Savannah, Ga., bursts with paranormal energy that is regularly explored, investigated and experienced by residents and visitors alike, says Mindy Shea, director of tour and travel sales for Visit Savannah. As one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah offers more than two dozen ghost tours — all of which are group friendly. Groups can choose to go on traditional walking, carriage and trolley tours, or they can opt for an investigative tour, complete with ghost hunting and recording equipment, in which they become their own ghost hunters.
“The investigative tours can be a team building experience as members of your group break into smaller groups to investigate separate areas of a facility,” says Shea. “Everyone rejoins in the end to review and share their data and experiences.”
Here are five haunted Savannah sites that Shea says actively embrace their haunted history and regularly promote it as a part of the experience in their establishments with many tours. Plus, most of them have meeting space for those daring groups willing to stay for an entire event.
Moon River Brewing company is located in a building that was originally built in 1821 as the City Hotel, the first hotel in Savannah. The building’s turmoil started the day it was built from the ashes of The Great Fire of 1820, which destroyed nearly two-thirds of the city’s infrastructure. Ever since, it has survived General Tecumseh Sherman’s raid during the American Civil War and has seen everything from feuds to fights to lynchings. Today, a ghost named Toby apparently haunts the billiard room as well as other spirits that have made appearances in the Ghost Hunters Halloween special and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. For brave groups, the brewery offers event spaces on the Main Floor up to 350 people reception style as well as smaller spaces such as the Downtstairs Beer Cellar.
The Pirates’ House restaurant stands on the original Trustees Garden, the first experimental garden in America, and is located adjacent to Georgia’s oldest building, built in 1734. In 1753, an inn was built on the garden site and served as a stomping grounds for blood-thirsty pirates and sailors to stop between their voyages to places such as Singapore or San Francisco. The restaurant still features the Captain’s Room where negotiations were made by ship’s masters to kidnap seaman to complete their crews. Rumors about tunnels extending from the Old Rum Cellar beneath the Captain’s Room to the river where men would be carried unconscious to ships waiting in the harbor still exist. The restaurant accommodates groups with a group menu available for attendees that want to get a glimpse of the pirate spirit that once frequented the restaurant’s halls.
Groups can come eat at the 17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant, named for the year it was built. Very daring attendees can stay in Room 204 at the 14-suite inn, where the ghost of Anne Powell is said to still be lurking near the window. Powell fell from the window of Room 204, but there are several rumors surrounding her death. Some say that she was unhappily married to Steel White, the man who died building the 17Hundred90 Inn, while others say she was a servant at the inn. Both say she leapt to her death because she became pregnant by a sailor who left to sea and never returned.
The Marshall House has a very eerie story. It was built in 1851, and General Tecumseh Sherman used the space as a Union hospital until the end of the Civil War. Because 1864 was such a cold year, the ground was too frozen to bury amputated legs and arms. Instead, doctors were forced to bury the limbs under the floorboards. Guests today have reported hearing the sound of a typewriter from the room that Joel Chandler Harris spent time writing Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings. In the women’s restroom, visitors have seen a female ghost and claimed that there’s a specific stall that locks itself, requiring staff to come open it. There have also been sightings of a Union soldier with a missing arm. The historic, 65-room hotel features event space and full catering service by 45 Bistro.
If groups don’t have time to take a full Savannah ghost tour, a tour of the Sorrell-Weed House will paint the haunted Savannah picture nicely. Said to be one of the largest and most haunted houses in Savannah, visitors to the house claim to hear disembodied voice inside the house. And the connecting carriage house located behind the main house is said to have housed an African-American female slave who was murdered by a family member. Groups can take the night tour of the house to get the full haunted effect.