The side porch of the Kiah House.

The Kiah House

Culture and Restoration


he Kiah House Project will revitalize the home of Virginia Kiah, who retrofitted it in 1959 in order to establish the first African American-founded museum in Savannah. In partnership with the City of Savannah and the African Diaspora Museology Institute, the project presents an opportunity to restore a historic building with significant social and cultural history and reintroduce it as an active arts and community service program.

Rendering of the restored Kiah House

We aim to rediscover the social and cultural significance of the Kiah Museum through the lens of contemporary creative expression that entertains, educates, and inspires.

Kiah House programs will support creative expression inspired by Kiah, arts education, public art initiatives, streetscape improvements, community building, and other projects in partnership with neighboring groups and organizations.

Kiah House Museum once stood as a bold lesson in fortitude and a beacon for all of Savannah. Constructed circa 1913, the building is a two-story Queen Anne residential structure in the Cuyler-Brownville National Historic District. In 1959, the Kiahs made significant alterations to accommodate the museum installation. It operated until 2001 when Virginia Kiah died.

Despite losing some of its original interior and exterior features during the 1959 alterations, the building maintains a high integrity of location, design, setting, materials, craft, feeling, and association with the Kiah Museum. The mid-20th century alterations are significant and character-defining, and our preservation work will proudly honor this period in the building’s history.

The Kiah House is set to become the flagship of Galvan’s museum houses initiative. Other houses are in development including that of WW Law, a postal carrier turned civil rights activist and preservationist, and Jerry Wright, a visionary black gay anthropologist. Both Savannah locals played pivotal roles in shaping the cultural history of the region. We are actively collaborating with their estates and development partners to ensure that their compelling stories are shared with the public.