It was the beautiful arched windows that initially caught my eye each morning as I drove past. A brick stairwell flanked by four white columns leads to the front door, and a fountain rests in the middle of the front lawn. An iron fence reads “Cohen’s Old Man’s Retreat” and that is where the real intrigue began.
The namesake of this building, Percy Cohen, was a successful Savannah businessman serving as the chief executive officer of Savannah Compress Company, a cotton export company. Always known as a philanthropic man, when Cohen passed away in 1927, it was no surprise that he gifted his entire fortune to various charities around Savannah, including a gift of $50,000 earmarked to “construct a facility where men would not die old and lonely”—a place where men could find fellowship in the twilight of their lives—and so became Cohen’s Retreat.
When construction began on the structure in 1933, the idea for the building was certainly not to become the restaurant, market, and event space it is today. But when Colleen Kaney Smith acquired the space decades later, inspiration struck. Cohen’s Retreat transitioned from a retirement home for elderly men into a place for artistic inspiration. It begins when you walk through the front door. The creativity in the interior design is evidenced by the luxurious furniture, rich artwork, and layered accessories as well as the unique way it is all pieced together.
From the mismatched white china plates hung on antique wooden boards to a painted portrait of Mr. Cohen himself, the interiors and artwork in Cohen’s Retreat are eclectic—an aesthetic that continues throughout the building into the restaurant, bar, event space, and Brown Dog Market.
Tucked into the built-in shelving across the market, unique items and gifts made from local artisans provide a variety of options to peruse—something for a friend, something for your home, something for yourself. Pillows galore grace every nook created with fabric from Savannah’s own Curry & Co. Hand-poured candles from Nashville, Tennessee, scent the air with calming fragrances like eucalyptus and sage. Trendy animal hide rugs come in every shape and size and in a variety of prints, adding a stylish accent to any living room.
Artisans near and far bring their own flair to the Savannah landmark and scrumptious food brings people together over a meal. And while the inside of Cohen’s Retreat may look differently than it did all those decades ago, we think Mr. Cohen would be proud of the haven it has become for the heart of Savannah.
Jami Ganem Originals
Green 8 × 8 $150
Dark Blue 4 × 12 $150
Light Blue 6 × 6 $115
Mist Ink Blot Pillows $65 each
Eucalyptus & Sage Candle $19
White Stripe Terra Cotta Vases 8.25″ $26 / 7″ $18
Longhair Deer Hide $438
While Folding Clutch by John Powers $86
Oyster Shell Necklace by Z&Z Designs $78
For the littlest ones
Noah’s Ark Mobile $76
Lamb Blanket $70
Navy Storage Drum $50
Violet Napkins $12 each
Grey Poppy Napkins $12 each
Round Bird Plates $12 each
Written by Sarah Grubbs
Photography by Rob Kaufman and Cohen’s Retreat