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  • Writer's pictureGM Shay

The Oglethorpe Laboratory

James Edward Oglethorpe had a grand master plan. Grounded in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, it was more than just a map of town lots and squares. Spatial equality, agrarian industry, challenge, opportunity and a just society based upon merit and not privilege: these goals would create a new world!

Tom Wilson’s excellent scholarly book, The Oglethorpe Plan, explains how and why Gen. Oglethorpe organized one of America’s noblest adventures. Founding Georgia was a military strategy, a way to reform debtor’s prisons, and a detailed plan to invent the world over again. It should be read by every Savannah preservationist, planner and politician.

Tom recently donated his research library of books, maps, papers and manifests to Gunn Meyerhoff Shay Architects to preserve it and make it available to those interested in making sure that this grand master plan remains relevant to 21st Century architects, planners and preservationists. Tom came to our offices at 12 East Bay Street and dedicated what will be known from now on as The Oglethorpe Laboratory, as a place for practical research. Now open by appointment, this resource will made available to those interested in Savannah’s past and future.

Given such a great master plan, have we gone astray from the founding principles? The Oglethorpe Laboratory will be asking this and other hard questions relevant to the critical moment we find now. If you are interested in helping to develop answers, please contact us here, and join in. To see a complete lists of works, click here.


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