44 The size and number of the projects that Scudder was working
on in the 1830's and 40’s are far too large and numerous for any
hands on work. In addition to hiS various architectural projects
Scudder was also involved with the Savannah City Council and, Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company at this time.
45 Marshes and Scudders p. 44. WHS.
roof line that was roughly gambrel-shaped. This irregularity suggests the rear of the house was a later addition, or that the original slope of the roof had been altered.46 It is safe to assume the house was Scudder's first architectural design and the beginning of his bricklaying and Masonic career.
The foundation of the Savannah Theatre (pictured in appendices E, F) was laid in the spring of 1817.47 The theatre, designed by English -architect William Jay, was "erected by Amos Scudder, who came here from New Jersey, bringing his carpenter's tools by ox cart.48 While Scudder may not have carried his tools here by ox cart, the first work on the country's oldest theatre began on 23 April 1817, and Ephraim Woodruff laid the cornerstone in early summer. The original theatre, sometimes referred to as "Jay's Palace," was a massive three-story, five bay structure. The extensive second-floor stone-work balcony boasted detailed masonry, and overlooked a tent-shaped roof, covering the theatre entrance.
46 Interview with Dr. Christopher Hendricks, Professor of Public History and Vernacular Architecture. Department of History, Armstrong State College. The discussion centered around the architectural elements of the structure and possible structural
changes that have occurred. All information was obtained from studying photographs of the structure. A hands on examination was out of the question, as the structure was demolished in 1970. The irregular roof line is the most interesting feature of this house. The dormer on the rear of the house may also suggest that similar dormers once adorned the front of the house, and that the slope was altered when the dormers were removed, giving the house a more Georgian appearance.
47 Savannah Morning News (hereafter cited as SMN), 4 June 1895: 8/1.
The roof was rimmed in an ornate, cast-iron design, and the building combined Georgian and Greek Revival styles. Steps to the theatre suggest that the floor sloped down on the inside towards the stage.49 According to Scudder's great-granddaughter, Caroline Buckner Baxley (granddaughter of Caroline Mathilda Scudder), the theatre was constructed at a cost of $16,047.69.50
Just when Scudder built the Archibald Bulloch William Habersham House is anyone's guess. Though some sources determine the house was built as late as 1840, the massive Orleans Square home (pictured in appendix G) was probably constructed circa 1818.51 It is important to note that on 27 January 1812, Bulloch
49 Margaret Beauchamp Armistead, The Atlanta Journal Magazine,
23 February 1947, s.v. "Savannah Theatre... Oldest in U.S."
Georgia Historical Society, Vertical Files, s.v. "Theaters-Savannah- Savannah Theatre"; Interview with Dr. Christopher Hendricks, ASC Department of History, to determine architectural elements of the structure. Discussion and conclusions based on an artist's rendition of how the theatre appeared in 1818. The extensive, ornate balcony is the most distinguishing feature of this structure.
began making payments to Scudder, though in small amounts.52 Again, Scudder comes in contact with William Jay, as the renowned English architect designed this fantastic home. Located on Perry and Barnard streets, the Bulloch-Habersham house was a two and a half story, three bay Regency structure with a colonnade. Its most spectacular feature was a circular entrance portico, with six majestic Corinthian columns. Another interesting if not bizarre aspect of the house, however, was the unusual treatment of the first floor windows. Two ionic columns adorned each of the windows, and to the outside of the columns, were sidelights. It appears, too, that either Scudder or Jay felt the house needed extra support, for the walls were fifteen feet thick.53 The structure was demolished in 1916 to make way for the Municipal Auditorium.
The extent of Scudder's involvement in the building of Savannah's Independent Presbyterian Church (pictured in Appendix H) is debatable. The corner stone of William Green's design was laid on 13 January 1817, and the building completed by 1819.54 Amos
Scudder submitted a bid to do the work for the flagstone paving for 22 cents a foot.55 The bid from J.E. Walker & Bros. was lower, but in light of his generous $100.00 donation to repairs for the church, Scudder was awarded the contract.56 He brought the flagstones "from his farm near Westfield... in wagons pulled by oxen. "57 Other sources simply state that Scudder "was doing work for the Trustees of the Church."58 It appears, however, that Scudder did more extensive work on the church than laying the flagstones. In late 1821, the litigious Mr. Scudder filed a petition in the Superior Court of Chatham County requesting $11,312.91 in damages. He claimed that "in consideration of certain work and labor by Scudder as a bricklayer and mason, who found and provided materials in and about the execution of said work for the Presbyterian Church Trustees. At their special request," the Trustees were so indebted to him. He sought an additional $10,000.00 as reimbursement for his own expenditures.
1817. vertical Files, GHS.
55 Lowry Axley, Holdinq Aloft the Torch, p. 66; Letter to
Walter Hartridge from Lowry Axley, dated 26 October 1955. Walter
Hartridge Collection, Box 72, F 1350. MS 1348, GHS.
56 Lowry Axley, Holding Aloft the Torch, p.66.
57 SMN, 15 May 1955. "Flagstones from N.J." Georgia
58 J.F. waring, Cerveau's Savannah, p. 19; Mary Lane Morrison, Folder 10. MS 1320, GHS.
The jury found for Scudder.59
Amos Scudder began construction on William Jay's city Hotel (pictured in floor plans and photographs in appendices 1-0) in 1822.60 The property on which the hotel was to be built (Lot# 4, Wilmington Tything, Derby Ward) belonged to Jane Early, the wife of Eleazer Early.61 Jane had purchased the property in March of 1817. We know that Amos worked on the hotel, for in 1826, he sought a large sum of money in damages in a court case against Eleazer Early, citing work performed for the construction of the city Hotel on Lot #4, Wilmington Tything, Derby Ward. This case, filed in the superior Court of Chatham County, places Scudder on the construction site of the hotel in the summer of 1822. The jury found for the plaintiff, Amos Scudder, and although he had to sue the Bank of Darien to collect his payment, the debt was finally settled in 1826.62
59 Chatham county Superior Court Judgements, case # 4574, box
50, s.v. "Amos Scudder v. the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church of the city of Savannah." MS 5125, GHS.
60 Chatham county Superior Court (CCSC) Judgements, Case #5423,
Box 59, s.v. "Amos Scudder v. Eleazer Early." MS 5125, GHS.
1bid., CCSC Judgement #5462, Box 59, s.v. "A & J Scudder v. Eleazer Early." MS 5125, GHS; 1bid., CCSC Judgement #5619, Box 61, s.v. " Amos Scudder v. Eleazer Early by the Bank of Darien." MS 5125, GHS.
61 Bell, Malcolm. "Savannah's City Hotel," May 1990, p. 1. GHS Vertical File, s.v. "Hotels- Savannah- City Hotel."
62 McDonough, Jay. William Jay-Regency Architect in Georgia
and South carolina, p. 31, 69; Chatham County Superior Court Judgement #5462, Georgia Historical Society Collection #5125, Box
59; CCSC Judgement # 5619, Box Mary Lane Morrison PaRers, MS 1320, GHS, Folder #10, page 65.
The hotel itself, situated at 21 Bay Street, is an impressive structure even in its present state of dilapidation. In Scudder's day, it was a four-story structure on the north elevation, boasting a symmetrical facade with seven bays and two end chimneys. The second story, like the Savannah Theatre, contained an impressive decorative balcony with an ornamented set of double doors adorning the center of the building. The balcony was supported by modified ionic columns. The south elevation of the hotel was a two and a half story symmetrical structure. Unlike the north elevation, this side of the building had decorative fanlights and a loading entrance. 63
On 21 March 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the Greene Monument (pictured in Appendix P), a white marble obelisk standing 50 feet in height. The Johnson Square monument was dedicated with great masonic ceremony, and it read:
This cornerstone of a monument of the memory of Major Nathaneal Greene was laid by the General LaFayette on the 21 March 1825... The architects Haviland and Strickland of Philadelphia. The Mason Contractor, Scudder.64
In 1831, Scudder agreed to build "the Beacon.. on the white
63 Interview with Dr. Christopher Hendricks. Examination of
floor plans, sketches and photographs led to this architectural description.
64 Savannah Georgian, 28 March 1829:2/1, s.v. "History of the Monument Erected in Johnson Square to the Memory of Major General Nathaneal Greene."
oyster," and Congress appointed $3000.00 for its construction.65 The lighthouse, or beacon, was to be 18 feet wide at the base, and nine feet at the summit, reaching the height of 35 feet. It would be "an important aid to vessels."66 Unfortunately, tragedy struck the construction site. Isaac Scudder, Amos' nephew, was drowned along with "three valuable negroes" when his boat, in tow of the steamer George Washington, capsized.67
Savannah's First Baptist Church (pictured in Appendix Q) was
erected on Chippewa Square in 1833. Henry O'Wyer laid the
cornerstone on 2 February 1831.68 Scudder built the church along with Thomas Clark and Matthew Lufburrow, another native of New Jersey. The church, designed by Elias Carter, bore a striking resemblance to plate 57 of Owen Biddle's 1857 Young carpenter's Assistant, published in the Daily Georgian in 1848.69
The first edifice for the Christ Church (pictured in Appendix R) congregation was erected circa 1744, and it became the "first English ecclesiastical edifice in Georgia."70 Located on Johnson Square, the first building was destroyed "by the Great Fire of
69 Mills Lane, Architecture of the Old South, p. 150.
70 Roger Warlick, As Grain Once Scattered: The History of
Christ Church. Savannah. Georqia. 1733-1983, (Columbia: The State Printing Company, 1987), p. 31-35.
1796," and was "Reduced to Ashes with A Principal Part of Savannah."71 The congregation resurrected the church in 1803, when a new structure was raised. On 8 September 1804, however, "the winds of change blew fresher than anyone knew," and a hurricane of biblical proportions devastated the newly erected church.72 Not until 1813 was the Church back to normal. Later, when this second structure was deemed unsafe, the Wardens and Vestry of Christ Church awarded Amos Scudder with a contract to "take down the present edifice and construct another on its site."73 Architect J. Hamilton Couper was called in to design the building, and Scudder was awarded a contract for the mason work. In a letter to Colonel W. Thorne Williams, Couper detailed the floor plans of the new church, and Amos Scudder co-signed the letter.74 Dr. Neufville, Rector, laid the cornerstone on 26 February 1838, and it read:
71. Ibid., p. 54. Taken from an oval plaque on the second
structure, reminding all of the church's history.
72 Ibid. , p. 55.
73 Copy of the agreement between Amos Scudder and the wardens
and Vestry of Christ Church. Christ Church Records, Vestry
Minutes, January 1838, Box 2, Folio 44. MS 978, GHS. In this agreement, Scudder promised to take down the present edifice and erect a new one, under specifications drawn by J. H. Couper.
74 Letter from J. H. Couper and Amos Scudder to Colonel W.
Thorne Williams, Christ Church. Christ Church Records, Vestry Minutes, Box 2, Folio 44. MS 978, GHS. A copy of this letter is also contained in The Walter C. Hartridge Collection, MS 1348, GHS, Box 71, 72.
Glory to Gode
Founded in 1743
Destroyed by Fire 1796 Refounded on an enlarged plan 1803 Partially destroyed by Hurricane of 1804
(according to a plan furnished by James Hamilton Couper, Esq. of Georgia)
by Amos Scudder, mason,
and Gilbert Butler, carpenter.75
The building cost approximately $36,400, exclusive of materials.76
Before he died, Amos Scudder passed his architectural trade on to his sons, John and Ephraim. Between 1853 and 1855, he began construction on a row of houses on Gordon Street (pictured in Appendix S), and with his direction, his sons completed the buildings in 1855. The Monterrey Square houses became known as Scudder's Row.77
75 Christ Church Records, Vestry Minutes, Box 2, Folio 43.
Georgia Historical society, MS 978. At a meeting held on 23 February 1838, this inscription was chosen for the cornerstone. Dr. Neufville's name from Yearbook and Directory, christ Church, 1926. Georgia Historical Society Vertical Files, s.v. "Savannah-Churches- Episcopal- Christ Church."
77 Mills Lane, Architecture of the Old South (Savannah: Beehive
Press), p. 74.
VII. HOW THE "FOLLY" BECAME "SCUDDER'S CANAL"78
The Savannah and Ogeechee Canal was started in 1825 under a
"grant by the General Assembly of Georgia... and was incorporated as the Savannah, Ogeechee, and Altamaha Canal Company." 79 Its purpose was to build a canal "from the city to the Altamaha River, thereby connecting the Savannah and Altamaha by an inland water passage."80 Amos Scudder first became involved with the Ogeechee Canal in 1827. But why did Scudder, a successful and affluent architect, become involved in a massive civil engineering project? How he became interested in the canal and from where he gained his knowledge and experience in canal construction is unknown. It seems odd that the Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company would hire a man with no experience, but unless Scudder worked on canal projects up north, it appears that the Company did just that.83
78 "Savannah and Ogeechee Canal,"Savannah Daily Herald (SDH), 23 June 1865:4/2. "Scudder's Canal," DMN, June 6,1855:2/3. This phrase was the title of a letter to the editor addressing the need
for a bridge over "Scudder's Canal," or the Ogeechee Canal.
79 Savannah Daily Herald, 23 June 1865: 4/2.
80 Mary Lane Morrison Pa2ers, Folder 10, p. 64, s.v. "Ogeechee
Canal," A History of the Port of Savannah, Joseph Moore, p. 21. GHS, MS 1320.
83. Although there is no proof that Scudder worked on any canal
projects in New Jersey, it is safe to assume that he came into contact with canals while living in the northeast. Not only does it seem odd for a canal company to hire an architect to construct a canal, but it is also strange that a successful architect would take on an immense civil engineering project. Scudder's hometown, Westfield, New Jersey, is located between New Brunswick and New York City, in the upper northeast section of New Jersey, and is located neither on the Morris nor the Delaware and Raritan canals. He could, however, have worked on the Delaware and Raritan canal, which passes through Trenton.
Yet somehow, Amos Scudder used his influence and persuaded the canal company to listen to his suggestions. In July of 1827, he submitted proposals to the Savannah, Ogeechee and Altamaha Canal Company Board of Directors to build the new Ogeechee locks of brick rather than of wood. He informed the Board that brick would add durability to the locks, and therefore the $1000 in additional monies needed to construct the locks of brick would be well worth the expense. Because the contractor Ebenezer Jenckes had no objections, and because E.H. Gill, the canal company's engineer, supported the brick construction, Scudder was awarded a contract of $12,989.00.82 This would be the beginning of Scudder's long relationship with the canal.
In December of 1827, Scudder submitted a bid for building the lock at courvoisier's, and the proposal for a lock "coped with wood and wood hollow posts" amounting to $4007.00 was accepted.83
By January of 1829, the Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company was heavily indebted to Scudder. In addition to the brick locks and the new locks at Courvoisier's, Scudder had also been excavating cuts along the canal, particularly the ogeechee Deep Cut, and deepening areas to allow vessels to pass.84 Throughout that year, the company trickled money to Scudder, usually in small
82 Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company Minute Book I. 1826
1840,1362 RR, GHS. 7 July 1827, p.76, and 9 July 1827, p. 77.
83 Ibid., 12 December 1827, p. 81.
84 Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company Minute Book I. 1826.
1840, pp. 77, 81, 93, 105, 108. Georgia Historical Society, Central of Georgia Railway Papers, MS 1362 RR.
85 Ibid., p. 118, 119, 120, 121, 123, 125, 127.
86 Georgian, 30 March 1831:2/3.
88 Ibid. , pp. 172, 174.
89 Savannah Daily Herald, 23 June 1865: 4/2.
90 Edward Matthew Shoemaker, "Strangers and citizens: The Irish community of Savannah, 1837-1861," Ph.D. Dissertation, Emory University, 1990. Chapter 4. Information passed on to me from Dr. Mark Finlay, Professor of History, Armstrong State College.
payments of $350.00.85 The canal opened in 1831. On 30 March 1831, the "meetin' of the water" was celebrated.86 "Amos Scudder, architect," opened the canal, so that the canal company could "have full reward for their labor and have the satisfaction of seeing their work come to maturity."87 For the next three years, Scudder would work on various portions of the canal, often waiting months for payment. In fact, when Scudder was elected to the Canal company's Board of Director's in 1833, the company was indebted to him in the sum of $15, 432.60.88
In 1836, a "crisis in the financial affairs of the county" led to the company's bankruptcy and eventually, to the sale of the canal at a Sheriff's Auction. Its purchaser was Amos Scudder, who was" long known in Savannah as a mechanic and a man of industry.89
attempts were successful.91 Eventually, he borrowed an additional $3000 from the city, and $1250 from the Planters Bank.92 It is interesting to note that Scudder was, at the time of these loans, a city Council Alderman, and therefore in a very good position to borrow money.93 His close association with the city at the time of his purchase was not overlooked by Savannahians, either, as some citizens felt the canal was in too tight with the government.94 Although many citizens were disenchanted with the idea of a canal, others endorsed the work of Scudder, believing that he should be commended for his efforts. He would be more successful, they believed, save the II recent monetary embarrassments of the country.95
Eventually, the state became involved. In January of 1837, Georgia Governor William Schley agreed to turn the state's $10,000
91 Savannah and ogeechee Canal Companv. Minute Book I. 1826
1840, 23 May 1837, p. 256. Scudder reported to the Board of Directors that his attempt to gain an $8,000.00 loan for the canal had been unsuccessful. He also reported that he was looking into other outlets for money to continue repairs and improvements on the canal.
92 Thomas Gamble, Jr., A History of the City Government of
Savannah, Georgia. from 1790 to 1901(Savannah: Savannah City Council, 1900.), Chapter VII, p. 169-171. Information passed through Dr. Mark Finlay, A.S.C.
93 Gamble, History of the city Government, s.v. "List of
Aldermen," p. 20.
94 DMN, 6 June 1855: 2/3. Although this letter to the editor
95 Daily Georgian, 18 August 1838: 2/4.
interest in the canal over to Scudder.96 On April 1st of that year, Scudder received the scripts for "nine hundred and eighty-five shares, being the amount of shares held by the state," and was given full permission to sell those shares and transfer all monies to the state through the Central Bank of Georgia.97 Three days later, Scudder was elected president of the company's Board of Directors, and immediately appointed a committee to ascertain the degree of indebtment the company faced.98 At the time of Scudder's takeover, the canal was in deplorable shape, and was commonly known in the city as "the Folly."99 Scudder immediately began making changes with his purchase, and although the lack of money made the project slow, Scudder had restored some of the community's faith in the canal.1°° Contrary to popular belief, Southerners were as afflicted with "canal fever" as Northerners