Remembering architect Eric Meyerhoff, who helped transform River Street

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Beloved Savannah architect, Eric Meyerhoff, passed away Tuesday at the age of 91. 

Meyerhoff helped create the Savannah Riverfront and more than 74 projects in the historic district, including the World War II monument, “A World Apart,” on River Street.

The architect always saw Savannah as a place to be admired. Those who knew him said he had a vision for the city and spent more than 50 years bringing it to life.

“Eric was, first and foremost, a humanist,” said Patrick Shay who now serves as the president of Gunn, Meyerhoff, and Shay Architects. “He really wanted to see how architecture could help enhance the way that people felt about themselves and felt about Savannah.”

Meyerhoff and his family escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s and moved to Florida. He’s also a veteran and graduate of the University of Florida.

In the 1970s the German immigrant convinced then Mayor John Rousakis to reconsider his plans to turn River Street into a large parking lot.

“We suggested that that street become a walking street and renovated a lot of the buildings there,” said Meyerhoff back in 2017.

Meyerhoff’s son, Mark, said the design started as a doodle on the back of a napkin. The River Street project would later become one of his father’s greatest accomplishments.

“Everyone who knew my father knew that he had a wildly imaginative mind,” Mark said, “he was a big kid at heart.”

Mark said his father didn’t take anything too seriously, was witty by nature, and a huge Florida Gator fan.

“He was a teacher, he was a provider, he wanted everyone to learn the important facts, but had a humor twist to everything,” said Mark.

Meyerhoff and his late partner Bob Gunn transformed the historic district. Their work includes the city market streetscapes, the Palmer and Cay building, and most recently the World War II memorial. Family members said Meyerhoff took on the memorial project completely gratis.

“He’s all around us I mean if you live in Savannah and you love Savannah then you love Eric Meyerhoff,’ said Shay.

Meyerhoff was laid to rest in Bonaventure Cemetery. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

According to Gamble Funeral Service, a memorial service will take place at a later date.

Read his full obituary here.

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