Sunday, June 15, 2014

Haunted by Savannah

The tree lined roads to Savannah are voodoo paved with snakes, black vultures and blown out rubber tires. Second posting into my present life as a "male trailing spouse," this was our first "road trip" (in the newly acquired grey-metallic 2008 Honda Civic) to the most haunted city in America.  


In Savannah you are haunted by the dead, and, of course, the living tourists who come looking to meet them. This is because Savannah is where the flux lines of the living meet the dead . Sounds like a strong premise for a horror story, right? So, as a consequence, Savannah does its level best to keep its history haunted because it's good for tourism and house prices.  


Old oaks dripping with ghostly Spanish moss in Savannah 


Like a character in an old MR James story, I was skeptical about all of this mumbo jumbo, and only in Savannah to take a break from the dreary rigmarole of my self-important life. We had rented a red-bricked Victorian carriage house on East Jones Lane in the historic district of the city, a grid of colonial era streets, French mansions, Italianate squares dripping with Spanish moss and the sinister shade of palms and oaks. Rather like Portmeirion in North Wales, Savannah could be anywhere in the world.   


Portmeirion in North Wales


But why does this city stink of ghosts? Many a brick in the city is cemented with the blood of an African slave and so the dead loom everywhere in Savannah. In the brutally romantic houses, the gnarled oaks, the green lawns, in the narrow lanes covered over with honeysuckle and wild roses and the badly paved cobbled paths. Just like America at large, Savannah is haunted by the guilty details of its own short history.  Race is an inalienable and abhorrent fact in the development of modern day America. So maybe it has something to do with its colonial history of genocide, war, disease, natural disasters, murder and slavery? No wonder the victims of those wealth-getting times come out from their dark shadows and frighten you half to death!


This 1774 advertisement is typical of those used in the North, as well as the South before the Civil War. It concerns the sale of slaves and land, the availability of employment for an overseer, a recall of debts, and a reward for anyone who captured two runaway slaves. The Africans, scheduled to be sold at auction in Savannah, Georgia, were "prime, young, likely healthy." The runaway advertisement on this same broadside gives specific information about two African-born male runaways which includes height, complexion, build, and clothing.


Lafayette Square, Savannah, Georgia.


Our pied-à-terre was just around the corner from Calhoun Square. It was named for John C. Calhoun (a South Carolina statesman who, among other titles, served as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson) and laid out in 1851. It is the only Square in Savannah with all of its original buildings still intact. Many of the homes were built in the Greek Revival style, and Calhoun Square has many notable buildings on it including the Massie School. Throughout its history Calhoun Square has served many purposes including a burial ground for African victims of the legitimate Slave Trade.




432 Abercorn Street. One of the most haunted houses in Savannah, allegedly.


Every town and city in the world has a haunted house. Savannah is home to many and 432 Abercorn Street is meant to be the most haunted of the lot. Designed in the Greek Revival style, it was built back in 1868 for Benjamin T. Wilson, a veteran of the American Civil War. 


"Spirit Orbs" caught on my camera during visit to 432 Abercorn Street


Many stories surround the history of this grand house on Calhoun Square: murders, suicides, and disappearances. And there does seem to be a strange, dark, malevolent energy in this dilapidated property. What is telling is that the house stands empty in one of the most prominent and sought after locations in the city.


Could the house on Abercorn Street be inherently evil? Could "evil" exist in its stone foundations, wooden beams, plaster ceilings and glass windows? Sneaking around the front of the Devil's house with my camera, I looked for hanging corpses and mad green faces at the window.  I saw nothing but felt startled by something else: an eerie, demonic energy that seemed to come from the top.   


The morbid curiosity that brought me to this house was soon rewarded. Set down in these shots and blow ups are images dark, haunting and unexplainable.  And I must warn you before you go on, they are not for the fainthearted. Upon seeing them, I felt a chill in the blood and the heart.  

Spectral eyes and ghostly visages at 432 Abercorn Street


There was NOTHING there when I took these pix




What strange and inexplicable force haunts the house on Abercorn St?

Alas, our midnight mood is over. I must leave this blog and quickly. There was a certain, unseen power in Savannah. Perhaps in the outside world, in another city, we can escape the terror that is our human history? Perhaps.