Rotary Club of Savannah
Presented at the Rotary Club of Savannah, June 13, 2011 meeting
Presented by Rotarian Henry Whitfield
The Rotary Club of Savannah and the Lighting of our Squares and
Parks – A Tribute to Rotarian Herb Traub, Jr.
Thank you President Trey. Today I have the honor and pleasure of reporting
on a multi-year project of our Rotary Club of Savannah. First, I give credit
for recording of this project to our Club Historian, Past President, Past
Secretary, Past Sergeant at Arms, Past Director, Paul Harris Fellow, and
Will Watt Fellow. For those of you that don’t know, all those titles describe
one person, and that person is Chuck Powell, who does such a remarkable
job as our Club Historian. Today I am simply reporting so that you will
know “the rest of the story.”
The historical records of the Rotary Club of Savannah document the club’s
long-term interest in providing leadership and funding to light the “jewels
of Savannah.” In this case, I am not referring to Levy Jewelers. No offense
Aaron and Lowell. The reference of these “jewels of Savannah,” is to
our historic squares and parks. This persistent community service project,
spanning over 57 years, began in 1948 and continued until the celebration
of Rotary International’s 100th Anniversary in 2005, when the club
purchased, installed and dedicated the large street clock in City Market to
commemorate Rotary’s founding.
The earliest mention of this community service project is from the
President’s annual report of 1948-49, under President Joseph Mendel,
where the Community Service committee chairman Rotarian Strom Trosdal
reported, “Various civic clubs and organizations were endeavoring to light
the squares in Savannah and the Rotary Club was assigned Chippewa Square
which was lighted by the club at a cost of approximately $500.” Apparently
the purpose of these early projects was simply to provide street lights for
the squares. As we will see, later efforts focused on lighting the historical
monuments within the squares and parks.
From 1948 to until the early 1970’s, there is no mention of the continuation
of the lighting project, yet, something did happen during that time which
had a great impact on the future of this community work – Herb Traub, Jr.
(Slide) joined our club in late 1962 under the classification of “Restaurants”.
Herb’s ownership and development of the tourist- attracting “Pirate’s House
Restaurant” in historical downtown Savannah certainly sparked his interest
in the idea of a Rotary community service project that would benefit both
citizens and visitors alike. Going beyond the idea of just providing street
lighting, Herb embarked on a well-thought-out plan to illuminate all of
the historical statues in the squares. In the late 1960’s, through the use
of “acquaintance as an avenue of service”, Herb engaged Savannah Park &
Tree Commissioner and fellow Rotarian Sam Monk and other Rotarians to
create a plan to launch this ambitious project.
By 1971, the “Light-Up Savannah” project completed its first lighting in
Savannah’s first square, Johnson Square in front of City Hall, as the lights
were turned on to illuminate the Greene Memorial obelisk. From this point
on, year after year, under the leadership of Rotarian Herb Traub, the Rotary
Club of Savannah continued to light the monuments in one square a year.
By 1976, the illuminations were completed in Wright Square (Gordon
Monument, Tomo Chi-Chi’s Rock), Chippewa Square (Oglethorpe’s
Statue), Madison Square (Sgt. Jasper Statue), and Monterey Square
(Pulaski’s Monument), thus lighting all the squares on Bull Street. Next,
the club paid for the installation of lighting for the John Wesley Statue in
Reynolds Square and the Waving Girl Statue on River Street.
(Slide – Map) This map of historic Savannah depicts the squares and parks
with which our Rotary Club of Savannah took the lead role in lighting.
(Slide) – This slide depicts several of the squares. You will notice
- On the lower left – Johnson Square
- Lower right – Monterey Square (Pulaski’s Monument)
- Upper Right – Wright Square (Gordon Monument)
- Upper Left – Reynolds Square (John Wesley Monument)
- In the Center – The Waving Girl on River Street
The “jewel in the crown” of this community service project was the
expensive underwater lighting of the Fountain in Forsyth Park, (Slide)
an $18,000+ gift from Rotary to the City of Savannah. Rotary President
Jim Piette and Savannah’s Mayor John Rousakis (with Herb discreetly in
the background) threw the switch to ceremoniously light the fountain on
December 29, 1977. By this time the Rotary Club had invested a total of
$35,000+ in the lighting projects.
It would be a mistake to think that Rotarian Herb Traub was done with this
project. He continued to keep this lighting and enhancement of our public
places project moving forward with new objectives and goals. A short list of
lighting projects undertaken and completed by the Rotary Club from 1979
through 2004 included the Rotary Wheel Monument on Bull Street, the
Confederate Monument and the Spanish-American Monument in Forsyth
Park, the Fountain in Emmett Park, the Washington Guns on Bay Street and
the Lion Fountain in front of the Old Savannah Cotton Exchange.
Herb raised funds for all these projects through his contacts with the
members of the Rotary Club of Savannah and their respective businesses.
Our current weekly Rotary Raffle was started by Herb to create a seed fund
for these on-going service projects. For many years, Herb singlehandedly
conducted the weekly raffle, giving him a chance to promote the projects
one-on-one with his fellow Rotarians.
When we learned that the 1996 Sailing Olympics would be hosted by
Savannah, Herb immediately saw another opportunity to motivate Rotarians
and the City to plan more public projects. This time, working with many
other Rotary clubs in the Savannah area, Herb raised the funds to completely
renovate the lake area of Daffin Park (Slide) with lighting, large illuminated
spraying fountains, walk paths and sidewalks, picnic benches and tables,
the re-location and lighting of the World War II Memorial and the crowning
achievement of a new gazebo on the lake’s island topped with a bronze
sculpture commemorating the Sailing Olympics. The cost of this public
service project exceeded the $100,000 mark.
Finally, the last project in this series and Herb’s final project before his
death was the $15,000 installation of a large street clock in City Market
(Slide). Shown in this slide with the clock are the then living 21 Presidents
of our Rotary Club of Savannah. The clock, which chimes on the hour, was a
gift from the area Rotary clubs to the City, commemorating the founding of
Rotary International, one hundred years ago on February 5, 1905 in Chicago,
Illinois. The clock was dedicated in early 2006 and Herb Traub died in
Herb Traub’s 45 years of service to his community and the Rotary Club of
Savannah can be seen and experienced all over the city he loved – Savannah.
Take an evening stroll down Bull Street from City Hall to the beautifully lit
Fountain in Forsyth Park…….and listen for the street clock to chime at nine.
Herb would be pleased.