The Ghosts of Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery

haunted bonaventure cemetery

My husband and I packed up the kids and headed to Beaufort, SC last Wednesday only to have our car break down about an hour outside of Savannah, GA (at two in the morning, no less). AAA towed the vehicle to a repair shop about mile or two from Savannah’s famed Bonaventure Cemetery, so we stopped by the grounds after picking up the car. We missed the cemetery during our last visit to Savannah, so I was glad for the opportunity to check it out.

The Bonaventure Cemetery is over 150 years old and famous for the “Bird Girl” statue which appeared on the cover of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The statue has since been moved to a nearby museum, but guests still flock to Bonaventure to gaze at the cemetery’s elaborate tombs, headstones, and carvings. The sprawling cemetery is also home to a few ghostly legends.

The Legend of Gracie Watson
Little Gracie Watson is one of Bonaventure Cemetery’s most famous residents. According to a plaque at Gracie’s grave, the “beautiful and charming little girl” died of pneumonia at the age of six, and legend has it Gracie now haunts the striking statue carved in her honor. Many visitors leave coins and toys at Gracie’s grave, and some say the little girl cries whenever someone removes the trinkets. Others say tears of blood flow from the statue’s eyes. Bonaventure officials have fenced off Gracie’s grave to protect it from visitors’ grasping hands, but some claim the fence is meant to contain Gracie’s playful spirit.

Gracie didn’t cry or laugh when we were there, though she did allow us to take lots of photos.

bonaventure cemetery gracie watson

bonaventure cemetery

gracie watson grave

gracie watson savannah

Statues That Come Alive
Dozens of beautiful, elaborately-carved statues adorn Bonaventure Cemetery. However, legend has it the statues don’t always stay put. Angel sculptures reportedly beam or grimace, and a statue named Corinne (below) is said to smile at visitors she fancies. Eerie sounds also surround the lifelike statues, such as the sound of a crying baby near an infant’s grave or giggling children near the tomb of a child.

angel statue

angel sculpture

corinne bonaventure cemetery

Hell Hounds
Per local lore, Bonaventure Cemetery is also home to a pack of hell hounds that bark and snarl at lingering guests. No one’s ever seen the dogs, but some visitors claim to have felt the creatures’ breath on their heels or heard angry barks in the distance. Thankfully, the hostile dogs didn’t make an appearance during our visit. We did see this little guy though.

bonaventure cemetery dog

As with many cemeteries, Bonaventure, to me, felt more peaceful than paranormal, more serene than sinister. Has anyone out there experienced something strange at Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery?

12 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery

  1. Found this blog entry from a post on Tumblr and this is so incredibly creepy. The way you described the statues “moving” reminded me a lot of Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels.

    • Ha! I was there yesterday, and my boyfriend mentioned how they reminded him of the Weeping Angels, as well! They do! The cemetery was kind of creepy, in my opinion–left me uneasy, but that’s possibly due to all of the graves of infants and children. I loved it, though. And Tybee Island is incredible.

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  4. Beautiful cemetery. Didn’t feel anything creepy. Only thing biting at us were the Mosquitos.

  5. We used to visit the cemetery occasionally when we lived in Savannah. On our last visit a few years back we returned. I think it’s the shadows that are cast that make Bonaventure so unique. As a photographer, I always find how the light plays there especially interesting, When I was about to take a photo with the light coming from behind me, I noticed something. In addition to my own shadow and that of the statue in the foreground, there seemed to be other “people” casting their own shadows along with us. I looked around and couldn’t figure out where “their” shadows were coming from. I asked my daughter to come over and see what I was seeing. It creeped her out for sure. She walked away!

  6. I tried to photograph Gracie once, many years ago, before she got “fenced in”. It was a beautiful Spring day. The birds were chirping cheerfully and the bees were buzzing noisily around the azaleas. I approached the grave, and when I stopped walking and started focusing my camera, it very suddenly got completely quiet. It was like someone had flipped a switch and all the sounds stopped. A little breeze blew through and started moving the shrubbery so that I couldn’t focus. I had this overwhelmingly sad feeling and felt like I really wasn’t supposed to take that shot… so, I didn’t, and I left. That same day, I took a slide photo of Corinne Lawton. When I developed the slides and looked at them on my viewer, she had green stains in the middle of her eyes that looked like she had irises and was looking straight at me! Those stains weren’t noticeable when I took the picture. Anyway, I’ve been back several times through the years and never had anything unusual happen. I love the beautiful Victorian statuary and the serene atmosphere.

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