Bonaventure Cemetery, Laurel Grove Tour App
I love exploring Savannah’s historic cemeteries. It sounds scary, but it’s actually a great way to learn about the history of the city. Not everyone has time to research the stories behind the people buried there.
Fortunately, there are affordable and even free ways to learn.
The Bonaventure Cemetery is the one that comes to mind for many when we talk about the historic cemeteries of our city. There are several tour operators that offer paid tours, but if you have a limited budget, limited time, or mobility issues, this isn’t always the best option.
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Visit Bonaventure Cemetery using your phone
The Société historique de Bonaventure offers free guided tours one weekend a month. We are already past the June tour weekend, but the July dates are the 9th and 10th.
These tours are led by a member of the historical society. They don’t tell legends or ghost stories. They stick to the facts, but even some of the facts about Bonaventure are chilling. Although tours are completely free, you can make a donation to the Société historique de Bonaventure which helps them restore the historic tombs.
If you don’t have time for a walking tour, the Bonaventure Historical Society also has an app you can download. It’s $4.99 at the Google Play and Apple App stores.
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Fees go to the cemetery’s historic preservation fund. You can use the app to take a self-guided walking or driving tour. It’s not the most comprehensive tour, but it’s easy to follow and there’s narration you can listen to as you walk or drive. If you’re driving there are a few places you won’t be able to get to, but these places are steps away from the vehicular trails.
Also learn about the history of the Laurel Grove North and South Cemeteries through your phone
The Laurel Grove North and South Cemetery Tours are a little harder to find. There are a few towers that go through one or the other. I’ve listened to bits of them while my dog and I were on our walks, and they seem to know what they’re talking about.
But again, walking tours are not for everyone.
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In May, Georgia Southern University announced that a graduate student named Mark O’Dell had organized free self-guided tours of Laurel Grove North and Laurel Grove South cemeteries. Its Benevolent Burials website includes highlighted maps, guided narration, videos, photos, and written narration of some of the cemeteries’ interesting burial plots. It’s very well documented. I cannot overcome the level of care and detail that O’Dell has put into this website.
“This project started with an idea a year ago to do a public history research project on people who weren’t covered so well in Savannah’s story; that contained stories that needed to be made public,” O’Dell said in a video posted by the City of Savannah on YouTube.
You won’t hear about the funerals of James Pierpont, who wrote the song “Jingle Bells,” or Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts, but you will hear about orphanages, schools, hospitals and other charities. Benevolent Burials is a fascinating look at the untold and underrepresented stories of Savannah.
I know I’m a history buff who could spend hours in historical documents, but if that’s not your speed, the Bonaventure Historical Society app and the Benevolent Burials website are a great combination of styles of learning visuals and audio that help you better appreciate the story. of Savannah.
Enocha Edenfield is no stranger to ghosts of Savannah. You can find more of his ghost explorations on YouTube and TikTok.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
Bonaventure Cemetery, 330 Bonaventure Road.
Laurel Grove North Cemetery, 802 West Anderson St.
Laurel Grove South Cemetery, 2101 Kollock Street.