The Cotton Sail Hotel
Originally constructed in 1852, the building currently occupied by the Cotton Sail Hotel was once a cotton warehouse spanning Savannah’s historic Factor’s Walk. Prior to its purchase by the current owner in 2011, the building was vacant for several years. Its current incarnation has brought reinvestment to the western end of River Street and has energized a portion of Bay Street and Factor’s Walk that was virtually unused for many years.
The project included renovations to the existing upper three levels of the building to create a 56 room hotel and a roof addition above that includes a restaurant and banquet area. Exterior improvements include masonry stabilization, window repairs, storefront replacement along Bay Street, and balcony additions along River Street. Interior modifications include the addition of an elevator with service from River Street to the roof, exit stairs as required for code compliance, a new lobby area, guest room layouts, laundry, offices and other hotel functions.
The original construction of the building is structural masonry wall construction with wood joists and floors. The building’s bearing walls are not perpendicular to the north and south walls. It is thought that this may have been because of its original use as a cotton warehouse, and the walls were angled to take advantage of specific light angles. This historic novelty contributed to the building’s many structural issues. Masonry stabilization and brick repairs were a major component of the restoration of this project and were complicated by the building’s shape. The restoration also included the replacement of non-historic windows throughout the building, and repair to historic trim and ornamental ironwork at the Bay Street elevation.
The roof addition was designed to be clearly identifiable as new construction and not part of the building’s historic shell. The design incorporates modern materials to make reference to the building’s industrial past, and its curved shape recalls the traditional roof monitors that are common to many of Savannah’s historic cotton warehouses. The addition was also intended to be minimally visible from pedestrian view at the Bay Street level to ensure that the impact of the addition did not overwhelm the original historic nature of the building.
Within the addition, the Top Deck Restaurant provides some of the city’s best views of Savannah’s riverfront, the Talmadge Bridge, and the Landmark Historic District. The design incorporates a full kitchen and extensive bar within a very small footprint, leaving ample space for dining and a large deck that wraps around the restaurant. Working closely with the restaurant owner, our designers found creative solutions to integrate bar seating into the walls and parapets of the building, efficiently using all the space available.
The Cotton Sail Hotel, positioned in the heart of old Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, was named as a tribute to the building’s origin and the history echoes throughout. The 200 year old heart of pine hardwood floors featured in the guestrooms are actually reclaimed from the original roof. Top to bottom, this building has been beautifully preserved and revitalized.