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.
I clearly remember the first time we entered Savannah, and turned onto 37th Street, where we would be living for three months. Huge oak trees canopied the street and random rays of sunlight squeezed past the Spanish moss, which hung apathetically off branches like the embodiment of sorrow. Years from now, when I shut my eyes and think “Savannah,” Spanish moss washed in sunlight will be what I see.
As 2011 rolled in, we had some things to celebrate… mainly, the fact that we still had another month in Savannah! We’d been having a great time, and were in no hurry to leave. Our New Year’s celebrations had been just like Savannah itself: weird, hilarious, a little disturbing, and unforgettable. And as we stumbled home after a wild party, the city showed us a new trick: a dense fog had settled in on the streets. Oh Savannah, stop being so gorgeous!
I found myself in the middle of a fevered dream. Alone on the third floor of a house on Monterey Square, I knocked about a room filled with antiques. Chinese vases, broken beds, faded photographs in golden frames with faces I faintly recognized. I climbed steps to the fourth floor and looked out a broken window at the nearby Mercer-Williams House. I shuddered. It was cold and in my haste to leave, I stumbled, nearly crashing into a warped, full-length mirror. “Time to wake up, Mikey”.
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.
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.
The Pirate’s House, on the northeastern corner of Savannah, is thought to be Georgia’s oldest building, and is certainly one of its most famous. Captain Flint, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, is said to have died here after drinking too much rum.
Calhoun Square was named after the South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun, who was our seventh Vice President, and served under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He was fiercely pro-slavery and was one of the leading proponents of Southern secession: views which apparently won him respect in Savannah, who named their newest square after him, one year after his death in 1850.