Guest Author - Nick Greene
If you're touring through Savannah, GA and happen upon a bunch of girls and young women in uniform, don't worry. You aren't in the middle of an invasion by an all-female army. The odds are that you're close to a landmark which is very special to the Girl Scouts of America.
Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born in Savannah, Georgia on October 31, 1860. She was educated at Virginia Female Institute (now known as Stuart Hall School) in Staunton, VA. Later she was a student at Mesdemoiselles Charbonniers, a French finishing school in New York City. After school, she traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Already hearing impaired in one ear from improper treatment for a chronic ear infection, Juliette completely lost her hearing in the other ear on her wedding day. A "good luck" piece of rice lodged in her ear, puncturing her eardrum and causing infection.
Neither hearing loss nor her marriage slowed Low down and she continued her travels. Many things may have contributed to their troubles, but she and her husband, William Mackay Low, a wealthy Englishman, were already separated at the time of his death in 1905.
Like many of us even today, Juliette searched for something useful to do with her life. Her search ended in 1911, when she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Later, she returned to the United States and according to her biography on the Girl Scouts web site, made an historic telephone call to a friend (a distant cousin), saying, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" Wasting no time, Juliette Low gathered 18 girls in her home on March 12, 1912, to create the first troop of American Girl Guides, which a year later changed its name to Girl Scouts. The rest, as they say, is history.
And, what a history it is.
Low's birthplace, now a museum, was built in 1821. The house was originally built for Savannah Mayor James Moore Wayne (later an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court). In 1831 he sold the house to Juliette Low’s grandfather. The centerpiece of the Savannah Historic District, the home has been elegantly restored to reflect the 1880s and furnished with many original Gordon family pieces. This includes artwork by Juliette Gordon Low, herself.
Purchased by the Girls Scouts of the USA from the Gordon family in 1953, it was Savannah's first National Historic Landmark. In October 19, 1956, it opened as a program center and historic house museum.
While Girl Scout troops from all across the US visit regularly, there's more to the house than just their programs. Guests not only learn about the extraordinary life of the Girl Scouts remarkable founder, but guided tours provide a taste of Victorian family life.
The Juliette Gordon Low Home is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm. It is closed the first two weeks in January, on Wednesdays from November to February, and some holidays
The Juliette Gordon Low Home (http://www.girlscouts.org/birthplace)
10 East Oglethorpe Avenue
(912) 233 4501