Experience Southern Hospitality in a Boutique Hotel
Samuel Pugh Hamilton, informally known as “The Lord of Lafayette Square”, had this parkside mansion built for his family in 1873, long before they were turned into the luxury Savannah suites that they are today. Along with his wife Sarah, the successful businessman and prominent Savannah alderman created a social center for the city’s elite, hosting a variety of activities in their home that was impressive in workmanship and size.
Mr. Hamilton was born on July 2, 1837 and grew up to be first, a loving family man, a professional businessman second, and third, a very accomplished host. He married his first wife, Emma Sprigg, in Charleston while he was stationed there in the U.S. Navy. They had two children together before her death around 1862.
He resigned his naval officer position to join the Confederate staff of Colonel Lawton in the Georgia Battalion at Ft. Pulaski. Here he continued to serve until the end of the Civil War.
In 1862, he started “Hamilton’s Fine Watches and Jewelry” on the corner of Congress, Whitaker & St. Julian street. He then moved it to 125 Broughton & Bull street in 1879. Samuel sold his jewelry business by 1889 so that he could devote his time to the Brush Electric Light & Power Company.
After the death of his first wife, he married his deceased brother’s widow, Sarah Virginia Stillings, on June 10, 1866.
Samuel Pugh Hamilton was always a busy man, and the 1880s were no exception. While he established a large family; served as Alderman; ran his jewelry store; was Grand Recorder and Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Solomon’s Lodge, Masons; he was involved with Savannah Cotton Mills, the Savannah and Tybee Railroads, the Tybee Beach Company, and was an optician. During this time, he was elected as President and Treasurer to both the Savannah Ice Manufactures and the Artesian Ice & Storage Company. He gave to the Savannah Benevolent Association and attended St. John’s Episcopal Church. He was not a member of the St. John’s Episcopal Church as he didn’t align himself to one church.
Due to his work with the Brush Electric Light & Power Company, the Hamilton mansion was the first residence in Savannah with electricity. In 1883, electric lights were installed in the salon. Spectators witnessing the inaugural room lighting were wowed by the invention but feared the house would explode. The entire house was fitted with electric lights by 1886, around the time Hamilton became president of the Brush Electric Light & Power Company.
The mansion was nearly destroyed during the great Savannah fire of 1898, but thankfully, the mansion’s tin roof has been credited with saving it from being engulfed by the flames.
In 1915, Dr. Francis Turner, who was known by neighbors as an electric car enthusiast, purchased the house from the Hamilton estate and lived there with his family until 1926. The mansion was opened for boarding and became a home for the Marine Hospital nurses in 1928. The Turner family moved back into the home in the 1940s, and the courtyard level served as office space for Turner’s practice.
The Turner family sold the house in 1965 to officials at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, who wanted to destroy the structure to provide a playground for their nearby school. The Historic Savannah Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1955, jumped in to save the house. After years of negotiations, the mansion was spared.
Over the next 30 years, the Hamilton-Turner house had several owners, was converted into an apartment building and withstood scandal. John Berendt’s book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” made note of raucous parties thrown by Joe Odom, who at one time managed the property.
Charlie and Sue Strickland converted the Hamilton-Turner mansion into luxury Savannah suites in 1997.
The present owner takes the task of continuing the legacy of maintaining and upgrading this charming mansion seriously in cooperation with the Historic Savannah Foundation and is confident you will feel the care that’s put into everything we do at the Hamilton-Turner Inn. We look forward to seeing you enjoy your stay in one of our luxury Savannah suites. Reserve yours today!