The Riverside Station, Savannah’s first modern power plant, was built in 1912 to cater to the city’s 20th-century hunger for electricity. At the time of its completion, the plant was hailed as a modern marvel, one of the most impressive engineering undertakings in the American South that pushed Savannah into the electric age with grace and confidence. For the next 95 years, you’d be hard-pressed to find more magnificent and iconic power stations south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
But by 2005, the need for an enormous power station to keep lights on for the Hostess City of the South waned, and Riverside Station was decommissioned. New methods were introduced, and it seemed like the historic plant was approaching an appointment with the wrecking ball.
But this isn’t a story of destruction, it’s a story of rebirth. In 2012, the Kessler Collection, an organization that buys and renovates historic buildings around coastal Georgia, scooped the property up with big plans. In 2017, ground was broken for a multi-million dollar reconstruction that would turn the former power plant into a grand hotel. By 2020, the dream had been realized, and the 4.5-acre plot had become a jewel of the Savannah waterfront, a shimmering hotel that incorporated elements of the power plant, like the iconic smokestacks.
While the exterior of the hotel is nice, it’s the inside that truly captivates visitors. A colossal chrome dinosaur skeleton sits triumphantly above the lobby, with soaring pterodactyls alongside. The lobby has abandoned its roots of electrical engineering and become a museum of sorts showcasing dozens of dazzling geological wonders. Towering slabs of amethyst, enormous calcium deposits, and that’s not all!
The lobby also boasts an impressive collection of paleolithic remnants, like the tusks of a mammoth, the skeleton of a prehistoric bear, and some of the largest chunks of meteorite on display in the United States.
Savannah residents have embraced the new hotel, happy that it has not only been preserved but transformed into such a cool attraction. And if archaeology isn’t your cup of tea, the lobby is also home to bars, art galleries, and jewelry vendors to entertain and delight.
Know Before You Go
Walking around the lobby is completely free.