Hampton Lilibridge House
There was a nasty, harmful presence among the throngs of spirits found here!
A stronger spirit or spirits protected the living.
At first, sharing was an issue…
Also known as the James Arthur Williams House, a reflection of its past owners, the historic Hampton Lilibridge townhouse is 229 years old, being both a historic home and a remodeled, renovated structure; upgraded to suit the needs of its owners.
The real vision website does a great job describing the historic Hampton Lilibridge townhouse: “It has encompassing 4 stories plus a roof walk with views of the Savannah skyline and ships passing by on the nearby Savannah River. It has 4,606 sq. ft. living space in two stories, a pull-down attic space and a finished basement. This townhome has 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, hardwood flooring, a fireplace, a slate roof, plus a sunken garden.”
Some amenities created from the Hampton Lilibridge townhouse renovation efforts have been described well on the real vision website: “[The] Former porte-cochere: (a porch where vehicles stop to discharge passengers), was turned into a private suite with its own entrance below the kitchen and sunroom.” (Probably done in the 1985 remodel).
Other renovation efforts include: “[A] Modern open kitchen layout and butler’s pantry, perfect for entertaining. With five bedrooms, three full baths, two powder rooms and two wet bars, this home can accommodate numerous lifestyle configurations!”
WOW! This renovated and restored townhouse is truly a lovely historic gem with all the modern amenities that people enjoy without taking away from its historic beauty. It was built on a solid brick foundation with clapboard sides and plenty of windows all around. The renovations and restorations shine both inside and out.
The outside of the structure looks much like it did when the home was first built in 1796, but with re-tucked bricks, stronger clapboard siding, a renewed slate roof, and double-paned windows that have the same sort of shutters that were popular in the 18th century.
After viewing the pictures posted on zillow.com in 2019, the viewer can see that the inside of this old townhouse is truly glorious. Historic decor such as crown molding, fireplaces, the 18th century side staircase, and wonderful French doors as well as other architectural details have all been restored.
Forced air heating was added and some open concept ideas were implemented. Walls in the kitchen and the parlor area were taken down so the cook could talk to guests. Each bedroom was given its own bathroom, making good use of the old closets and spare space in each room.
The townhouse’s sunken garden was the creation of former owner and master craftsman, Jim Williams. This beautiful green space, made complete with a little fountain, is, as always, just the right place to relax and renew; lucky owners! French doors open up to this delightful garden. I hope the new owners will open this historical beauty up for tours. We would surely come to visit.
In the late 1700s, it was the custom of wealthy planters in Colonial America to buy a townhome in the nearest city, so they and their families could enjoy the amenities of city life. (Check out our haunted house stories on our Williamsburg, VA page).
Hampton Lilibridge was one such wealthy planter, originally from Newport, Rhode Island. Along with his brother, Robert, Hampton bought the plantations of the Savannah loyalist plantation owners who were forced to sell their properties after the American Revolution.
Hampton kept one plantation for himself and moved his household and family to Savannah to live in town. He then bought vacant lot 15, located on Warren Ward, in town on March 1st, 1796. It was formerly the site of the East Common of Savannah. He built two houses here, installing a New England gambrel-style roof on both of them.
They were built to be in the style of homes in Newport, Rhode Island. Both townhouses are mentioned in Lilibridge’s August 28,1797 Will, which left his wife, Anna, the western half of the lot, where the main house was located. For his daughter, Henrietta, he gave her the eastern half of the lot, where the second, smaller house stood.
The Hampton Lilibridge family lived happily here in town until Hampton died. His widow, Anna, remarried to a gentleman, Joseph Grant, and they continued to live there, with daughter Henrietta living next door in the second townhome.
After some years, Anna sold the townhouse to another rich planter, James Gould. He sold it much later to a fellow by the name of Mr. Authur. It became a boardinghouse in the early 20th century. It must have been the right time to put the structure to work. This townhouse ended its functional life by catering to sailors and transients, who were not always peaceful, and were often hot-tempered, resulting in fighting and violence.
In 1933, when the city of Savannah took inventory of its old historic homes, Hampton Lilibridge Home number one looked a little funky, being badly in need of a paint job, but it remained a viable building. It was still being used as a boarding house, a low-rent establishment.
What put a nail in its coffin was the suicide of a depressed sailor in one of the guest rooms. No one wanted to stay there, or even buy the property, according to one source. As the memory of that suicide slipped into the past, it became tenement housing for the down-and-out, and poorer folks in general.
At some point, it became unlivable for lack of upkeep. The area declined as folks moved to the suburbs of Savannah. The townhouse was abandoned for awhile, according to one source, but it was still structurally sound and its possibilities for renewal were eventually recognized in 1962.
Unfortunately, the second townhouse, originally given to Henietta Lilibridge, had to be torn down. By 1933, it was in horrible shape and almost beyond help, a ruined and creaky fixer-upper. It is not clear from my sources when it was torn down; perhaps after the interior photographs were taken.
The first effort to redesign and restore Townhouse number one came in 1963, courtesy of historic house master craftsman Jim Williams. Williams bought an empty lot a few blocks away from the townhouse’s original location at 310 E. Bryan Street, and moved this entire challenging project there.
Williams and his talented restoration and renovation team went to work immediately and brought the whole beleaguered, ramshackle mess back to life, renewing and restoring it so it could be owned and lived in by people with pride. The restoration didn’t go smoothly, but Williams persevered to finish it.
The new townhouse then had another complete remodel, updating and renovating it again in 1985, to make it a competitive property. The new renovators were careful to work around all the original restoration work done by Jim Williams. Other upgrades were likely done by other owners through the 20th and into the 21st Century, which probably were not so careful.
After years of the repeated renovations, the Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse was structurally changed too much to qualify to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, though it is still considered to be a historic treasure by the city of Savannah, and is part of the National Historic Landmark District for historic Savannah. The alternative would’ve been to have it torn down, like its sister townhouse number 2. Instead, it became a beautiful home, upgraded with such care that it could rival other historical Savannah properties.
It was put on the market on March 8th, 2008, with an asking price of $2,900,000, right when the economic recession hit. In January of 2010, the price was lowered to $2,600,000, then lowered yet again about a year later to $2,200,000. In April of 2011, it was removed from the market. The owners tried again in 2013, only to take it off the market again on May 2nd, 2015.
It was put up for sale in April of 2017 and taken off again in June of 2018. The owners were both persistent and unsure of themselves.
The fourth time was the charm, and the historic home finally sold a year later, with escrow closing on August 9th 2019, though at the considerably lower price of $1,500,000, nearly half of the original listing.
Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse also had another problem that may have discouraged buyers. It was known to be one of the most haunted houses in Savannah. While many properties in Savannah have spirits, this home for a time had one notably nasty, and angry spirit, as well as a bushel of others for a variety of reasons. Some of them had mixed feelings about sharing the home. Some kinds of spirits can dampen the value of a structure, regardless of location.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Building a structure over a grave and/or disrespecting earthly remains can cause a restless, sometimes annoyed, or confused, or angry spirit.
Montauk Manor, NY (Spirits of Native Americans have issues with the dolts who not only built on top of their graves, but mixed their bones into the mortar as well.)
El Campo Santo Cemetery, CA (Buildings and a road were built on top of graves.)
Easton Library, PA (Unclaimed remains were dug up and put into a large, mass grave on the side of the Easton Library, and an exit road was made on top of it.)
Hampton Lillibridge House, GA
An empty crypt was inadvertently dug up by workmen at the new lot for the house’s foundation, before the structure was moved to its new location. The artifacts looked like the kind used for native Americans or pre-Colonial folks. One source reports, “In their digging, they managed to excavate a buried, ancient crypt, most likely from pre-colonial times. Perhaps indicating Native American origination, the crypt’s walls were constructed from lime and oyster shells.”
They simply reburied the ancient crypt, without calling upon an Indian Shaman to perform a ceremony to calm the spirit. (hauntedhouses.com story Maumee Bay Brewing Company, OH). This incident could have awakened an angry, murderous spirit who attached himself to the townhouse when it was moved onto its new foundations, on top of the reburied crypt. Uh oh!
However, perhaps not! The other theory is that the murderous spirit could’ve been one of those spirits who claimed the townhouse when it was abandoned. Whoever this nasty spirit was, it ended up causing some tragedy and a near-death.
Tragedy: Perhaps spirit-caused.
Story 1: In the process of preparing the townhouse for moving, the house next to it fell on top of a workman and killed him.
Story 2: The workman fell through the roof and died.
Almost murder: Listed under Manifestations there are two versions of what happened.
Near Tragedy or an Attempted Murder?
During the restoration process, a second confrontation with a member of the work crew or one of Jim’s friends nearly ended the man’s life. Something unseen stepped in to stop it.
Moving a house into a new position or a new place can activate spirits, who may be in a variety of moods.
Smith House & Brigham Young Farm House, UT (The spirit of one of Young’s wives is a cheerful helper.)
The Pioneer History Village houses, AZ (They were all dream homes, much loved.)
Tombstone Bordello B & B, AZ (Apparently, spirits of the ladies came along for the ride.)
The Hampton Lilibridge Town House, GA (This house was moved to a vacant lot just a few blocks away from its original location. This disruption wasn’t appreciated by the townhouse’s spectral residents.)
Suicide can create spirits stuck in this world, in the place where they killed themselves.
Birdcage Theatre, AZ (Older prostitutes gave up hope of marrying and took their own lives.)
Stokes Adobe, CA (A man killed himself when his fraud was discovered.)
USS Hornet, CA (Soldiers suffering from battle fatigue killed themselves.)
Hampton Lilibridge House, GA (A depressed sailor killed himself in one of the boarding house’s guest rooms, perhaps during the late ‘20s or earlier. The boarding house catered to sailors and transients. )
Being empty and abandoned for at least 20 years, a structure can attract spirits who once loved the place or are in need of a new home. They may not be so welcoming of new living people moving in and claiming it as their own. Spirits of past owners may also feel that the living have been poor caretakers of their beloved structures.
Monmouth Plantation, MS (A distrustful former owner had to be won over to be helpful, not angry.)
The Hermitage, TN (Years of neglect aggravated the spectral original owner to showing his feelings in a startling way, giving the living an equally startling wake up call.)
The Dutton House, VT (For forty years, spirits had their forever home all to themselves. It was a rude shock when the living came, moved their house, and restored it as a museum for the throngs of humanity.)
Hampton Lilibridge House, GA (Many unknown spirits have made themselves at home. Some may have been past owners or residents, who were not too happy with the lack of care given their favorite place.)
Spirits who have bonded with the ground where their structure once stood, may decide to move into new structures built on their land.
Rialto Theatre, IN (Spirits connected to the farmland that the theatre was built upon enjoy the theatre, while helping the owner and even saving his life.)
Capitol Records Building, TN (The spirits of two elderly ladies whose house was torn down to build the Capitol Records building have moved inside this building.)
Hangman’s Tree Ice Cream Saloon & connecting Herrick Building, CA (Spirits connected to the land have moved inside.)
Hampton Lilibridge House, GA
There are three possibilities to explain the activity experienced here.
1. (The spirit of the unearthed Native American may have been awakened after his burial place was dug up, and attached himself to the Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse after it had been moved onto the new property. Perhaps he was really angry and ready to fight, or perhaps he was a little confused).
2. (Another spirit, not the Native American, who may have been the one whose crypt was disturbed and has moved inside, as this spirit has been seen wearing different burial clothes).
3. (There may have been spirits bonded to the land that was bought to be the new Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse address. Their favorite structure had once stood there but had been torn down).
Paranormal activity amped up as soon as the restoration work crew hired by Jim Williams began the daunting task of reassembling and restoring the house. The paranormal activity wasn’t exactly welcoming, and was nearly deadly in one instance.
Activity from the Beginning
Thought to be caused by spirits of past owners and boarders.
Masons heard stomping feet and the sounds of running coming from the upper floors where there wasn’t a staircase for the living to use, and so no one living was present.
Masons in the basement, putting the finishing touches on the foundation, kept hearing the footsteps of people running up and down the staircase.
They heard disembodied laughter, disembodied conversations between at least two spirits, and loud, jarring sounds of what sounded like furniture being tossed about.
Not All Are Nice
A disturbing presence was felt by all in the bedrooms: perhaps the spirit of the sailor, or that of a former owner not willing to share the house.
They felt “prickling, tingling, tickling sensations at the backs of their necks and a hostile atmosphere.”
Their tools and equipment were messed with, and even taken.
An Angry, Murderous Presence
This negative, hostile spirit had murder on its mind.
Some members of the restoration crew quit because of all the negative paranormal activity. But some didn’t quit.
An angry, spectral presence tried to kill a living person.
Story One: A Murderous Attempt
Despite the fearful reports he was receiving from his work crews, the owner, Jim Williams, was not going to be scared away from such a wonderful restoration project. He didn’t believe that his house was haunted either.
A restoration craftsman, who wasn’t afraid despite the fear of the others, was willing to go up to the third floor to continue working on his current project. The chimney had been opened up, so the shaft was open and went down through the other floors. What happened next was truly terrifying.
While on the third floor alone, he heard a noise in one of the rooms and when he walked into it, an ice-cold entity tried to take control of his body. Terrified, the man dropped to the floor and grabbed the floor boards, as he was in a tug of war with this cold hostile spirit, who was trying to pull him toward the open chimney shaft, probably to his death.
Some strong force that he couldn’t see stopped this wicked spirit before it could carry out its plan. When the rest of the crew came up to see why he had been so long in joining them, they found him still clutching the floor boards for dear life, still terrified.
The terrified craftsman told Jim Williams that the house needed to be blessed and have an exorcism performed. Right after he finished speaking, a disembodied woman’s scream was heard.
Story Two:A Murderous Attempt
A second version of this story, backed up by Jim Williams himself, says that this incident happened to one of Jim’s friends, an unbeliever. In this telling, three of Jim’s friends came inside. One of them, who didn’t believe in spirits, went up the third floor and had this same experience.
Meanwhile, his friends had returned to their home across the street. They heard him screaming and rushed back. They found him on the third floor, still quaking from his terrifying experiences as previously described.
Who Saved the Living?
I suspect it was the spirit of one of the original home owners who stopped the attempted murder. My guess: The tall man with the white shirt and bow tie described below came to the rescue.
He had more power to stop this wicked act because he had been active here for a long time.
The three friends saw this disapproving apparition glaring at them from the top of the stairs before they left with their now believing friend.
Because Jim Williams was fascinated with the spirits, he moved into the partially restored, now livable historic Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse. Once there, he was welcomed by each spirit in its own way. Perhaps, they were pleased with the way he had restored the structure.
Interestingly, there were no more deadly threats from the murderous spirit, who perhaps was forced to either leave or behave by the other spirits. In the end, Jim Williams fully believed that the place was haunted.
Williams eventually followed the advice of the terrified workman, and/or his friends, and called in a man of the cloth to do a cleansing exorcism.
In December of 1963, Reverend Bishop Albert Rhett Stewart “blessed the home, and demanded evil spirits exit.”
The Result of the Blessings
While the spirits stayed away for a week and a half after the ceremony, they came back because salt and holy water hadn’t been applied around the outside and windows of the house.
However, no more attempts to kill the living occurred, either because of the Bishop’s efforts, or because the other spirits laid down the law to this murderous spirit to leave permanently.
The Spirit of An Older Man
He is described as being an elderly gentleman with gray hair, dressed in his mourning robe and wearing a white cravat.
He may have been the original person in the crypt who was found by workers.
He kept appearing in front of the workmen, interested in their progress. (Savannah’s Ghosts, by Al Cob)
This spirit was seen by many curiosity seekers, and by a real estate agent standing by a window. He was looking disapprovingly at them.
The Very Tall Male Spirit
He perhaps is one of the original owners.
He wears a white shirt and bow tie. He could be the disapproving strong male presence.
He probably was the one who saved the craftman or Jim’s friend from the evil entity.
In the second version of the murder attempt tale, the three friends saw this disapproving apparition glaring at them from the top of the stairs before they left with their shaken friend.
This same spirit has been seen in a room on the third floor by the window by many people, and probably by residents in this very haunted place.
He may have been the spirit walking around Jim’s bed at night, or approaching him as a dark shadow.
Besides the many reports of personal experiences describing the full variety of paranormal activity, hard evidence has been caught by a paranormal investigation group called in sometime after Jim sold the townhouse.
A team from Duke University came in for a paranormal investigation. They hit the motherlode of hard evidence and personal experiences, leading them to proclaim that Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse was the most haunted place in Savannah.
Most Probably so, but it depends on who you believe.
The result of the priest’s cleansing was a houseful of mellowed spirits with a change of heart, who were willing to share this special place with the living, who have taken such good care of it.
It seems to some observers that the spirits who can basically behave themselves are still there, and are now at peace with sharing the house with the new owners.
There are eyewitness accounts of the spirits who are enjoying this historic home, inside and out, with plenty of room for both spirits and the living.
Despite the presence of spirits, Jim Williams continued to live and enjoy the newly restored Hampton Lilibridge Townhouse. In fact, all of the past owners have had personal experiences covering the entire paranormal sports package.
Neighbors and others still experience the spirits here.
Present activity observed by neighbors includes still seeing the spirits inside the house and still hearing auditory clues pointing to their existence.The spirit of a tall man wearing a white shirt and bowtie has been seen standing in a window on the third floor. His strong presence has long been felt but he is no longer miffed. He has learned to get along with the living.
The spirits have seemed to resume their parties, playing their music when the living are out of the house.
On the other side of the argument, two real estate agents and the present owners have claimed that the spirits are gone. They are trying to dispel the townhouse’s paranormal reputation. If the spirits were really gone, it would be easier to sell this property to new potential buyers when it is eventually put back on the real estate market.
Unless the home has been thoroughly cleansed by a professional exorcist/shaman/medium, and precautions taken to keep spirits out, the kind and benign spirits with good southern manners probably remain.
507 E Saint Julian Street
Savannah, GA 31401
Hampton Lilibridge townhouse is located in a historical 18th century neighborhood on East Julian Street that runs east to west between Houston Street and Price Street, both of which are one way, near Washington Square Manor Park. Its neighboring town home is called The Seamen’s House.
- HAUNTED PLACES:The National Directory, By Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 2002.
- SAVANNAH’S GHOSTS, by Al Cobb, Schiffer Publications, 2007.
- HAUNTED SAVANNAH, The Official Guidbook to Savannah Haunted history Tour, By James Gaskey ,Bonaventture Books, 2005.
- Savannah Terrors website, The Most Haunted Houses of Savannah: The Hampton Lillibridge House, Posted on June 8th, 2018
- Mysterious Facts website, Hampton Lillibridge- the Most Haunted House in Savannah
- Ghost City Tours in Savannah – The Ghosts of the Hampton Lillibridge House: Is this home truly haunted, or just the victim of Shady Tour Companies.
- Cool Interesting Stuff website Unexplained Mysteries; The Disturbing Ghost of Hampton Lillibridge House
photos?st=gallery Library of Congress(Description and history), PHOTO, PRINT, DRAWINGHampton Lillibridge House, No. 2, 312 East Bryan Street (demolished), Savannah, Chatham County, GA PHOTOS FROM SURVEY HABS GA-1186
- Trulia Website/1002749108, Details of the house.
- Zillow – 507 E Saint Julian St, Savannah, GA 31401
- Commons Wikimedia website, From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
- loc.gov/item/ga0129/ , Library of Congress, Hampton Lillibridge House photos before it was torn down.
- Lillibridge Houses, expanded version, By James Lowell Hall,pg.119. published 2015.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr