In the ten years since I relocated back to Georgia, I have visited Bonaventure Cemetery countless times. I will always pay “Little Gracie” Watson a visit unless it is later in the day when the cemetery is filled with tours.
Some would say Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put Bonaventure on people’s radars. I would argue that Gracie keeps it on the radar. (Yes, there are many sculptural masterpieces who help, too. I only ever see crowds around her. Many of those sculptures designed by Gracie’s sculptor, John Walz.)
Gracie’s parents, Wales J. and Margaret, managed the Pulaski Hotel. Gracie was known by hotel guests. I have read several references where she died before Easter. Easter in 1889 was on Sunday, April 21. She died the Monday immediately after Easter on April 22.
A few years ago, I wondered what had happened to her parents. Sadly, her parents left Savannah and moved to New York. They are buried in Albany Rural Cemetery with no headstones.
Located in the Carver Heights neighborhood, the Springfield Terrace School started educating children in the immediate area in 1926. Influenced by the Rosenwald School design, this is the only surviving example of the one-story schools made popular in the 1920s.
It also was known as the Pearl Lee Smith School and the Oglethorpe Charter Academy.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2022.
From the the Museums’s website, “Built in 1896, this Victorian-styled Cottage was home to Sara King and Robert Tisdell, members of Savannah’s vibrant African-American entrepreneurial class. The King-Tisdell Cottage Museum was founded in 1981 by famed Civil Rights Leader, Historian and Preservation advocate, Mr. W.W. Law.”
In researching this house, the city of Savannah has identified it as historic, but I could not find much information on it. It was built in 1873 and is a rare Second Empire home. Based on archived newspapers and census records, I have found two families associated with the address, the Fergusons and the Bryants. At times, rooms for rent were advertised. If you know any more info, please share.
As a cemetery enthusiast, I made it to Bonaventure Cemetery to see John Walz’s “Little Gracie,” but I was surprised to learn how many cemetery monuments he sculpted. Many of these markers can be found at other cemeteries, but the largest concentration can be found at Bonaventure.
He was a noted sculptor who was born in Germany but emigrated to Pennsylvania. After the Civil War, Walz studied in Europe under sculptors, Aimé Millet and Viktor Oscar Tilger. In 1886, the Telfair Museum commissioned Walz’s boss to create the monuments in front of the museum. Walz joined his boss and fell in love with his city.
In an interesting twist, he is buried next to his wife who is buried next to her first husband, Charles Gilmore. They preceded her in death. Unbeknownst to me when I photographed this plot, Sarah’s parents are buried on the plot behind the main marker.
According to Shannon Scott, a Bonaventure Cemetery historian, and guide, there once was a marker on John’s grave, but Sarah had it removed. His grave was unmarked until the Bonaventure Historical Society commissioned the marker you see today.
Started in 1853, Catholic Cemetery was developed after leaders in the Catholic Diocese asked that there be a Catholic section in Laurel Grove North Cemetery, and their request was denied. After the cemetery opened, many remains were moved from Colonial Park Cemetery to here. Along with the remains, many of the stones were moved, too.
Sherman’s troops used the cemetery as an encampment area. Many markers were damaged, and the ironwork was used to build fortifications.
This is an overlooked cemetery when people think of the must-see cemeteries in Savannah. There are several grand Victorian markers. There’s at least one John Walz of “Little Gracie” fame.