Park Cemetery may be older and more historic, but Bonaventure Cemetery
is definitely the most beautiful of Savannah's cemeteries. There's something
just hauntingly romantic about the splendid Victorian statuary among
Spanish Moss draped trees and the lush greenery. A stroll among these
peaceful tombs, surrounded by marshland and rivers, is like walking
through the best parts of a Southern Gothic novel.
it is strikingly beautiful, Bonaventure is not a particularly old cemetery.
It was founded on the site of a plantation in 1868 and was originally
called Evergreen Cemetery. The name was changed to Bonaventure in 1907.
However, Bonaventure is one of the most popular tourist attractions
in Savannah. The reason for this can be summed up in eight words: Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil.
John Berendt's book was partially set in this cemetery, and the
haunting cover photograph was taken in its confines. However, so many
people were flocking to visit the "Bird
Girl" statue that graced the front
cover, that the family to whom the tomb belonged decided to move
the statue to a museum. (Apparently, the last straw was the day they
arrived at the gravesite to find a family of tourists picnicking.) If
you want to see the original Bird Girl statue nowadays, you need to
go to the Telfair Museum Of Art
in Savannah, where it is on permanent display. (I didn't make it there,
myself, while I was in town.)
enough of my blabbing... On with the show!
found this carved wood burl to be quite interesting, in a creepy
sort of way...
elegantly sad grave of Charles Hohenstein (Aug. 16, 1854 - Aug.
30, 1915) and his beloved wife Mary Doyle (Mary 27, 1858 - Oct.
CHILDREN ROSE UP AND CALLED HER BLESSED"
C. Von Hohenstein wrote on 12/6/07: "I am very pleased
that you posted the picture of my ancester's tomb; Charles and
Mary Hohenstein. They are my Great Great Grandparents. Charles
and his Brother came from Germany at the end of the Civil War.
They were shipping merchants who came to capitalize on the rebuilding
of Savannah, Atlanta, and New Orleans. The Hohenstein Shipping
Yard is still in operation at the Port of Savannah."
flowers grace the grave of Charles Seiler (Aug. 15, 1839 - Jan.
9, 1912) and his beloved wife Ernstine (Nov. 8, 1838 - Jan. 28,
really loved this one - the grave of Nannie Herndon Mercer,
the beloved wife of George A. Mercer (Dec. 17, 1841 - June 16,
FLOWER FADETH, BUT THE WORD
OF OUR GOD SHALL STAND FOREVER"
the other most famous reason that people visit Bonaventure:
Gracie. As the tomb marker states, "Little Gracie Watson
was born in 1883, the only child of her parents. Her father
was manager of the Pulaski Hotels, where the beautiful and charming
little girl was a favorite with the guests. Two days before
Easter, in April 1889, Gracie died of pnemonia at the age of
six. In 1890, when the rising sculptor, John Walz, moved to
Savannah, he carved from a photograph this life-sized, delicately
detailed marble statue, which for almost a century has captured
the interest of all passersby."
ghost is rumored to haunt numerous Savannah buildings as well
(more on that in the upcoming Ghost Tour), so she continues
to be an intrinsic part of Savannah folklore.
little Gracie has taken some abuse over the years. You'll notice
her nose is chipped - that's thanks to a well-aimed rock thrown
by some boys in the 1940s. With all the extra publicity around
the cemetery since Midnight in the Garden, some steps
have been taken to try and protect Gracie from harm (intentional
or unintentional). There's now a tall iron fence around her
grave (I had to get my shots by sticking the camera through
the gaps in the fence). However, there has been some evidence
that idiots have been climbing the fence to get at Gracie. It's
quite sad to think that someone would want to damage such a
beautiful piece of history and artistry...
still another eerie beauty - this one for Corinne Elliott Lawton
who died on January 24th, 1877.
to brighter worlds
and led the way."
provides some background info:
Lawton died at the age of 33 in 1877. Her father was A.R. Lawton,
who had risen in ranks to become the Quartermaster General for
the Confederacy. After he died, a building was erected on Bull
Street and dedicated to the memory of the father and daughter.
The Lawton Memorial was an auditorium where the public could
hear a musical recital, attend a lecture, or hear speeches from
the politicians. Sold in the 1940s, the Lawton Memorial is what
we know today as St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church."
Jesus standing beside the Gateway to the Beyond. I mainly took
this one to show the river beyond the cemetery. What a wonderful
place to spend eternity... unless, of course, you're afraid
simple grave is actually my personal favorite, because you know
I love those olde "death head" sculptures. "Be
Of Good Courage," is a refreshingly simple epitaph as well.
The grave itself - though it looks very old - actually dates
from 1920, strangely enough. The top of the grave is too difficult
to read for me to display for you, but it wins the Gravestone
Cliché award by a country mile:
fought the Good Fight
He ran the Straight Race
His children shall rise up
Forever more and call
I thought it would rhyme too - go figure...)
a very poignant gravestone for two doomed children of G. &
C. R. Hartman: Mary R. M. (Oct. 9, 1858 - April 18, 1860) and
Emma C. (Oct. 15, 1860 - March 4, 1861).
another of my favorite statues in the cemetery. The staining
on the face adds a certain creepy quality to it, don't you think?
This is the grave of Gertrude A. Bliss, wife of Thomas H. McMillan
(October 15, 1864 - April 14, 1903)
THOUGHTFUL OF HOME
AND LOVED ONES AS WIFE
AND MOTHER SHE WAS ALL
THAT ONE COULD BE."
guess now we know where the Army got their slogan, huh?
another nice angel statue... With a fearfully sad look on its
beautiful and tragic children's tomb, this one for Pearce (Sept.
21, 1892 - May 24, 1895) and Catherine (June 28, 1904 - Oct.
23, 1906) Wheless. They certainly don't make intricate sculptures
like this anymore...
a nice landscape view of the cemetery. Don't you wish you were
strolling through those grounds right now? (I do...)
it about time for a Famous Person's grave? Well, here we are
then - Johnny Mercer!! Oh, come on - you must surely know Johnny
Mercer! He's the lyrical genius behind such songs as "Come
Rain Or Come Shine," "Fools Rush In," "That
Old Black Magic," and - the masterpiece - "Moon River"
(best when sung/altered by Morrissey):
River, wider than a mile
I'll be crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're going, I'm going your way
Two drifters off to the see the world
I'm not so sure the world deserves us
We're after the same rainbow's end
It's just around the bend...
It's just around the bend...
It's always just around the bend"
thought these gateways gave a suitably atmospheric tone to the
lush cemetery landscape.
sad tombstress in repose...
charming cherubic detail from one of the larger statues...
with one last sad dropping of flower petals we bid adieu to Bonaventure
Cemetery - one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth.