Oscar Wilde’s greater activities in Savannah seem to be a bit scarce. His Bonaventure trip however stands out as one of his most significant adventures. If anyone knows more, we’d love to hear from you. As a part of his lecture tour on furniture and interior design, Wilde briefly visited Savannah in the 1870s and performed at The Savannah Theater. Naturally, inside such a poetic city scape Wilde sought out places where writer’s might be inspired and Bonaventure became his muse. There he praised the place “incomparable” and commented that the sunflowers were some of the most sumptuous he’d ever seen.
NOBLE W. JONES
“Noble” seems to fit all of the Jones family males whom had the name. Like father, Noble Jones, Noble Wymberly Jones was also devoted to the care of people and serving the interests of “that Georgia experiment” and individual freedoms. Called “The Morning Star of Liberty,” Jones was a prominent figure in the Georgia Whig party and was perceived by Royal Gov Sir James Wright as a serious threat to the crown’s endeavor’s and future. Following the “Intolerable Acts” of 1774, Jones and other revolutionaries seized 600 kegs of powder from the royal magazine and shipped them to Boston. He served in a number of offices pertaining to the new nation and great life sacrifices, even being imprisoned when Charleston was captured! He spent a great deal of his life in the science of medicine. He and his wife Sara Davis reared 14 children.
1791 – 1875
Born into a legacy of Revolutionary radicals, Mary became one of the great minds of Georgia’s 19th century and keenly interested in political affairs and the arts. Never feeling financially “pressured” to marry, she became quite the city matriarch and devoted a great deal of her livelihood to the well being of others and the arts. She is probably best known for the massive generosity of her will, which funded the building of many charitable institutions, and to no surprise, for the benefit of women. The beautiful family home designed by William Jay houses the Telfair Museum of Art and for those great fans of “the book”, the statue of “The Bird Girl” which once reposed in a family plot inside of Bonaventure Cemetery.
MARY HOOVER AIKEN
History often understates Mary as just “the third wife” of Conrad Aiken when in fact she is much regarded as one of the finest female painters of the 20th century. She was greatly accomplished in landscapes, city views, and portraits. Much like her iconic husband, she brought much attention to modernism and new modes of art’s thinking and perception. She died on Tybee Island in 1992. We have no photo of Mary as of yet so her painting instead which would be very much to her preference. (“Cafe Fortune Teller,” 1933)
While visiting Savannah, know that a little girl sits quietly posed in Bonaventure Cemetery awaiting your arrival. Gracie Watson died just two days before Easter Sunday and the entire city felt the loss, not excluding her sculptor John Walz. Because of his skillful devotion to her making and the constant, loving touch of her fans, she has become more lifelike than any could’ve ever imagined. People from all over the world stop by to honor her story and memory, and our guides have personally met at least three mothers whom have named their own children after Gracie! Many count her as a kind of unofficial dignitary for all of Savannah and she appeals to the child in all of us.
Many tours claim Gracie fell victim to pneumonia , but we have recently uncovered her actual death records. Join our tour to find out the truth!
A visit to Little Gracie is a visit complete. Bring a smile, a kind word, a toy, or leave a donation and you’re sure to have one more friend in this life and the beyond.
JOSIAH TATTNALL III
Before there was Bonaventure, it was Tattnall’s family plantation. Born at Bonaventure Plantation and last owner as such, he was a navyman from age 12 until his death and saw service all over the world. Tattnall coined the infamous phrase, “blood is thicker than water” after a questionable intervention between a Chinese and a British ship where he aided the latter. Sometimes referred to as the “veteran of three wars,” he served during The War of 1812, Mexican War, and War Between The States.
Any list of America’s 10 Greatest songwriter’s would include this Savannah son and founder of Capitol Records. Along with names like Hoagy Carmichael, Mercer penned the likes of “Skylark”, “Hooray For Hollywood,” “Moon River,” “Accentuate The Positive,” “Lazy Bones,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “I’m An Old Cowhand” and thousands of favorites that have since become universal standards. Buried near him is his lovely wife Ginger and her epitaph harks of yet another tune he penned, “You must’ve been a beautiful baby.”
A prolific photographer of people and places in Coastal Georgia for over 30 years, Leigh is most recognized for the shot that arguably made “Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil” the international bestseller. In fact, the photo of “The Bird Girl” captured in Bonaventure at sunrise, has become for many one of the great defining symbols of Savannah’s gothic aesthetic. He was taken too early by colon cancer in 2004. Even so, he left to us the history of his special lens and when we peer through it to marvel at the world in the way he did, we can’t help but to think of him and thank him. Yours is an eternal eye and voice for life in The South. We miss you Jack! Learn more and buy his work here: www.jackleigh.com
HERBERT SMITH TRAUB, JR
1918 – 2008
Although the little old ladies of Historic Savannah Foundation largely gain credit for giving Savannah a fighting chance in the 1950s, Herb Traub strove to revitalize lost culture back into old buildings. In 1953, he created The Pirate’s House as a tea room and it soon became world-famous for its fine meals and the best handmade desserts in the South. He also took much civic pride and had much to do with City Lights Theater and renovations of The Lucas Theater. If life is a stage, Traub gave us a dedicatedly colorful performance at every turn. A 20th century visionary and passionate devotee to Savannah gone by the way and one owed much memory.
Savannah’s very own Ophelia and easily Bonaventure Cemetery’s most lifelike statue. According to family papers, she was suffering from forbidden love and inconsolable, Corinne found her way to Bonaventure and plunged herself into the icy waters of St. Augustine Creek. In those days, it was a day’s ride by horse from the city and it remains perplexing how she made it so far out of the city in just a night. Weeks before her death she refused visitors, stopped eating and speaking. In life, she and her father were great lovers of the arts and attended many performances all over the world together. To honor his daughter’s memory, he built a performing arts hall in her name which now houses St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church (corner of Anderson and Bull St). Her statue posed with a perfect sweeping view of the cemetery, she invites your company and observation. PLEASE respect this fragile statue as you can easily observe its mistreatment by vandals. Thank You!
CONRAD POTTER AIKEN
Best friend of T.S. Eliot, comrades with Ezra Pound, Aiken stands as this unsung, cultish writer that streaked like a comet across the 20th century literary world and rewrote the artist mindset in every sense of the word. What Freud was to psychology and Einstein to science, Aiken was to literature and moreso, the mind’s way of processing art. Learn of his fascinating life and times, beginning with the moment that set his art ablaze — his parents’ murder suicide in 1901.