Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 101

Haunted Locales: Savannah, GA by Craig Arcos SAVANNAH'S MOST HAUNTED ESTABLISHMENT: The Moon River Brewing Company Before being known as Savannah's first micro-brewery (and restaurant), 21 W Bay Street was the site of Savannah's first hotel. Built by Elazer Early in 1821, it was a gathering spot for local notables as well as internationally famous people. These included the Marquis de Lafayette, naturalist James Audubon and national heroes like Generaal Winfield Scott. The Hostess City's Hotel boasted the finest dining and libations in Savannah at that time! The hotel was sold in 1851 to Peter Wiltberger. To attract business to his newly renovated hotel, Wiltberger purchased and displayed a Lion and Loiness caged in the lobby for all to see. Reportedly designed by the famous English architect William Jay, this beautiful regency-style building has a dark and violent past... One that is known today as one of America's most haunted structures! The Hotel sits atop the remains of all structures built there before it. It was first destroyed by the Great Fire of 1820 which destroyed over 400 structures in the downtown area. There is no accurate account of just how many souls perished in the fire. Perhaps some died in the wooden structure once standing in the location of the hotel! Perhaps some of the souls lost that day have never found peace. The City's Hotel was the sight of one of Savannah's most infamous duels. In 1832, a local respected doctor with the surname of Minis and an undesirable local, James Stark, faced each other. While at the horsetrack (then located on Savannah's west side), Stark insulted the good doctor, stating that Minis should name his new horse "shylock:" an insult to anyone of the Jewish faith! Furthermore, Stark called Minis a "damned Israelite." Later that day, a heated aurgument ensued in the bar of the City Hotel where Stark approached Minis, drawing his hand from his coat like he was ready to fire a gun. Startled, Minis shot and killed Stark, the poor, "ungrateful soul." As the Civil War came ever closer, it was not uncommon for those visiting from the north to be thrown out "on their ears" of the hotel as unwanted guests. One such instance occurred in November 1860. James Sinclair arrived in Savannah from the north. Entering the City Hotel, patrons soon discovered his origins. Unhappy to have him in their presence, the locals asked him to leave. When Sinclair refused, he was taken outside and nearly beaten to death. A Ghostly Present (or Presence?) After the War of Northern Aggression, the hotel fell into utter disrepair. Used for a number of businesses over the years, it was finally converted into a micro-brewery and restaurant in the late 1990's. It later became the Moon River Brewing Company. After so many years of neglect and ruin, it was only when restoration of the property began that the paranormal life of the structure was brought to light! Stories of the former City Hotel's paranormal exsistence have been documented over the past few years on nationally noted TV shows such as "Ghost Hunters" and "The Travel Channel's Ghost Advetures." Since the openning of the former hotel as a brew pub and restaurant, there have been reports by employees of bottles flying off the shelves, silverware sliding off dining tables and shadowy figures roaming the basement and upper floors of the building. Such reports include one of the restaurant's general managers feeling an "unseen entity" push pass him in a doorway. Others have recounted seeing apparitions of women dressed in Victorian clothing walking up and down the stairwells. Many have reported the sight of a little boy named Toby stealing billiard balls from the basement's pool table. An off-duty police officer reported seeing the ghost of a Union soldier. In 2009, the TV show "Ghost Adventurers" visited the building and reported several occurences. The show recalled the story of the ghost of a former hotel employee (who died in the hotel). They had been seen lurking the second and third floors in the form of a white apparition. To this day, those floors have been untouched and never renovated. "During an attempt to renovate the building's third floor in the early 1990's, the foreman's wife was violently pushed down the staircase. Locals say he gave his resignation on the spot." The TV show recorded several paranormal events including "footsteps, dragging sounds, knocking, voices and a shadowy form thought to belong to one of the resident spirits known as Toby." During the filming of "Ghost Hunters," Nick Groff was reportedly possessed by one of the building's spirits.