The Front Formal Parlor
This is the Formal Parlor which is more elegantly decorated than the Informal Parlor. The Low’s would have used this room for entertaining and formal calls.
The lower sash of each window on the parlor floor can be raised completely inside the wall above, originally providing access to the small balconies in the front and to the covered balconies on each side of the house. As you can see the covered balcony on the North side is missing. We believe it was removed after bring damaged during the earthquake of 1886. The decorative cast iron grills at those windows were cut from the railing of the missing covered balcony, and placed in the lower portions of the windows to prevent accidental egress.
Noteworthy items in this room include: Grecian Couches or Sofas, a Portrait of Andrew Low, a Pier Mirror, a Pianoforte, and Duncan Phyfe Furniture.
The Informal Parlor
Of interest in this room are: two volumes of Boydell engravings of scenes from Shakespeare Plays, a Ladies Worktable, portraits of Joseph Stiles and Mary Low, and a vitrine displaying some of the family jewelry.
The Dining Room
The dining room table is a family piece. Robert E. Lee dined at it many times as a guest of the family. The French porcelain on the table was made in 1805 for the American market. The Bohemian glass dessert service was ordered by Mary Low’s father while he was serving as U.S. Minister to Austria (1846-1849). The set originally included 144 pieces. His initials, WHS, are etched in the design of each piece.
The portrait over the sideboard is Jessie Low Graham, the youngest daughter of Andrew and Mary Low. Her godfather was Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was painted by Charles Alexander.
The Low Library
The library in a fine house is the room traditionally regarded as the domain of its master.
Here he would have retired to read, tend to personal correspondence, receive gentlemen callers, and perhaps enjoy a glass of his favorite beverage.
Above the mantle is a portrait of the second owner of this house, William Mackay Low, (1860 – 1905), only surviving son of Andrew Low II, who inherited the house upon his father’s death, in June 1886. He was a prominent sportsman in Edwardian England, where he was educated and lived most of his life.
Ascend the Staircase to the Second Floor
The Robert E. Lee Bedroom
The northwest bedroom is where tradition says General Robert E. Lee stayed during the week he spent as Andrew Low’s guest, in April 1870. It is also the room prepared for William Low when he arrived for the mid-November 1886 burial of his father and his marriage to Juliette Gordon.
The mahogany four poster bed dates to about 1820. The foot posts have spiral turning up to acanthus carved tops. The rear posts and the headboard are plain. The bed bolt covers are veneered in figured mahogany.
On the bedside table are a small glass decanter and goblet and a fine colored engraving of General Robert E. Lee in his Confederate uniform, the three star insignia on the collar indicating his rank. He is shown with the full beard that dates from 1862. It is signed, “Your Obt Servt/ R E Lee”.
This room is believed to have been created by subdividing the two adjoining bedrooms. It was probably done in the late 1850’s as the size of the family increased following Andrew Low II’s remarriage and the births of additional children.
Toys in this room include several dolls of the 1850 era. The doll with the wax head was purchased at the Paris Exhibition of 1856 for a little girl in Athens, Georgia. The white dress and cap she is wearing may be from her original wardrobe. A descendant gave her to the Andrew Low House in 1980. A smaller doll, dressed in fashionable adult style belonged to one of the Owens children, who lived in the Owens-Thomas House, just down the street.
William Makepeace Thackeray, the English author, visited Savannah in the course of his lecture tours in 1853 and 1856. On both occasions, he was Andrew Low’s guest and his letters, written to his family in England, during these visits include a word picture of the city and his appreciation of the comforts of this house and the hospitality of his host.
The room is furnished with both style and the usual bedroom comforts of the time … in line with Thackeray’s written account that he was, “staying in the most comfortable quarters he had occupied inAmerica, in the home of his host, Andrew Low, etc.”
The Bathing Room
In 1848 – 1849, few houses in America had a room specifically used for bathing. Indoor plumbing was in its infancy and city water and sewage systems were only gradually appearing. Most houses depended upon a well and manually operated pump for their water supply.
The Andrew Low House was constructed with a system of gutters and downspouts to collect and carry rain water to a large underground cistern in the rear garden. From there, water was manually pumped to a 500 gallon iron cistern in the attic. This cistern is still in place in the attic, directly above the hall ceiling.
The Low Bedroom
The southeast front bedroom is the master bedroom and is furnished as it might have been when Andrew Low II and his second wife, Mary Cowper Stiles, occupied it. (Andrew Low II’s first wife, Sarah Cecil Hunter, had died shortly before the house was completed.) The room is furnished as it might have been during the long, hot, humid Savannah summer season.
The mahogany bed is attributed to Duncan Phyfe. It has a plain headboard but beautifully reeded and carved posts. The feet are brass capped and fitted with castors. Bed hangings are the same cross banded mull used at the windows. It is drawn into a sunburst within the tester frame. The spread is trapunto work, in a pattern of squares, each with the identical design. The pillow shams have lace and embroidery inserts.
This bedroom is furnished as it might have been during the cooler months of the year and contains some Stiles family memorabilia. Mary Low’s mother, Eliza Mackay Stiles, lived in the house for three years following the death of her daughter in June 1863. She undertook managing the household for her son-in-law, Andrew Low II and overseeing the upbringing and health of her four young grandchildren. Surviving letters she wrote to family members during this time provide meaningful glimpses into life in this house between 1863 and 1866. They mention activities and illnesses of her grandchildren and give accounts of conditions in Savannah during and immediately after the War Between the States.