For Immediate Release
Date: May 4, 2016
WHAT: City officials and members of the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group will officially unveil a series of interpretive panels telling the unique story of the Cluskey Embankment Stores (commonly referred to as the Cluskey Vaults). The history panels provide an overview of the history of the vaults, architect Charles Cluskey, and the archaeology project and its findings. An exhibit of recovered artifacts from the vaults is currently on display in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall and will be available on the afternoon of the unveiling.
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2016
WHERE: Drayton Street Ramp, east of City Hall
WHO: The event will be hosted by the City of Savannah Research Library & Municipal Archives
WHAT ELSE: The Cluskey Embankment Stores, completed in 1842, were designed by architect Charles B. Cluskey (architect of the 1837 Medical College in Augusta and the 1839 Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville) and built as part of a larger public works project of the City to construct retaining walls along the bluff above Factors Walk and River Street to prevent erosion. The brick structures have been used for a variety of purposes over the past 170 years, primarily as storage vaults. In 1962, they were documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by the National Park Service, and they are included as a contributing structure in the Savannah Historic District’s National Historic Landmark designation (1966) and National Register of Historic Places designation (1969). The Cluskey Embankment Stores are one of the oldest historical structures owned by the City, predating City Hall, Police Headquarters, and the Thomas Gamble Building.
In 2011, members of the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group became concerned about the vaults and undertook an historical research project. Based on their findings, they presented to City Council in February 2012 a list of recommendations which included discontinuing parking in the vaults, continuing historical research and undertaking an archaeological investigation to learn more about how the vaults were utilized over time. In 2012-2013, the City partnered with Georgia Southern University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology to undertake an archaeological investigation, including extensive historical research, onsite excavation, and curation of archaeological artifacts. Excavations included a series of public work days open to area youth interested in learning more about archaeology. Throughout the project, the Shinhoster Youth Leadership Group remained involved and invested, learning about historical research, archaeology, community leadership, and seeing a project through to completion.