History of The Marshall House
1 (800) 589-6304

One of the Oldest Hotels in Savannah

Savannah’s Historic District is home to a wide array of beautiful hotels, homes, restaurants, shops, and businesses. As one of the city’s oldest hotel, The Marshall House certainly has a lot of unique history and charm. And while we take pride in our authentic and original features — including 19th century doors and a reconstructed wrought iron balcony — our downtown Savannah hotel also features many modern amenities, such as free Wi-Fi and wall-mounted, flat-screen TVs.

The Marshall House, c. 1899   
The Marshall House, c. 1899 

A Part of History

On April 1, 2000, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation named The Marshall House as a National Historic Building. This prestigious title was given because of our many authentic features, including original staircases (some of the spindles and gingerbread have been recreated), wood floors, fireplaces, brick walls, and the doors to each guest room. The Atrium, which used to be the courtyard, has been encased with a glass ceiling to give the sensation of what once was. Other historical pieces include the artifacts displayed on floors two and three, which were found during the renovation.


The Marshall House, c. 1940

Marshall House Milestones

  • 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, a prominent hotel and real estate man from Jacksonville, leases the building and changes the name to the Gilbert Hotel.
  • 1941: Herbert Gilbert sells the 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, 2005 & 2014: Marshall House voted "Best of Savannah."
  • 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.
  • 2014: Renovation of lobby and library
  • 2014:  Voted "Best Boutique Hotel" by Savannah Magazine

About 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. Mr. Leaver 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, Mary Marshall continued to buy land and prospered with the city. She 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 hand creating battle flags for the troops.

Mrs. Marshall passed away in 1877 at the age of 93 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.

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


 

Portrait of Mary Marshall painted in 1830 by artist Peter Laurens.

A portrait of Mary Marshall painted in 1830 by artist Peter Laurens and currently hangs behind the front desk.  The painting was purchased from the Estate of Jim Williams, a well known Savannah preservationist and antiques dealer made famous by the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil