The Olde Pink House History: Why Is It Pink?

The Olde Pink House is one of the most iconic restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, and one of the city's most notable historic landmarks. However, upon visiting this historic building, you might ask yourself, "Why is the Olde Pink House pink?"

The Olde Pink House actually has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1770s — and, spoiler alert — it wasn't always painted pink! Keep reading to learn more about the interesting background of this famous house and how it eventually acquired the iconic pink hue it's known for today.

Habersham House

A charming pink two-story building with a classic British feel, showcasing an entrance flanked by columns and steps leading up to a black front door.

The Olde Pink House, originally known as the Habersham House, was built in 1771 on Abercorn Street next to Reynolds Square. Construction was interrupted by the American Revolutionary War in the mid-1770s, but the Habersham Family eventually moved into the mansion by 1779.

James Habersham, a prominent figure in Savannah, was the original owner of the Olde Pink House. Despite being a British loyalist, his three sons took up arms as Patriots, fighting against British rule. James died in 1799, leaving the home to his eldest son, James Habersham Jr.

During his time in the mansion, James Habersham Jr. encountered an interesting problem. The mansion, built with red bricks and covered with white plaster, would turn a pinkish color after it would rain. Habersham Jr. painted over the white plaster with white paint to dull the pinkish shade, but it was impossible to eliminate. However, the red bricks did serve the home well. The Olde Pink House endured the Savannah Fire in 1796 when hundreds of other wood buildings burnt to the ground.

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The Olde Pink House Timeline

Before it became a restaurant, the Olde Pink House served other purposes after the descendants of James Habersham sold it. In 1812, the building became the first bank in Georgia, called Planters Bank, and remained in service until after the Civil War. The mansion was also used as a bookstore and an attorney's office before it was sold to Alida Harper-Fowlkes in the 1930s.

Alida Harper-Fowlkes embraced the pink hue of the Olde Pink House. Instead of trying to paint over the bricks, she painted the mansion the iconic, bright pink color it is known for today. She turned the mansion into a tea house. In the 1940s, Jim Williams — the owner of the famous (and haunted!) Mercer-Williams House from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, one of the most famous movies filmed in Savannah — purchased and restored the Olde Pink House.

Jim Williams sold the mansion to Herschel McCallar and Jeffrey Keith in the 1970s, who added modern electricity and plumbing and made slight changes to the basement, staircase, tavern, and kitchen without compromising the home's historic charm. They also opened up an antique shop on the second floor. Many of the remaining antiques, acquired from England, can be seen today when dining at the Olde Pink House and help give the property its authentic look and charming ambiance.

The Olde Pink House Today

A gourmet dish is presented on a white plate, featuring a stacked ensemble that includes a crispy-looking, golden-brown potato cake topped with a dollop of sour cream, garnished with finely chopped green onions and red bell peppers. The base layer consists of a bed of frisée and purple-hued leaves, likely a mix of gourmet salad greens.

The Olde Pink House opened as a restaurant in 1971. Keith sold the property to William and Elizabeth Balish in 1992, two years after McCallar's death. The Balish family kept the mansion running as a restaurant, and their daughter, Donna Moeckel, is the current owner of the Olde Pink House.

Today, the Olde Pink House is one of Savannah's most popular, can't-miss restaurants — in fact, it's practically impossible to get a table without a reservation!

The Olde Pink House serves traditional southern food with a refined twist, signature spirits, and specialty cocktails, and its historic ambiance and charming antiques make it one of the most famous restaurants in Savannah, Georgia. Because of its haunted history, it is also a popular spot on Savannah ghost tours.

Stay with South Key Management and Make Reservations at the Olde Pink House for a Memorable Savannah Vacation

If you're traveling to Savannah, GA, soon, remember to make reservations at the Olde Pink House. Enjoying a delicious, southern-style dinner and ordering a drink from the bar in this beautiful, historic mansion is one of Savannah's best experiences and shouldn't be missed.

If you're still looking for somewhere to stay in Savannah's Historic District, we'd love to invite you to explore our vacation rentals. Like the Olde Pink House, our vacation homes offer historic charm with modern amenities and renovated interiors to provide the authentic Savannah experience. Browse our properties to find the perfect home for your stay, and contact us with any questions!

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