Visit Savannah | Georgia

Spooky Savannah: Hauntings in This Southern City

Imagine waking up startled in the darkness to a crying ghost, her tears dribbling on your face.

“She haunts the upstairs waiting for her lover to return,” says Patrick Godley, owner of Savannah’s historic 17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant. He’s spinning out a lament for Anna, believed to be the ghost of an indentured servant from the early 1800s. Jilted by a sailor who left her behind, the distraught woman jumped to her death from a top-floor window.

Anna and Wally

“When a young couple came and stayed, Anna was maybe jealous of their love and hovered over the girl crying,” he continues. “The girl woke up and felt a drop of water on her face — the ghost crying with tears falling between her fingertips.” And after staying a night in what Godley calls the inn’s “famously haunted” room 204, you may leave with your very own spiritual awakening. “They’ll tell us stories like they feel a presence in the room tugging at their bed sheets and tickling their feet.”

Across from Savannah’s leafy Chippewa Square, where Tom Hanks’ character Forrest Gump sat at his bus stop and contemplated life through a box of chocolates, staff at the 1896 Foley House Inn will tell you about their own resident ghost who they named Wally, a disembodied boarder who disappeared mysteriously one night. They say his stories may stem from a body found behind a wall during a 1987 renovation.

“I did see a figure standing there, a see-through black silhouette, an older gentleman about 6-foot-3,” admits Hayden Burgin, an inn staff member. He says stories also include hearing dulled piano music played over and over again, kitchen doors swinging open with no one there, and repeated tugging on a housekeeper’s shirt in the same room.

City of Specters

Tales of an otherworldly presence are typical in this colonial city founded in 1733, and it seems everyone here has a ghost story or two, from scratching on bedposts, jewelry rearranged, and jingling keys, to pale faces eerily staring out of windows. In 2003, the American Institute of Paranormal Psychology named Savannah the country’s most haunted city, likely a result of Revolutionary and Civil War casualties, yellow fever epidemics, and Native American and enslaved African burial grounds packed underneath Savannah’s Historic District and beyond. “Pretty much every step you take here, there’s a chance you’re on a different body,” quips Burgin.

Such purported hauntings have supercharged Savannah’s booming ghost-tour industry with, according to 6th Sense World Historic Ghost & Cemetery Tours, more than 100 competing companies offering evening trolley and walking tours. Guides lead their groups past historic hotels, old homes and through some of the city’s 22 shaded squares as fading twilight and dim lamplight begin to cast dulled shadows on low-hanging Spanish moss.

Stops may include one of the city’s most popular ….


This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine. To continue reading, click above for a digital or print subscription.

A former TV reporter, Houston-based Richard Varr has written for USA Today, AOL Travel, the Dallas Morning News, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine, Islands, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Sam Club’s Highways, and AAA’s Home & Away. Richard also wrote the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Philadelphia & the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.