Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bonaventure Ghosts

On this past Sunday afternoon, Luke, Minor, and I enjoyed a late lunch in downtown Savannah at Wasabi's Sushi Bar (more on that in a forthcoming blog). Then afterwards, Luke took us on a tour of the famous Bonaventure Cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the most beautiful, historical sites in Savannah and was made most popular to tourists by John Berendt's book and then the movie entitled, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

Just to give you a little background on this cemetery site, in the late 1700's, this property was named Bonaventure meaning "Good Fortune". Ironically, good fortune was not always the case for the family who owned it.

The plantation house that once stood on this site burned to the ground twice within a 30 year period. It is said that during one of the fires, the dinner party was moved to the lawn to make sure that the fire did not ruin a perfect evening. During this same 30 year period, the plantation was everything from a family home, to a hospital for French troops.

In 1802, the first adult to be buried on this property was the wife of one of the original owners of the property at what was to become Bonaventure Cemetery. Bonaventure is the resting ground of fallen soldiers as well as many others, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Conrad Aikin and song writer, Johnny Mercer who wrote many classics including "Moon River", "Jeepers Creepers" and "Fools Rush In".

Bonaventure is famous for their many monuments and stone statues. Included in these is the famous "Bird Girl" statue shown on the cover of the book and in the movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".

The "Bird Girl" stood in the Bonaventure Cemetery for 50 years before it was photographed for the cover of the book. Due to the popularity made by the book and movie, the city of Savannah has since moved this statue to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah to keep nearby graves from being disturbed.

Another statue made famous by the people who have visited the cemetery, is of a small girl buried in the cemetery named Gracie Watson. Gracie was born in 1883 and was the only child of her parents. Her father was the manager of The Pulaski House, one of Savannah's leading hotels. Gracie was a favorite with the guests and spent her days mingling throughout the hotel and lobby playing. Two days before Easter in 1889, Gracie died of pneumonia at the age of 6. One year later, John Walz carved this sculpture from a photograph of Gracie. Gracie's ghost is rumored to wander the cemetery and building where the hotel once stood, crying out for her parents.

Although, we didn't meet up with any ghost, it was a wonderful afternoon visiting this beautiful and historical site.

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