Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

One Building - Many Stories

Wooden Barrels, Storage Wars, Catastrophes, and Twinkling Stars

 
 
One Building - Many Stories Marker image. Click for full size.
By Shane Oliver, December 29, 2020
1. One Building - Many Stories Marker
Inscription.  An urban legend suggested that this structure served to hold enslaved African Americans temporarily while being transported on ships through Savannah's port during the mid-1800s. Researchers have found no evidence supporting this theory. Historical documents and archaeology reveal a complex and varied history of this building. The name of the building changed through time, known variously as "stores" and "vaults." One newspaper article referred to the "Improvements East of the Exchange, or more familiarly known as the tombs," due to the arches and dimensions of the structure.

Storage Wars
Ironically, the builder and first lease holder of this structure, Charles Cluskey, probably never used it. In 1842, less than two years after receiving the 20-year lease, Cluskey was ordered by the court to auction the lease to pay debts owed to John Dillon. John came into ownership of the lease at that time.

Twinkling Stars
One intriguing use of the vaults involved the survey and mapping of the Savannah harbor and southeastern coast in 1851. The U.S. Coast Survey used state-of-the art technology long before
One Building - Many Stories Marker image. Click for full size.
By Shane Oliver, December 29, 2020
2. One Building - Many Stories Marker
Global Positioning triangulation and the paths of stars to determine locations of landforms to each other and the planet. Such techniques created this 1855 Georgia marsh map [Right].

January 7, 1851. Mr. Boutelle has contracted, "...to erect a small temporary observatory over the Tombs east of the Exchange, for the purpose of making observations for latitude and longitude. In connection with these calculations, Mr. B. will make use of the telegraph."
Digital Library of Georgia, Savannah Daily Republican, 1/7/1851

Why did mapping require the storeroom vaults? The vaults stood next to the City Exchange Building, which had a tall spire on its clock tower. Engineers could use the spire to send and receive telegraph signals to telescope locations and the vaults provided office and equipment space. Here is an 1820 "Plan for an Observatory" for Coast Survey [Right].

Catastrophes
In 1904, three African Americans were seriously injured in the western-most vault as they constructed the new City Hall building. The vault collapsed during excavations for the foundations of the neighboring structure. Workmen survived, despite being crushed under massive amounts of brick and timber. City Hall's contractor rebuilt the collapsed vault.

Wooden Barrels
The vaults served functions other than storage. In
Interior of third vault, behind the One Building - Many Stories marker image. Click for full size.
By Shane Oliver, December 29, 2020
3. Interior of third vault, behind the One Building - Many Stories marker
1845, Vault Number 4 (referred to in the newspaper advertisement as "TOMB No. 4") provided P.D. Nellis with a venue for his coopering, or barrel-making, business. This location placed Nellis in the heart of the port's shipping activities. Grocers, merchants, factors, and tradesmen needed barrels to store and ship an assortment of goods.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Architecture.
 
Location. 32° 4.865′ N, 81° 5.448′ W. Marker is in Savannah, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker is on East Upper Factors Walk north of East Bay Street, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located behind the Savannah City Hall, at the third of a series of four arched vaults. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 42 E Upper Factors Walk, Savannah GA 31401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Storeroom By Any Other Name (here, next to this marker); Vaulting Through Time (a few steps from this marker); Savannah City Hall (a few steps from this marker); Charles Blaney Cluskey (a few steps from this marker); Chatham Artillery's (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Chatham Artillery's (within shouting distance of this marker); Central Railroad & Bank Bldg.
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
(within shouting distance of this marker); The "John Randolph" (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Savannah.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 12, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 1, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 1, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement
Mar. 6, 2021