There are plenty of historic homes in Savannah, but the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is special in that it tells the entire story of the people who lived there, specifically the enslaved people who built and worked in the home. Instead of focusing on the wealthy homeowners and addressing the enslaved people as an afterthought, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters has made it their mission to fully share the home’s social history.
To show that they were serious, Telfair Museums recently changed the official name of the home from just “The Owens-Thomas House” to “The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.” The museum’s staff and academic consultants worked together to discover the home’s full story, restructuring their entire tour to highlight the stories of both the free and enslaved people who lived and worked there to form a historically accurate narrative.
The New York Times wrote an article about this important name and tour change, and they said the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters sparked a movement within the historic home community. The article said, “Changes in the way history is presented aren’t universal, but changes made by a few houses may inspire others to follow suit. After all, the Nathaniel Russell House as well as a handful of others that are currently rethinking their tours all said they looked to the Owens-Thomas House for lessons in how to do better.”
When you visit the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, you’ll get a guided tour through the home, adjacent gardens, carriage house and slave quarters, which has one of the largest examples of historic “haint blue” paint in the country. You’ll be able to explore period rooms full of exquisite decorative arts, interactive exhibits for all ages, and historic spaces filled with stories of both the free and enslaved people who lived there.
The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters is owned and operated by Telfair Museums, a collection of three iconic Savannah museums with three separate experiences that are all within walking distance to one another. When you buy a ticket for one museum, you get access to touring all three! Click here to get tickets to all three of their gorgeous museums, including the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.