Exploring Savannah's Haunts
If you've ever considered planning a trip to Savannah, GA, then you know about its picturesque beauty, year-round warm climate, and reputation as a hub for the arts. What you probably don't realize about Savannah is that a darker side of the city exists underneath its draping Spanish moss and behind its charming Civil War-era architecture. Will you dare to be scared and explore the spookier side of Savannah on your next trip to "The Hostess City of the South"?
There isn't anything particularly strange about the story of Kehoe House, especially put into historical context. The brainchild of Irish immigrant William Kehoe, the house was completed in 1892 and served as a home for Kehoe and his family until his death in the early 20th century. After this, it was passed between owners until 1992, when someone finally had the sense to open it as a bed and breakfast.
A number of stories exist to explain why Kehoe House might be haunted. The most obvious explanation is that its longest-running 20th-century tenant was a funeral home, although another theory is that two of William Kehoe's 10 children, a pair of twins, died one day while playing a little bit too close to the fireplace.
In spite of this eerie reputation, Kehoe House remains among the most popular hotels in Savannah, haunted and otherwise. Perhaps travelers to Savannah are willing to deal with some crippling fear in order to have an "authentic" experience.
It won't come as a shock to discover that some of the most haunted places in Savannah are cemeteries. An amazing thing about Bonaventure Cemetery is the number of famous Southerners buried in this riverside resting place, from Conrad Aiken to southern songwriter Johnny Mercer.
Hamilton-Turner Inn began as a family home in the late 18th century, for Savannah local Samuel Pugh Hamilton. Its second name comes from its sale to a man named Dr. Francis Turner, who bought the property at Mr. Hamilton's estate sale.
The inn has been haunted for almost as long as it has existed. Samuel Hamilton's children reportedly mentioned having seen ghosts to their parents shortly after the house was completed. The parents didn't believe them, but while the Hamiltons' spirits seem to have departed the house after they lived and died there, the original specters remain.
As far as the source of the haunting, stories vary, but most people agree that one ghost takes the form of a Civil War soldier, perhaps one who was buried where the house ended up being built, or who was wounded nearby and collapsed somewhere near the property before he died. No modern-day guests have suffered terrible fates, aside from the reported hauntings that occur on a semi-regular basis.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Colonial Park Cemetery is notable for the fact that nearly 10,000 bodies rest beneath its mere six acres of post-mortem real estate, including serial killer Rene Rondolier, whose spirit reportedly still haunts the tree where he met his end by hanging.
Marshall House, which opened in 1851, is not only Savannah's oldest purpose-built hotel, but also served as a hospital (and, more often, a morgue) for Confederate soldiers. After the war, those cleaning up the carnage reported finding many body parts. What they didn't find, at least not immediately, were the souls of the soldiers who died. Those waited until later to appear again.
Stories of haunting run rampant, to the extent that Marshall House is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the entire country. If you're not on the lookout for a run-in with spirits, it's probably best to stay elsewhere, especially since these spirits might possess you to make trips to charming Savannah more often than you otherwise would!
The story behind The Pirate's House Restaurant is expectedly sinister. According to legend, around the time the building went up (about 250 years ago), drunkards who were unlucky enough to fall asleep here awoke aboard ships far out to sea, where they worked as indentured servants for the rest of their lives. When you visit the Pirate's House Restaurant—ideally, not so drunk that you pass out—keep an eye out for the ghostly pirates who are rumored to haunt it.
Eliza Thompson House began not as an accommodation for tourists, but as a family home, specifically for Eliza and Joseph Thompson and their seven children, in 1847. It remained in the family for a mere 25 years, after which it was passed between nearly half a dozen owners until it opened as an inn more than a century later in 1977.
No particular event in the past of the Eliza Thompson House is thought to account for its haunting. As is the case with many of the other haunted Savannah hotels on this list, however, Civil War soldiers and dead children are among the ghosts said to haunt guests who stay here.
Then again, the only way to find out for sure is to book a stay at Eliza Thompson House yourself—and pray that you don't become the next victim.
If brews and spooks sound like a good combination to you, head on down to Moon River Brewing Company, whose creepy name foreshadows its spooky story. The story begins back in the 1800s when deadly Yellow Fever ran rampant in Savannah. The building where you now find the brewing company served as a hospital—as is the case with most cases of the fever, the majority of the victims died. To add to the solemnity, it's said that slaves once lived in the basement of this building.