There are two things you should know about Savannah. 1. Everything is connected. 2. Time moves differently here.
A few weekends ago I was bored and the dogs were dying to get out and do something, so I decided to open my Randonautica app and go exploring. I did not expect it to take me to a park inside a cemetery I didn’t know about.
My youngest sister introduced me to Randonauting when she visited me back in July. For those of you who have never heard of it, Randonautica is an app that takes you to random places close to you.
When my sister and I tried, it kept trying to send us to Hunter Army Airfield or neighborhoods with limited parking, so we kind of gave up. But this time when I tried it, the app popped up a location I didn’t even know existed.
I had heard plenty about how Bonaventure Cemetery got started. I knew there was a plantation and that it burned down and maybe that’s why this other cemetery slipped past me.
Greenwich Cemetery is next to Bonaventure and was also built on the plot of a mansion that burned down. Since you have to drive through Forest Lawn Memory Gardens in order to get to Greenwich, maybe that’s also why I never noticed it.
As soon as I pulled into the cemetery, I was awestruck at how beautiful it was. The road winds along the outside of the cemetery giving you a fantastic view of the river.
Even though it shares some similarities with Bonaventure, Greenwich is definitely unique. Many of the headstones are more modern but have an artistic flair you rarely see in newer cemeteries. You can also still buy burial plots there.
The park inside it is right off the water and includes a little pond fed by the river. (Watch out for alligators. I haven’t seen any, but there’s always a risk in southern states like Georgia.)
When I was researching the cemetery, I found out that this is actually a spot where some couples choose to have their weddings. And it’s not just gothy/horror types getting married there. It’s just totally normal people. (I love it when normal people let their inner weirdness shine!)
If you want to read more about the insanely lavish the mansion that used to exist there, you can read more about it on Forest City of the South’s website.
This home had so much priceless art. When it burned down, much of it went with it, but you can still see some of the statuary at the Mary Telfair Museum downtown. (Seriously, if you’re an art lover, go read Forest City’s post. You will cry at what was lost.)
The only parts of the original property that you can still see are the stables and a fountain.
Remember how I said everything in Savannah is connected? There are two major stories with ties to Greenwich Cemetery.
When the mansion caught on fire, everyone escaped safely. One of the children was forced to jump out of a second story window. That little girl was Sandy West who grew to become a children’s book author and painter.
Ossabaw Island, the island she and her family moved to after the fire, eventually became an artists’s colony. Sandy was a huge advocate for not only the arts but also environmental preservation. She lived on the island until 2016 when she moved back to Savannah. (She’s still alive and kicking at 107.) You can read more about Ossabaw and how to visit it here.
The other connection to Savannah lore in the grave of Danny Hansford. His death and the four murder trials of Jim Williams are the main story of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. (There are a bunch of other stories in there that all tie together because EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED HERE!)
I know I’ve hinted at the story here and there, and I promise I will write a full post on The Book (and movie) eventually, but suffice it to say that poor Danny played an important part in Savannah’s history.
I won’t comment on his personal life. (He had a reputation around town.) I didn’t know him. In fact, he was killed a few weeks before I was born. That and the fact that it’s hard to dig up any info on him outside of the trial makes it very difficult to get a sense of him as a person.
His death at the hands of Jim Williams is one of those stories that people around town tell that seems ancient and recent at the same time.
Like I said, time moves strangely in Savannah.
330 Greenwich Road