• Tara Scott-Johnson

Tour Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery

Updated: Oct 30, 2018

One of the most beautiful and visited cemeteries in the world is Bonaventure Cemetery. Its notable status is likely due to its presence in the novel, Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil, by John Berendt.


When visiting Savannah, GA make time to tour the Bonaventure Cemetery in the city of Thunderbolt. Originally named Evergreen Cemetery and established in 1846, Bonaventure Cemetery rests on 100 acres of grassy areas, shaded by many old trees overlooking the Wilmington River east of Historic Downtown Savannah. Although a cemetery, it was common for families to meet and picnic here while still providing a place of comfort and solace for the bereaved friends or relatives of those buried there. Today, this Savannah tourist attraction provides guided tours and self guided tours. We recommend the guided tour if you want to learn the history of those who are buried at Bonaventure. For example, you will learn about the Mercer grave - pictured above. Johnny Mercer, was an American songwriter and the original owner of the iconic Mercer House in Downtown Savannah. Today, that home is known as the Mercer Williams Mansion and was depicted in the best selling novel and film, Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil,

The “Bird Girl" statue was immortalized on the cover of the novel, Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil. Unfortunately for tourists, she is no longer a part of Bonaventure Cemetery. "Bird Girl" is now on display at Jepson Center in Downtown Savannah.

Bonaventure Cemetery is ripe with history but the ghost stories are what makes this place so intriguing. One such ghost story is the tale of Little Gracie. The headstone surrounded by an iron gate will stop you in your tracks.


"Gracie Watson died of pneumonia in 1889. She was just six years old. Her parents, Wales and Margaret Watson, owners of the Pulaski Hotel were inconsolable; a grief-stricken Margaret claimed that she could still hear Little Gracie laughing and playing under the back staircase. Wales Watson, in a final tribute to his daughter, hired sculptor John Walz to carve a life-sized monument of Gracie using a photograph as a reference. The finished work became the marker of her grave in Bonaventure Cemetery. It is said to be eerily accurate all the way down to the shape of her mouth.


Visitors to Gracie’s grave often leave toys and objects for her to enjoy. Some say Gracie’s statue cries tears of blood if these gifts are removed. Numerous witnesses have claimed to see what they perceived to be a real girl in a white dress skipping through the cemetery grass before vanishing into thin air. Others have seen Little Gracie playing in Johnson Square, a public space near the Pulaski Hotel’s former location. At least one person has seen a young girl staring from the window of the building at the corner of Bryan and Bull Street, where the Pulaski stood until it was demolished in 1957.


Gracie Watson’s grave is one of the most heavily trafficked in Bonaventure Cemetery. The iron fence was specifically added to prevent damage to the sculpture. Yet if the aforementioned sightings are to be believed, Gracie Watson herself is also watching over her resting place." - Gary Sweeney




Bonaventure Cemetery

330 Bonaventure Rd. Thunderbolt, GA 31404

Open daily 8 AM - 5 PM

Map

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