The Collins Quarter
Originally constructed in 1836, the historic building at 151 Bull Street is a 4-story Greek revival on the northwest corner of Bull Street and Oglethorpe Avenue. It is a rated structure in the Savannah Historic District. The building’s design type is a Central Hallway plan, and includes a garden level in one portion of the building, recessed beneath the street level. Prior to the recent renovation, it was only accessible from the interior. The building has had an interesting history of interior transformation, but had stood vacant for several years.
In early 2013, the current Collins Quarter tenant renovated the defunct corner space into a vibrant cafe bar and restaurant. The renovation included modification of the existing space to include a new kitchen, accessible toilet, two dining areas (one on the street level and one in the sunken garden level), and a coffee bar with walk-up sidewalk service. The new kitchen required an exhaust hood that presented a design challenge for ducting the exhaust from the sunken garden level up to the roof. In order to preserve the visual integrity of the west façade, the exhaust was ducted internally across the adjacent retail space and up through an internal breezeway, rendering it virtually invisible from the right-of-way. Access to the garden level was reinstated from the exterior with the addition of a new stair in the Oglethorpe Avenue sidewalk.
The demolition phase of the renovation uncovered many of the building’s original features, including transom windows along the south and east facades. Previously concealed by wood panels on the exterior and a dropped acoustic ceiling on the interior, the transom windows were carefully restored to provide increased natural daylight to the dining area as well as to reinstate the original window height. Additionally, two 6-over-9 double-hung windows on the south façade along Oglethorpe Avenue, which were previously shuttered and in disrepair, were restored and replaced, flooding the dining area with even more daylight.
Additional improvements included the replacement of non-historic aluminum storefront entry doors along Bull Street with wood single-lite clear glass doors with a bottom panel and matching sidelight, resetting and replacement of the existing granite step at each entry, and replacement-in-kind of one of the street-level double-hung windows on the west façade, to provide daylight into the garden level dining area. An interior partition wall dividing the space into two separate tenant spaces was removed in order to open up the dining and coffee bar areas into one inviting space. Antique gas lanterns were added at the main entry, and simple black awnings were added along the Bull Street and Oglethorpe facades which respect the newly uncovered transom windows while providing protection for outside dining.
The once wood-paneled and shuttered space has given new purpose to this historic cornerstone. What was a niche retail space has been transformed into a bright, welcoming venue for dining and coffee. The new gathering space has invigorated this prominent downtown corner along the highly regarded Bull Street corridor.