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Canal  District


Completed in 2022, this project came on the heels of the Canal District Master Plan undertaken by the City of Savannah, which identified the need for a cultural and historic resource survey of the area. The ‘Canal District’ is a new name for the area, which covers approximately 300 acres of low-lying land with nearby wetlands that is intersected by historic canals and segregated by interstates and railroads, just west of downtown Savannah. At the heart of the survey boundary sits a new municipal arena with other improvements planned for the area. Uncovering the history and development of the area to provide a greater understanding of the area’s history was of great urgency. For the largely African-American community that settled in the area in the early-20th century, the public recognition of the significance of the area is important. 


The Ethos team utilized county tax records and GIS data to narrow the list of 335 buildings to a list of 192 determined to be historic during a field survey. Using the EpiCollect5 app, current photos, architectural forms, and styles were identified for all 192 properties. Additionally, Ethos engaged with local neighborhood associations and conducted interviews with several elders. Extensive archival and historic map research was conducted to document the layers of history, continuity, community identity, and resilience of the area. 

The document includes recommendations regarding historical interpretation and future preservation efforts for the City’s planning and consideration. The recommendations were developed through a combination of known best-practices in municipal preservation and community input on the stories and places they value. For this effort, Ethos was assisted by consultant Ellie Isaacs.

The Phase One report was the recipient of a 2022 Georgia Planning Association Award for Outstanding Planning Document. 

Phase two of the project surveyed Collat's Quarters, Little Mexico, and the rest of the Waterworks neighborhood, areas not covered in phase one. Ethos collected additional historical information and resident interviews to further expand the history and recordation of the Canal District area to inform preservation recommendations.

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