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The Sorrel-Weed House

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Found on Madison Square, the Sorrel-Weed House has gained a reputation as the most haunted spot in a city known for ghouls. The house has been the subject of just about every sort of “Ghost Hunting” reality show that exists, and even offers visitors the chance to take a spooky nighttime tour. But Jürgen and I decided to check it out during the day, on an architectural tour.

Haunted Sorrel Weed House

This house was built by the shipping merchant Frances Sorrel in 1837. Sorrel had acquired a fortune while living in Haiti, but fled the island nation after its successful slave rebellion. He installed himself in Savannah, a city which still believed in the honorable institution of slavery, and proceeded to extend his fortune.

It seems safe to assume that Mr. Sorrel was a jerk, and this theory is supported by his amorous affair with the beautiful Molly, one of the slaves under his command. Soon after the tryst came to life, his wife Matilda fell from the house’s third-story window to her death in the courtyard. Her family claimed she fainted, while society believed she had committed suicide. But there were also whispers that she was pushed. And when Sorrel’s lover Molly was found hanged in the carriage house, the whispers grew louder. Was it another suicide, or was Mr. Sorrel cleaning up his mess? Today, the ghosts of both Matilda and Molly are said to haunt the Sorrel-Weed House.

We met in the ground-floor salon, where we learned about the house’s history, and then followed our guide through the various rooms. The tour wasn’t as comprehensive as we would have liked, as much of the Sorrel-Weed House is still under renovation, but the rooms we were able to see were beautiful. This is one of Savannah’s most sterling examples of Greek Revival architecture, and was one of the first homes in the city to be protected as a State Landmark.

Haunted Sorrel Weed House

We went to the second floor to see the family’s private quarters, and then out to the carriage house where the slaves lived, and where Molly either committed suicide or was murdered. Did I detect any paranormal reverberations while standing in this famously haunted spot? Well, of course not, but others have claimed to.

Many of Savannah’s classic mansions have been around for so long, and have such unique histories, that they seem to have taken on characters of their own. The Sorrel-Weed House is no exception. You get a sense that the house itself is just as alive as its former residents. Perhaps there’s something to this idea of ghosts… not that they’re roaming the halls, rattling chains and spooking visitors, but that the people who lived and died here have somehow seeped into the walls and the floors; that their vital essence has been transferred.

Or maybe it’s just an old house. We’ll let you decide.

Location on our Map
Sorrel-Weed House – Website

More: Haunted Savannah

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April 6, 2016 at 11:41 am Comments (0)

Seeing Savannah’s Evil Side from a Hearse

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What could be better than touring Savannah in a hearse with a raised roof, so you can poke your head out the top? Nothing comes immediately to mind, does it? I mean, a ghost tour in a tricked-out hearse is kind of like the pinnacle of human culture.

Ghost Tour Savannah

I didn’t know what to think the first time I saw this bizarre vehicle cruising around Savannah’s squares at night. The passengers seemed to be having a grand time, drinking out of to-go cups, gawking at old mansions, and completely oblivious to my baffled staring. “On the one hand,” I thought, “that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”

“On the other hand, my parents are totally going to love it.”

So when my parents came to visit, I booked spots on the Hearse Tour, arranging for a pick-up outside the Pirate’s House. What ensued was an entertaining trip around Savannah’s dark side. Our guide was completely into her character as spooky chauffeur, and her enthusiasm for the supernatural was contagious. There wasn’t a dull moment; a lot of houses in Savannah have some story of fright, whether a horrific crime or an unexplained phenomena. A lot of the tales were new to me, and I felt chills when we went by the old psychiatric hospital on Abercorn. It might have been the booze, but I swear I saw the outline of a face in one of the hospital windows.

The Hearse Tour isn’t exactly inconspicuous. I lost count of how many pedestrians laughed at us, yelling “Oooooooh, spooooky!” But if you’re able to tune out the mockery, it’s a great time, especially if you’ve got an interest in the supernatural.

Official Website

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Tour for only $13.50

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December 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm Comments (5)

Colonial Park Cemetery

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A historical marker in Savannah’s Colonial Park Cemetery reports that “nearly 700” victims of the 1820 yellow fever epidemic are buried there. In fact, exactly six-hundred and sixty-six people died of the disease. But the church had issues with putting the Number of the Beast on a sign, and demanded the figure be rounded up.

Colonial

That’s just one of the disquieting anecdotes from the Colonial Park Cemetery, established around 1750 and closed to burials just before the Civil War. Another concerns the original size of the cemetery. Today, it fits nicely into a tidy square bounded by Abercorn, Oglethorpe, Habersham and Perry, but it used to be much bigger. As Savannah grew, property developers began buying up the cemetery’s prime real estate. Since digging up and moving bodies is so troublesome, corpses were left where they were; only the headstones were moved. The result is that every building surrounding Colonial Park is built on top of the desecrated dead.

A number of prominent Georgians are buried in Colonial Park, though I’ll confess to have never heard of any of them. Someone called Button Gwinnett has the most impressive monument (and the coolest name). After the Civil War, occupying Union troops were garrisoned there, and some of the soldiers amused themselves by defacing tombstones, changing dates and names. I found the gravestone of a woman who supposedly died when she was twelve, but had a son who passed a year later at the age of fourteen.

A green, creepy oasis of death in the center of Savannah, Colonial Park Cemetery is the perfect place for a stroll on cold, sunny, winter afternoons.

Location on our Savannah Map

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December 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm Comments (8)

Bonaventure Cemetery – Good Fortune Comes to Those Who Die

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Known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the entire country, Bonaventure is found on the outskirts of Savannah, bordering the Wilmington River across from Whitemarsh Island. Its name means “Good Fortune,” and those buried on its grounds might certainly consider themselves fortunate. There are worse places to rest in eternal slumber.

Haunted Gracie

Bonaventure is a place of haunting beauty, where Spanish Moss hangs sorrowfully from every tree, casting broken light onto solemn fields of gravestones. The cemetery is large, and one which you could spend hours exploring, discovering tombstones of exquisite craftsmanship, and other most notable for their peculiarity. There’s one in the form of a broken tree trunk. A grinning marathon runner. Obelisks and gates. Downcast girls holding flowers. Underground crypts. And of course, there’s little Gracie Watson.

Of all Bonaventure’s ghosts, the most famous is that of Gracie Watson. In life, the vivacious daughter of the manager of the Pulaski House had been beloved by neighbors and well-known to the hotel’s guests. But pneumonia wasn’t impressed by Little Gracie’s charms. Pneumonia snuffed her out at the age of six. Her grief-stricken father commissioned a statue to mark her grave, and ever since, there have been rumors of the soft sobbing of a little girl in Bonaventure. The statue supposedly sheds tears, and screams out at night if a flower has been removed.

Besides Gracie, a number of famous people rest their bones in Bonaventure, including Johnny Mercer, Conrad Aiken and Henry R. Jackson. One statue you won’t find there, though, is the Bird Girl statue, which graced the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: it’s been moved to the Telfair Museum of Art, for safekeeping.

Location on our Google Map

Bonaventure Books

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November 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm Comments (17)

Fine Dining at The Olde Pink House

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The Olde Pink House, on the western side of Reynolds Square, was built in 1771 and is the oldest surviving mansion in all of Savannah. Today, it’s one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, and is also home to a popular bar on its bottom floor.

Pink House Savannah

The mansion was originally built for James Habersham, who was one of the colonial city’s most important merchants. Habersham committed suicide in the basement of this house after discovering that his wife was having an affair with the architect. Because this is Savannah, Habersham’s ghost is rumored to still wander the halls. Much of the restaurant’s staff claims to have encountered him at least once.

We didn’t see any apparitions during our dinner at the Pink House, but it’s certainly a suitable place for them. Each of the low-lit rooms in this multi-floor restaurant is decked out with original artwork and furniture, and the effect is haunting, especially at night. I felt transported back to the 18th century as we were led to our table. After ordering, I embarked on a little tour of the restaurant, to admire the individual rooms.

As fascinating as the history is, and as impressive the decor, the best thing about the Pink House is the food. Good lord! On a recommendation from a friend, I tried the flounder, which was perfectly cooked and covered in a rich apricot sauce. It’s one of their specialties, and for good reason. Jürgen had pecan crusted chicken breast, and we both were given Southern-specialty sides like collard greens. Everything was delicious.

The Planters Tavern is a bar on the bottom floor of the Pink House, where you’ll often find a jazz singer and pianist. It’s a cool spot to spend a late, relaxed evening. If you see Habersham’s spirit in the seat next to you, do him a favor and act scared. It’s not easy being the ghost of an old, pink house.

Location on our Savannah Restaurant Map

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Stuffed Artichokes
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November 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm Comments (4)
The Sorrel-Weed House Found on Madison Square, the Sorrel-Weed House has gained a reputation as the most haunted spot in a city known for ghouls. The house has been the subject of just about every sort of "Ghost Hunting" reality show that exists, and even offers visitors the chance to take a spooky nighttime tour. But Jrgen and I decided to check it out during the day, on an architectural tour.
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