Savannah's Most Haunted House
Throw a rock in the air in Historic Downtown Savannah and you’ll hit the city's Most Haunted House. This is to say nothing of your aim, but that depending on the homeowner you ask, their house lays claim to the title. There doesn't seem to be a governing body that determines these things, so you'll just have to use your judgment in deciding which house gives you the heebie-jeebies the most.
I mention this because on our first night in Savannah, my wife bought two tickets to one of the many ghost tours you can choose from. Ours happened to meet at Chippewa Square—home of the bench Forrest Gump sits on in the movie of the same name (the bench was brought in for filming)—at a quarter to ten o'clock. It is legal to drink in public in Savannah, which I did just prior to the tour. As a result, I was preoccupied with finding a bathroom most of the time.
Our tour guide was a nice, young college student from the Savannah College of Art and Design who told me that she had just moved to the city. She carried an iPad and gently herded us from location to location over our two-hour tour.
In front of the Sorrel-Weed House, on 6 West Harris Street, she told us this was Savannah's Most Haunted House. The story goes like this: the builder of the house, Francis Sorrel, had an affair with a slave named Molly. Sorrel's wife, Matilda, found out about the affair and committed suicide by jumping off the second story balcony, bashing her head against the ground. Matilda has spent her afterlife harassing people who enter the house. Molly hung herself in the carriage house next door—she goes back to the main house to haunt people as well. There was no mention of a usable bathroom.
A few blocks away, next to the Mercer House, on West Gordon Street, a boy fell from the roof and impaled himself onto the wrought iron fence below, killing him. Inside, Jim Williams murdered his assistant, Danny Hansford, as depicted in the movie Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil starring Kevin Spacey. The house, which is Savannah's Most Haunted, is currently occupied by Williams's sister, Dorothy Kingery, and open to the public for tours—and bathroom use, I presume—but only during daylight hours.
A little over an hour into the tour, standing at 432 Abercorn Street, on Calhoun Square, was Savannah's Most Haunted House. Our guide informed us that inside the house a father murdered his daughter—I think; I was barely listening at this point. One of the previous tour-goers snapped a photo of a form eerily like a person in the window. She passed around the iPad so we could take a closer look. Upon further inspection, all I could see was a bad Photoshop job. The house has been vacant for years, though, so it definitely had a creepy quality to it. The tour-goers had many questions about the house, most our guide wasn't able to answer. I kept any inquiries of its bathroom to myself.
A few minutes later we are walking—and, geez, not one single open place to pee along the way?—to our final house which I can't remember because I had reached the critical point where I had to decide whether to continue holding it in, or just go right there and claim I saw a ghost. Our guide said something about this being Savannah's Most Haunted House, showed us the iPad which had a thermal image of who-knows-what a previous tour-goer sent in, then thanked us for our time and gave us directions back to Chippewa Square. My wife and I briskly walked away in the direction of a bar I thought I saw in the distance along the way.
While I was standing at the urinal, the wheels in my head started to move. What if I bought a house in Savannah and claimed it was Savannah's Most Haunted House? All I would need is an existing structure that has been around for a hundred or so years, above average Photoshop skills, and a good story involving some of the previous tenants (adherence to historical fact doesn't seem to be necessary).
I mulled over a few scenarios and settled upon a winner: a previous owner had arrived at his house after a long walk around town looking for a place to relieve himself. Running full speed towards the bathroom in the dark, he was tripped by the ghost of another previous owner, and fell down a flight of stairs to his death. I mocked up a few photos I could use to sell the story to the inevitable masses of people who visit.
Now I just need to scare up a few million bucks.