Saturday, May 11, 2013

Splendid Decay

When asked why I love the city of Savannah so much, I find it difficult to put into words just exactly what it is that draws me back so often. I just booked yet another trip there and can't wait to see this historic city which beckons me to visit over and over again.

Artist Preston Russell put the feeling into words so very well:

When I drove down that first Savannah street in 1972, I saw something very moving—arresting. Old things, things that don't tend to dwell elsewhere in America. Old ways, old traditions. Tradition, someone said long ago, is the living faith of dead people. One can feel it here, even on a visit. After a few years, you know it. Old buildings, many dropping in splendid decay, like elderly folks who become more beautiful with the patina of survival. These old structures even seem to endow their occupants with an aura, as if an ordinary person walking down a Savannah street seems more real—even extraordinary—compared to that same person walking around the ubiquitous American strip mall.

Splendid decay. I love it. There is something about a historic building before it has been "restored." The moss, the cracks, the peeling paint...everything it has accumulated over the years adds to its character and heightens the story. For me, once a fresh coat of paint is slapped on, it begins to lose the wisdom and charm of its journey.

In his book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," author John Berendt described it this way:

The city looked inward, sealed off from the noises and distractions of the world at large. It grew inward, too, and in such a way that its people flourished like hothouse plants tended by an indulgent gardener. The ordinary became extraordinary. Eccentrics thrived. Evvery nuance and quirk of personality achieved greater brilliance in that lush enclousre than would have been possible anywhere else on earth.

In anticipation of my arrival, a toast to dear Savannah...

because if it's good enough for Rembrandt...

it's good enough for me. Can't wait to see you again and feel your inspiration.

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1 comment:

JG said...

After your posts, I am more and more determined to visit this city.

Thank you, Dave. My goal is demonstrate my own kind of splendid decay.