Friday, June 22, 2018

Southern Tea Time Getaway - Day 7 Part III

The third activity on the itinerary for day 7 was a visit to the birth home of Juliette Gordon Low [affectionately called "Daisy" by family and close friends], who founded the Girl Scouts in the United States in 1912.

Cheryl K., one of the travelers in our group, was a Girl Scout and had always wanted to visit the home.  When she mentioned the possibility of touring it, I did some research and put it on the itinerary.  It was right next door to the Ballastone Inn where we spent our first night. Ironically the Girl Scouts of America owned the Ballastone too, but sold it 1980.

The Regency style, brick-covered stucco birth home of Juliette Gordon Low, at 10 E. Oglethorpe Ave. [by Wright Square] was built in 1821 for Savannah Mayor, James Moore Wayne and his wife.  They sold the house to their niece, Sarah Stiles and her husband, William Washington Gordon, I [Juliette Gordon Low's grandparents] in 1831.  Juliette's father [William Washington Gordon II], inherited the house in 1842 upon his father's death, and added the third story.  Juliette's paternal grandmother continued living in the house with the family until her death in 1882.

Four generations of Gordons lived in the house until the Girl Scouts purchased it in 1953 and saved it from demolition.  Can you imagine this gorgeous mansion being torn down? Some of the original furnishings are still in the house as well as acquired period furnishings. 

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon Low was born in the mansion on Halloween 1860, and spent much of her childhood [1860-1886] there.

The arched lower entrance beneath the four-column portico and double-stairway is the  entrance for tours.  There's a gift shop on one side, and a waiting room on the other side.  It became a National Historic landmark in 1965.

There were several posters in the gift shop, and I had to photograph the two below.

I purchased a book about all of Savannah's Squares in the gift shop.  

One of the executive officers passed through the waiting room while we were waiting our turn to tour the mansion and she told us contrary to what is heard on the news, the Girl Scouts are not merging with the Boy Scouts.

Our tour began in the foyer of the mansion, and we had a wonderful guide.  It takes about 30-35 minutes to tour the mansion, and they have approximately 100,000 visitors a year.  I found touring the mansion very interesting and worthwhile.

On the wall to the left of the tour guide was Juliette Gordon Low's Girl Scout Hat and Purse [she was buried in her uniform], and a 1919 painting of her in uniform.

This was written on the opposite wall.  I'm so grateful they allowed pictures.

The first room we entered off the foyer was the front room.

The portrait hanging above the mantle is Juliette's mother, Eleanor Lytle Kinzie Gordon.

There were lots of tea equipage and hand fans in the house - both of which I enjoy seeing.

Then we walked through an archway into another large room behind the front room.

Our guide explained that Juliette was very well educated.  While attending finishing school in New York she excelled in art and became a very good painter and sculptor.  With her formal education completed in 1880, she made her debut in Savannah society hoping her skills in painting and sculpting would be a means of financial support and self-sufficiency [both acceptable for women of her era].

A copy of an 1887 painting of Juliette Gordon Low hangs in the dining room.  The original is in the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, a gift of the Girl Scouts USA in 1973.  She was 27 years old in the portrait.  It was a sign of prestige for women to hold a hand fan for their portraits in that time period.  Her mother and grandmother are also holding one in their portraits.

~ Georgian Wooden Knife/Cutlery Box ~

Juliette's wedding picture taken in the backyard of her birth house.  Obviously they didn't notice the maid standing on the balcony looking on the scene below her.  ;-)

Juliette Gordon married William Mackay Low, a wealthy cotton merchant and only son of Andrew Low II,  in 1886 when she was 26.   They set up homes in both England and Savannah.  He was unfaithful in their marriage which ended shortly before his death in 1905.  As part of a contested will, Juliette inherited the Andrew Low house in Savannah, which can also be toured.  [Next visit to Savannah.]

The carriage house of the Low House was the first National Girl Scout Headquarters, and can be toured as well.

Juliette died of breast cancer in 1927 at the Low House.  She was 66 years of age and is buried next to her parents at the Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.

But back to the tour of her birth home - below was one of three bedrooms we saw.  I can't remember if the guide said this was Juliette's room or not.

~ Lace fan in case hanging above bed.  ~

~ Painting of Juliette Gordon Low sculpting.  ~

Feather hand fan opened and laying on dresser top.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the bathroom.  Notice the shape of the water closet base - an elephant.

Portrait of Sarah Stiles Gordon, Juliette's paternal grandmother.  

The last room of the tour [there are seven rooms on the tour] was the first floor library, which is the only room in the house that has been given a more contemporary look for Girl Scouts [to the dismay of current Gordon family members].  The theme is "Girls Writing the World: A Library ReImagined."

From the library we walked out on the balcony overlooking a beautiful garden.  We could see the Ballastone Inn sign next door peeking through the trees.

The tour ended on the lower level courtyard and garden.  The photo below is the side of the mansion taken inside the fenced-in courtyard. 

Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America when she was 42, during the Progressive Era, because she wanted to prepare girls to meet the world with courage, confidence and character.

Juliette herself was handicapped by a loss of hearing due to several ear infections in her youth, and also when a grain of rice thrown by a well-wisher at her wedding became lodged in her ear and the removal caused further damage.  It didn't stop her from a great pursuit, however.  She gathered 18 girls in Savannah to share what she had learned abroad [through her acquaintance with Robert Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts] and sparked a world-wide movement for girls that thrives today with 2.6 million Girl Scouts in 92 countries!  Absolutely amazing!

Did you know that First Lady Edith Wilson served as Honorary President of the Girl Scouts in 1917, and since then every First Lady of the United States has served as Honorary President of the Girl Scouts  U.S.A.?

Next post will be a visit to the Pie Society [a Traditional British Bakery] and Leopold's Ice Cream Parlor...


  1. What a wonderful tour! I was a brownie, never made it to actual Girl Scout. I was both brownie and girl scout leader for my oldest daughter for six years and then started over as daisy and brownie leader for four more years with my youngest daughter. We always enjoyed hearing about Juliet Gordon Lowe.

  2. I'm so glad you got to tour this house! I have not yet taken this tour but I'd like to. The times I've visited Savannah I've been busy with meetings, etc., so I have seen the house but never had time to go inside. I was a Brownie, Junior, and Cadette Girl Scout as well as troop leader one year and Service Unit Director (like a county coordinator) for many years when my girls were young. It's a great organization, and I'm so glad Juliette's birthplace was not torn down.

  3. It looks like you had a great day. I love museums like this. If I'm ever in Savannah, I'm definitely going to go!


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