President Calvin Coolidge came to the Coastal Empire in 1928 at the invitation of his friend Howard Coffin. Coolidge appointed Coffin to the 1916 Morrow Board to help create a national air defense system and determine the federal government’s role in air safety.
Coffin owned 12,000 acres on Sapelo Island and built himself an enormous mansion. He then bought Sea Island, where he constructed the soon-famous Cloisters Resort. President and Mrs. Coolidge were his guests for its grand opening gala in December 1928. As such, the Coolidges stopped off in Savannah briefly.
President Herbert Hoover and his wife came south to Savannah on Dec. 24, 1932, where they expected to board the presidential yacht Sequoia for a fishing trip vacation. Arriving by train, they were met at the station by Mayor Thomas Hoynes and his wife.
The Hoover party went straight to Savannah’s docks, where M.O. Dunning’s yacht Miramar waited to carry them to the Sequoia. Also present in the Hoover party was Supreme Court Justice Harlan F. Stone and U.S. Sen. Warren Austin and their wives.
While offshore, they took the time to stop for two private Christmas parties: the first at H.N. Torrey’s vacation home on Ossabaw Island, and the second at Howard E. Coffin’s palatial mansion on Sapelo Island.
When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced plans to visit Savannah on Nov. 18, 1933, only nine months after his inauguration, the city was beside itself.
City Hall received so many requests for tickets to hear Roosevelt speak at Municipal Stadium during the closing ceremonies of the bicentennial celebration of Georgia’s founding that they allowed the Chamber of Commerce organize the event.
The day before Roosevelt’s arrival, the city announced, “All persons with reserved seat tickets are to be in their place and seated at 9:30 or the right to a reserve seat will be lost.”
Roosevelt’s party arrived at Savannah’s Union Station, where he was met by Mayor Thomas Gamble, Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge and Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, Richard B. Russell and Walter F. George.
The president’s open-air limo drove through the city as the bells of St. John’s Church pealed out “America.” His motorcade entered the stadium through a private entrance, where a capacity crowd of 40,000 awaited.
Inside, the Army’s 8th Infantry band and a 600-member choir had roused the audience’s patriotic fervor. Within minutes, a 21-gun salute announced Roosevelt’s arrival.
Roosevelt made his way to the platform as batteries of photographers snapped away, while an estimated 15,000 school children stood at attention on the field, waving American flags.
As Roosevelt spoke, millions of Americans around the country listened to the broadcast, in which he promised better times ahead and spoke of a peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at email@example.com.