18 Jan 2021
Bonaventure Cemetery is a 160-acre public cemetery on a bluff overlooking the scenic Wilmington River just east of Savannah. This historic cemetery is a must see on your list of places to visit in Savannah, as it is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country. While a cemetery might not seem like a usual tourist destination, the old marble tombstones, statues, and iron gates situated under live oak canopies and hanging Spanish moss gives the area an angelic feel.
One of the most popular gravesites in the cemetery is that of a 6-year-old girl named Gracie Watson. Little Gracie, as she is affectionately known as, died of pneumonia more than 120 years ago. She was the daughter of a local hotel manager, and many people have reported seeing her ghost playing in Johnson Square, where the hotel her father once managed stood. She has become almost a celebrity of Savannah, and the iron fence surrounding her grave is often adorned with gifts from visitors. A life-sized statue of Little Gracie was carved by John Waltz in 1890, and it is said to be so lifelike that her parents were unable to visit the grave without imagining her running around the hotel.
Touring the Cemetery
If you would like to find out more about the people buried in this cemetery, the Bonaventure Historical Society offers free tours the weekend of the second Sunday of the month. The tours are held at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Each tour takes about an hour and is led by a trained tour guide. If you are not able to visit the cemetery on a weekend when they are giving tours, you can also download a self-guided tour on your phone.
Ghost City Tours also offers tours of the cemetery seven days a week. The tour starts at the front gates of the burial ground at 11 a.m. and the whole tour lasts around 90 minutes. Tickets often sell out, so you are required to purchase them in advance online. The tour takes you through the cemetery, stopping at some of the more popular graves including the graves of Little Gracie, American writer Conrad Aiken, and founder of Capitol Records Johnny Mercer.
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