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Celebrating in style with the Georgia Historical Society

An English Rose in Georgia

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POSTED: March 6, 2018 1:40 p.m.
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Lesley Francis grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009.

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My husband has travelled a lot in his career and has several million miles with Delta Airlines. So when Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian was inducted as a trustee into the Georgia Historical Society at their 10thAnniversary Trustees Gala, he and I were invited to join the Delta team at the event.

Trustee is the highest honor the state of Georgia can bestow on its citizens, so when Ed – along with Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power – were inducted by Gov. Nathan Deal, we were really delighted to be there.

The elegant gala, complete with historically appropriate food, cocktails, décor and actors dressed as court jesters, was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Savannah and was part of the 2018 Georgia History Festival.

This event is designed to pay tribute to modern-day Georgians whose lives and history-making accomplishments best represent the motto of the founding trustees of Georgia, “Not for self, but for others.”

This governing body was chartered and appointed by his majesty King George II of England in 1732 to establish a new colony in America, famously included James Oglethorpe. The group governed the colony until 1752, when Georgia became a royal colony, and this lasted through to U.S. independence later that century.

The group was re-established 10 years ago and the 20 modern-day Georgia trustees who have been appointed to date were displayed in colorful banners throughout the room where the event was held. There is more information at

Sure, I loved the elegant reception and dinner, as well as chatting with Gov. Deal and sharing jokes with Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach. However, aside from enjoying the great event, I got genuinely excited by being part of this historical occasion – I really love this stuff.

My university degree from the British University of Bristol is in history, and one of the reasons I fell in love with Savannah 15 years ago is the city’s historical preservation. I also admit that the region’s colonial history links to England appealed as well.

Savannah is appropriately headquarters for two powerhouses of historical endeavor: not only is the Georgia Historical Society based in Coastal Georgia but also the more locally focused Historic Savannah Foundation. In my view, Savannah would simply not be Savannah without this organization.

The mission of Historic Savannah Foundation is to save buildings, places and stories that define Savannah's past, present and future. It all began in the 1950s when historic downtown was largely abandoned and literally falling down in places.

Developers were moving in as historic structures often fell to the wrecking ball. The 1954 destruction of the old City Market, which had stood on Ellis Square since the late 1800s, to build an ugly municipal parking garage, created the rallying cry for historic preservation in Savannah.

The impending destruction of the Isaiah Davenport House the following year, a beautiful 1820s brick home on Columbia Square, famously led to Anna Colquitt Hunter and her group of six women to saving the house and founding Historic Savannah Foundation.

They changed the future by protecting the city’s past, and today Savannah has an international reputation for historic preservation. This has led to our region’s billion-dollar tourist industry. There is more information at

I will leave you this week with the mission of the Georgia Historical Society, which I heartily endorse, “We believe in the value of history, that public knowledge of our past is fundamental to our future, (and) our shared history is what binds us together as Americans.”

God bless America, Georgia and Savannah! 

Lesley grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at or at

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