Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
A Storeroom By Any Other Name
Cluskey's Embankments, Stores, Vaults, or Tombs
In 1840, the City hired architect Charles B. Cluskey to build part of a much-needed retaining wall along the north side of Bay Street, east of the City Exchange Building (where City Hall now stands). Cluskey used brick for his embankment wall. The contract called for the wall to be built along the slope adjacent to "the Strand," or park lying along the north side of Bay Street. The space between the wall and the slope was to be filled with sand. Instead, Cluskey saw an opportunity to design arched, vaulted storage rooms in that embankment. City aldermen agreed to this change and directed him to "...build four stores east of the Exchange under the proposed extended walk, with proper wall and arched across, so as to leave at least 3 feet in depth of earth over the arches." Instead of pay, Cluskey was to "...control and receive the rents of the premises" for 20 years. The contract called for four vaults. How many do you see?
It all began with the bluff, In 1733, General James Oglethorpe established Savannah on a 40 foot high bluff along the Savannah River [Right]. Colonists hauled goods from ships with hoists
A Retaining Wall
Wagon and foot traffic created decades of bluff erosion, making it increasingly difficult to get to the river. A retaining wall along Bay Street was needed to stabilize the bluff and keep sand from washing into the road that skirts the south side of the commercial buildings lining the river. Cluskey's 1840 brick embankment was part of a series of retaining walls built along Bay Street.
Cluskey's embankment bordered the south side of the road known by the mid-1800s as Factors Walk. Cotton factors or brokers, shipping merchants, and later dealers of lumber and naval stores worked in the row of buildings conveniently fronting the river on one side and Factors Walk on the other [Left]. Brokers accessed Bay Street and "the Strand" greenspace by the iron bridges over Factors Walk.
The Cluskey Stores are some of the oldest buildings owned by the City of Savannah. In 1962, the vaults were documented for the Historic American Building Survey by the National Park Service. The structure is identified as a contributing element to Savannah's National Historic Landmark District.
Kids, Look Up! Why Arches?
* An arch holds itself up using its own weight!
* Each three-foot section of arch above
* Arched bridges in Europe that Romans built 2,000 years ago still work!
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Architecture.
Location. 32° 4.867′ N, 81° 5.452′ 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 fourth 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. One Building - Many Stories (here, next to this marker); Savannah City Hall (a few steps from this marker); Vaulting Through Time (a few steps from this marker); Charles Blaney Cluskey (within shouting distance of this marker); Chatham Artillery's (within shouting distance of this marker); The "John Randolph" (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Chatham Artillery's (within shouting distance of this marker); The Savannah (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 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 1, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 40 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.