Waving Girl.

Waving Girl

Field review by the editors.

Savannah, Georgia

Florence Martus was 18 years old, living on an island in the mouth of the Savannah River with her lighthouse keeper brother, when she started waving at arriving ships. Sailors grew familiar with the Waving Girl, but the city upstream seemed oblivious to her antics, even though she kept at it for 44 years. She stopped waving only when her brother retired in 1931. By then the Waving Girl was a senior citizen, and she died in obscurity 12 years later.

Savannah posthumously grew to appreciate Waving Girl, even branding itself, "The Hostess City of the South." In 1972 it unveiled a 20-foot-high bronze statue of Florence, in a waterfront park a couple of miles upriver from her lonely island, which is now the property of a Liquified Natural Gas company and off-limits. The statue was sculpted by Felix De Weldon, best known for creating the Iwo Jima Monument. Florence supposedly waved a handkerchief by day and a lantern by night, but Felix's statue depicts her flapping what looks like a dish towel with both hands, accompanied by a noble-looking collie. The original design had Florence with wild hair, bare feet, and a mongrel dog, but the local club that was paying for the statue made the sculptor change all that.

In late 2019 the city council of Savannah approved a plan to move Waving Girl even further upriver. The man proposing the move, Richard Kessler, said that the new site would allow more sailors to see the statue. Kessler also happened to be a real estate millionaire, and the site he'd proposed happened to be one that he was developing, and he also happened to have donated to the campaigns of all five city council members who'd approved the move. The rest of the Savannah was not happy, and launched a petition to keep the statue where it is -- leaving Waving Girl's future as up in the air as her flapping towel.

Also see: Town Ambassadors

Waving Girl

Morrell Park

Address:
E. River St., Savannah, GA
Directions:
Morrell Park. On the east side of downtown, along the riverfront, on the north side of E. River St. just west of E. Broad St.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Graveface MuseumGraveface Museum, Savannah, GA - < 1 mi.
House with Upside-Down WindowsHouse with Upside-Down Windows, Savannah, GA - < 1 mi.
Antique Police CarsAntique Police Cars, Savannah, GA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Fish Art Gallery, Tybee Island, GA - 14 mi.

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August 7, 2020

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