001—HLC Hotels, Inc., a Savannah-owned and operated hotel management company, purchases The Marshall House.
  • 2003—Marshall House featured on The Travel Channel's Great Hotels.
  • 2004—Marshall House voted "Best of Savannah."
  • 2005—Marshall House voted "Best of Savannah" for the second time.
  • 2005—Marshall House featured on the Travel Channel's Haunted Hotels.
  • 2006—Marshall House named as one of Coastal Living's Top 20 Places to Stay.
  • 2008—Complete renovation of Marshall House's guest rooms and suites.

Who Was Mary Marshall?

Mary Leaver Marshall, the original proprietor of The Marshall House, was the daughter of Gabriel Leaver, a French cabinetmaker with a shrewd vision for developing Savannah's land.

He purchased a number of choice plots of land in the business section of the city, held onto them tenaciously, and left them to his daughter upon his death. An enterprising and energetic lady, she continued to buy land and prospered with the city, living to the age of 93.

She passed away in 1877 and left the running of the hotel to a former New Englander, William Coolidge. A family legend confirmed by Georgia Historical Society records states that Mr. Coolidge hoisted the first flag declaring Georgia's secession from the Union.

Mary Marshall was married to Colonel James Marshall—his portrait is over the fireplace in the Library—a Second Lieutenant in the Savannah Volunteer Guard (SVG), the city's volunteer military group of which Mary was an active supporter. She was recognized by the SVG on two separate occasions for battle flags she created for the troops with her own hands.

A photograph of Mrs. Marshall's "town home" which was located on the corner of Oglethorpe Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. is available for viewing outside of The Mary Marshall Suite, Room 205.