The Hampton-Lillibridge House

If a house had the legend to have a suicidal sailor, a creepy burial crypt in the basement and a shadow man wandering the hallways (who was perhaps the workman who got his head smashed in the attic), then it must be the most haunted house in Savannah, The Hampton-Lillibridge House, and the perfect place for a Paranormal Freak Out!

The Hampton-Lillibridge House was originally built in 1996 on Reynolds Square by Rhode Islander, Hampton Lillibridge. When Hampton Lillibridge died his wife sold the house and it continued to be bought and sold a number of times. When it was a boardinghouse rumor has it a sailor hung himself on the third story. (Believe it or not)

The house remained vacant for awhile until 1963 when it was purchased by Jim Williams. Yes, the very same Jim Williams from The Book (Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil). Williams purchased the house and, the house next door, with the intent to move them to Washington Square and restore them. However, a laborer was crushed to death during the move of the second house and that freaked everyone out.

And then everyone freaked out even more when, during the relocation, they unearthed an ancient crypt under the house. (Some say it was empty and some say human bones were found). Since Savannah is city built upon its dead, and everybody in town knows its best to leave the dead alone, they naturally quickly reburied the tomb.

But some believe the digging up the dead is what started the paranormal activity in The Hampton-Lillibridge House because soon after, workers’ tools began to disappear or were moved to a different location. Mocking laughter and the sounds of footsteps were heard. Neighbors reported seeing shadowy figures in the windows dancing or walking aimlessly around. They heard eerie music, unearthly singing, creepy laughter, and sometimes they heard a woman screaming. Often the lights would turn on and off randomly when no one was home.

In 1963 Jim Williams, freaked out when he saw a shadow man go up the stairs and then disappear through a locked door. He decided to call in the big Ghost-Buster guns and invited an Episcopal Bishop to conduct an exorcism. Unfortunately, when Savannah’s dead folks are having a good time haunting an old house in the Historic District, it will take more than a sprinkle of holy water move them over to the otherside. The exorcism didn’t work and they say there is still paranormal activity going on.

That’s to say everyone says there is freaky weird ghostly activity going on in The Hampton-Lillibridge House, except the current owners who say they haven’t heard or seen anything freaky weird. And that “no trespassing” sign at 507 East Saint Julian Street on Washington Square is for the living to stay away, not the dead.

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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The Ghostly Guest 17Hundred90 Inn

17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant is the oldest hotel in Savannah. It was built in 1820, but 1790 was a better year so, like many places in Savannah, the name was changed out of confusion and convenience. And so it also goes for the ghost stories surrounding the old Inn which have been changed or invented for entertainment.

Story 1: Anne in Room 204. Anne White was the wife of the Inn’s builder, Steel White. When he died in an accident she was so upset she jumped out the window of room 204 and killed herself.  She haunts the room, moves objects around and steals jewelry.

To believe this story a person must overlook the fact that room 204 is located in a portion of the hotel that had not been built when Steel White died and to forget that, after his death, Anne moved to Isle of Hope to live with her sister and brother-in-law.

Story 2: Anne In Room 204. Anne Powell was a flirtatious servant girl who had an affair with a German sailor. He sailed away, she found out she was pregnant, and out of despair and heartbreak committed suicide by diving out the window. She haunts this room by caressing men’s faces, rearranging women’s clothes, and making a dramatic tearful appearance before she takes the fatal leap out the window.

To believe this story a person must overlook the fact that there is no record of Anne Powell living in Savannah. There’s an Anna Powers who lived in the house, but she didn’t dive out a window and actually lived to into her 80’s at the residence with her 82 year old husband.

Story 3: The Voodoo Kitchen Servant. A ghost haunts the kitchen basement and has been reported to push around, pull hair, blow air in ears, and throw pots and pans at women.

To believe this story a person has to believe there isn’t a rat in the kitchen causing mischief and blaming the dead.

Story 4: The Servant Boy. He has no explanation for why he’s there, but he leaves change around.

To believe this story one must believe nobody drops change or has holes in their pockets.

Paranormal investigators ask specifically to spend the night in room 204 for a chance ghostly encounter with Anne. People dine at the restaurant and wait for The Voodoo Spirit to blow air in their ears. They walk the Inn’s hallways and hope to find spare changed from The Servant Boy.

Of course you have to believe the conveniently invented confusing entertainment stories or nothing will happen and you’ll miss all the ghostly fun in The 17Hundred90 Inn and Restaurant. But in any case, you most certainly will have a pleasant dining experience and sleep in a nice hotel.

It’s all in what you believe.

There’s a basement bar in City Market known as Pour Larry’s. Not only is this popular pub known for featuring local musicians and cheap drink specials, it’s also known to be haunted by an usually stinky ghost.

The unforgettable nauseous smell of burnt flesh is often combined with unexpected flying drinking glasses aimed at employee’s heads by unseen forces. The overall ‘bad vibes’ experienced in Pour Larry’s, and the unexplainable stench can only mean one thing; it’s haunted by a previous owner, John Montmollin.

John Montmollin was a wealthy plantation owner who owned the brick building at 206 west Jullian Street. He also operated a slave trade business out of this location and kept slaves in the basement. He was an evil sinister man who didn’t treat people fairly and had a devious reputation for crooked dealings. He financed the building of the sailing vessel, The Wanderer, to import slaves. Since it was illegal to bring Africans directly into Georgia The Wanderer secretly wandered up and down the coast with its human cargo. But eventually the ship was confiscated and his lucrative business ended. He was not sent to prison or fined, but instead confined for a week to his luxurious apartment above his business office in City Market. He continued other distasteful rat business ventures for many years after.

And here is how John Montmollin became Savannah’s Stinky Ghost. On June 9th 1859 he was aboard the steamer, J.G. Lawton, 20 miles up the Savannah River when the ship’s boiler exploded and he was killed. He was found two days later with his head and upper body stuck in pluff mud and his legs sticking up like stiff boards. He was burned to a crisp and, after rotting in the Georgia sun for two days, he stunk to high heaven.

But heaven is not where John Montmollin went. Instead he went back to his place of corrupt business to stink up the basement with his rotten burnt flesh smell. He’s not a very happy bar patron (a disgruntled business owner gone mad) and makes his presence known by busting up glasses, stinking up the place and giving off some really ‘bad vibes’.

If you visit Pour Larry’s for a drink and you get an uneasy feeling, and your nose is accosted by the disgusting odor of burnt flesh then perhaps John Montmollin is sitting on the bar stool next to you, or maybe somebody just farted.

In Savannah ya just never know.

It’s all in what you believe …

Casting The Gift Net

I enjoying fishing in the tidal creeks around Savannah, but buying bait (shrimp and mullet) can become expensive. I decided to do what the locals do and learn to throw a cast net to get free bait that God so graciously put in the water for me.

Casting a net is no simple task. It requires practice to acquire the skills needed to toss out a perfect circle, tighten it up and haul in the bait.

To learn this skill I watched YouTube videos, asked questions, observed other cast netters, and I practiced, practiced and practiced until I was able to cast out my net and catch live free bait to go fishing.

The next trick was finding the bait to catch. I learned a bit about catching mullet (little 1-3″ fish) and found a creek that provided a good supply, but I had not been able to find a source for catching shrimp. I really wanted bait shrimp, but I couldn’t find any.

My perfect mullet spot was popular not only for me, but for another cast netter and often he’d be there first and he’d get all the mullet or we’d cast our nets in the same place and scare all the bait away. One day I got so mad that he was in my casting spot that I said, “forget it, I’ll find another mullet hole!” and I went to a different place.

I didn’t have much faith in this new place because it was not a good environment for little bait fish, but I cast out my net and to my delight and surprise… I pulled up a cast net heavy with shrimp! After only a few more casts I had a bucket of bait shrimp!

This wonderful new spot became a shrimp goldmine throughout the fishing season.

I’m grateful to the fisherman who forced me out of my favorite mullet hole because that was how I received the wonderful unexpected gift of the perfect shrimp casting hole.

Sometimes you never know how or where gifts will come to you, so my advice is Go forth… cast a wide net… see what ya get… and be thankful for cast net gifts.

Fish Karma

BlogArtFishKarmaI was doing my power-walk around the neighborhood. I was fashionably attired in my stretchy pants, scrunchy top, florescent headband, moisture absorbent socks, and impact power sneakers. I had my iPod velcroed to my upper-arm, ear buds jammed into my ears, and I listened to a motivational power audio book.

I was power walking, power thinking and doing everything in power time. I was full of power!

I reached the lagoon at the mid-point of my workout that I designated my power break. I stretched my legs, flexed my arms, rolled my shoulders, and I was about to arch my back when, only two feet away, a fish flew out of the water and landed on the rocks by the lagoon.

I stopped my power everything and stared in amazement at the little colorful tropical fish. It was absolutely beautiful! It flopped around trying to find water and then, having lost the battle, it lay still gasping for life with little fish lips.

I removed my ear buds and stepped closer to the edge of the lagoon for a better look. My assessment of the dire situation was: this fish would die. It did not have the strength to return to the lagoon. The hot Georgia sun would soon bake it as crispy as potato chip. Or a bird would swoop down and gobble it up. The only way this fish would survive would be by intervention.

There was no doubt in my mind what I had to do; save the fish.

I removed my power sneakers and my moisture absorbent socks. I climbed easily down the rocky embankment and gently scooped up the brightly colored fish. I admired it in my hand for only a moment before I carefully placed it in the water. “Go back where you belong little fishie,” I said.

I guess I expected a gratitude smile bubble or at least a goodbye flip of its tail, but it darted off quickly and disappeared. I did not really need a thank you. I was content and happy knowing I did the right thing.

As I continued with my power walk my steps slowed to a casual walk and I pondered the true essence of fish karma. I had been in the right place at the right time to make a difference and although my action seemed simple to me, it had made a huge difference to another’s life.

Good fish karma is the ripple effect of doing something small, but the outcome is enormous. Take time to make a difference in the world.

Be Careful… or you’ll end up in one of my books

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Writing humorous ghost stories lends itself to strange eccentric characters involved in bizarre situations that can only happen in a place like Savannah. This is where I find an amazing source of stories, ghosts, and people, and if the truth be known, I must confess that a few of my characters have the unique personalities of my friends, family, acquaintances, or complete strangers.

I don’t describe any people in my books (leaving that to the imagination of my readers). But because of a character’s mannerism, dialog, and actions people will ask, “Is that me?”

On a few occasions I’ve picked up oddball characters from conversations with others. The legend of the Foot Sniffer was told to me by a friend and he swore it happened to him and that it was true. How could I not add this wacky legend into my books?

When I’m fashioning a character, and it’s obviously based on someone I’m closely associated with, I will “warn them” and ask if it’s ok. I offer up a few story details and assure them their character will not be offensive, ugly or mean, but there are no guarantees they won’t be a ghost.

Derek-the-Hog-Killer, Kevin from Medford NJ (Zombie’s Y’all!) and Danielle and Mark (Heels & Souls) have been forewarned as well as McSnyder and Wilhemina Quimbley (Claire Buoyant).

So, if you know me at all, be warned, a small part of you or an adventure we shared, might end up in one of my books. It’s all good, except maybe that time we did what we shouldn’t have done, but luckily we didn’t get caught. (You know who I’m talking about)