Savannah’s Most Haunted Places Part 3: Haunted Restaurants, Pubs, Breweries, and Theaters
There is something about Savannah’s most haunted places that draw people to it. Maybe the pleasant climate of Savannah, the sandy beaches, the preserved architecture harkening to another time, or the fine offerings of regional food and drinks make Savannah the ideal tourist destination. What makes Savannah truly unique is its long and storied history– Savannah is an old city settled in 1733 by General James Ogelthorpe, who found this area of Georgia so agreeable that he established the city. Many buildings, such as the Pirates House and the 17Hundred90, were built very early on in the formation of Savannah and have now been converted into restaurants hosting an array of delicacies that makes Savannah such a gastronomical experience. However, it seems that many residents who lived in these houses and inns have stayed on long after their earthly lives ended. It is the history of this area, the events that have included bloody wars and fires, plagues and murders, that have unleashed ghosts into the environment, becoming part of the fabric of Savannah. So, if you make Savannah a culinary destination to sample some of its unique blends of the Old World and the New when you stop by one of the local eateries, whether it’s to order biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, or a local favorite, fried green tomatoes, keep in mind that you may not be alone—interested in wine and spirits? Well, Savannah offers up some fine breweries to wet your whistle. But as you pull up a chair, keep it in the back of your mind that not all the spirits offered in Savannah’s most haunted restaurants and breweries are of the distilled variety! Remember, if you visit Savannah, you better have an appetite for food and the paranormal! You will be served a heaping helping of both!
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Savannah’s Most Haunted: Pirates House
Want to eat at the very place that served as the setting and inspired the classic book Treasure Island? Well, look no further than Savannah’s historic Pirates House! Just a few blocks from where General Oglethorpe landed and opened as an inn in 1753, the Pirates House originally operated as quarters, and a tavern for sailors, buts its proximity to the Savannah River also lured in many pirates looking for a place to drink and rest. Today, the Pirates House has been converted into a restaurant, offering visitors a menu of outstanding food and drinks—and the chance to experience a ghost! Many patrons report poltergeist activity as some unseen forces knock glasses and dishes from shelves. Others witness the sound of heavy boots walking across the floor. Sometimes the full-bodied apparitions of pirates have been observed wandering the dining room, an ethereal reminder of days gone by. It seems more sinister hauntings reside downstairs in the Pirates House. Underground tunnels once ran from the inn to the Savannah River, allowing pirates to kidnap drunken men and forcing them into service. Yelling and screaming, the residual anguish of those kidnapped, are heard in the basement even to this day. It is out of this history that ghosts still wander the Pirates House.
Olde Pink House
The Olde Pink House, so named because the brick underneath bleeds through the stucco, creating a pink tinge, is not just a restaurant that specializes in Southern comfort foods. Besides deep-dish chicken pot pie and applewood smoked bacon, this restaurant also has ghosts on its menu. The history of the Olde Pink House begins with the tale of James Habersham, Jr. He was also known for his southern hospitality, and as such, he dreamed of a home where he could unite his friends and family. Construction began on the Olde Pink House in 1771 and was completed in 1789. Ten years after the Olde Pink House was completed, Habersham, it is rumored, hanged himself in the basement, possibly distraught over his wife’s infidelity. But, being the doting host as he was, Habersham would not allow a thing like death to get in the way, and it is said that he still watches over his home, wandering about wearing his best Colonial-era clothing, checking in on his guests. He has been witnessed setting tables, lighting candles, and pushing in chairs, ensuring everything is suitable for his beloved guests. Sometimes his apparition is seen in the restaurant drinking an ale beside the living, only to disappear into nothingness when approached.
Notwithstanding his seemingly gracious nature, Habersham was a man of his time and a slave owner. It is in the Olde Pink House’s basement, which has been converted into a tavern, and those ghostly children born into slavery are reported. These spectral children, believed to have died in one of Savannah’s many fires or from illnesses like Yellow Fever, can be seen throwing dice or playing tricks on the guests or employees.
Six Pence Pub: Fish, Chips, and Ghosts
Praised as the most authentic English Pub in Georgia, Savannah’s Six Pence Pub is a British-style establishment in the historic district. When it was known as “Wally’s Sixpence,” the building’s first owners were, appropriately enough, from England. They even have a genuine British phone booth! It seems this pub has some resident ghosts that add to the charm. Many of the pub’s employees have experienced all sorts of strange things happening. Pots and pans have been seen flying off the countertops and chairs moving about on their own. Light bulbs are known to burst, and doors suddenly open or close by some invisible force. If you visit the pub, it may be wise to bring a jacket, as ghostly cold spots are known to form when a ghost enters the room and chooses to sit down beside you. Keep in mind, there is no real damage being done, just mischievous spirits alerting the living to their presence. There must be something about the Six Pence Pub that keeps these spirits hanging around. Could it be the fish and chips? One theory is the ghosts haunting the pub are former patrons who felt at home here and stayed instead of passing on. Whatever the cause for these hauntings, remember when you have a pint to toast those who have gone before and remain!
Tondee’s Tavern: Haunted by those enslaved
Are you looking for a burger and a cocktail? Well, Tondee’s Tavern is the right spot for American cuisine. One of the newer restaurants in Savannah, Tondee’s Tavern, is a recipient of the history of the building’s past. The building that houses Tondee’s Tavern dates back to 1853; the ground floor was once used by the Central Railway and Banking Company. On the upper floor were the offices of Joseph Bryan, the most infamous slave broker of the 1850s in Savannah. Enslaved people were often locked in the basement and in inhuman slave pens right out the back door. During the Civil War, through Sherman’s occupation of Savannah, this location was used by General John Geary of the Union Army, who commanded the city of Savannah after its surrender. With so much wretched human emotion within and around this building, it is little wonder why Tondee’s Tavern is haunted. Figures of the enslaved, residual reminders of the antebellum South, are seen throughout the building, impressions etched into the very fiber of the tavern. So too, have spirits dressed in Civil War clothing been reported lurking throughout the building. Voices are sometimes heard and disembodied whispers witnessed by those who work at the tavern and those who patronize Tondee’s. Just another case where the history of Savannah intrudes with the present.
Moon River Brewing: A place for brews and boos!
The Moon River Brewing Company occupies a building with a long and varied history. Built in 1821 as the City Hotel, this building was the first hotel in Savannah. It also served as the first branch of the United States Post Office in Savannah. The building was also a branch of the Bank of the United States.
In 1851, Peter Wiltberger bought the City Hotel. He renovated it and kept a live lion and lioness on display to attract attention to his business. The City Hotel’s final guest checked out in 1864, just before the arrival of General Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War, which ended the hotel. In 1995 this former hotel, post office, and bank were renovated into its current configuration as a brew pub. The Moon River Brewing Company debuted in this space on April 10, 1999. But the ghosts of the building’s past remain. There are reports of a ghost named James Stark who was shot while gambling in the hotel. During the Civil War, the building was used as a makeshift hospital, so not only were agonizing screams heard echoing from time to time throughout the brewery but also the ghostly forms of those who died from their wounds. Some employees and patrons have even reported hearing the residual roar of those lions kept here. Someone even witnessed a ghostly lion prowling the halls! So if you stop by the brewery, it may not be the drinks making you see things!
The building that now houses the 17Hundred90 Inn was three residences when its construction ended in the early 1800s. However, this first structure succumbed to the great fire of 1820 that destroyed over 450 homes and businesses in Savannah. This site was the location of several private residences before transforming into the 17Hundred90 restaurant and inn. The most well-known ghost at the 17Hundred90 Inn is the ghost of Anne. Anne has been seen in Room 204 of the inn. This ghost seems to enjoy interacting with staff and guests. She has been known to pack and unpack suitcases, move items in the room, and even take a thing or two if she likes it. The ghost of Anne may be a former resident of the building long before it was a restaurant. One theory is that she lost her husband, which is why, to this day, the sounds of an old woman crying can be heard. But this ghost isn’t always sad and seems more playful than morose.
Another ghost reported at the 17Hundred90 over the years seems to have taken up residence in the kitchen. This ghost is much more sinister than the ghost of Anne, who seems to haunt just the upstairs. This ghostly energy is known to throw pots and touch or even maliciously push people working in and around the kitchen. Pots have been thrown, people have been pushed or touched, and pranks have been pulled on women working in or around the kitchen. It is said that the staff believes this is the ghost of a servant who used to serve the family who lived in the house. The woman in question was believed to be a practitioner of voodoo. So whether you are stopping by to grab a bite or staying the night at the 17Hundred90 Inn, keep an eye out for Anne or the voodoo practitioner that still haunts this place.
A Night at the Theatre: Ghosts that Haunt the Limelight
Before going out to dinner at any of Savannah’s fine restaurants or imbibing a cold one at the historical taverns or breweries of this city, may I first recommend you start your evening out in Savannah with a stop at the theatre. Many visitors often overlook this city’s quality of culture; sadly, this is an unfortunate mistake. Savannah has two theatres that host whatever you may be looking for. Whether a rock concert, a Shakespearean play, an action movie, or a touring musical passing through town, a night at the theatre is bound to be entertaining. And just like the restaurants and pubs we have mentioned, Savannah’s theatres are also the haunts of various spirits.
Theatres are unique repositories for human emotion. On the stage, actors and actresses pour out scripted emotions that somehow seem to take on a life of their own. The theatre is where people gather for a shared experience, whether to laugh, cry, or be entertained. Theatres are a place where humanity, in all its glory and with all its shortcomings, is put on display. Even after death, it seems as if actors still audition and audiences attend the theatre that meant so much to them while they were alive in this world.
With its grandiose sign and impressive interior, the Lucas Theatre is undoubtedly a place you want to visit on your next trip to Savannah. It is a reminder of the glory days of the motion picture houses. The Lucas Theatre was built in 1921 to stage plays and present motion pictures. After an extensive renovation in 2000, the theatre now plays host to plays, concerts, cinemas, and operas. This theatre truly is a gem in Savannah’s culture. Like all good theatres, the Lucas Theater has a history of haunting. Some of the witnessed ghostly activity from the Lucas Theatre involves shadow people, vaporous forms of human beings that seem to appear out of nothing and dissipate just as quickly. These shadows have been seen on the stage and seated in the auditorium. They seem to encompass the residual energies of people who frequented this theatre, imprinted into the space, and witnessed from time to time taking form. There are also reports of the sound of applause in an empty building and the movement of objects in and around the theatre, such as lighting and props. Since the 1970s, a ghostly ticket-taker has been witnessed from time to time in the lobby, still performing his job in the afterlife. He has even been known to hold doors open for guests and help ladies with their jackets. The ghost of a bygone era!
Savannah Theater: One of the country’s oldest theaters also hosts ghosts!
On December 4, 1818, the Savannah Theater opened with the production of a comedy called A Soldier’s Daughter. This theatre is now one of the oldest continually functioning theatres in America! After a fire swept through Savannah in 1948, the theatre was repaired and retains the current art deco style you can see today. Since 1895, this theatre has been reported to be haunted; when police investigated a disturbance at the theatre, they heard thunderous applause, but the building was empty!
Three ghosts seem to be eternal residents of the theatre, and all three are believed to have had their lives ended at the theatre.
- Betty was an actress who loved the stage too much. She is behind the curtain most nights, ready to perform her afterlife.
- A young boy haunts the balcony, harassing the spotlight operator. He loves playing pranks and is enjoying his afterlife at the theatre.
- The Director. Having spent his life behind the scenes, The Director welcomes every opportunity to step out from the shadows. While he enjoys his role in the afterlife, he cannot let go of his passion for directing, and he still can be heard shouting at actors and critiquing their performances.
If you stop by to take in a show, maybe give an extra clap or two for Betty and a whistle for the director. Before you go, perhaps a quick wave to the balcony to acknowledge the little boy. After all, you were guests into their world!
Featured Image: Flickr
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