Place: Sorrel Weed House
Location: Savannah, GA
Date of Investigation: 4/29/16
On one edge of Madison Square sits one of the finest architectural efforts in Savannah, an amber-colored Greek Revival jewel tucked into a leafy green setting called the Sorrel-Weed House. This home has sparked strong feelings in many people all throughout its lifetime here in the Historic District. There is a rift within the paranormal community between what actually occurred here historically versus what has long been reported as fact on ghost tours. It seems like everyone in town has a take on this particular house. The battle lines are still drawn around the Sorrel-Weed House, which could be an ironic turn of phrase, as you’ll soon see. If you were to take a ghost tour, you might hear a variation of the following story:
The Sorrel-Weed House was built in the early 1840’s, and designed by noted architect Charles Cluskey. The house was built by Francis Sorrel, a wealthy plantation owner who was originally from the West Indies. He married soon after he emigrated to the United States, pairing with a young woman named Lucinda Moxley, who was just 17 years old. She was from an extremely wealthy family which did business with Francis. Unfortunately, Lucinda died just five years into their marriage in 1827. Two years later, Francis was joined in matrimony again, this time marrying his dead wife’s younger sister, 23 year old Matilda, in 1829. Francis’ shipping business grew exponentially during this time period, and he quickly rose to be one of the city’s most prominent and wealthy men. However, Francis did have his vices. He had a long-ongoing affair with one young slave girl in particular named Molly. Supposedly, Francis arranged for Molly to have special quarters set up above the carriage house so that they could have their lover’s trysts in private. However, they were discovered one night by Matilda Sorrel. Enraged by her husband’s infidelity, Matilda committed suicide by leaping from the second story balcony of the house, bashing her head against the flagstone courtyard. A few weeks after this grisly death, the slave Molly was found in the carriage house hanging from a noose, in yet another alleged suicide on the grounds.
But isn’t the infidelity/suicide story at Sorrel-Weed at least plausible? you might be wondering at this point. The answer, stunningly, is no, it isn’t. The entire tale is rendered completely meaningless because of another date crucial to the story: June 14th, 1859, roughly nine months before Matilda’s suicide. That is the date that Francis Sorrel sold the house on the corner to Henry D. Weed for $23,000 (a little over half a million in today’s dollars), and moved his entire family next door into 12 West Harris Street. This means that the suicide happened next door at 12 West Harris, not at the Sorrel-Weed House. The evidence that the suicide occurred at 12 West Harris is overwhelming. Matilda’s suicide on March 27th, 1860 is recorded in a compilation of Civil War-era letters later published in a book called The Children of Pride. Charles C. Jones, Jr. reports to his mother in a letter dated the same day as Matilda Sorrel’s death that Mrs. Sorrel threw herself off of a second- or third- story window “in a moment of lunacy… falling upon the pavement of the yard,” a plunge which ended her life. Charles then mentions the location of her death was “…her residence on Harris Street,next door to the house which was the family mansion for so many years…(emphasis added).” Now we know the folklore account of the Matilda Sorrel suicide and the slave Molly suicide/murder is wrong. The historical record conclusively proves that they lived at a different address (12 West, not 6 West) when Matilda’s suicide took place.
The opening scene of the 1994 film Forrest Gump was filmed from the rooftop of the Sorrel-Weed house and is a popular tourist stop. The scene, which begins with a floating feather through the Savannah sky, pans the rooftops of other buildings occupying Madison Square as seen from the very top of the Sorrel-Weed home. The scene is then spliced to a scene of another church located on Chippewa square, where ultimately, Forrest is seen sitting on a bench.
The house was investigated by TAPS during a special 2005 Halloween Special episode of Ghost Hunters. The house was also featured on HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk” in March 2006. It was also investigated by the Ghost Adventures crew in 2014. Zak Bagans stated the Sorrel-Weed House Museum gave him a “3 alarm hangover”. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Taps told us it was one of the most haunted locations they had ever investigated in 2005. The house was featured on the Travel Channel’s ” The Most Terrifying Places in America” in 2010, and on the Paula Deen Network in 2015.
Our investigation went well. Some of our experiences included Shadow people. We will review our Audio and Video when we return home and will update this post.