Our History

The 1820 Federal-style dwelling was built by upwardly mobile artisan Isaiah Davenport and his crew for his growing household, which included his wife, children, and slaves. It was his family home until his death in 1827 when his wife, Sarah Clark Davenport, converted it into a boarding house. She lived in the residence on Columbia Square until 1840 when she sold it to the Baynard family of South Carolina. The house remained in their hands for the next 109 years. As time passed, the once stately home in a fashionable neighborhood became a rundown rooming house in a seedy part of town. Even in an advanced state of neglect, New Deal surveyors recognized the architectural significance of the home when they identified and measured it for the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s. Threatened with demolition in 1955, a group of community-spirited citizens joined forces to purchase the Davenport House. This was the first act of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which has gone on to save hundreds buildings in the historic city through its renowned revolving loan fund and other historic preservation activities. In 1955, the Davenport House became the office for Historic Savannah Foundation as well as a family services agency. Sensing the potential for an historic site, the first floor of the house was restored and opened to the public as a museum on March 9, 1963. Years later the second and third floors were opened and Historic Savannah Foundation moved its offices to another building. Beginning in the mid-1980s leaders of the museum began an effort to adhere to professional museum standards. In the mid-1990s the museum began a re-restoration process, which resulted in a more authentic experience for museum visitors, including period wallpaper and period room furnishings which reflect the inventory taken at the time of Isaiah Davenport’s death in 1827.

See Historic American Building Survey information about the DH