The Savannah Cotton Exchange

The original Savannah Cotton Exchange was built 1872, but the structure has been added too and renovated a few times so who knows who was doing what, when and why. The current two-story building is a combo construction of ballast stonework on the lower River Street level and brick on upper Bay Street level. In the olden days the ships unloaded the shipped merchandise from the river and moved it to Factor’s Walk where factors (buyers) made purchases at the exchange.

The Savannah Cotton Exchange was a symbol of importance of the cotton industry in Savannah and was originally called King Cotton’s Palace and by 1880 the area was known as the Wall Street of the South. In the 1920’s the boll weevil did some weevil-evil-cotton-eating devastation to the cotton industry and the old exchange closed.

Today the building serves the tourist industry with retail stores, antique shops and a tavern. The living people enjoy shopping, dining and drinking in the Cotton Exchange, but the dead folks also seem to like hanging around.

Renovations were done after a fire in the building and it sort of stirred up some ghostly trouble. Now people hear footsteps when no one is there and the sounds of crying babies. In the tavern there are reports of flying bread loaves, deadly ice-cream scoopers, unexplainable falling objects and the volume on the radio randomly changes.

A ghostly woman in a long white dress has been seen descending the staircase and another ghost is thought to be Oompah, an old clockmaker who liked to visit the tavern for his morning coffee. The strong smell of coffee sometimes fills the tavern before anyone has turned on the pot.

On Bay Street the impressive old Savannah Cotton Exchange has a beautiful red terra cotta winged lion fountain in front surrounded by a fence with medallions of poets and presidents.

The original terra cotta lion, which dated to 1890, was shattered by a car that sped north on Drayton Street, jumped the curb at Bay Street, knocked down a section of wrought-iron fencing, obliterated the winged lion, snapped a lamppost in half, soared over a pedestrian walkway and came to a grinding halt at the front steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange.

The most amazing part of the accident was that the driver was a native Savannahian, not a tourist and nobody died, which was fortunate otherwise there might be more ghosts haunting the old Savannah Cotton Exchange.

 

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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At the pub on 21 West Bay Street in Savannah you can get some Boo! With Your Brew at Moon River Brewing Company where a ghostly crew is mixing a paranormal brew.

There’s a shadow ghost child named Toby who likes to steal billiard balls and play tricks. Women in 19th-century clothing walk the stairwells, a Union officer wanders the hallways, and the third floor is haunted by a phantom lady dressed in a white gown.

The building was constructed in 1821 by Elazer Early to be the city’s first hotel, understandably named; City Hotel. In 1851, Peter Wiltberger bought it and put a live lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business, or perhaps to eat unruly guests. During Yellow Fever Epidemics the top floors were used as hospital space. In 1864 the City Hotel closed when everyone went to fight the Yankees. Later the building was used as a coal warehouse and an office supply store until Hurricane David blew the roof off in 1979 then it remained empty for 16 years.

16 years is plenty of time for the ghosts to settle in and make themselves at home.

The Oglethorpe Brewery took over and began major renovations, but the presence of restless spirits made them run away without finishing the job. The current owners of Moon River Brewery don’t seem bothered by bottles flying off shelves, silverware sliding off dining room tables, and shadowy figures roaming the restaurant. In 2009, Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures visited and recorded weird footsteps, peculiar knocking, scary dragging sounds, and creepy disembodied voices.

Some believe it’s the violent history of the building that attracts paranormal activity. In 1832 Dr. Minus shot James Stark who was in the City Hotel drinking and spewing nasty remarks against him. The good doctor was acquitted of all charges because every town needs a good doctor more than a loudmouth drunk. In 1860, Mr. James Sinclair from New York City, came for work, but locals didn’t react kindly a Yankee taking their jobs. They politely asked Sinclair to leave, but when he refused, he was dragged out of the City Hotel and almost killed. There is after all a limit to Southern Hospitality.

Perhaps the evils of the past create a dark place for a demonic entity in the basement to linger in the shadows. Maybe bad vibes opened a door for a hostile spirit who likes to push people down stairs. Or maybe there are ghostly guests of the old City Hotel who just want have a glass of Moon River Brew because it’s deliciously evil.

I’ve dined in Moon River Brewery and drank the tasty brew myself. I highly recommend the Beer Sampler. I’ve never encountered a spirit sipping a drink at the bar or had a billiard ball tossed at my head, but there’s definitely a disturbing ambience that makes me glance over my shoulder from time to time. Because, in Savannah, ya just never know if you’ll be served some Boo! With Your Brew that makes you do something embarrassingly stupid that’ll haunt you the rest of your life.

Books By JK Bovi
www.wickedhaints.com

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