Spotlight

The Architecture of Business: Attorneys Guide Telfair Through Expansion

Telfair Museums — which operates three widely-acclaimed cultural venues in downtown Savannah, including the South’s oldest public art museum – is a Savannah institution with a strong commitment to excellence.

The Telfair turns to HunterMaclean, another respected Savannah institution, for ongoing legal counsel. Through strategic guidance in a wide range of areas, HunterMaclean ensures that this cultural landmark is able to share contemporary and classic art with generations of visitors.

Behind the scenes, the Telfair has complex legal needs, from employment law to fiduciary obligations. HunterMaclean helps the Telfair ensure that every art acquisition – whether a purchase or a donation – is legally transferred to the museum’s permanent collection. Thanks to the firm’s ongoing efforts, the Telfair has been able to expand its permanent collection significantly with acquisitions that are free of any liens or legal issues.

HunterMaclean also helped lay the groundwork for the Telfair to build the Jepson Center, a sleek, contemporary building on Telfair Square in downtown Savannah. Receiving permission to construct the state-of-the-art building proved to be a challenge due to strict city guidelines protecting Savannah’s architectural character.

HunterMaclean was able to negotiate a successful compromise which enabled the building’s architect to create a landmark new structure in Savannah while respecting the city’s heritage. Today the Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center shines as one of Savannah’s premier tourist destinations; a cultural jewel that delights residents and visitors alike.

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Located in the heart of the city’s vibrant historic district, The Telfair encompasses three architecturally significant buildings: the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House– two National Historic Landmark buildings –  and the contemporary Jepson Center.

The Telfair Academy, a former family mansion designed by English architect William Jay and adapted to an art gallery in the 1880s, houses 19th- and 20th-century American and European art. The Owens-Thomas House, also designed by William Jay, is considered one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in the country. In addition to a historic house-museum featuring decorative art ranging from the late 18th to the early 19th century, the site includes rare intact urban slave quarters and an elegant parterre garden. Rounding out the Telfair’s trio of landmark buildings, the Jepson Center—designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie—is devoted to the art of today.