By day, Savannah is picture-perfect with romantic public squares, a bustling riverfront, and beautiful antebellum architecture. By night, however, the city transforms into a playground for the paranormal. With its spooky cemeteries, creaking mansions, and oaks draped with eerie Spanish moss, Savannah is considered by many to be the most haunted city in America. What better place to celebrate Halloween?
Founded in 1733 by James Edward Oglethorpe, the city has had more than it’s fair share of grisly murders. Add to that the many deaths during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and all of the victims of pirates who often plundered the city, Savannah is full of ghosts from the past.
Today, several companies capitalize on our obsession with the macabre by offering ghost tours around Savannah’s Historic District. Walking tours are popular, letting you get up close and personal with some of the scariest haunted houses. Or, you can take a narrated trolley tour or even ride in the back of a modified hearse. Most of these tours aren’t really frightening—they’re more historical in nature, describing in vivid detail some of the horrific happenings in Savannah’s centuries-old buildings.
The most famous example is the grisly murder at the Mercer House, which gained notoriety in the book and film Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil. To this day people claim to see lights flickering in the old mansion and to hear the sounds of a soirée from long ago.
Said to be the most haunted house in Savannah, the Hampton Lillibridge House is also the only one known to have had an exorcism. Neighbors say they’ve heard a woman’s scream coming from within the home, and a gray-haired man has been seen roaming the halls. Back in the 1960s, some workmen at the house claimed to hear hearing footsteps when they knew they were alone.
Now an upscale inn, legend has it that around the turn of the twentieth century, a pair of twins died while playing in a chimney at the Kehoe House. Guests on the second floor have often reported hearing children’s laughter and small footsteps running down the hall, especially in rooms 201 & 203. A guest staying in room 201 said she awoke in the middle of the night after feeling someone caressing her hair. Thinking that it was her husband, she opened her eyes only to find a young child stroking her cheek—a child who then vanished!
Another of Savannah’s most haunted homes is the Sorrel Weed House. Back in the spring of 1860, wealthy socialite Matilda Sorrel jumped to her death from the second floor terrace after discovering her husband in the throes of passion with a slave girl named Molly. Then, two weeks later, Molly was found hanged inside the adjacent carriage house. People sometimes see shadows in the upstairs windows and have heard disembodied voices from inside the house. On the television show Ghost Hunters, they used a paranormal recording device that actually picked up the sounds of Molly’s screaming!
All of these stories really gave me the heebie-jeebies. I definitely recommend joining in the fun and taking one of the tours for yourself. Whether you’re an avid ghost hunter or just a run-of-the-mill thrill-seeker, Savannah offers plentiful opportunities to be spooked.
Have you ever been to Savannah? Have you been to any other “haunted” city? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below!