In 1994, John Berendt’s non-fiction novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil turned the New York Times Bestseller List’s readers’ minds toward Savannah. But the city’s abundance of historic sites and charming local attractions had done their work on the nation’s imagination long before.
Still, the wildly successful novel subtitled A Savannah Story, steeped in the atmosphere of the deep coastal South, and telling in detail one of its crazier-than-fiction stories – well, as far as the local tourism industry is concerned, it didn’t hurt.
One of the places that the book made famous was the Bonaventure Cemetery, a sprawling graveyard so venerable that its 1994 literary appearance was not its first. John Muir was an advocate for the preservation of American wilderness, but he did more than talk the talk – he quite literally walked the walk. On his Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf, Muir spent six days and nights in 1867 in the cemetery while he waited for his travel money to catch up with him. In a chapter titled “Camping in the Tombs”, he wrote with rapture of the beauty of this graveyard, where in spite of so much company of the dead, the rhythm of life beat on. Today, the Bonaventure Cemetery opens its gates to the public every day from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Savannah holds still another honor: it contains and preserves the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder and first leader of Girl Scouts of the USA. Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, and her Childhood Home has also been carefully preserved as a house museum to honor the writer.
Worth Checking Out
- Bonaventure Cemetery
- Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace
- Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home
- Telfair Museums
- Leopold’s Ice Cream