Seafood lovers rejoice at the nautical-themed menu at Savannah’s Haunted Pirate House Restaurant. However, your shrimp and grits might come with an unexpected side of spiritual sightings. This renovated eatery is known as one of the most notorious haunts in the country.
Savannah’s history lends itself to a plethora of hauntings and eerie stories from the past. The city has a number of spiritual hot spots scattered amongst its stunning and well-manicured streets. Ghosts of both past residents and visitors just can’t seem to escape this old coastal town. It’s the ideal city for the chance to experience a supernatural encounter or mysterious sighting.
The cobblestone streets of the city’s charming historic district are full of fascinating architecture and lush gardens. They are also home to many of Savannah’s most infamous spirits. Here, The Haunted Pirate House Restaurant sits, just a block from the Savannah River. The history of the building and spiritual sightings make it a must-see on any ghost enthusiast’s itinerary. If you want to book a ghost story tour of the Pirate House in Savannah, go here.
History of the Haunted Pirate House Restaurant in Savannah
The property where the restaurant sits today began as the first experimental agricultural garden in America back in 1733. The property provided an abundance of cotton and the peaches Georgia is so famous for. A year later, a small brick building was erected to house the property’s gardener. The Herb House still stands today and is the oldest standing structure in the entire state.
Savannah soon became a booming seaport with sailors coming and going. As the city’s needs changed, the property became a residential area to provide housing for these visitors. In 1753, the inn and tavern building was built on the property. Today that building houses The Haunted Pirate House Restaurant.
The close proximity of the inn to the Savannah River drew many sailors and pirates alike looking for a place to drink and rest. The inn and tavern soon became a bustling establishment with all kinds of intriguing guests and suspicious behavior. Underground tunnels were even created to make these shady happenings more discreet.
These tunnels ran from the inn to the Savannah River. Rumor has it that this network of tunnels allowed pirates to kidnap inebriated men and take them secretly to their ships. Many would wake up, shocked to find themselves aboard a ship at sea. They quickly would come to find out that they had unknowingly become indentured servants to their pirate kidnappers.
This lewd behavior would continue for many years. The inn and tavern became a home for wicked and insidious activity. Many shied away from the establishment for its unsavory reputation as a hotbed of crime and drunken disruptions.
Eventually, the area was abandoned and quickly became run down and dilapidated. Many years later, in 1945, Mary Hillyer would take on the task of bringing new life to the historical district. She leveraged the board of her husband’s Savannah Gas Company to invest in rehabilitating the area. Her and her husband, the company’s president, embarked on a seven-year project to restore The Haunted Pirate House and nearby buildings.
The restaurant was reopened as a tea room in 1953. It became a fabulous eatery with an evolving menu and cozy dining room. It soon became a popular dining destination in Savannah. It would also eventually house a jazz club before becoming the restaurant, bar, and gift shop that it is today.
Treasure Island Was Inspired by Stories From the Pirate House
During the height of action at the inn and tavern, adventure author Robert Louis Stevenson visited the establishment for inspiration. It would lead to his publishing of Treasure Island in 1883. The novel was a tale of pirates and buried treasure. The book became immensely popular and created a basis for the stereotypes that surround the lives and behaviors of pirates.
In the book, Captain Flint and the Haunted Pirate House are mentioned. Flint was a ruthless pirate that captained his ship, The Walrus, around the world collecting a bounty of riches and treasure. Captain Flint then buried his treasure on a deserted island and murdered his crew.
In true pirate fashion, Captain Flint created a map of the location of the buried treasure with an “X” to mark the spot. He then gave this map to his first mate, Treasure Island character, Billy Bones. Eventually, Bones died from a stroke and the map fell into the possession of the book’s narrator, Jim Hawkins.
It’s said that Captain Flint’s life ended in Savannah many years after the story of his lost beloved treasure. His love affair with rum led to his eventual death. It’s even possible that he died in the very inn that inspired Stevenson to create his character. The Treasure Room of The Haunted Pirate House still contains early editions of Treasure Island to this day.
The Ghosts of The Haunted Pirate House Restaurant In Savannah
With the amount of turmoil that took place at the old inn and tavern, it’s a certainty that there were many deaths and tortured souls. Many people that have seen and heard evidence that those of the past still remain. It’s no wonder it’s considered one of the most haunted places in all of America.
The employees at The Haunted Pirate House do more than just prepare and serve food, they witness some of the eeriest happenings around. The pirates that used to enjoy their snacks and drinks there long ago have been seen wandering the dining room, perhaps in search of their favorite rum. They have even seen items mysteriously falling off shelves.
Workers have reported feeling the presence of and even coming face to face with the spirits of sailors that stayed within the walls centuries before. Their heavy boots have been heard stomping about after the restaurant after it was closed for the evening. Those that venture down to the cellar have reportedly heard yelling from the infamous tunnels that lead to the water.
A visit to this old haunt can prove exhilarating. Will the kidnapped and murdered souls reach out and send you a message? You could even encounter a seaman that has simply never checked out of the inn. One thing is for sure, the atmosphere at The Haunted Pirate House is one that you’ll not soon forget.
Visiting The Haunted Pirate House Restaurant
A visit to The Haunted Pirate House Restaurant is also an incomparable dining experience. The complex atmosphere and authentic menu make for amazing memories. Plus, you may get a glimpse into the property’s torrid past.
The restaurant opens every day at eleven in the morning. Dining reservations can be made online and events can even be hosted in the space. With a southern lunch buffet, a diverse dinner menu, and even a kid’s First Mate menu, there’s something for everyone.
Approaching the building on Broad Street, you’ll immediately see what makes the establishment so interesting. From the bright blue shutters, originally meant to keep spirits out, to the aged brick walls, the converted inn is truly unique. Your imagination will wander back to the days when drunken yells and cheers erupted from inside.
Many passersby are said to have seen mysterious images from inside the paned windows. Watch closely for an eerie sighting of your own. They reportedly vanish as quickly as they appear.
Once inside, the history seems to radiate from the exposed brick and wood-paneled walls. Murals and images paying tribute to the seafaring patrons of years ago tell a story of its past. Each dining room is unique, but the low ceilings create a cozy feeling in all of them.
The menu is as varied as the building’s history. You can choose to have one of the restaurant’s trademark seafood dishes or opt for a southern classic like fried green tomatoes. You can even choose a cocktail or flight of rum to enjoy in the same spot that the seamen regulars did centuries ago. A silent toast to them might even earn you a surprise ghostly appearance.
There are pirates on staff at the restaurant and you can request that one visit your table for some mealtime excitement. Also, don’t forget to head up the spiral staircase to visit the property’s gift shop before you go. It’s full of unique pirate-themed merchandise so you’ll be able to find the perfect souvenir to commemorate your visit.
For the ultimate experience, you can take a guided tour of the property. Reservations can be made ahead of time and you’ll learn first hand all about the building’s rich history. This is a tour that’s truly one to remember.
Ghostly Savannah, Georgia
The Haunted Pirate House is part of what makes Savannah so amazingly eerie. Hosting everything from barroom brawls of the past to family events today, it’s truly unique space. Its complicated past makes it one of the most interesting buildings in this historic city.
A visit to The Pirate House is the perfect starting point for your historic Savannah adventure. Stroll down the beautiful, shaded sidewalks and take in other haunts like The Pink House and The Owens-Thomas House. Hop on a trolley and explore the city’s many cemeteries. There’s no doubt that there is plenty of intrigue and mystery to be found among the quiet, picturesque streets.
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