Savannah’s Second Empire French Gothic mansion known as the Hamilton-Turner is a formidable presence on Lafayette Square. Sitting in the shadows of St. John’s Cathedral, this stately mansion is today one of Savannah’s most elegant bed & breakfast inns. Her romantic guest rooms, richly appointed in period antiques, have inspired many honeymooners, and ghost enthusiasts alike. In fact, the Hamilton-Turner would inspire Walt Disney to create the famed “Haunted Mansion” ride in Disney World. The beloved Disney attraction was modeled after the Hamilton-Turner mansion in Savannah, even deriving its name “The Hamilton” from this grand Savannah home.
Built in 1873 for Samuel Pugh Hamilton, a wealthy businessman and prominent Savannah citizen, the Hamilton-Turner mansion was the first in Savannah to have electric power. In fact, scores of Savannah citizens turned out for the inaugural lighting of the salon in 1883. Spectators feared that the house might actually explode when the new electric lights were turned on. Later in 1888, electricity was installed in the entire mansion. Its illuminated presence on Lafayette Square would attract all of Savannah, which marveled at this new invention.
The second owner of the home, Francis Turner, was a prominent physician in Savannah. He would use the bottom floor of his stately mansion as offices for his practice. It is even rumored that Dr. Turner would perform autopsies on this lower level. Members of Savannah’s social elite, the Turners would host lavish parties at the mansion. During such festivities the Turner children were sent to the top floor of the mansion where Dr. Turner had his billiards table. The children were allowed to amuse themselves by playing with the pool balls while the adults enjoyed themselves below. The children, not content with the arrangement, devised a way of spying on the party. They would pretend like they “accidentally” rolled one of the pool balls down the stairs; when they went to retrieve the ball they would get a glimpse into the parlor. This would be repeated over and over again as a sort of game…a game that would end in tragedy. It was one of the little girls turns to roll the pool ball down the stairs, when she got a little too close to the top step. She would tumble down to her death. Guests who stay in the Hamilton-Turner Inn today have heard what sounds like someone playing a game of pool on the top floor. They have even heard something being rolled down the stairs. What’s interesting to note is that there are no pool tables in the Hamilton-Turner; there haven’t been in many years.
If you are looking for an elegant stay in Savannah Georgia, certainly consider the Hamilton-Turner Inn. If you are looking for a chummy game of pool, you will need to look elsewhere. The only billiards play going on at this inn is from, well, beyond the grave.