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The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond Hardcover – October 3, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a fascinating book that shifts perception of Oglethorpe’s Savannah plan dramatically from that of a beautiful but essentially limited example of utopian design to an urban model fully representative of mainstream eighteenth-century intellectual thought.

(Jack Williams, Professor Emeritus, Auburn University, author of East 40 Degrees (Virginia))

Thomas Wilson brings a fresh perspective on the planning accomplishments of James Oglethorpe, situating Savannah’s famous urban plan within the broader framework of Enlightenment philosophy, social reform, religious philanthropy, and agrarian idealism. His study challenges accepted notions of Oglethorpe’s intentions and makes a compelling case for understanding the urban plan of Savannah as part of an integrated system of land use planning. This book will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in the history and planning of American cities.

(Robin Williams, Savannah College of Art and Design)

Wilson is deeply familiar with Savannah.... [His] detailing of this history is serious but accessible, not stuffy or academic. It's a fascinating tour of the potential, and the limits, of design.

(Landscape Architecture Magazine)

To make the familiar unfamiliar is one of the most powerful acts of a historian and Wilson does this. His carefully researched story describes both Oglethorpe’s contribution to the Enlightenment and the rich intellec- tual context for both the idea’s initial generation and its manifestation in Georgia. Wilson successfully chal- lenges the "static portrayal of Oglethorpe’s role in his- tory " and is able to persuasively argue for his contribu- tions to "social reform, political theory, and town plan- ning" (p. 1).The description of Oglethorpe’s efforts to create social equity through physical design remains rel- evant today. In addition, Wilson’s careful analysis points to a frequent misrepresentation of the plan as infinitely expandable, demonstrating instead that there is an ideal scale at which the plan as a whole is optimal.

(Thaisa Way H-Environment)

Wilson considers this philosophy, the present-day physical ambience of Savannah (with 18th-century urban design filled in with 19th-century architecture protected by 20th-century historic preservation districts), and its implications. What can it say to planners today?... Wilson handles both the history and the planning issues with delicacy and precision. Don't miss this treat.

(Planning Magazine)

The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond fills a gap in Georgia colonial history, carving out a place for a contextual history that brings the influence of Oglethorpe, Georgia, and Savannah to the present day through the premise that social change can be rooted in urban design.

(Georgia Library Quarterly)

Wilson's insightful analysis opens new avenues of study regarding the implications of Oglethorpe's timeless design of Savannah, both in its historical context and for current urban planning.

(Georgia Historical Quarterly)

Review

This is a fascinating book that shifts perception of Oglethorpe’s Savannah plan dramatically from that of a beautiful but essentially limited example of utopian design to an urban model fully representative of mainstream eighteenth-century intellectual thought.

(Jack Williams, Professor Emeritus, Auburn University, author of East 40 Degrees )

Thomas Wilson brings a fresh perspective on the planning accomplishments of James Oglethorpe, situating Savannah’s famous urban plan within the broader framework of Enlightenment philosophy, social reform, religious philanthropy, and agrarian idealism. His study challenges accepted notions of Oglethorpe’s intentions and makes a compelling case for understanding the urban plan of Savannah as part of an integrated system of land use planning. This book will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in the history and planning of American cities.

(Robin Williams, Savannah College of Art and Design )

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (October 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813932904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813932903
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Wilson is a planner, author, and independent scholar who resides in Port Royal, South Carolina. He is currently researching the origin of the plan for the Province of Carolina, developed by Anthony Ashley Cooper and the philosopher John Locke; a book on the subject will be entitled The Ashley Cooper Plan. His previous book, The Oglethorpe Plan, was published by University of Virginia Press in September, 2012. Wilson has served as Director of Comprehensive Planning for the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission in Savannah, Georgia; Planning Director for Beaufort County, South Carolina; Research Associate with Florida International University in Miami; Assistant Planning Director for the City of Key West; and Research Associate with the Urban Institute. Plans adopted under Wilson's leadership have received awards in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Previously, he served in the Peace Corps in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Wilson earned a Master of Science in Geography at The Pennsylvania State University in 1976, with emphasis in research methods and regional planning; he holds a Bachelor of Arts from San Diego State University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Norris on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This wonderfully researched probe into the life, education, and influences on James Oglethorpe opens a much broader interpretation of the man's intentions with his, still celebrated, 1733 settlement plan of Savannah known as the Oglethorpe Plan. The author Wilson describes the ordinary and extraordinary opportunities James had while growing up in and educated during the flowering of the intellectual influences of the Enlightenment Age. Not a mere retelling of the history of the times, the story is about Oglethorpe's family and the personal and political intrigue that molded James' character and humanity. Though dense with newly minted detail, the writing is clear and easily comprehended. We find that J.E.O. was a man with high purpose and passion, yet knew better than to advertise his full intentions to those whose politics or faith might have opposed his humanistic experiment in Georgia. Yet, he apparently quietly shared his plans with those of similar and cautious mind. The social reformist discussions are just as controversial and interesting today as they were 300 years ago. And as such, they directly address many of today's community planning issues. After unveiling Oglethorpe's most extraordinary goals for the early Georgian community, Tom Wilson, a veteran urban planner himself, drops those principles directly into the churning waters of the current New Urbanist planning to highlight certain strengths and weaknesses. The book definitely gives J.E. Oglethorpe a boosted profile in the history of planning. And relating the goals of the early Savannah community model to current planning strategies should make for some interesting and constructive dialogue among planners today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. E. Quastler on July 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book about a popular topic
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