Homes often contain many deep secrets and lingering memories of their past residents. This is especially true for older homes that have seen their fair share of families come and go. The years of remembrance and lives that have been lived inside can often be felt when you walk through the door.
One of the many ghostly locations in Savannah, GA, the haunted Hamilton-Turner Inn is a perfect example of how rich history can cultivate a truly unique place. Once a noble family residence, the building was converted into a luxurious modern-day inn. But not before years of history could occur within the building’s towering walls.
Some have witnessed this history first-hand when during their stays in the inn. Others have heard sounds or have seen mysterious figures from outside. One thing’s for sure, a stay at the haunted Hamilton-Turner Inn is an experience you won’t soon forget.
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A Haunted Stunning Building in Savannah
Coming down the tree-lined Abercorn street, the building that houses the Hamilton-Turner Inn stands out with it’s imposing size and grand style. The exterior features stunning architecture inspired by the French Empire influence that was so prevalent at the time it was built. The moss-draped oaks perfectly frame the building’s impressive stature.
With wrought-iron balconies and a stately entrance, the Hamilton-Turner Inn encompasses all of the appeals of Southern charm. Its towering exterior is stunning and memorable. So much so that it’s been said that Walt Disney even used it as the inspiration for his famous Haunted Mansion.
The Historic Hamilton Inn
The building didn’t always house the inn, however. This four-story mansion has witnessed many historic events since it was built in 1873. The stories and events that took place inside the walls of the home make it one of the most interesting buildings in Savannah to this day.
Samuel Pugh Hamilton
The first resident of the home, Samuel Pugh Hamilton, was a successful businessman and respected member of the community. A formal naval officer stationed in Charleston, he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. During his time in the Navy, he married Emma Sprigg. They would later have two children together.
When the war ended, Hamilton left the Navy. He moved to Savannah and established a watch and jewelry store. Sadly, that same year, his wife Emma died, leaving him to care for their two children alone.
Four years later, in 1866, Hamilton re-married Sarah Stillings. Ironically, Sarah was the widow of Hamilton’s brother. The two continued to grow their family and would go on to build their mansion together in 1873. Eventually, they were wrangling a bustling family of six kids.
Hamilton envisioned the large home as a place for him to host elite parties and social gatherings. He added things like a dumbwaiter and talking pipes to make entertaining more convenient. The home also had indoor plumbing, a luxury at the time.
Hamilton’s hosting abilities earned him the unofficial title “The Lord of Layfayette Square.” He became a popular figure among Savannah’s socialite crowd. He also grew his successful career to lofty heights.
Working as both an alderman and a member of the Masons, he gained influence over the community. His skills were diverse as he was able to grow his jewelry business and become an optician. He even served on the boards of both the Savannah Ice Manufactures and the Artesian Ice & Storage Company.
This gave Hamilton a unique opportunity. His connections at the Brush Electric Light and Power Company gave him the chance to add electricity to his home. The mansion became the first residence in the city with power in 1883. The common areas were illuminated in a special ceremony. Passerbys would marvel at the brightened home from outside on their evening walks.
In 1886, Hamilton became president of the Brush Electric Light and Power Company. That same year, every room in the mansion had lights installed. In 1889, Hamilton sold the jewelry store and focused his energies on the power company.
The Hamilton family would live in the home, hosting impressive and lavish social events. The home was mostly spared from the fire that swept through Savannah in 1898. Its strong workmanship and quality materials helped the mansion resist the flames.
Dr. Francis Turner
Years after Hamilton’s death, Dr. Francis Turner purchased the stately home for his family. He used the home for their private residence, but the family temporarily moved out and made it a boarding house. In 1928, it even hosted the Marine Hospital Nurses in its many bedrooms.
The family returned to the home years later to take up residence again. An Osteopath, Turner also used a home as a location for his medical practice. He would see patients on the courtyard level of the home. Many believe that the doctor would examine patients and perform autopsies in this space.
Dr. Turner was a very particular man. He hated the fumes and the sound of gas engines. This led him to purchase the very first electric car in Savannah.
The family also used the home’s expansive spaces to host many social gatherings. Many times, the children would head upstairs to play while the adults socialized below. The children yearned to know what was going on with the grown-ups, and their curiosity would eventually lead to tragedy.
In 1965, the Turner family sold the home to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Officials from the church planned to tear down the beautiful mansion to create a site for their school’s playground. Thankfully, The Historic Savannah Association tirelessly negotiated with the church for years to save the home. In the end, they were able to save the property from destruction.
The mansion would then be used as an apartment building called Mandy’s House. The building manager, Joe Odom, was known for throwing some crazy parties. These events were so infamous that they were even mentioned in the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
In 1997, Nancy Hillis sold the mansion to Charlie and Sue Strickland. The two took great care in remodeling the home to the stunning, luxurious hotel it is today. However, no amount of renovations could erase the history within the walls.
Reported Hauntings of the Hamilton Inn in Savannah
A visit to the Hamilton-Turner Inn can prove eerily exciting. Many of the hotel’s guests have witnessed sights and sounds that simply can’t be explained. The former home’s rich history seems to be trapped with the hotel walls.
The Creepy Billiard Room
When the children were relegated to the upstairs during one of the Turner family’s many parties, they would get bored in the billiard room. Their boredom turned to curiosity as they wondered what the adults were doing downstairs. Together, the clever children devised a plan to check out what their parents were up to.
The children would roll the billiard balls down the home’s soaring staircase. Of course, they would pretend that it was an accident when they had to scramble downstairs to retrieve the ball. However, that moment gave them an opportunity to peek at what the adults were doing.
One evening, a little girl attempted to get close to the edge of the top stair to roll a ball down. She fell, tumbling down the flight of stairs. The young guest tragically died in the home that evening.
Today, there are no billiard tables in the home. However, it’s been said that billiard balls can still be heard tumbling down the stairs. They’ve also been heard rolling about up in the former billiard room. Many guests have been awoken by the distinct clunking of billiard balls echoing through rooms of the hotel.
Other guests have heard children running above and laughing. Footsteps have been heard sneaking down the stairs. Perhaps the spirits of these children are still wondering what their parents were up to so many years ago.
A Cigar Smoking Ghost
Many guests and employees alike have seen a cigar-smoking ghost milling about the hotel. He is sometimes spotted standing guard near the door or quietly overseeing the hotel’s activity. He’s also been seen perched atop the statuesque building’s rooftop, overlooking the scenery below. However, there are many theories on who this figure could be from the building’s past.
Samuel Pugh Hamilton did more than just throw extravagant parties. He also amassed an extensive and valuable collection of artwork from all over the world. He was so worried about his treasured collection, that he hired a guard to protect it.
The guard would pace the rooftop of the mansion, surveying for trespassers and suspicious activity. He could be seen from the street below smoking a cigar at his post. His rifle was always at the ready to protect the home.
One evening, the guard was brutally shot in the back of the head. He was found lying in his own blood with his burnt-out cigar nearby. The crime went unsolved and the guard’s death went unavenged.
For this reason, many believe that Hamilton himself was forced to take over the guard duty. He stood guard over his own home, ironically while also smoking a cigar. Unfortunately, Hamilton came down with a mysterious and fatal illness.
Others believe that the house was built over an old cemetery. This has created the theory that the cigar-smoking ghost is in fact a Confederate soldier. Perhaps, he is wandering the former burial grounds with his rifle in hand, still feeling the tragic effects of the Civil War.
Is the ghost the guard trying to make up for his failed job? Is it indeed a soldier still reeling from war. Maybe it’s the home’s original resident, simply unwilling to leave his beloved house.
Either way, the ghost of the man with the cigar is full of mystery. He’s been seen so many times that he has become one of the inn’s most popular permanent guests. Will a visit to the Hamilton-Turner Inn earn you a surprise sighting of the rifle-toting spirit? Keep your nose peeled for a whiff of his infamous cigar smoke lofting about the inn’s rooms.
Other Suspicious Happenings in the Hamilton Turner Inn
Guests at the hotel have witnessed no shortage of paranormal activity. From suspicious sounds to eerie images, it seems the old mansion is ripe with spiritual encounters. Inside and out, the inn is bursting with signs of its history.
Back when the home was vacant, it sat empty for many years. Gunshots were heard from inside the empty home before it became an apartment building. No one was present inside the building at the time and the sounds were never explained.
Nancy Roberts, the author of Ghosts from the Coast, knows the Hamilton-Turner Inn all too well. She slept alone in the home years ago during its vacancy, a unique and memorable experience. She recounts feeling the presence of others in the otherwise empty home during the night.
Roberts believes that the home is just too stunning to leave. That the ghosts among the walls are too enamored with the beautiful house to move on. Could Roberts be right and the many sightings and sounds be explained by residents that are too in love with the house to depart its grandeur?
Others that have been in the home over its many years have some truly hair-raising tales. Footprints have been heard in the mansion’s bedrooms by guests, only to open their eyes to find that no one was there. Creaks and squeaks that are more than just the settling of an old home have been heard on many a night.
Those that have been in the inn have said that they have felt a mysterious presence. An eerie chill has sometimes been felt on an otherwise balmy night. One thing’s for sure, the history of the Hamilton-Turner Inn seems to be a permanent part of the restored building.
Staying at The Inn
Today, The Hamilton-Turner Inn is known as the most romantic hotel in America. A stay at the luxury hotel can be a relaxing experience. It can also give you the opportunity to glimpse into the hotel’s rich history.
The hotel explodes with character inside and out. The charming rooms and historically-influenced decor make for the perfect getaway. It’s the perfect place to stay for a trip to gorgeous Savannah.
The hotel boasts 17 unique guest rooms. With modern amenities and classic charm, you’ll be able to enjoy the perfect balance of relaxation and convenience. Each of the room’s decor pays homage to the historical significance of the stately building.
The rooms are named for famous southerners of the past. Will you choose to stay in the stunning Noble Jones room that overlooks Lafayette Square? Or would you rather relax in the cozy Isaiah Davenport with a private entrance? You can even bring your pooch and stay in the pet-friendly Eli-Whitney room on the hotel’s courtyard level.
Traveling with a larger group? You can reserve the entire renovated carriage house on the property. Named for Dr. James Turner, the space is perfect for your whole family to share this unique experience.
The hotel offers a traditional Southern breakfast each morning. You’ll also be able to enjoy relaxing afternoon refreshments and evening wine and Hors d’oeuvres. It’s the perfect way to wind down after a day of exploring Savannah.
Make sure to really take in the hotel’s common areas. Reflect on the past as you gather in the parlor and dining area. You’ll be sitting in the very same spot where Samual Hamilton and Francis Turner entertained guests so many years ago.
No matter which room you choose, a stay in the Hamilton-Turner Inn is a must when visiting Savannah. It’s the perfect location to explore the area’s amazing attractions. Plus, you might have a mysterious ghostly encounter of your own!
Exploring Savannah Around the Inn
The breezy, coastal weather makes exploring Savannah by foot an enjoyable adventure. Luckily, the Hamilton-Turner Inn is located in an ideal place to do just that. You don’t have to venture far from the inn to see many great attractions that the city has to offer.
Looking for more haunts in the area? The Colonial Park Cemetery is just a short walk from the inn. It’s the scene of many deaths by dueling and even has a plaque to commemorate it. As one of the city’s oldest cemeteries, it’s been a setting for many ghostly sightings.
You can also check out Bonaventure Cemetery, a historically preserved graveyard nearby. The cemetery is said to be home to the spirit of little Gracie Watson. Listen closely for the sounds of the sweet little girl amongst the cemetery’s beautiful grounds.
If all of this strolling the brick-paved streets has given you an appetite, you can head over to The Pink House. The rosy stucco building is a great place to grab a bite and possibly spot a spirit. It was originally the residence of James Habersham Jr., who many believe never left. He’s been spotted, milling about his beloved home, tidying the dining room, and watching diners enjoy their meals.
Savannah’s long and storied history makes it the perfect place for a paranormal adventure. The cobblestone streets and picturesque architecture are an ideal backdrop for a peaceful getaway. This history of the city also provides an excellent opportunity to witness some paranormal sights and sounds. And, the haunted Hamilton-Turner Inn is the perfect place to start.