Some of Savannahs more UNusual haunts

A TOUR OF THE SPOOKIEST PLACES IN TOWN YOUR GHOST TOUR MAY MISS

BONAVENTURE CEMETERY

With Spanish moss adorning the live oaks, casting shadows and mystery across the city, Savannah certainly dresses her spooky part, not only in the month of October, but throughout the year.

It’s no wonder, considering Savannah’s haunted reputation and how it is widely known as one of the most haunted cities in America. 

Recently, customers on the online review site Yelp chose The Olde Pink House in Savannah as the #1 haunted location in the country with The Marshall House Hotel in 11th place. 

Paranormal investigator and owner of Exploration Point Tours, Patrick Burns, said there are several factors that come into play as to why Savannah is considered to be so haunted.

“Savannah is known as ‘The City Built on its Dead” because much of the historic district and beyond was used as burial ground,” Burns said. “In Colonial times, the area just outside the boundary of the city, which ended roughly at Bull and Harris Streets, was called the lane of defense. It was a wall of timbers that shielded the city from invaders. Everything outside of that area was considered wilderness and is where many folks were laid to rest since burials in Colonial Park for non-whites and non-Protestants were not permitted at the time. As the city expanded south, those graves weren’t necessarily moved or relocated and most often were built or paved over.”

 “Savannah’s wartime history pre-dates that by almost a hundred years. The second bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War was fought outside the city in the Siege of Savannah. It was an attempt by the Continental Army to take Savannah by force from the British because of its strategic importance as a seaport. In just two hours’ time, over 2,000 members of the Continental Army lay dead or dying outside the lane of defense.”

The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820 caused over 700 deaths throughout the city with mass graves often the only option. 

“We’ve all heard how when someone’s grave is desecrated, the spirit(s) may not be at peace or may be restless and not aware of their situation. So, with Savannah basically being one gigantic cemetery, people are likely to experience odd occurrences as the city lives up to its reputation.”

With many infamous “haunts,” known to visitors and locals alike, there are as many unusual or lesser-known locations in the city where one might experience paranormal activity. Here are some suggestions from Burns’ own tour:

Antique Row

There are several antique shops together in the historic district on Bull, Whitaker, and Jones Streets, to name a few. As humans, we attach a lot of items to our lives to the point where our prized possessions having the possibility of becoming haunted. When you look at an historic relic or an heirloom in an estate sale, online, or through the window of an antique store, you start wondering who owned it, what its history and past is, and does it have a story to tell.

The Squares

While all of Savannah’s squares are unique, some seem to be more haunted than others for different reasons. They have their own back story or historical occurrence that has left an “energetic scar” on the land. Here are a few more unusual locations:

Madison Square

As the site of encampment for General William T. Sherman and the Union troops when occupying Savannah, Madison Square has been known to have apparitions of men and women in period clothing, most in soldier attire, oftentimes moving through the square as if going about their business.

Wright Square

also known as Courthouse Square, is where public hangings occurred. One popular story is that of an indentured servant from Ireland, Alice Riley, who was hung for a crime she said she didn’t commit, even cursing the city before the noose dropped. There is an old legend saying, “Moss will not grow where innocent blood is spilled,” so it’s interesting to note on the north end of the square where the gallows were thought to be, no moss grows in the trees. Wright Square is also the monument to Tomachichi, the Yamacraw chief who aided Oglethorpe and his men.

Calhoun Square

Perhaps the most haunted is Calhoun Square because it is the site of the largest African-American slave burial ground in the city. The graves are not only unmarked, but there is no marker or monument to those who lost their lives enslaved to another. With no disregard to individual resting places, the spirts in Calhoun Square often leave electronic voice phenomena (or EVP, when a voice is heard on a recording when that voice was not present) stressing sadness, suffering, and longing.

The Cemeteries

Both Colonial Park Cemetery and Bonaventure Cemetery are chock full of Savannah history and lore, as well as the dark beauty of the graves and monuments. Many feel spirits may hang around a cemetery because that was the last place the family gathered. Others think cemeteries aren’t haunted due to it being a final resting place.

Hotels

Some places in Savannah will gladly share their haunted tales with you while others tend to keep the paranormal chatter on the quiet. In any event, wherever you’re staying, ask the hotel/host/concierge if the location has any history or stories. Experiences have been reported at The Marshall House, 17Hundred90, The Hamilton-Turner Inn, and The Planter’s Inn to name a few.

The Savannah Theatre

Theaters are notorious for being haunted. Perhaps it’s the transient nature of the business, how many people move in and out of a theater, or because there have been tragedies known to happen during performances, but a theater usually has good ghost stories. 

The Savannah Theatre is no different and offers a dark and spooky ambiance to take in your surroundings for any hints of lingering players who still need to be on stage.

Burns stressed that while any amateur ghost hunter can get started, the greatest tool to have with you is “your open mind. To truly appreciate what this city can offer, we cannot let our preconceived notions or biases cloud our judgment. We have to be still and listen and pay attention.”  He added a trick he shares with visitors to his walking ghost tour. “I tell folks to focus their attention ahead. Find a spot with your eyes and focus on that. Often, I find paranormal activity appears in the periphery—on the very edge of your field of vision—where you might see figures manifest in the corner of your eye.”

One doesn’t have to be a paranormal investigator to appreciate the eerie beauty of this haunted city, especially at this time of year. 

“I came to Savannah for the first time nearly 20 years ago because of its haunted reputation. I have never been disappointed. This is my Mecca as a paranormal investigator. I could continue on the rest of my career investigating the paranormal without ever leaving this city. There’s so much history, so much tragedy, that has taken place here over the years that it is no wonder if this is the most haunted city in America.”

When asked what it is we can learn from looking at our past, Burns stated, “When you decide to seek out haunts and the stories and people attached to them, you also become an historian by proxy. Savannah’s past can help provide a wealth of knowledge about this amazing city – who we were, who we are, and who we can be. We can’t undo the tragedies of our past, but we can honor those who came before us, recognizing all they sacrificed and suffered, and celebrate their lives. Ghosts don’t hang up their sheets after November 1st. The spirits of Savannah are around all the time. Pay attention.”

Patrick and Exploration Point Tours offer nightly walking ghost tours of the historic downtown district. For more information, visit gotghosts.net

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