I love Halloween and everything that spooky season brings. I can remember thumbing through my aunt’s books on famous serial killers like H.H. Holmes and Ted Bundy when I was young. Victorian cemeteries have always drawn my mother’s attention. My cousins and I had our minds blown by a psychic in Charleston. My interest in history’s mystical, darker side comes to me naturally. Does any of this sound like you? If so, consider a tour of historic Bonaventure Cemetery.
When I saw the opportunity to tour Bonaventure Cemetery after-hours over Halloween weekend, I knew that my family would be all in. This is, after all, the place of eternal rest for several of our family members and my own future forever home. So, 9 of us booked our tour for the day after Halloween, All Saints’ Day.
About Bonaventure Cemetery
Led by storyteller Shannon Scott, the Bonaventure After-Hours tour begins at the front gates of Bonaventure Cemetery and ends at the overlook of the beautiful “suicide bluff” on the Wilmington River. We were fortunate enough to take the tour during the blue moon of 2020 and Bonaventure at nighttime is spectacular. The oak trees and sculptures in the moonlight are elegant and the stillness is remarkable. It is a totally different experience from a day time visit.
Bonaventure is the burial site for many famous and infamous Savannahians and Georgians. Artists, musicians, politicians, and Masonic masters are all commingled. Victims of the yellow fever outbreak, murderers and their victims, casualties of childhood disease, and individuals who died by suicide have all found rest in this cemetery. Every grave at Bonaventure has a story. And, if you know anything about Savannah, you know we love a good gossipy tale with twists and turns. Throw in a few secret societies and what more could you ask for?
Shannon Scott and Bonaventure Cemetery Journeys
Scott is a knowledgeable storyteller who brings the best tales of Savannah back to life. With a balanced mix of well-known Savannah lore and his personal experiences with its more colorful residents, it is obvious that Scott has a true passion for history. His tour demonstrates that the stories of Bonaventure are stories not only of death but also of life. His well-timed sense of humor and understanding of the occult kept everyone engaged and interested from start to stop. He provided us with a full-scope of knowledge about the plots visited including significance in the design of grave markers as well as the historical context and impact of Bonaventure’s residents.
Without giving too much away, expect to learn about Masonic influence in the design of Bonaventure, bone doctors, grisly stories of well-known crimes, and tales of love and loss. You’ll see both the iconic graves of Bonaventure (like beloved Gracie) as well as more cryptic tales artfully pieced together by Scott’s own research and knowledge.
Whether you are a local wanting to learn more or an out-of-towner looking for a unique way to spend your vacation in Savannah, I highly recommend planning a visit to Bonaventure Cemetery.
Tips for Touring Bonaventure Cemetery:
- Consider booking your tour with Shannon Scott. As someone who grew up in Savannah and has been on many ghost tours and cemetery trips, Shannon did a great job of keeping the group engaged without unnecessary theatrics or over-the-top embellishments. Additionally, it was mentioned that a portion of tour proceeds return to Bonaventure Cemetery preservation efforts– verify if this is important to you!
- BYOBS – Bring Your Own Bug Spray! Sand gnats are real and they are fierce at sunset.
- If you are planning on an after-hours tour, pack a flashlight.
- Wear comfortable shoes with a closed toe. There are lots of roots from the live oaks.
- Bonaventure closes at 5 pm. Park outside of the front gates as the cemetery will close to the general public and the front gates will be locked.
- Use the restroom before venturing into the azaleas. There are public restrooms available near the entrance.
- Looking to grab a nearby bite to eat? Stop by Coach’s Corner in Thunderbolt. There is nothing fancy about it, but this local favorite has the BEST Texas Pete and butter hot wings!
- Want to do a little research before you arrive? Check out “THE BOOK,” as it is known here in Savannah. Or, by its formal title, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If reading isn’t your thing, watch the movie!
Rebecca Hickom says
Take me to the cemetery! Never thought I’d utter those words but here I am. Thanks for sharing your experience. I love all things dark and mystical as well…..but you know that.