Why do I do a men's gift guide every year? Because I am, so they tell me, a man, so I should know, right?
Savannah, y'all. Where do I even begin?
I feel like I could have stayed for days, a week, a month and never gotten my fill of this gorgeous city. The locals were friendly and eccentric, the food was stupidly good, and walking around the town at night was like being in the most expertly designed old-South-ghost-story movie.
Except it was real.
If the Stanley Hotel was the spooky trip I've always dreamed of, Savannah is the spooky city I didn't know I was dreaming of. I've always wanted to visit Savannah, but I had no idea how much the city would actually take a hold of me. I'm still dreaming of Savannah now.
And while my dreams of Savannah are all warm and pleasant, a picture my husband took in the city has apparently been giving people nightmares.
More on that in a moment.
Mr. Louise and I pulled into Savannah early in the evening. With the sun setting and the street lights starting to come on, it was a perfect introduction to the city. Everything appeared glowing and romantic, happy-looking people dressed for vacation and the weekend lazily walked the streets.
We pulled up to The Marshall House and I actually squealed with delight. I'm not a squealer, Creepy Corneristas, but The Marshall House was squeal-worthy. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Louise had booked us into this POSH, historic hotel, for one night of southern-style luxury.
Creaky but gleaming, The Marshall House looked like somebody's rich aunt's family mansion. The kind of place you where you dress for dinner. The kind of place where you drink fancy liqueurs in tiny glasses after that dinner. The kind of place where somehow the soap in the soap dishes is always dry.
The kind of place where the ghosts have better manners than I do.
I felt like the greasiest road tripper alive walking into that The Marshall House (I had NOT dressed the part of the FANCY LADY that night), but I didn't care. I bathed in the warm smiles of the staff and all but HUFFED the hotel's floral scent tinged with that intoxicating "old building" smell.
As we headed to our room, I took note of the "feeling" of the halls, as I've come to do at all of our stops. Stately and tidy, with only a hint of crookedness to the old floors, I did not feel spooked at all. As far as haunted buildings go, The Marshall House felt very not-haunted.
Built in 1851, The Marshall House has served not only as a hotel, but also a hospital — "once by the Union Army during the Civil War and twice for yellow fever epidemics during the 19 century." In fact, during a renovation in 1999, workers found copious human body parts underneath the floorboards.
Perhaps due to this history, one of the more prominent ghosts is said to be of a soldier with one arm who walks through the lobby and occasionally the halls.
Other ghosts that have been reported are children running through the halls in the night (it's always those rambunctious ghost-children!), faucets turning on by themselves, or the sound of an old-fashioned typewriter coming from the former room of author Joel Chandler Harris of Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings fame.
Speaking with the concierge, I loved how chill they were about the hotel's spirits.
"Have you seen anything yet?" one young associate asked me at the end of our first evening.
"Not yet. What should I look out for?" I asked.
"Well, the 'kids' will sometimes yank at your clothes or try to hold your hand. Other people see the soldier around the hotel, and someone might pull at your toes when you're in bed. Have a good night!"
I smiled and headed off to my room, not sure if I was hoping the ghosts would say hello, or praying they'd stay away. Fortunately/unfortunately, we had a very peaceful, uneventful night.
At the hotel that is.
Earlier in the evening, my husband and I took a tour of haunted Savannah. While the tour was admittedly cheesy and silly at times (as most tours of this kind are), I thought our old-timey costumed guide actually found a good balance between history and haunts. A fellow by the name of "Nicodemus," our guide gave us a satisfyingly chilling night in Savannah.
I could go on for pages about all the cemeteries, streets, churches, and houses gave me thrills and chills, but for the sake of space and getting to the good stuff, I'm going to skip to 432 Abercorn Street and the Mercer-Williams House.
432 Abercorn Street is one of those infamous haunted houses in Savannah where fact and fiction have been spun together into one delicious ghostly legend. I mention the house not because anything happened there, but because it is DAMN SPOOKY.
Built in 1868 by Benjamin Wilson for his family, legend says that his daughters died in the house, the youngest due to Wilson's rage. Further stories say that there was a triple homicide in the house in the 1960s, with the killer never having been found, and the surviving daughter eventually returning to the house to buy it. Stories of the occult and demon infestation also surround the house, adding to the house's terrifying lore.
I admit, looking at that big, empty house in the dark, with the windows covered up, I got swept up in the stories and even told Mr. Louise to "stay back with me" as the group closed in for photos. Yes, I felt a little creeped out, and getting all frenzied snapping pictures at what might have been a murder scene, just didn't quite feel right to me.
Of course, one could argue that death, murder, and sorrow might inhabit every inch of Savannah, but one must pick one's battles, or at least try. There's finding fascination with a place's past, and there's frothing at the mouth. All that spit grosses me out.
Well, turns out I got all worked up for (probably) nothing. Upon further research, 432 Abercorn's stories are mostly, if not entirely, made up. They make for good tour stories, and maybe there is SOMETHING to the house that I don't know (Savannah Creepy Corneristas, do you know anything?) but from I understand, the stories surrounding 432 Abercorn Street are just that, stories.
The Mercer-Williams House on the other hand, "just stories" or not, got a little weirder.
Most of you may remember this as the house central to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Built in 1868, Jim Williams bought the home of Civil War General, Hugh W. Mercer in 1969. Most famously, Jim Williams allegedly (but was never convicted, even after four trials) shot and killed Danny Hansford in the study of the house in 1981.
Not only has Hansford's ghost been reported by staff to haunt the mansion, but Williams' as well, as he died of pneumonia in the house only six months after his last trial.
Add into the mix that a young boy fell from the room of the house and was impaled by a fence spike (the broken spike can still be seen on the house's property), and you can't help but unconsciously take a step back from the unsettling Mercer-Williams House.
Well, at least I did. Mr. Louise was snapping pictures.
As we headed away from the house, I noticed he was dragging his feet a little, staring at his iPhone. "What's going on over there?" I asked him.
"What the hell is this?" Mr. Louise mumbled more to his phone than to me.
Going over, he showed me a series of photos he took of one of the Mercer-Williams House's windows. The first photos showed nothing but a black window, curtains parted.
The third photo showed...something.
Mr. Louise thinks it resembles a face with mouth agape. So does everyone else who sees the photo. I'm torn. I see the face, but I also don't know if I'm seeing what I want to see.
Putting on my skeptic's hat for a moment, I wonder if it's a trick of the light, a flower pot, some knick knack? But if it is any of the above, where was it in the previous photo? Mr. Louise snapped the photos in rapid succession, probably only a maximum of a second or two between shots.
Whatever it is, a few of the friends we've shown the photo to have said some version of, "I can't look at that anymore, it makes me uncomfortable" and one even complained of a nightmare staring "the face in the window" the night she saw the photo. Is it all suggestion, or is there something about this photo?
What do you think? Is it a trick of the light? A piece of furniture? Mr. Louise's wobbly hands? Or... did he capture someone or something that we don't quite understand?
Savannah, you did not disappoint. THIS is why we Creepy Corner Road Trip! Am I right?
Tell me what you think about the picture! I'm dying to know!