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History

Dresser Palmer House sits on two city lots, which were purchased by Herbert A. Palmer, brother of Samuel Butler Palmer, on September 30, 1868 for $3,500. Samuel Palmer came to Savannah from Darrien, Georgia, with his brother and father to expand their hardware store business. Eventually the store became the largest retail and wholesale hardware store in Savannah, taking up one city block.

It wasn’t until 1876 that the paired homes, then simply numbered as 77 Gaston Street, were built by Aaron Wilber and R. Boyd. At that time, Samuel Palmer and Henry Dresser purchased their respective homes for $5500 each. A wall on the front porch and through the back courtyard divided the two townhouses for privacy. The walls have since been removed, resulting in the longest front porch in Savannah’s historical district. Porches then were called galleries, which is why the inn was previously called the “Gaston Gallery.”

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Samuel Palmer

Samuel Palmer was an ardent supporter of the Confederacy, enlisting as a Corporal in the Chatham Artillery on July 1, 1861. By the time he surrendered at Greensboro, he was a First Lieutenant. Returning to Savannah in 1866, the brothers Samuel and Hebert partnered with a Mr. Deppish and reopened the store as Deppish and Palmer Hardware. Mr. Palmer was very involved in his community, notably as a director of South Bank, a Past Master of Solomon’s Lodge, a member of the Board of Trade, one of the Episcopal Church wardens, and a Grand Juror several times.

Samuel Palmer married twice, with the first marriage producing a daughter and the second a son. Tragically, his first wife died within a year of giving birth. Their daughter died in her teens after succumbing to burns following the igniting of her clothes when she stood too close to a fire. With his second wife, the sister of his commander during the Civil War, he had a son who died at the age of seven. The weight of these losses is said to be the reason he moved about Savannah so often.

One subtle sign of wealth that was common during this time is the brass cap securing the top of the newel post at the foot of the stairs. Homeowners kept their mortgage papers rolled in the hollow center of their newel post for easy retrievalin case of a fire. Mr. Palmer had his screwed shut to make people aware that he did not have a mortgage. The cranberry glass half-moon above the inner doors of the home was another quiet symbol of his wealth. However, the famous waltz-out windows to the balconies and gallery are a sign of thrift, for at that time houses were taxed by the number of doors in the home.

Mr. Palmer died in Savannah at the age of 85 and was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery in 1913.

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Henry Bartlett Dresser

Henry Bartlett Dresser was born on December 23, 1844, in Southbridge, Massachusetts. There he attended public schools and began working at the Central Mills, a business operated by his father. He married Susan Hunt in 1867, but sadly she died the next year. In 1868, Mr. Dresser engaged in the business of buying and selling cotton and moved to Savannah, Georgia, establishing the firm of Randall, Daffin and Dresser. On October 6, 1869, he married Mary Isadore “Isa” Griggs and continued in the cotton business until 1884, when he and the family (Isa, four sons and one daughter) returned to Massachusetts. There Mr. Dresser assumed the position of superintendent of the Central Mill. Mr. Dresser died in 1895 after a prolonged illness. In his obituary it was noted that Mr. Dresser, as a rule, “was at his post at the call of the bell; burdened with the infirmities of disease for months, his faithful spirit and struggling hope and ambition carried him there regularly, as if an absence was a sin and an inexcusable neglect of duty.” He was obviously a well-loved citizen and friend.

The houses passed through many more hands over the years. In 1987 the properties were first referred to as the Gaston Gallery: a small B&B, boarding house and Art Gallery. It was purchased again in 1997 and extensively renovated before being sold to Jeff Notrica of Atlanta.

In June of 2017, Teresa and Mike Jacobson leased the business from Mr. Notrica and have been steadily providing this beautiful lady with the love and care she needs. Today, the Dresser Palmer House is one of Savannah’s premier historical landmarks, perfect for Savannah vacation and wedding accommodations. We invite you to come enjoy the long history and wondrous grandeur of this beautiful property.