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15 Minutes Away by Car: Bonaventure Cemetery

October 31, 2011

This week, we take another trip outside of Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District to highlight Bonaventure Cemetery. Bonaventure began its life as a private cemetery in 1846. In 1907, the City of Savannah purchased the cemetery – transforming it into a public cemetery. Bonaventure has the distinction of being one of the most photographed cemeteries in the United States.

The cemetery (which, in my opinion is much more like a sculpture garden and nature preserve than traditional “cemetery”) has been a “tourist” destination since the City purchased the property, with people visiting the site to pay their respects to notable individuals and families of the Savannah and surrounding low-country. Tourist interest in Bonaventure grew dramatically after the cemetery became known nationally, thanks to Jack Leigh’s famous photograph of the “Bird Girl” on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Though the “Bird Girl” is now located in the Telfair Museum (for her own safety), the 160+ acre cemetery is full of equally impressive statuaries, monuments, obelisks, and ornate iron work. People still flock to Bonaventure to pay their respects to many of the renowned people interred there, but the cemetery’s artistic qualities draw just as many (if not more) visitors.

At over 160 acres, Bonaventure can easily become a day long excursion – wandering (on foot or by car) through the seemingly endless maze of lanes and drives lined with historic live oak trees and azalea bushes. Given the extensive plantings in the cemetery, it is particularly popular with flower enthusiasts in the spring.

Bonaventure Cemetery is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission into the cemetery is free. There is a kiosk near the front gate where guests search for specific individuals and print (for a nominal cost) maps marking the grave’s location in the cemetery. For those who wish to skip the kiosk, numerous small wooden markers have been erected throughout the cemetery to help guide visitors to some of the most frequently requested places and individuals.

Getting to Bonaventure Cemetery from the Catherine Ward House Inn by car is very easy. From door to door, it takes about 12-15 minutes to drive between the two.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kenneth Drake permalink
    December 20, 2011 11:07 pm

    Leslie: just a short hello and a merry Christmas–Hope you and mom are doing well. Hope to get back soon to see you.Sincerely; Kenneth (your ex-pest guy from Spartanburg)

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