Haunted Places

haunted savannah georgia
Reynolds Square

Haunted Savannah

October 25, 2009
by Sarah Amandolare
Savannah has a graceful elegance replete with historic charm, friendly denizens, succulent southern comfort food and warm Georgia weather. But peer behind the curtains of Spanish moss dripping from any stately live oak and you’ll find a veritable ghost town, whether on the slanted sidewalks framing the Gothic Revival architecture, the hallways of a haunted bed-and-breakfast, or in Savannah’s spirited cemetery. Below, we present several of Savannah’s scariest sites.

Savannah Ghost Tours

Visitors to Georgia’s oldest city often stroll the storied streets on their own time, but many join guided tours to Savannah’s haunted spots. Erica Backus of the Savannah Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau told CNN in 2003 that of the city’s 6.5 million annual tourists, more than half of those who take walking tours take a haunted ghost tour. Some say the city’s violent past, whether as a Revolutionary War battleground or a Civil War capture of General Sherman, contribute to its eerie aura. So much so, in fact, that the city’s “unofficial saying” is that it “was built on the dead,” according to CNN.

Ghost & Legends of Savannah Walking Tours are led by the city’s longtime locals, guiding you through the ins and outs of Savannah’s oldest tales of terror, offering insight into the people and places that give Savannah its “spectral past,” such as the Hutchinson Island’s buried bodies and Savannah voodoo.

Cobblestone Tours Inc. leads two candlelit tours of Savannah: haunted history and haunted pub crawl. Cobblestone Tours feature guides in full period costume, and emphasize the historical accuracy of “famous ghosts and local folklore.”

Haunted Houses in Savannah

The Mercer House was built and first owned by musician Johnny Mercer’s family, and gained notoriety after being featured as the murder scene in the book and film versions of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” A Savannah antique dealer named Jim Williams took up residence at the house after the Mercers left. Williams, who was known for hosting lavish parties, ended up being tried for murder four times. After his death, witnesses claimed to have seen lights and festivities going on inside the mansion.

Visit the Web site of the Mercer Williams House Museum for more historical details and insight into the design and restoration of the house, as well as information on visiting.

Savannah boasts a selection of haunted inns, including the Marshall House, which served as a hospital during a yellow fever epidemic and during the Civil War. According to the Web site Bed and Breakfasts of Savannah, which tells each inn’s spooky story, ghosts have been spotted in the hallways of the Marshall House, and the home has been featured in a haunted hotel special on the Travel Channel.

According to legend, Savannah’s classic downtown inn, 17Hundred90, which has won raves for its food and atmosphere, also hosts a restless spirit. A certain “lonely soul wandering eternally … searching for unrequited love” roams the inn, but no one is certain whether the spirit comes in peace or not. MSN also named 17Hundred90 a “Favorite Haunted Hotel.”

Cemetery Spirits of Savannah

From 1750 until 1853, Colonial Cemetery was the “main cemetery in Savannah,” and the burial place of “royal governors, patriots, merchants, the state’s first newspaper publisher, and members of the First Continental Congress,” according to iExplore. Button Gwinnett, one of three Georgians to sign the Declaration of Independence, also rests in the Colonial. Today, the cemetery is used as a city park, and dogs are permitted to run free, just like the spirits.

A photograph of Colonial Cemetery taken during a trolley tour glows in eerie yellow light and has a strange white shadow.

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