In 2003, the American Institute of Paranormal Psychology named Savannah America’s Most Haunted City. And Savannah is able to support the title. Ghosts, apparitions or paranormal activities have been reported at many of Savannah’s inns, restaurants, private residences, and of course, cemeteries.
There are many magnificently restored buildings nestled around Savannah’s twenty-one squares. Many of these buildings are stately homes supposedly still occupied by former owners. James Habersham has been known to roam around the Olde Pink House, now a restaurant, but formerly his home. Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, was born and raised in Savannah. Her parents, long deceased, are said to still roam Juliette’s childhood home.
Savannah’s Sorrel-Weed House, visited by The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) in 2005 as part of their SciFi Ghost Hunters Halloween special, is supposedly haunted. The story goes that Mrs. Weed caught her husband in a compromising position with one of the Weed’s many slaves. Mrs. Weed, very distraught, ran back to her second-floor bedroom. After a long argument with her husband, she either threw herself (or was thrown) to her death from a second floor balcony. Soon after Mrs. Weed’s death, the slave found with Mr. Weed was found hung in her slave quarters. Both women are said to be still roaming the grounds.
The Hampton-Lillibridge House was said to be so haunted, that Jim Williams (of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” fame) had an exorcism performed at this former boarding house. On countless occasions, residents and passersby have heard the sound of jazz coming from inside the home.
The Kehoes were a very prominent family in Savannah, as Mr. Kehoe owned the ironworks on the riverfront. The Kehoes built this fireproof, all-iron home and lived there with their 10 children. The Kehoe’s heirs sold the house in 1930 and the property changed hands many times to include use for 65 years as the Goette Funeral Home. It is now a beautiful bed and breakfast where many of its visitors report supernatural occurrences such as a woman screaming, a nurse shushing visitors, the Lady in White making appearances, and several instances involving ghosts of children.
The list goes on and on!
So, what is it about Savannah that makes it so attractive to ghosts and ghost stories?
- Many people start with the fact that Savannah is literally built on its dead. Savannah was the first city in Georgia founded in 1733. It was established in the same location as the Creek and Choctaw maintained their burial grounds.
As the colony began to grow and thrive, it needed more room. Buildings were erected on the burial plots of the original colonists. Tombstones in cemeteries were moved to make room for sidewalks and roads. Places of worship were erected on the graves of slaves.
- Second, Savannah has a very violent history. Many bloody battles and skirmishes were fought in Savannah. One of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution, the Siege of Savannah, where about 1200 men lost their lives in one hour, was fought in Savannah. Also, the city has been victim to many city-wide fires, at least two yellow-fever epidemics and several hurricanes.
- Third, Savannah has been a major port city since the days of King Cotton, so many a sailor has ventured through Savannah spinning a romantic tale or two.
- Fourth, Savannahians are (proudly) an eccentric bunch, as were their ancestors, which adds history and volume to the ghost stories.
- Lastly, I blame the large amounts of Spanish moss hanging from the majestic oak trees. The blankets of moss look like ghostly shrouds and give the entire region an eerie look.
Whatever the reason, the ghost stories are endless, earning the Savannah the right to the title of America’s Most Haunted City.
Author: Deb Bunting