My name is Kirsten Weiss, and I write paranormal mystery novels featuring metaphysical detective, Riga Hayworth. The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective, are published by misterio press and available on Amazon.
My sister, who does not believe in ghosts, swears her old apartment was haunted, and for good reason. Weird shadows on the walls, weird shadows that actually knocked things over, and creepiest of all, a pale hand reaching beneath the bathroom door… when there was no space for a hand to fit and no one else in the apartment.
Have you ever experienced - or thought maybe you’d experienced - a ghost?
Ah… Savannah. This is ghost walk nirvana, and this walk goes through some of the city’s stately squares. Disclaimers: the addresses listed below are privately owned so you can’t just go running in to do a ghost hunt. This tour was designed as a daytime walking tour to view the exteriors, and hopefully have an enjoyable walk with some good ghost stories along the way.
Story: This stately home was designed and built by Isaiah Davenport in 1820.
Manifestation: The ghost of a young girl with blond curls has been spotted in the attic, gazing down from the top left window, and a ghost cat has been reported by visitors to the museum, twining about their legs and disappearing inside.
Kitty corner from the Davenport House, on Habersham Street, is the Kehoe House.
Story: Originally built in 1892 as a private residence for steel magnate William Kehoe, the house became a funeral home in the 20th century. According to legend, the twin children of the Kehoes died playing in one of the fireplaces, and this may account for why the chimneys have been blocked up and decorated with angels.
Manifestation: Legend has it that a lady in gray haunts room 203 of this bed-and-breakfast. The sound of children’s feet running up and down the hallways. An employee reported the front doorbell ringing repeatedly and then opening of its own accord, though no one was there.
Continue down Habersham and make a right on E. President Street.
17 hundred 90 Inn
307 E President Street
Story: This inn is the oldest in Savannah, built in 1820. It is reputed to be haunted by a young woman named Anne, who fell from to her death from room 204. There are several legends attached to her. One says she was betrothed to the original owner of the home, Steele White, but fell in love with and became pregnant by a German sailor. When he abandoned her, she killed herself. Another story about Anna says she was a flirtatious servant, who was similarly loved and abandoned after becoming pregnant. A third version says she was locked in the room by her jealous husband, and threw herself out the window as she watched her lover’s ship sail off into the horizon. This story is the least likely as Steele White died before construction was completed on the house.
I spent the night here and… no ghost. But it’s a charming inn.
Manifestation: Male guests in room 204 have reported awakening to an invisible woman’s caress. Female visitors have reported having their personal items moved about. The angry ghost of an African-American servant has been reported harassing female workers in the basement kitchen, pulling their hair and jangling her bracelets at them.
Turn left on Lincoln and continue into the cemetery.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Abercorn Street and East Ogelthorpe
Story: This atmospheric cemetery was opened in 1750 and enlarged in 1789. It is the final resting place of prominent Savannah citizens, dueling victims, and 700 victims of the yellow fever epidemic of 1820. It’s little wonder that the cemetery is believed to be haunted. It’s most famous specter is that of Rene Asche Rondolier (or Renee Rondolia Asch), a disfigured orphan who lived in the cemetery in the early 1800s. He was accused of the murder of two girls whose bodies were found in the cemetery, dragged to the nearby swamps, lynched and left for dead. But in the days that followed, more dead bodies turned up in the cemetery. The people of Savannah were convinced Rene’s ghost was the culprit, and to this day the cemetery is known by some as Rene’s playground. It’s said his ghost roams the grounds at night. Recently, caretakers found evidence of animal sacrifices in the cemetery, and so it is now locked at night.
Manifestation: The apparition of a man who vanishes in the cemetery.
Exit the cemetery and walk down Abercorn. The street splits at the square – take the left hand road to 330 Abercorn.
Hamilton Turner Inn
330 Abercorn Street
Story: If this French Gothic mansion looks familiar to you, you may not be experiencing déjà vu. It was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion at Disney World. Built in 1873, this was the first Savannah mansion with electric power. The second owner of the home, Dr. Francis Turner, was rumored to perform autopsies on the bottom floor, where he met his patients. But the Turners were also known for hosting lavish parties. Their children were banished upstairs during the parties, where they would play with the balls on the billiard table. Not content with this arrangement, one night the children “accidentally” rolled billiard balls down the stairs so they could retrieve them and catch a glimpse of what the adults were up to. But one of the little girls got too close to the top step, and fell down the stairs to her death.
Manifestation: The ghost of Samuel P. Hamilton is believed to wander the mansion’s second floor. The sound of something being rolled down the stairs and pool be played upstairs has been reported.
Continue down Abercorn Street and again jag left as you go around the next square to 432 Abercorn.
432 Abercorn Street
Story: According to legend, in the 1800s, an Army General named Wilson lived in this home with his nine year old daughter. He forbid his daughter from playing with the children in the school across from her home. The temptation proved too great for the girl, and one day she ran disobeyed. Furious, the father tied her to a chair in her second floor bedroom and left her there for two days, during the brutal Savannah summer. She died of heatstroke, tied to the chair. Distraught, the father blamed the children at the school for tempting his daughter, and would sit in her chair in that second floor room, glaring at the school children playing. He died there as well.
Manifestation: People have reported being pushed, and hearing a disembodied voice telling them to get out. The face of the General has been photographed on the wall outside his house, to the left of a window on the first floor.
Walk left on E. Gordon to the next square.
The Mercer House is on Bull Street.
429 Bull Street
Story: Made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” by John Berendt. Once owned by musician Johnny Mercer, the home was purchased by Jim Williams, a local antiques dealer. Known for hosting lavish parties, Williams was tried for four times for the murder of a local prostitute, Danny Hansford, who was shot on the grounds.
Manifestation: Since Williams’ death, people have reported seeing lights and festivities taking place in the mansion, now the Mercer Williams House Museum.
Go up Bull Street to East Jones and turn left.
Eliza Thompson House
5 East Jones Street
Story: James Thompson survived the Civil War, and then was kicked by a horse outside his beloved house and killed. His ghost is now believed to haunt the house, and has been reported sitting on the couch and looking out the window of room 132 of this historic inn. Strangely, most of the apparitions have only been “partial body” – the specter typically appears only from the waist up. But James Thompson isn’t the only ghost to haunt room 132. Guests have reported encounters with a small girl, who shakes them, asking them to get up and play.
Manifestation: The laughter of a young girl, the apparition of James Thompson. Most of the activity is focused around room 132.
Retrace your steps to Bull Street and continue up it to #245.
Six Pence Pub
245 Bull Street
Story: Though the building dates from 1910, the Six Pence Pub was constructed on a much older foundation, which may account for the hauntings. Pots and pans in the kitchen have been known to move of their own accord, sometimes spinning like tops. And staff have reported numerous ghostly encounters. On one memorable morning, the staff arrived to find the windows frosted over. When they entered, the thermostats had been tampered with, turned to sixty degrees on one level and eighty on the other. All the downstairs light bulbs had been removed and stacked upon the floor.
Manifestation: A pinball machine that plays by itself, chills, and objects that move of their own accord.
Continue up Bull Street to E. Ogelthorpe Avenue. The Juliette Gordon Lowe building is on the corner of Bull and E. Ogelthorpe.
Juliette Gordon Lowe National Girl Scout Center
10 E Ogelthorpe Ave
Story: The parents of Juliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts, were a true love match, and when Willie Gordon preceded his spunky wife, Nelly, to the grave, he decided to wait for her. Nelly was on her death bed with her son, Arthur, at her side, and Arthur’s wife, Margaret, waited outside in the hall. She was shocked to see Willie Gordon walk out of Nelly’s bedroom, his face suffused with joy. Shortly afterward, Arthur emerged from the room and told his wife that his mother had passed away. Margaret told him what she’d seen, but he didn’t believe her… until the butler told him he’d just seen Willie walk out the front door in his best gray suit. Willie had come to escort his wife.
Manifestation: Nelly’s ghost has been reported in the center hall and at the dining room table, the sound of the pianoforte playing, mysterious footsteps, and objects moved about.
Go right on E. Ogelthorpe and take a left on Abercorn.
Olde Pink House Restaurant
23 Abercorn Street
Story: This popular tavern is said to be haunted by its builder, Gen. James Habersham, who appears in the restaurant. Our waiter told us a prior owner’s jealous wife has been known to lock women in the ladies room at the lower tavern level. It happened so often, they had to remove the locks. Three weeks before we arrived, a psychic told them that the spirits of three slaves haunted the wine cellar (once an old bank vault). An unusual orb was also caught in the lower hall leading into the tavern on one of the hotel’s security cameras.
And the food is amazing. You may want to time this for dinner. One of the floors requires reservations, but the tavern level (which is, in my opinion, most interesting) is first come, first serve.
Construction on the Olde Pink House began in 1771 by the Habersham family, and it saw Savannah’s occupation by the British during the Revolutionary War and by the Union Army during the Civil War, and the great Savannah Fire.
Manifestation: Colonel Habersham has been seen wearing Colonial garb and drinking ale. His ghost has also been blamed for lighting candles in the house. A female ghost on the second floor has also been reported, as well as slave children who play dice in the center and play tricks on the guests.
1) The Unitarian Church Graveyard 8 Archdale Street
Story: This lovely, overgrown graveyard, its gnarled trees draped with Spanish moss, is worth a look, ghosts or not. We were there the first week of September, and monarch butterflies were everywhere. This may be one of the stranger ghost stories, because though people have insisted they’ve seen the ghost of Annabel Lee, the woman is entirely fictional. According to the story (emphasis on “story”), Annabel Lee was romantically involved with Edgar Allen Poe when he was stationed in Charleston. But her father kept them apart. Poe eventually left town and Annabel died months later of Yellow Fever. Poe returned to pay his respects, but the irate father was determined to keep them apart even in death, and moved Annabel’s grave to an unmarked spot in the lower end of the cemetery. Another female ghost who’s been spotted is reputed to be Mary Bloomfield, who actually did live in Charleston over a hundred years ago. One night her husband left for Boston on business and never returned. The heartbroken Mary spent the rest of her life waiting for his return. Today she wanders this lovely, natural looking cemetery, still searching for her husband.
Manifestation: The apparition of a woman sitting on a graveyard bench and walking along its paths.
Walk south on Archdale and go left on Queen Street
2) Poogan’s Porch 72 Queen Street
Story: Charleston even has a ghost for dog lovers. An old house converted into a swanky restaurant, Poogan’s Porch is named for the West Highland Terrier that haunts it. But the dog isn’t the only ghost. There have been numerous sightings of one of its owners, Zoe St. Armand.
Manifestation: Guests have been known to feel the pooch brush against their legs as it passes, and to hear the clicking of Poogan’s nails upon the restaurant’s plank floors. The apparition of an old woman in a black dress waving from a second floor window facing Queen Street and the Mill House Motel, and vanishing around corners. Pots and pans crashing together for no reason.
Continue down Queen Street and stop at the intersection with Meeting Street. The Mills House Hotel is on the corner.
3) Mills House Hotel 115 Meeting Street
Story: General Robert E. Lee once stayed here. Several guests have reported seeing an apparition.
Manifestation: An apparition of a male spirit, reputed to be General Robert E. Lee, on the second floor balcony. Objects moved at night in hotel rooms, televisions coming on for no discernable reason.
Turn right on Church Street.
4) Dock Street Theater 135 Church Street
Story: Considered the most haunted spot in Charleston, the theater was built in 1735 and converted to a hotel in 1809 after a fire. Two spirits remain to steal the spotlight. One is Junius Brutus Booth, the father of John Wilkes Booth - an actor who just won’t take his final curtain call. The other is believed to be Nettie Dickerson, a young woman who turned to prostitution after being rejected by Charlestonian society. The young woman went mad, and took to standing on the hotel’s balcony and railing at the sophisticates passing beneath. She was struck by lightning on the balcony, and died.
Manifestation: A wild-eyed female apparition, dressed in an elegant red gown from the 1830s, walking the second floor of the Dock Street Theatre. Her ghost appears to be cut off at the knee, possibly because of renovations done in 1936 that raised the second floor by 12 inches. The ghost seems to still walk on the original flooring, unaware of the change. A male ghost reputed to be Junius Booth has also been reported, dressed in formal attire.
Continue down Church to #131.
5) 131 Church Street
Story: No idea. There’s supposed to be a ghost that haunts the street outside.
Manifestation: The scent of cheap cologne hangs in the air around this reputedly haunted residence. All we could smell were flowers from the window boxes.
Reverse direction on Church and cross Queen’s street. The entrance to Pirates Courtyard is just past #145.
6) Pirates Courtyard 145 Church Street
Story: According to legend, the Pirate House was used for gambling and dealing contraband. The courtyard behind it as likewise used to trade goods smuggled in by pirates. Though this stop is popular on ghost tours, I was unable to find any ghost stories connected to it. Still, it’s a lovely alley.
Retrace your steps and cross Church Street to St. Phillip’s Church Graveyard.
7) St. Phillip’s Church Graveyard 142 Church Street
Story: Several ghosts are believed to inhabit this graveyard, including a “Gray Man,” believed to be the spirit of a freed slave named Boney, who today is considered by some to be a harbinger of death. Also reported is the ghost of a young girl with a rose in her hair, frightened to death by the Gray Man. According to legend, she went to the cemetery one night on a dare, and was found dead the next morning, with the Gray Man’s cane pinning her skirts to the damp ground. Another female spirit is the ghost of Sue Howard Hardy, who died due to complications on June 16,1888, six days after delivering a stillborn child. She is reputed to attack pregnant visitors to the graveyard.
Manifestation: The apparitions of a shadowy man with a cane, leaning on a gravestone, a young woman with a rose in her hair. In 1987, the apparition of Sue Hardy was photographed hovering over her grave, draped in a shawl. Visitors to her grave and to the graveyard in general have reported a sense of uneasiness, and occasionally, shortness of breath as an unknown force seems to squeeze the air from their lungs.
Turn around and reverse your path on Church Street and go left on Queen Street. The next block on your left is…
8) Philadelphia Alley
Story: Also known as Dueler’s Alley, this cool, leafy brick alley was the sight of several drunken duels. As you walk up the alley from the Queen Street, about mid-way on the right, you’ll see two bricked up doorways, roughly across from a plaque about the alley. These doorways were once the entrances to a bar that served the rougher elements. If you examine the walls around the bricked up entries, you’ll see what appears to be bullet holes.
Manifestation: Orbs, mists, and odd lights have been photographed, and full bodied apparitions reported seen strolling the alley, some disappearing into the bricked over doors.
My ghost tours are getting progressively hotter. Not hot exciting, East Coast in the middle of summer hot. This one took about 45 minutes, not including the stop in the City Tavern for food, ale, and air conditioning. Standard disclaimers apply - don’t expect to go running inside these places to conduct ghost hunts.
1) Start at Christ Church Cemetery Tomb near corner of Fifth and Arch (entrance on Arch between Fifth and Fourth)
Story: Though the cemetery may be closed, you can still get a peek at one of its most famous resident’s grave. Benjamin Franklin’s grave may be viewed through the fence on Arch, near the corner of Fifth Street. You’ll likely see pennies scattered across the grave – many visitors leave pennies there to commemorate his famous saying, “A penny saved, is a penny earned.” However, the Colonial hero may be getting weary of the joke. Visitors have reported having pennies thrown back at them by a ghostly force.
Manifestation: Pennies thrown at visitors by an invisible force.
Continue down Arch Street and cross Third to the Betsy Ross House at 239 Arch, on the left side of the street.
2) Betsy Ross House 239 Arch Street.
Story: A security guard was shot and killed here in 1980 and since that time, people have reported hearing voices in the house. Betsy Ross is also believed to haunt the house. Ghost Hunters shot their season 5 premier here.
Manifestation: Disembodied voices.
Return to Third and go left until you reach the First Bank of the US, on 120 South Third.
3) First Bank 120 South Third
Story: The oldest bank building in the US, the First Bank was built in 1795, when Philadelphia was still the nation’s capital. It was established to create a standard currency and its first treasurer was Alexander Hamilton, who guided its founding and was passionate about the nation’s finances. Days after he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, his ghost was seen at the bank. Sightings have declined over the years.
Continue a few feet down Third and go left at the brick pedestrian walk, following the sign to the City Tavern (past the Exchange Building with the sleeping lions).
4) City Tavern 138 S. 2nd Street
Story: This building is a reconstruction of the original, which was opened in 1773 and was the meeting place for numerous Continental heroes. John Adams found the City Tavern one of the few redeeming features of Philadelphia. The building was destroyed in 1854 due to a fire and rebuilt in time for the bicentennial in 1976, using the original blueprints. Today, the only differences are the modern conveniences (e.g. air conditioning) and the sight of women in the dining area – unheard of during Colonial days. Two ghosts are rumored to inhabit the Tavern: a young bride who died in the fire, and a former waiter who was killed in a bar fight.
Retrace your steps to 3rd Street and continue south, turning right on Walnut.
4) Bishop White House 309 Walnut Street.
Story: This historic home was owned by Bishop White, chaplain to the Second Constitutional Convention and the US Senate. Considered the most haunted home in Independence Park, rangers have reported feelings of uneasiness and avoid entering it alone at night.
Manifestation: Shadowy shapes have also been reported throughout the house, as well as a howling ghost cat, an elderly housekeeper on the first floor, and a tall, thin man on the third floor.
Retrace your steps to Third Street and continue south.
6) The Powel House 244 S. 3rd Street
Story: This home was built in the Georgian style in 1765 and purchased by the first mayor of independent Philadelphia, Samuel Powel. The mayor and his wife were great entertainers, hosting lavish parties. In 1965, historian Edwin Moore reported seeing the ghosts of General Lafayette and several other Continental Army officers ascending the mahogany staircase. Several visitors and Moore’s wife reported seeing the ghost of a young woman in the drawing room (immediately to the left as you enter) wearing a lavender and beige gown. The gown was later discovered – it belonged to Benedict Arnold’s unhappy wife, Peggy Shippen. The gown had last been worn by Peggy at a party at the Powel House. Now a museum with guided tours, the main staircase can be seen from the entrance hall.
Manifestation: The ghosts of Continental Army officers ascending the staircase. Peggy’s ghost has been seen throughout the house.
Continue south on 3rd Street and turn right on Pine Street.
7) St. Peter’s Church 313 Pine Street.
Story: The church was opened in 1761 and is well worth the visit. Manifestation: According to legend, every night at 9:00 a phantom appears, to protect the spirits of the five Indian chiefs buried there.
[Note: Hag of Pine Street between 6th and 7th – a crotchety elderly woman who died at home and shrieks at youngsters]
Continue up Pine Street, make a right on S. 4th Street
8) Physick House 321 S. 4th Street
Story: This Federal town house was built in 1786 by Henry Hill and became home to the “Father of American Surgery,” Dr. Philip Syng Physick, who lived there from 1815-37. He also invented the first American soda pop. The house is open to the public.
Manifestation: The house is believed to be haunted by Elizabeth Roberts Physick (Emlen) (1779 - 1847), whose ghost was reported weeping in the yard near the stump of her favorite tree, chopped down shortly before her death.
Continue up S. 4th Street and turn left on Spruce, then right on S. 6th Street to Washington Square.
9) Washington Square
Story: One of the five original squares laid out by William Penn as he was planning the city, the square was used as a burial yard for John Does from 1704-1794. A young female suicide was buried here as well, as her family was not permitted to bury her in hallowed ground. In 1776, fallen Colonial Army soldiers were buried in the square. Coffins were piled atop each other in pits along 7th Street and the south side of the cemetery. When the British seized the city in 1777, they took over nearby Walnut Street Jail. Conditions in the jail were wretched and the British buried deceased prisoners in the park. During the 1793 yellow fever epidemic, the park was also used as a mass grave. With all this history, it’s no wonder the park is believed to be haunted today, though it’s doubtful the many sunbathers and picnickers who congregate there are aware of its tragic past.
Manifestation: Oppressive feelings. The ghost of a Quaker woman named Leah is believed to patrol the cemetery at night to protect the graves from robbers.
Continue up S. 6th Street and make a right on Chestnut
10) Independence Hall 520 Chestnut.
Story: Manifestation: Paranormal mists and the ghosts of Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold have been reported.
Note: If you want to go inside Independence Hall, tickets are available for purchase two blocks away in the visitor’s center.
Make a right on South 5th Street
11) Library Hall 105 South Fifth, in Independence Park
Story: Manifestation: Benjamin Franklin’s ghost has reportedly been very active here, pinching a woman’s bottom and seen wandering the facility with an armful of books. His statue has also reportedly come to life and gamboled down the street.