Walk Through History: Exploring Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA

Bonaventure Cemetery – A Historic Site of Savannah, Georgia

Bonaventure Cemetery is a serene and beautiful final resting place on a picturesque bluff overlooking the Wilmington River east of Savannah, Georgia.

With a total area of 160 acres, it is the largest of the city’s municipal cemeteries. Bonaventure Cemetery has a rich history and cultural significance, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals.

Many first learned of Bonaventure Cemetery through the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt in 1994. The novel brought the cemetery to the world’s attention and has since been featured in a film adaptation directed by Clint Eastwood.

The book and the movie showcase the cemetery’s fascinating history, intricate sculptures, and beautifully landscaped gardens.

The entrance to Bonaventure Cemetery is located at 330 Bonaventure Road. As visitors enter through the gates, they are immediately greeted by the grand and elaborate tomb of William Gaston.

Gaston was a well-known merchant from Savannah, and his tomb is a testament to his importance in the city’s history.

Bonaventure Cemetery is important for Savannah’s residents, visitors, and history enthusiasts. In addition, its stunning monuments, unique sculptures, and tranquil atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the city’s rich cultural heritage.

The History and Evolution of Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery has been a solemn resting place for residents of Savannah since 1846. Originally known as Evergreen Cemetery, it was established on 70 acres of land from the Bonaventure Plantation.

At the time, the city’s existing cemeteries were nearing their maximum capacity, making it necessary to establish a new burial ground.

Evergreen Cemetery was designed in the traditional Victorian style, featuring winding paths, beautiful trees, and ample green spaces. Despite being a cemetery, it was not uncommon for families to gather for picnics in peaceful surroundings while still providing comfort and solace to the bereaved.

In 1907, the City of Savannah purchased Evergreen Cemetery and made it the fourth of the five cemeteries that the city currently owns. The cemetery has since expanded to nearly 160 acres and has undergone redesigning to provide more burial sites and more efficient maintenance than the original Evergreen design could offer.

Bonaventure Cemetery has evolved over the years, but its significance remains unchanged. It is a place of remembrance, reflection, and tranquility for the loved ones of those buried there.

In addition, the cemetery’s rich history and beautiful architecture make it a popular tourist destination and a significant cultural site for Savannah.

Exploring Bonaventure Cemetery: Guided Tours

Bonaventure Cemetery is a place of great historical and cultural significance. To make the most of your visit, the Bonaventure Historical Society offers free guided tours on the second weekend of every month. The tours start at 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday and last about an hour.

The BHS-trained guides will take you through the cemetery, providing detailed information on the monuments, the history of the cemetery, and the people buried there.

Please note that there is a limit of 30 visitors per guide, and if there are more people, the attendees will be divided into smaller groups to ensure everyone can hear the guide.

If you can’t make it to the scheduled guided tour days, you can still tour the cemetery by yourself using the mobile tour app for Apple and Android devices. The app is easy to use, and you can explore the cemetery at your own pace while still learning about its rich history.

It is essential to check the Bonaventure Historical Society’s Facebook page for any changes or updates regarding the guided tours. The Facebook page also has information on upcoming events and other resources related to the cemetery.

Whether you take a guided tour or explore the cemetery on your own with the mobile app, Bonaventure Cemetery is a must-see destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and art.

Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery” by tabounds is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Visiting Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery is breathtaking, with its beautiful trees, winding lanes, and stunning monuments. While it is a tourist destination, it is essential to remember that it is also an active cemetery. Here are some guidelines for cemetery etiquette to follow during your visit.

Firstly, if you see a group of people with a hearse and other vehicles parked nearby, please assume that a funeral is occurring. It is essential to keep your voice low and be respectful as you pass by the area.

It is also crucial to teach children about the need for respect while visiting the cemetery. For example, pets are welcome in the cemetery but must be kept on a leash, and pet owners are expected to clean up after them.

Visitors should refrain from littering or leaving cigarette butts on the ground. Trash cans are available throughout the cemetery for disposal.

It is essential to note that all cemetery plots are considered private property. While the City of Savannah owns the land, plot owners have the right to authorize who can access the grave property. In most cases, permission has not been granted for public access to a gravesite.

Regardless of how tempting it may be to take photos or examine the monuments up close, trying to get too close to a grave without permission is considered trespassing.

Bonaventure Cemetery is a place of beauty, history, and reflection. Following these guidelines, visitors can respect the cemetery, the departed, and their families while enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

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