About Our Historic Savannah Inn
In recognition of this small historic hotel’s significance in Savannah and Georgia history, Ballastone Inn has been awarded two commemorative plaques, one from the Historic Savannah Foundation and one from the National Trust. Historically, a prominent Savannah mansion since 1838.
In the Beginning
The land where this Savannah luxury hotel is situated formed part of the southern boundary of the original settlement founded by General James E. Oglethorpe in the fall of 1733. It had been given by grant to Jeremiah Papot, a vinedresser, in August of that year. The land was eventually sold to George Anderson, a local merchant. His son Major George W. Anderson, who owned the Lebanon Plantation, a large property some 17 miles south of Savannah, inherited the home, now this historic hotel, upon his father’s death in 1874 and used it as a townhouse. Major Anderson was the commanding officer at Fort McAllister when it fell to General Sherman in 1864.
In 1883, Captain Henry Blun, who had emigrated from Germany in 1853, arriving in Savannah the following year, purchased the building. Captain Blun, who joined the Confederate Army in 1861, served at Fort Pulaski and with the forces on Tybee and Wilmington Islands. After the war ended, Captain Blun bought the residence at 14 East Oglethorpe and retained William Gibbons Preston, a prominent Boston architect, to enlarge the house to its present size. Ranked as one of the leading architects of the second half of the 19th century, Preston also built the Old DeSoto in Savannah, the Chatham County Courthouse and the Savannah Cotton Exchange Building, and he rebuilt the Independent Presbyterian Church after it burned in 1889. The Blun family continued to live on Oglethorpe until 1910, two years prior to the Captain’s death.
20th Century Changes
Once it passed out of the family’s hand, the Oglethorpe residence, now known as the Lester House, was turned into a boarding house. By the late 1920s, it had changed from an boarding house to a well-known bordello. Its fame is attributable in part to the many police raids on the establishment that were duly recorded in the Savannah News.
The building recaptured its former respectability in 1940 when it was converted into 18 modern apartments to house “indispensable immigrant war workers,” as the new tenants were described in the news of that day. At the close of World War II, the building became the York Apartments and began a slow deterioration during the late 40′s and 50′s, which mirrored the decline of the surrounding neighborhood.
In April of 1969, the Girl Scouts of America purchased the property and refurbished the building’s lower level for use as administrative offices.
The Next Chapter
In 1980, the old building was sold to private owners and was converted into a modern inn, one of the first in the famed historic district and the precursor of the historic Savannah Hotel and comfort. It is the first Savannah Boutique Inn, not just another Savannah hotel. The romantic hotel is furnished with antiques and authentic reproductions, each room is decorated with designer fabrics. To complement the original architectural motifs of the Inn, Scalamandre wallcoverings and Historic Savannah Colors were tailored by renowned Savannah artist, Ann Osteen. In February of 1997, the luxury historic Savannah hotel inn underwent extensive restorations and refurbishment to recreate its original antebellum glory. The Ballastone was awarded the coveted 4 diamond, 4-star designation.
In the next few years, accolades began to adorn this famous boutique hotel, Savannah’s favorite. Featured in a Good Morning America segment as one of the finest inns in America today and in Caviar Affair Magazine as “the most sought-after lodging in a city brimming with great places to stay.” The Savannah Boutique Inn is also one of six distinguished properties showcased on Turner South’s famous getaways. Again in 2012, our historic Savannah mansion inn was honored by readers of ConnectSavannah as the “Best Botique Hotel.” Another mention in AMEX Departures magazine featured the romantic Ballastone Inn boutique hotel in Hot Spots of Savannah. Accolades continue to pour in and Ballastone Inn continues to be one of the stars of Savannah, GA USA.