Hello, Lovelies! Welcome to the blog post about the incredible Marshall House! Rebecca stayed here over a weekend (and experienced nothing, fortunately) and wanted to share the amazing history and stories of this iconic building. Scroll down to get info on this week’s drink break, Rebecca’s show notes, and links to her sources.
Do you have any good stories? Send us an email, we’d love to hear them!
This week’s drink break is brought to you by the lovely podcast Ignorance Is Bliss. Click the logo to give Kate a listen!
The Marshall House is located on East Broughton Street in Savannah, Georgia and is the oldest hotel in the city (today, it is 168 years old)
The iconic brick building has four floors and iron balconies that have rocking chairs that allow guests staying on the second floor to sit and enjoy the view of historic Savannah.
It was built in 1851 by Mary L. Marshall, who had the building constructed on a piece of property that she eventually inherited from her father when he died.
- Her grandparents settled in Savannah during the early days of the colony
- She was born during the last year of the Revolution
- During the American Revolution, she had relatives fighting on both sides during the Siege of Savannah
- Her father, Gabriel Lever, was a 19th century French cabinet maker who died in 1955
- Mary Marshall would continue to buy and develop land, reportedly growing her wealth ten-fold before her death in 1877 at the age of 93
- Today, there is an oil painting of Mary hanging behind the reception desk in the Marshall House that was painted in the 1830’s by Peter Laurens
But, out of all her developments, the Marshall House became a staple in Savannah, and, especially after the addition of the iconic iron balconies and veranda in 1957, many architectural historians consider the Marshall House to be one of the finest structures built in the city.
History of the House:
The Marshall house, as I mentioned, was initially constructed in 1851 by Mary and during the years of 1864 and 1865 the house became occupied by Union troops, led by General William Tecumseh Sherman, and the building served as a hospital until the end of the Civil War.
Additionally, the Marshall House was used twice as a hospital during the Yellow Fever epidemics of the 19th century.
The hotel closed for a brief time in 1895, reopening again in 1899 with the addition of electric lights and baths on every floor.
In 1933, Herbert W. Gilbert, a prominent real estate and hotel man from Jacksonville, FL, leases the hotel and renames it the Gilbert Hotel
In 1941, Gilbert sells the hotel and in 1946, the hotel opens again after a complete renovation.
In 1957, the hotel closes due to the massive alterations required to put the building in compliance with with fire state laws that were not feasible on short term leases. While the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors were abandoned during this time, the ground floor was open for various shops.
In 1998, renovations start again and finally, in 1999, the Marshall House is reopened and is considered Savannah’s oldest hotel.
Despite the many renovations during its lifetime, several aspects of the original hotel were preserved, including the Philadelphia Pressed Brick on the façade and the Savannah Grey Brick throughout, original staircases and wood floors, fireplaces, brick walls, the doors to each guest room, and several clawfoot tubs dating back to 1880.
On the third floor, there’s a display cabinet that houses artifacts discovered during the renovations.
The Paranormal Experiences:
Faucets have been reports to randomly turn on and off, lights flicker, toilets would overflow for no apparent reason, and doorknobs will wiggle on their own
On the 4th floor hallway, especially during the early morning hours, loud noises are heard that sound like something heavy crashing to the ground
One day, a young girl staying in the hotel pointed to the picture of Mary Marshall that hangs in the lobby, telling her father that she had seen that woman in the hallway
Guests have reported hearing a typewriter coming from the former room of Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus stories.
Some others accounts tell of a dapper gentleman reading a book by a window, a lady in white flowing through the hallways, and another ghostly woman who haunts the ladies’ restroom, and on occasion she will lock the stall. (Moaning Myrtle?)
There have been reports of a ghost cat walking through the hotel
One night, when a physician and his was was staying at the hotel, the physician kept being woken up by the sensation of something lightly brushing his feet. Thinking it was the comforter, he ignored it until he decided to look down and saw a young girl standing at the foot of his bed.
People have heard the sounds of crying babies, children laughing and talking, and apparitions have been seen of children skipping, running, and playing games in the hallways.
One infamous story is of a mother and son staying at the hotel. The boy was in the bathroom, playing and talking to himself, when he came out of the bathroom crying.
“What was wrong?” asked the mother
“The boy bit me.”
“The one who I was playing with in the bathroom.”
The mother quickly went and searched the bathroom, not finding the boy her son spoke of. When she looked at her son’s arm, there was a bite mark.
The boy’s mother quickly went to look in the bathroom, and didn’t see the boy of whom her son spoke of, but when she looked at her son’s arm, she found that there was a bite mark. (this isn’t the first or only case of people receiving visible bite marks in the Marshall House)
Because of the Hotel’s time served as a hospital during the civil war, many of the reported hauntings are related to this time in history.
The Civil War and the Paranormal:
During the renovations performed in the 1990s, in a downstairs room, workers were replacing rotten floorboards when human remains were discovered.
After calling the authorities and the remains were catalogued, it was discovered that the remains were an assortment of nearly 3 dozen hands, feet, arms, and legs. Tests revealed that the remains were that of the Civil War Era.
It’s reported that the downstairs of the hotel was used for surgery, with the room that the remains were found in used mainly for amputations.
After the amputations were completed, it is believe that, in order to make a quick disposal of the remains, Union soldiers would pry up a floorboard or two and place the limb there before returning the floorboard.
Today, that room serves as a night manager’s office, and when the remains were discovered and moved, that is reportedly when the activity started.
Low moans and footsteps are reported, with shadowy figures passing by the doorway of the office. One figure was reported to have been wearing a blue coat.
Three rooms (214, 314, and 414) started having a foul order, similar to rotting flesh, and bad vibes, with 414 being the worst. The smell was so bad that workers were not able to perform their tasks. The smell and misgivings only stopped after the rooms were blessings were performed, with the exception of room 414. It’s said that the staff has to play gospel music when the room is being cleaned to keep the smell and bad vibes at bay.
There are reports of people feeling their wrist being grabbed, as if a nurse was checking their pulse.
Other reports show guests being woken up during the night with a pressure on their foreheads, as if someone was checking their temperature.
In the old operating room, guests have reported seeing doctors treating wounded soldiers who were brought from the battle field.
Finally, there have been accounts of a soldier wandering through the lobby, carrying his severed arm, pleading with the guests to help him find a surgeon.