Dec. 3—SAVANNAH — The Georgia Historical Society has announced that the GHS Research Center in Savannah will re-open to the public on Jan. 19. The re-opening follows a successful renovation and expansion that enables GHS to continue to fulfill its mission to collect, examine, and teach Georgia history for generations to come.
The largest capital project in the history of GHS, the large-scale renovation and expansion of the existing facility included a new archival wing and updates to the historic GHS Reading Room and Abrahams Archival Annex. Additional improvements included renovated and reconfigured spaces for archival processing, digitization, and specialized storage and updates to security, ventilation, and fire suppression systems.
The project was led by Laura García-Culler, executive vice president and COO of the Georgia Historical Society, and GHS Associate Director of Administration Beth Robinson. Lynch Associates Architects and JTVS Builders Inc. were the principal construction partners, with Lisa Garriss as the interior designer.
"We're grateful to our project partners that helped to complete the once-in-a-generation renovation and expansion of the GHS Research Center," García-Culler said. "Their talented craftsmanship represents an extraordinary contribution to Savannah's architectural landscape while helping to preserve one of the oldest library buildings in the United States. We're deeply grateful for all that they've done to revive this grand historic facility, which will help GHS to continue to fulfill our statewide educational and research mission for many years to come."
The GHS Research Center houses the institution's Library and Archives and is home to the oldest collection of Georgia history materials in the nation — 5 million manuscripts, documents, photographs, rare books and artifacts. It is used by more than 60,000 researchers each year, ranging from professional historians to teachers and documentary filmmakers such as the History Channel, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the BBC.
The GHS Research Center consists of three adjoining buildings constructed over three centuries of Georgia history — Hodgson Hall (1876), the Abrahams Archival Annex (1970), and the new archival wing (2021).
Dedicated in 1876, Hodgson Hall serves as the Reading Room, archival processing space and offices of the Research Center. Designed by the American Institute of Architects founder Detlef Lienau, Hodgson Hall is one of the oldest purpose-built library buildings in the U.S. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was a gift of Margaret Telfair Hodgson and Mary Telfair as a memorial to William B. Hodgson, a prominent Savannah citizen, American diplomat and scholar of Eastern cultures.
In 1970, the Georgia Historical Society expanded the Research Center with the construction of the Abrahams Archival Annex, a much-needed modern addition in which to house and care for its ever-growing archival collection. Over the next half-century, the pace of growth continued, so that by 2015 the Abrahams Archival Annex was approaching capacity. In order to maintain the momentum, construction of the new archival wing was launched in 2019, making it the third addition to the facility.
"With the completion of this much-needed capital project, the Georgia Historical Society is well-positioned to continue its nearly 200-year mission to collect Georgia history and create new knowledge that helps build a better future," W. Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society, said. "I want to commend Laura García-Culler, Beth Robinson, and our team for this remarkable accomplishment and thank our dedicated and generous donors, without whom none of this could have been achieved."
The three-year, $5 million renovation and expansion project was made possible through the generosity of corporations, foundations, and individuals from Atlanta, Savannah, and across the state, whose leadership, vision, and generosity will enable GHS to preserve Georgia's documentary legacy for future education and research. Several supporters made leadership level gifts, including The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, The Delta Air Lines Foundation, Beth and Tommy Holder, The Frances and Beverly DuBose Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Jepson Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John F. McMullan, The Anschutz Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Blake, The Correll Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Haynes III, and The Williams Family Foundation of Georgia. A complete list of supporters may be found online.
Georgia Historical Society is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation. Founded in 1839, the Georgia Historical Society is the oldest continuously operated historical society in the South.
For additional information regarding the renovation, expansion, and re-opening of the GHS Research Center, contact Director of Communications Patricia Meagher at (912) 651-2125, extension 153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.