Tenth Year and Still the Fever Rages!

DREADFUL PESTILENCE: Savannah’s Yellow Epidemic of 1820 – at the Davenport House

The October living history presentation at the Davenport House marks the tenth consecutive year the Museum has presented a theatrical production intended to amplify and showcase Savannah history in creative and thrilling ways.

“It is our responsibility to present the story of the port city of the 1820s,” explains DH Director Jamie Credle. “This is a decade little known by most people, and we have to do it in appealing ways. For our programs,” she adds, “our Museum has to find and serve an audience.”

And according to Credle, the Museum found that audience right outside its front door.

“One fall evening in 2003, we looked out our windows onto Columbia Square to see what seemed to be hundreds of people on ghost tours with participants looking up at the house as though expecting to see the apparitions being spoken about. At that point we decided to invite people inside in October to think about life in the past—usually exploring ghastly topics. People want ghastly in October. That’s how our Yellow Fever program began.”

Credle is quick to point out that what’s presented now is nothing like the Museum’s production in 2003. “Our program has grown in focus and clarity, as well as in length and cast members.”

And the presentation is refined and revised annually. For instance on Friday and Saturday nights this October, ten players will guide participants on a 60-minute experience through the story of Dreadful Pestilence: Savannah’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820.

“The Davenport House Museum, its garden and the recently restored Kennedy Pharmacy will be transformed into spaces where pivotal events in Savannah’s early history will be re-created,” Credle continues. “Once again we hope our Yellow Fever show will find an audience looking for something exciting to do that incorporates live actors in an interesting historical setting.

Read more about the Material Culture of Yellow Fever.