The Mills Bee Lane family was instrumental in the house ballet that moved buildings around Savannah. Those houses have played musical squares and filled in the streetscapes. The Lanes were key players in the rehabilitation of public and private buildings and the squares themselves.
Their renovations, restorations and reconstructions circle Warren Square and expand through the entire Warren Ward and several others.
We’ll take a trip around the wards in the next several blog posts, and we will start where Mills Lane IV planted another of his hand-painted signs.
The John David Mongin House was built on the tithing lot on the southwest corner of Warren Square in 1797. It was moved diagonally east across the corner of the square to the trust lot at 24 Habersham Street. Mills Lane Jr. and his wife, Anne, restored the house from 1965-66. Originally on a higher foundation, they lowered the elevation and added a new portico.
Their son, Mills IV, built a new double house on the lot where the Mongin House originally stood. He recreated the Richard Dennis Tenement that had been on Lincoln Street facing west between Congress and Bryan streets. The square pillars, cast iron, and heavy brick stairs of the Dennis Tenement were probably added in the 1850s. In the recreation, Mills IV planned the front stoop and stairs to reflect the correct style of an 1820s house.
The original Dennis Tenement had been demolished to make way for a parking lot. Lots of the historical fabric of 18th and 19th century Savannah have been lost to the rise of the automotive landscape. A parking lot today covers the west trust lots of Warren Square. Even the actual squares were threatened more than once as people wanted to dismantle barriers to speed.
This tour works better as a stroll.
Rexanna Keller Lester is working on a book about Mills Bee Lane IV and his preservation legacy.
For more on architecture and the history of the South, click on the “Books” tab at the top of the page.