Laurel Grove Cemetery
Its natural vista isn’t as alluring as Bonaventure’s, but Laurel Grove Cemetery boasts its own exquisitely carved memorials and a distinctly Victorian type of surreal beauty that not even Bonaventure can match. In keeping with the racial apartheid of Savannah’s early days, there are actually two cemeteries: Laurel Grove North (802 W. Anderson St., daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) for whites, and Laurel Grove South (2101 Kollock St., daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m.) for blacks. Both are well worth visiting.
By far the most high-profile site in the North Cemetery is that of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Other historically significant sites there include the graves of 8th Air Force founder Frank O. Hunter, Central of Georgia founder William Gordon and “Jingle Bells” composer James Pierpont.
But it’s the graves of the anonymous and near-anonymous that are the most poignant sights here. The various sections for infants known as “Babylands” cannot fail to move. “Mr. Bones,” a former Savannah Police dog, is the only animal buried at Laurel Grove. There’s an entire site reserved for victims of the great yellow fever epidemic. And don’t blink or you’ll miss the small rock pile, or cairn, near Governor James Jackson’s tomb, the origin and purpose of which remains a mystery.
Make sure to view the otherworldly display of Victorian statuary, originally from the grand Greenwich Plantation which burned in the early 20th century. As with Bonaventure, throughout Laurel Grove you’ll find examples of so-called “slave tiles,” actually Victorian garden tiles, lining gravesites.
Laurel Grove South features the graves of Savannah’s early black Baptist ministers, such as Andrew Bryan and Andrew Cox Marshall. Some of the most evocative sites are those of African Americans who obtained their freedom and built prosperous lives for themselves and their families. The vast majority of local firefighters in the 1800s were African Americans, and their simple graves are among the most touching, such as the headstone for one known simply as “August,” who died fighting a fire.
Getting to Laurel Grove Cemetery
To get to Laurel Grove North, take MLK Jr. Boulevard to Anderson Street and turn west. To get to Laurel Grove South, take Victory Drive (Hwy. 80) west to Ogeechee Road. Take a right onto Ogeechee, then a right onto West 36th Street. Continue on to Kollock Street.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition