THE MODERN EVOLUTION
OF ELLIS SQUARE
by Flo Deems
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Ellis Square is the last of the original squares to be renovated. Laid out in 1733 when Savannah was founded, this square, however, was not restored to its former configuration and vegetation types. Instead, the decision was made to convert this square from a parking garage built during the 1950s, which destroyed the original Ellis Square, into an extensive underground parking garage topped with an open park with a fancy fountain in the center. Surrounding this fountain are large grassy areas. Trees have been planted in the four corners and a few other places around the edge. Benches also surround this small park.
I first encountered the big hole in the ground that was the start of the reconstruction in the fall of 2007. Some of the protective fencing surrounding the construction site had clear acrylic panels installed so people could see into the hole safely. From 2008 and 2009, the square was covered, but looked like a wasteland. It took a lot of work to finish the underground parking garage. Also, the Inn at Ellis Square was undergoing a renovation and expansion. So for two years the area looked like a mess.
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At long last Ellis Square was finished and the dedication took place during St. Patrick's Day celebrations in 2010! The fountain centerpiece and pièce d' résistance for kids - and some adults, too - has rows of nozzles, each of which is surrounded by sunken colored lights. About 10 in the morning the jets are turned on and rotate through a series of seemingly random patterns. Then in late afternoon, the lights come on. Below are scenes from the square in daytime plus some shots of kids playing in the fountain at dusk.