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Best of Savannah 2012: City Life
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Best Bachelor

Drew McCullough

Best Bachelorette

Happy McCullough

When Happy McCullough instigated a campaign among her friends to lobby for her brother, Drew, as Connect Savannah’s Best Bachelor, she had no idea those friends might also fill in her name as Best Bachelorette.

“I did it to him, but I didn’t know they were going to do it to me!” exclaims the 23 year–old event planner. “I was just trying to tell people about the nicest guy I know.”

Drew, 25, admits he was “extremely mortified” when he learned about the honorific, but is glad his little sister must share the stage with him.

The longtime Ardsley Park residents and Georgia Southern grads insist that they’re perfectly content with their single statuses but are open to dating low–key, friendly types. Happy says her perfect gentleman would be family–oriented and can make her laugh. For Drew, honesty and kindness are key in a prospective girlfriend. Anyone looking to make time with either of them had better enjoy spending long afternoons on the water.

“Both of our first cars were boats,” explains Drew, adding that seasickness is a dealbreaker.

Picky eaters also need not apply, as the McCulloughs come from a long line of serious foodies. Both say a perfect date might involve a casual day on the boat or a nice dinner in town, but agree that “there definitely has to be good food involved.”

When it comes to dating, the brother and sister duo also count fitting into their adoring family as a high priority.

“My grandmother is a big part of my life,” says Happy. “If she wouldn’t approve, it’s not happening.” — JLL

Best Historic Building

Owens–Thomas House

Strangely and somewhat frustratingly in a town so full of amazing historic buildings, City Hall typically wins this category. Not that City Hall isn’t a great building, but it can’t compare to the Owens–Thomas House, typically considered the finest example of Regency architecture in the South, if not the entire country. 
The O–T House is having a banner year attendance–wise — truly one of the great Savannah tourism success stories — and it’s nice to see its historic provenance appreciated by the community.

Runner–up:  Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Best Public Space

Forsyth Park

Savannah’s answer to Central Park, with Spanish moss.

Runner–up: Ellis Square

Building Most in Need of Revitalization

Old Candler Hospital

Happy news: The old hospital actually will be revitalized, when the John Marshall Law School installs its operations there after its recent purchase of it.

Runner–up: Drayton Tower & Sorry Charlie’s

Best Neighborhood to Live in

Ardsley Park

Massive drainage improvements and better square maintenance have certainly helped.

Runner–up: Historic District

Most Underrated Neighborhood

Baldwin Park

A new Bohemian center with expanding retail/restaurant opportunities.

Runner–up: Ardsley Park

Best Place of Worship

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The spiritual home of Savannah’s Irish community actually has its roots in the emigration of French Catholic nobility in the wake of the Haitian revolution.

Runner–up: Savannah Christian Church

Best Pastor

Reverend Billy Hester

Under Hester’s stewardship, Asbury United Methodist Church has garnered a congregation of open–minded, talented people who wield great cultural and social influence throughout the city.

Runner–up: Father Patrick O’Brien

Best Private School

St. Vincent’s Academy

Best Principal

Mary Anne Hogan

A historic Catholic girl’s school in a historic locale, SVA has quietly built an outstanding academic reputation under Ms. Hogan’s tutelage.

Runner–up: Savannah Christian Preparatory School

Best Public School

Savannah Arts Academy

Just voted one of the top 100 public high schools in the entire country – the only school in Georgia so honored – SAA has built a reputation not only for cultural achievement, but extremely high academic achievement as well.

Runner–up: Charles Elllis

Best Tour Company

Old Town Trolleys

These are the orange and green ones, by the way, offering many different tours, including the popular ‘Ghosts & Gravestones’ trip.

Runner–up: Old Savannah Tours

Best Local Revitalization

SCAD Museum of Art

Lighting up the Savannah skyline like a great green lantern, the Savannah College of Art and Design’s new Museum of Art rises from the rubble of history.

Once the site of Central Georgia Railroad Headquarters from where African slaves and Irish immigrants built a line from Savannah to Macon in the 1840s, the building housed Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. It’s fitting justice that it now contains one of the finest African American art collections in the country, courtesy of Dr. Walter O. Evans. SCAD president Paula Wallace called it an example of “living history” at the opening ceremony last fall.

Lead architect Christian Sottile confirms that every brick in the new structure is original to the crumbling structure that had sat for almost two centuries. He and the building team reclaimed everything they could salvage from the site itself, including heart pine beams that were milled for the wooden panels in the 250–seat auditorium. The intent was to practice responsible building techniques at the same time as honoring the site’s difficult history.

“The humanity is everywhere, especially in the materials, from each reclaimed brick that embodies a story and the blue stone that required a human hand to refine,” the Dean of Building Arts told Connect in “Soul and the City,” an interview earlier this year.

With its jalousied glass tower and clean concrete lines, SCADMOA is also a contemporary architectural marvel. Galleries featuring some of the most provocative names in modern art revolve their exhibitions every six months, but as Sottile indicated in his internew, the light it brings to Savannah shines constant:

“This building takes us into a new era of asking questions of how history informs the present and future. When you inherit a ruin, what to do you do with it? What if you created something interdependent on the past, present and future and that’s what illuminates the way forward?” — JLL

Best Free Wi–Fi Spot


This corporation has realized that surfers aren’t loiterers but a core target market.

Runner–up: Gallery Espresso

Best Benefit/Gala

Friends of Statts Block Party

“I have great friends,” 38-year-old Jason Statts told us in the spring. “It’s crazy. I have tons of friends. I never knew I had that many friends, and I had no clue they would take it this far.”

He was talking about the five-club, 30-band “block party” held on April 14, organized by his closest buds to help defray his mounting medical costs.

On a late night in June, 2008, Statts was the victim of an armed robbery. Shot through the neck, he was left a quadriplegic.

“I’m glad I wasn’t an asshole,” he joked in the Connect story.

Far from it. Dave Williams, who was also shot in the incident, but made a nearly-full recovery, said that the event’s organizers were simply giving back.

“He’s always been a really good, solid dude,” Williams says. “He’s always been super–nice — but he’s not a pushover. He’ll do anything for anybody, within reason. You’ve got to earn it, but once you’ve earned that trust, he’s there for you until the end. And I think all of that put together is the reason why everybody loves and respects him so much.”

Runner–up: Telfair Ball 

Best Street Character

Forrest Gump

John Sandifer actually works for Old Savannah Tours but does his best to fool tourists into thinking he’s Tom Hanks.

Best Celebrity Sighting in Town

Paula Deen

Some of us at the office have actually been around town long enough to remember when Paula wasn’t even considered a celebrity here.

Runner–up: Sandra Bullock

RIP: Local Person You’ll Miss the Most

Otis Brock III

Departing this world suddenly and tragically at the young age of 41, the chief operations officer of the Savannah/Chatham Public School system not only capably and honestly administered a huge budget, he was routinely mentioned as a future civic leader of the city, perhaps school board president or even mayor.