The current coronavirus pandemic may have a lot of us wishing for earlier times and the people in charge of tours at the Davenport House Museum figured out a way to take us back in time.
The "1820 House" tours will bring visitors back 200 years to a similar time when a pandemic, in this case yellow fever, forced everyone in Savannah, among other cities in the country, to find a new way to live from day to day.
The month of October is normally a time the Davenport House Museum looks back to how yellow fever changed Savannah forever, but this year being an anniversary year like no other, it forces museum curators and staff to think outside the box a bit, according to museum director Jamie Credle.
"We have always emphasized yellow fever here because it kind of grows in people’s responses every October, but there are real correlations that are sort of impressive about those two years (1919-1920) and this year," she said.
"Everybody you talk to says ‘2020 is the worst’ and they are right, it’s pretty terrible but 1820 was pretty rough as well."
What was once a local pandemic 200 years ago is now an international pandemic today. The past has a way of repeating itself and the "1820 House" tour is a fun, educational and safe way to see how that is so. "I think there’s such a tremendous correlation and people look at the past and think it was a simpler time, and it was actually really complicated," said Credle.
There are informative video program of the Yellow Fever pandemic that was coordinated by museum Program Developer Raleigh Marcell that are also running
Along with the Yellow Fever, there was also a great fire on January 11, 1820 that would ultimately destroy 463 buildings in the heart of the city from Bay Street to Abercorn Street. Those and other events are highlighted through the tour, which is available virtually as well.
The tours at the museum have taken place since Oct. 1 and will end their run on Friday, Oct. 30. The tours take place every weekday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and next week with the Friday tours adding an extra dose of nostalgia with tour guides dressed in period garb. Credle has been known to participate as well as Assistant Director Jeff Freeman and Marcell.
In regards to COVID-19 restrictions, the tours will be held at to a maximum of 10 guests and will leave every half-hour to better accommodate for proper social-distancing throughout.
"We put together protocols, we made our tours smaller, we have hand sanitizer around and we are keeping our tours to 10 people," said Credle.
"If you really want to come to this, you might really want to call to make sure, but we haven’t really had a problem getting people on a tour."
The Davenport House Museum, a property of the Historic Savannah Foundation, is located at 324 E. State Street. The "1820 House" tour is 45 minutes in length and cost $9 for general admission.