History of the Moon River Brewing Building
Moon River Brewing Company is located in the former City Hotel. Elazer Early, a
native of Charleston, S.C, built the City Hotel in 1821. Not only was it the
first hotel in Savannah, but it was also home to the first branch of the United
States Post Office in Savannah, as well as a branch of the Bank of the United
States. It must have been convenient having a hotel, post office, bank and bar
all under one roof!
Many notable people stayed at the City Hotel, including War of 1812 hero
Winfield Scott, the Marquis de Lafayette, the first three commodores of the U.S.
Navy and naturalist James Audubon. Audubon stayed six months while attempting to
sell books full of his wildlife sketches.
In 1851 Peter Wiltberger bought the City Hotel. He renovated it and put a live
lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business. City Hotel’s
final guest checked out in 1864, just before the arrival of General Tecumseh
Sherman during the war of Northern Aggression and the subsequent closing of the
At the turn of the century, the building was used as a lumber and coal
warehouse. As the use of coal slowly died off, the building was used for general
storage. In the 1960s the space was renovated as an office supply store,
complete with a large printing press. Hurricane David forced this business to
close in 1979 when it blew the roof off the structure.
The building sat empty until 1995 when it was renovated into its current
configuration as a brew pub. The Moon River Brewing Company debuted in this
space on April 10, 1999.