Savannah’s Historic Cemeteries

Bluffton, SC is just a short drive over the border into Savannah, Georgia. It is well-worth a day trip to visit the Hostess City of the South. And no visit to Savannah is com­plete with­out a visit to the city’s historic ceme­teries, each of which serves as a final resting place for many of Savannah’s most fasci­nat­ing residents. Each of these ceme­teries is situated amid incred­ibly scenic surroundings.

Even if ceme­teries give you goose­­bumps, you’ll be glad you stopped by to experience some of Savannah’s unique history firsthand. Just don’t stay too long!

Bonaventure Cemetery

Immortalized by John Berendt in his bestseller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Bonaventure is the final resting place for many of Savannah’s most prominent citizens, includ­ing song­writer Johnny Mercer (1909-1976), poet Conrad Aiken (1889-1973) and plantation owner Noble Jones (1701-1775), one of Savannah’s original set­tlers who colonized the city with General James Oglethorpe in 1733. Located along the scenic banks of the Wilmington River, Bonaventure Cemetery also has group burial sites for the American Legion Field, the Confederate States of America, the Order of Railroad Conductors and the veterans of the Spanish-American War.

Originally a 600-acre plantation, Bonaventure was sold for $5,000 in 1846 to Savannah business­man Peter Wiltberger, who turned the land into a public cemetery called Evergreen Cemetery. The City of Savannah purchased Evergreen Cemetery in 1907 and turned it into Bonaventure Cemetery.

Savannah photographer Jack Leigh captured the image that graces the cover of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” — a burial statue, nick­named “The Bird Girl,” that once stood in the heart of Bonaventure Cemetery. The “Bird Girl” statue is current­ly on display at the Telfair Museum of Art.

HOW TO GET THERE: Bonaventure is located just off Pennsylvania Ave. on Bonaventure Rd.

HOURS: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Colonial Park Cemetery

Colonial Park Cemetery is the city’s only non-active cemetery, meaning that no more burials take place on this historic plot of land, located at the corner of Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Avenue.

Walk through the graceful arch erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution and you will discover a window into Savannah’s rich past. Many of Savannah’s earliest settlers are buried in Colonial Park, whose gravestones date back to the 1700s.

Today, Colonial Park Cemetery serves as a park for many Savannah residents. Many Savannahians stroll through the cemetery in the early morning, or walk their dogs within the ceme­tery’s wrought iron perimeter in the evening.

HOW TO GET THERE: The main entrance is located at the corner of Abercorn St. and Oglethorpe Ave.

HOURS: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Laurel Grove Cemetery

Established in 1852, Laurel Grove Cemetery has thousands of graves that reflect Savannah’s rich his­tory, situated amid groves of live oak, magnolia and dogwood trees. This contemplative site, which features ornate ironwork and mag­nificent statuary on many of the lots, was once called Springfield Plantation.

Laurel Grove is divided into two distinct sections, by a highway connector. Laurel Grove North, per­haps the better-known part of the cemetery, is the burial place of hundreds of Confederate soldiers, as well as prominent citizens like Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, and Florence Martus, “The Waving Girl” of Savannah.

Laurel Grove South serves as the final resting place for many members of Savannah’s African- American community. Many slaves, freedmen and even two African-American Confederate veterans are buried in Laurel Grove South.

HOW TO GET THERE: Laurel Grove Cemetery is best accessed from Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Turn right onto Anderson St.

HOURS: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.