At the end of our drive for the day, Savannah was waiting for us! And so was the Marshall House! The Marshall House was the lodging I was most excited about during our trip. It is a historic hotel right in the downtown historic district of Savannah, built in 1851. We got there and parked and had our first true experience with a valet! Jon had never used a valet or bellhop before, and I have only had very limited experience. But you can imagine how excited Jon was to find out they had a wine and cheese social each evening from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.
We got checked in to our room on the fourth floor, room 405, a petite queen. The petite queens are small and value priced. They are advertised as small, so you know what you are getting, and it gave us the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in this beautiful hotel that offers luxury amenities like wine and cheese social hours and turndown service without busting out budget. Frankly though, we didn’t think that the room was that small, and it didn’t need to be very large, considering that we were going to spend most of our time outside touristing!
The hotel has been renovated with up to date features like bathrooms in each room, flat screen TVs and mini-fridges, but it maintains the character of the original hotel, using the original doors, and wood floors. Walking in the hotel hallways, you can tell that the floors are uneven, but I thought it just added to its charm and character. The walls are decorated with historical prints and portraits of historical figures, like Robert E. Lee.
The Marshall House (Savannah’s oldest hotel, by the way) served as a Union hospital during the Civil War, after Sherman occupied Savannah just before Christmas Day 1864. The second floor of the hotel served as the operating rooms and the third floor housed the recovery rooms. With all that suffering, it is a guarantee that the place would be haunted, and it is. The story goes that the body parts from the amputations were thrown out the back windows from the second floor into the alley below. Then they buried the limbs beneath the floorboards in the basement of the building because the ground outside was frozen during the extremely cold winter of 1864. During renovations, workers found the bones, and to avoid disturbing the spirits, the owners of the hotel decided to rebury the bones in the basement.
People staying at the hotel have reported hearing groans like sick and dying men, and seeing a man with no arm wandering around asking for a surgeon. Apparently maids have also opened the door to a room and seen a Civil War hospital operating room, with people laid out on tables and bloody bandages littering the floor. A little girl has been seen and heard running up and down the hallways. Apparently she was friends with the children whose parents owned the Marshall House, and she died tragically at the age of 7. She used to haunt her own home, but when it was torn down she came over to the Marshall House, where she had played as a child. There is also reportedly a woman in the lobby ladies room who will lock the door to one particular stall.
After checking in we washed off the grit and grime from Magnolia Gardens (you haven’t forgotten us sloshing around in all those puddles, have you? My feet were pretty gross!) before we went back downstairs for the wine and cheese social hour. We are never late for happy hour! We had some wine and cheese and did some relaxing while we pondered dinner. The wine was an everyday selection of Merlot, White Zinfandel or Chardonnay, and you could have cheddar, pepperjack, and a white cheese (provolone maybe?) with a variety of crackers and grapes. While none of the food was fancy, the wine was decent – something I would even buy for a regular occasion, if only I could remember what kind it was!
After having a bit of refreshment, we set out to check out Savannah. We ended up at the Pirate’s House restaurant, a seafood restaurant which has been operating continuously as an Inn and restaurant since 1753! Part of the building is the original Gardener’s house for the Savannah colony, and was built in 1734 (it is thought to be the oldest house in the state of Georgia). The original community garden area was turned into a residential area in 1753, and the Gardener’s house was expanded and turned into an inn and restaurant for sailors who were stopping over in Savannah.
Legend has is that there were tunnels beginning at the liquor cellar under the Pirate’s House and extending to the harbor, enabling unscrupulous captains to shanghai drunken sailors and depart with them. They would take an unconscious drunken man through the tunnel and out to a ship, and the ship would set sail before the sailor woke up. By the time he realized where he was, they were well out at sea, and the sailor had no way to get back to port. What a way to get free labor! One shanghai story involves a policeman who stopped by the inn for a drink, and next thing he knew, he was on his way to China. It took him two years to make his way back to Savannah.
Now, you aren’t at risk of being kidnapped, and the food is amazing. They serve all sorts of fresh fish; so Jon and I of course ordered fish! Jon had the flounder stuffed with crab meat, and I had the trout. This was some of the best fish we have ever had! We paired our entrees with a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir, but sadly, neither of us remembers the winery name, and the Pirate’s House doesn’t post their wine list online (I’m considering emailing them to ask them what the Pinot was). Our server James was fantastic too – he was friendly and courteous and a first rate server. And outside, we got a view of female pirates. Judging by the knee brace that one of them was wearing, I would say they weren’t authentic pirates though.
The Pirate’s House also has another fun history – it is one of Savannah’s many haunted houses – the placemat under your plate gives you the rundown of the residential ghostly experiences. I suppose any Inn that has been around over 250 years is bound to have a few ghosts! Apparently, in the seat I sat in for dinner, a man brazenly scoffed aloud at the idea that the restaurant could be haunted and the Treasure Island art print hanging over the spot fell off the wall at that moment and hit him in the head! I tried saying aloud that I didn’t believe in ghosts, but I must not have been very convincing, because nothing happened to me.
After our fabulous dinner, we wandered down to the riverfront and checked things out. Savannah has an open container law, so you can wander around with your beer, as long as it is in a plastic cup. Having wine in a plastic cup isn’t quite as appealing though, so we didn’t take ours to go. After walking the length of the riverfront tourist area it was pretty dark, so we headed back to the Marshall House to call it a night. We needed a good night’s rest so we could get in a full day of sightseeing the next day!