Culture // 5 min Read

Retail Therapy: Cohen's Retreat

Written by Grubbs

May 23, 2018


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.

Art

Jami Ganem Originals

Green 8 × 8 $150

Dark Blue 4 × 12 $150

Light Blue 6 × 6 $115

Home

Mist Ink Blot Pillows $65 each

Eucalyptus & Sage Candle $19

White Stripe Terra Cotta Vases 8.25" $26 / 7" $18

Longhair Deer Hide $438

For her

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

Kitchen

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

Stay for a little or stay for a lifetime.

From charming rooms, suites and cottages at Montage Palmetto Bluff to majestic homes in Wilson and Moreland villages that pay homage to the region’s rich heritage, all it takes is a short stay to create the stories that last a lifetime.