The History of The Pirates’ House

Savannah’s Famous Pirates’ House is located on one of the most historic spots in Georgia. It is here that Trustee’s Garden, the first public agricultural experimental garden in America, was located. Around 1753, when Georgia had become firmly established and the need for the experimental garden no longer existed, the site was developed as a residential section. Since Savannah had become a thriving seaport town, one of the first buildings constructed on the former garden site was naturally an inn for visiting sailors.

Situated a scant block from the Savannah River, the inn became a rendezvous for pirates and visiting sailors from the Seven Seas. The building remained intact through the centuries, but lost its spark and had fallen into disuse after World War II.

The property was acquired by the Savannah Gas Company in 1945 and the dilapidated building was slated for demolition. It was saved by Mrs. Mary Hillyer, wife of the president of the company Mr. Hansell Hillyer. Mary, along with some other local ladies, took it upon themselves to restore General Oglethorpe’s vision of Savannah. This meant that our beloved Pirates’ House received it’s first restoration treatment under the magic wand of Mrs. Hillyer. With great imagination, perseverance, and skill she was able to save the building and renovate it into the restaurant it is today.

Founding to Present

1733 Founding of Savannah

General James Edward Oglethorpe & his colonists arrived from England, they came ashore in the vicinity of present day City Hall on Bull & Bay Streets.
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1733 The Trustees Garden

Less than four months after his arrival in Savannah, General Oglethorpe established 10 acres for the first public agricultural experimental garden in America.
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1734 The Herb House

Said to be the oldest standing structure in the state of Georgia, the Herb House originally housed the gardener of the Trustees’ Garden.
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1753 The Inn and Tavern

As Savannah became a thriving seaport town, the Trustees’ Garden became a residential section & one of the first buildings was an inn & tavern for visiting sailors.
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1883 Treasure Island

The beloved book by Scotsman, Robert Louis Stevenson, is first published and mentions a pirate by the name of Captain John Flint.
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1945 Mrs. Mary Hillyer and the Savannah Gas Company

Two centuries after the Trustees’ Garden was established, the entire area was slated for demolition by the Savannah Gas Company.
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1953 Herbert Smith Traub Jr. and James T. Casey

Savannah institution & visionary leader Herb Traub & his business partner Jim Casey first opened The Pirates’ House in 1953 as a tea room.
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1990s Hannahs East: Ben Tucker
and Emma Kelly

Before it became our Gift Shop, the upstairs area of The Pirates’ House was a prominent Jazz club ran by two famous locals.
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Present The World Famous Pirates’ House

Today, The Pirates’ House welcomes many visitors from around the world!
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