“We’re not at all like the rest of Georgia.
We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, ‘What’s your business?’
In Macon they ask, ‘Where do you go to church?’
In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is
‘What would you like to drink?’” 

John Berendt


Savannah is steeped in rich history, the first trade post in the United States, rooted in slavery, racism, and war. Beauty and sadness embrace this historic city as much as the humidity embraces the southern heat during summer. Savannah lives in its past, her streets are lined with oak trees entwined with Spanish moss. Outstretched branches hover over stoops and patios of southern homes influenced by colonial, Victorian, and French architecture. Locals are warm with much southern hospitality – the air is filled with freshly baked biscuits and fried okra throughout the city at every turn. The Savannah river is north of the historic district and runs parallel to the river walk. A single trolley track line the cobble stone road while visitors and locals alike enjoy cocktails with the local fare. The river leads to the Atlantic Ocean as well as Tybee Island. South of Tybee Island is the Wormsloe National Historic Estate. Oak trees line a mile and half drive to the once known plantation. And a bit south lies Bonaventure Cemetery with its heavy shadows and aged statues that mark the departed.


If you happen to explore Savannah in the evening, you may notice groups of people walking about the squares with a tour guide sharing stories of ghosts and spirits. Since my friends and I decided to visit Savannah for an extended weekend, I was persuaded to join the fun and accepted an invitation to a ghostly tour of Savannah. Note: I barely survived.

The ghost story tour began at the Pulaski monument right across from the Hugh Mercer house. You might be familiar with the film, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” that is based on the events that happened within this house with generations of murderous histories.

Mercer House is named after General Hugh Mercer though he (and no other relative to bear his name) ever lived in the house. It was completed in 1868 and holds a history of events to follow. A young man falling from the roof, a murdered wife, a murdered lover, and tales of hauntings throughout the house; especially, on the top floor.

One unfortunate event involved an 11 year old boy that fell to his death from the roof of the house. He landed on a spiked, iron fence – to this day, it is still missing. The other, Danny Hansford, died at the hands of his lover Jim Williams – as told by author John Berendt in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Williams would spend the next ten years appearing in four trials each time stating it was in self defense – he was acquitted at the fourth trial but died soon after in the same location in the house where Hansford had been shot.

Embellishments may have been added to these historic events, but nothing is more frightening than the truth. We visited Forsyth Park and its gorgeous fountain at night – across from the park is the Savannah College of Art and Design but once operated as the Candler Hospital and the only Savannah hospital. Presently, Candler Hospital is the second oldest continuing running hospital in the United States.

The first outbreak of yellow fever started in 1820 in Savannah, then another following in 1854 and 1876. It ravaged the city – and most of the coastal cities during this time – there weren’t enough hospital beds for patients and the medical treatment, well, could be described as medieval. Since, they had not discovered how yellow fever was passed, how and where would the city safely bury the bodies?


Tybee Island is the easternmost part of Georgia, 18 miles east of Savannah. Atlantic waters slowly wash ashore on warm sand while visitors and locals alike spend their afternoons under beach umbrellas sipping the beverage of their choice. Time moves slowly in the south which make days at the beach long and ideal.


Wormsloe Historic Site. otherwise known as Wormsloe Plantation, is a 822 acre estate established by Noble Jones. Oak trees with Spanish moss line a 1.5 mile oak avenue that leads into the plantation – the estate belongs to the descendants of Noble Jones who still reside in the estate..


From biscuits to grits, the south knows how to provide for its community. Southern cuisine has deep roots with influences from slaves and native Americans. The southern cuisine is as diverse as its people. Seafood is raised and caught on the river, farmers grow local agriculture, and locals are committed to their neighborhood haunts. Salty, crunchy, sweet and spicy are combined with local ingredients and intergenerational recipes. For more –> Deviled & Boiled features all of the foods enjoyed in Savannah. Below is a highlight!

Cinnamon roll donut
Fried green tomato biscuit with pimento cheese
Lowcountry boil, deviled crab, shrimp, corn
Chicken and waffles
Oyster with pickled vegetables, Smoked trout

The Grey Restaurant lives in a former segregated Greyhound bus station on Martin Luther King Drive in Savannah. Its carefully, curated bar is showcased through the long glass that wraps around to the front entrance also showcasing the glow of the neon sign. The entire photography essay of the chefs tasting is found here –> The Grey.


East of Savannah, is the Wilmington River and high on the bluff is Bonaventure Cemetery. The first burial in Bonaventure Cemetery was done in 1850 four years after Bonaventure was established in 1846. The 160-acre grounds are lined with oak trees, hovering over statues with Spanish moss. As the clouds moved slowly in the sky, shadows move in and out between tombstones and mausoleums.


In 1872, Atlanta Cemetery was renamed to Oakland Cemetery to reflect the many oak and magnolia trees at the time. After Oakland Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, a foundation was established for the upkeep and maintenance of the Victorian style, garden cemetery as well as its restoration of gravesites, mausolea, monuments, and buildings ravaged by time…

* * *

EIGHTHREE MEDIA would like to thank:
GetYourGuide Paranormal Tour
Bonaventure Cemetery
Tybee Island and Tybee Beach
Wormsloe Historic Site and Estate
Savannah Historic District
The Crab Shack
The Grey Restaurant
The Grey Market
Leopold’s Ice Cream
St. Neo’s at Drayton Hotel
The Quarters Collins at Forsyth Park
Rise and Shine Biscuits
Oakland Cemetery
Savannah, GA
Atlanta, GA

Copyright 2002-2022 ERICA HILARIO
Copyright 2002-2022 EIGHTHREE MEDIA

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