Sorrel-Weed House History
In 1837 Francis Sorrel, having built one of the most prosperous shipping/merchant business’ in Savannah, was looking for a plot of land. He wanted to build an Extravagant home for his wife Matilda and their growing family as a wedding gift. The city had just laid out Madison Square in Jasper Ward. So Francis purchased the north-western corner property. He didn’t just buy one lot, as would be normal of most city home owners, he purchased Two lots.
He then hired renown architect Charles Cluskey to design what would be his Dream Home. Cluskey had been very busy designing several well-known buildings in Georgia, starting in 1830 with the Hermitage Plantation house just north of Savannah on the river.
He also designed the Medical College in Augusta and the main building at Oglethorpe University. Cluskey’s most famous Mansion design is the Governors Mansion in Milledgeville, Georgia.
The Sorrel Mansion, which Francis called “Shady Corner” along with Carriage house, was completed by 1840. When it was completed, it was the Largest Home in Savannah, it had the largest Carriage House, the largest Carriage Stone out front (which is still there today), and had an open view to the south for many years to come.
What is now Madison Square became the most popular area for Town gatherings and celebrations. The Sorrel’s became quite popular with their extraordinary parties as well. Every famous name you can think of coming to Savannah in the 1840’s-1850’s would have spent social time inside the Sorrel Mansion.
In the mid-1850’s, Charles Green purchased the land just to the south-west of Francis’ home and built what is now known as the Green-Meldrim House. Charles Green was a very good friend and business partner of Francis, and by marriage, they were even related.
Not long after Green built his home across the street, Francis decided he needed more space for his growing family, so he gave up his private garden on the lot next door and built the house that stands there now for his sons.
A few years later, Francis decided to sell his Mansion and made a sales agreement with Henry Davis Weed. Since the properties were set-up as One, there had to be alterations made. So, Francis continued living in the Mansion while work was done to the property next door. There was no official date listed for when he would actually move out completely, but based on other factors, it is believed he stayed in the Mansion until late 1861 or early 1862, at which time Henry Weed took possession of the property.
Henry Weed died in 1875 and the Home would remain in the possession of his family into the early 1900’s. The banks took over the home for several years, and in the late 1930’s it was used as a Museum home. In 1941 the Cohen family purchased the home, then later built the Lady Jane shop inside the lower level and through the courtyard. Steven Bader purchased the home in 1996 and took down the Lady Jane shop and began renovating the House. He opened the home up for tours in 2005 and a few years later the Sorrel-Weed House received the honor of being designated a Georgia Museum and Foundation.
Many people visiting Savannah enjoy touring the home and we have even had people tell us they traveled here, just to see this One House. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation said it is one of the Most Important homes in Georgia today. And thanks to many TV appearances and write-ups, the home remains open to the public for tours while the continuing renovation work is done.