Friday, February 20, 2009

Exorcism at The Hampton Lillibridge House

The quaint home at 507 East St. Julian Street was built in 1796 by Rhode Islander Hampton Lillibridge and is one of very few 18th century residences to survive the great fire of 1820. Designed in true New England fashion, complete with widow's walk, one might derive that this charming white clapboard home would be better suited on Cape Cod than the southern port city of Savannah.

After Hampton Lillibridge's death his wife remarried and the home was sold. It passed through several owners and at one time stood as a rooming house. The house experienced a period of vacancy before being purchased in 1963 by famed antiques dealer Jim Williams. It is important to note that when Mr. Williams purchased the Hampton Lillibridge house it was not located on East St. Julian Street at all. Rather, it sat some four blocks away on East Bryan Street where it was rapidly deteriorating. Next door to it sat a similar residence which Jim Williams had also purchased with the intention of restoring both homes. Tragedy soon befell the endeavor as the second home collapsed while being moved, killing a workman.

Several tales of paranormal activity have surfaced over the years in connection with the Hampton Lillibridge residence. Tales that have only added to the mystery of Savannah's most haunted house. One such tale is that of a young sailor who lived in the home during the time when it was a rooming house. For whatever reason this young man decided to commit suicide by hanging himself in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Perhaps his disgruntled spirit was one to later torment the workmen who were hired by Jim Williams to restore the home, now located on the East St. Julian Street lot. During restoration several of the workers reported hearing voices in the house, as well as the sound of footsteps and the unnerving sensation that they were not alone. One afternoon Jim Williams and some friends were walking about the ground floor level of the house checking out the work that had been done that day. Suddenly they heard the sound of voices and footsteps on the level above them, though the workmen had all gone home for the day. They quickly ascended the stairs to investigate only to realize that the sounds were coming from above them again. They worked their way all the way up to the widow's walk on the roof when they heard the sounds once more--below them. In the empty room they had just passed through.

The noises in the house on East St. Julian Street persisted into something far more diabolical. On one occasion, a group of Mr. William's friends were walking through the garden level of the house when they heard sounds above them. One of the men went to investigate. Later, the others found him on the top level of the house lying face down on the floor, paralyzed with fear. After they were able to calm him down he explained what had happened to him. Apparently, upon entering the room to investigate the noises, he felt as though he were being submerged into a pool of cold water. He was overpowered by some strange force and actually felt as though he were being drawn to the open thirty foot chimney shaft. He did the only thing he knew at the time to avoid certain death--he dropped to the floor.

During the period when the house was vacant and being restored, several neighbors witnessed the sound of a woman screaming as well as the image of a man in a black suit with a bow tie standing in the upstairs window. One night, when Mr. Williams was away and the house was empty, a neighbor heard the sound of singing coming from the house. Upon investigation, lights were seen in the upstairs window as were the images of dancing figures.

Finally, on December 7, 1963 an exorcism was performed by a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. It lasted 45 minutes--to no avail. Within a week the activity persisted. Jim Williams found it difficult to keep a maid in the house on East St. Julian Street. More than one fled the premises after hearing voices and being overcome by the terrible sensation of a male presence.

Perhaps the paranormal activity at the Hampton Lillibridge House is connected to a gruesome discovery made before it was transported to the East St. Julian location. Workers, while preparing the foundation for the house, discovered an old crypt half filled with water. The crypt was made of tabby which was a common building material of the colonial period consisting of lime and oyster shells. The workmen told Jim Williams that the crypt was empty and they covered it over. Mr. Williams was hastily on his way out of town and didn't have time to investigate the matter on his own, for which he later regretted.

Today the house at 507 E. St. Julian sits grandly off Washington Square. A beautiful example of 18th century architecture. All is at peace, or so it seems......

Reference: Savannah Spectres: And Other Strange Tales, by Margaret Wayt DeBolt

13 comments:

  1. I'm from Savannah, and this aint no bullshit!!

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  2. Does anyone know of a private residence in Savannah that has paranormal activity? We are filming in this city and I need to find another case?

    Please feel free to contact me at nicolec@pilgrimfilms.tv

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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  3. This may be late for the filming, but I lived in a building that was very haunted. The ghost even screamed one night. I was alone, but on the phone. My friend on the phone even heard exactly what it said. It spoke very clearly. I don't know if anyone else has had the same experience in the building
    deborah_knighten@yahoo.com

    I would be glad to discuss the details

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  4. I passed this house on the tour with my school. I had taken many pictures on this trip and I started to look back through them. I had a picture of the house on my camera. There were orbs all around it. Thisn isnt the first time ive caught something like that on my camera. Pretty weird.

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    1. Pictures PLEASE !

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    2. Uh, yeah. There were "orbs". LOL

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  5. Gotta finish what you began to tell us about the crypt!!!!

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  6. B.S. I'll offer to stay overnight in ANY house in Savannah. There are no hauntings, nor ghosts to be found here or any other geographical place. They exist in the human mind only!

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    1. Well you are partly right -- not about the Hampton-Lillibridge but about ghosts also existing in the human mind. Everything we see exists within a field of consciousness. One of the emerging fields in parapsychology is the study of the relationship between the percipient (you, me) and the agent (the ghost). It seems that we do indeed bring a lot to the table in how we frame our experiences -- just as we do in dream state. However, that by no means negates existing hauntings in various locations -- including the Hampton-Lillibridge. Jim Williams wasn't a big believer in ghosts when he moved that house to St. Julian and lived in it. All you have to do is find one of his radio interviews. I do believe you when you talk about staying in ANY house in Savannah. You yourself might not be conscious of experiencing anything -- but just because you may or may not SEE everything going on around you (take oxygen for instance) by no means suggests that it ONLY exists in the human mind.
      Best, Chase Anderson
      Savannah, Georgia

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    2. You wouldn't last more than thirty minuts at 12 west ogelthorpe before running out and pissing your pants

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  7. 12 west Oglethorpe creeps me out. Have photo I took there that has a faces peering through the front door side window. I could never go inside now.

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    1. I'd very much like to see the photos of 12 W. Oglethorpe that you took showing the faces!

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