Built in 1848 for Andrew Low, a wealthy cotton merchant from Scotland, the Andrew Low House is a classic and elegant Savannah mansion. Facing Lafayette Square, its stucco and brick design meshes beautifully with the rich history of the area. The house itself has a colorful and interesting past, as several prominent people often visited the Low family during their residency; Robert E. Lee and William Makepeace Thackeray to name a few.
The home later belonged to Andrew’s son, William, who married Juliette Gordon, the founder of Girl Scouts USA and it is here that she passed away in 1927. Guests can tour the Andrew Low House to see many 19th century antiques, silver pieces and ornamental ironwork. Knowledgeable guides give visitors a wonderful overview of the people and events that had their place in the history of the home.
Constructed on a lot overlooking Lafayette Square, the Andrew Low House reflects the urban genteel life of 19th-century Savannah. It was the home of the city’s wealthiest ship owner and cotton merchant. Designed and built by New York architect John Norris, the Italianate-style stucco-brick mansion was completed in 1849. Surrounded by a dry moat, it features some of the most intricate ironwork in the city. While the entrance is guarded by two cast iron lions, the interior boasts period antiques, silver and crystal chandeliers. A 500-gallon cistern, still located in the attic piped, water to the kitchen and bathroom. It was one of Savannah’s earliest indoor plumbing systems. Low’s daughter-in-law, Juliette Gordon Low, founded the Girl Scouts of America in the home’s parlor.
History of the Andrew Low House
Andrew Low immigrated from Scotland in 1829 at the age of 16. He later inherited his uncle’s cotton factoring business. Low had the home built for his young family; but his wife and son died tragically before it was finished. He moved into the home with his two young daughters. Low would later marry Mary Cowpers Stiles, the daughter of William Stiles, the Minister to Austria. They eventually had several children, including a son William Mackay Low. He entertained many prominent individuals in the home, including the noted English author William Makepeace Thackeray and General Robert E. Lee.
William married his longtime sweetheart Juliette in 1886 and inherited the home upon his father’s death. During travels to England, Juliette became friends with General Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and his sister who oversaw a group known as the “Girl Guides.” Low was inspired to create a similar organization in the United States. Then a widow, Juliette met with a group of volunteers in the home’s parlor in 1912 to formalize a group of Girl Guides. The name was later changed to Girl Scouts. She remodeled the mansion’s carriage house into a clubroom and headquarters for the group.
Upon her death, Juliette Gordon Low bequeathed the carriage house to the local Girl Scouts chapter. The Colonial Dames of Georgia purchased the home from her estate in 1928. The society painstakingly restored the residence, which they used as the organization’s headquarters for several decades. The home was opened to the public as a house museum in 1952.
Must See Exhibits
During the tour, visitors can view rooms on the first and second floors. Public spaces on the main floor include the formal and informal parlors, the dining room and the family library. On the second floor, the tour features the bathing room, the children’s bedroom and the master bedroom. Other bedrooms honor Thackeray and General Lee. The rooms are furnished with period pieces and heirlooms, such as Duncan Phyfe furniture, family portraits, historic toys and a signed photograph of Lee.
One of three remaining, the brick-walled garden at the rear of the home is the only original 19th-century Savannah garden open to the public. The double-hourglass design was inspired by Elizabethan knot gardens. Plantings include historic species like English daisies, Kurume azaleas and sago palms.
Haunted Happenings Inside the House
Like other historic places in Savannah, the Low House has its share of mystery and intrigue. Several people who have worked in or visited the house have reported various levels of paranormal activity, including the home’s longtime housekeeper who said that she smelled a “strange, sweet perfume” on the grand staircase. The mansion is reputedly home to several apparitions. One of these is Tom, Andrew Low’s longtime butler whose footsteps can be heard throughout the house just as they did when he performed his duties. His ghost, dressed in period clothing, has been observed standing atop the staircase. A rocking chair owned by the family and displayed in one of the bedrooms moves even though it is empty. There have also been reported sightings of the ghost of General Lee as well as that of Juliette lying on her deathbed.
Know Before You Go
The Andrew Low House is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. It opens two hours later on Sundays. The museum is closed on major holidays and during the first two weeks of January. Offered at the top and bottom of every hour, guided tours last approximately 40 minutes. Discount admission is offered to senior citizens and students as well as current and former Girl Scouts. Active duty military are admitted free of charge. There are a limited number of parking spaces on-site.
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