Madison Square in Savannah, Georgia is bounded by Harris Street to the north, Bull Streets to the east and west, and Charlton Street to the south. A statue commemorating Revolutionary War soldier Sgt. William Jasper stands proudly in the center. This monument marks the southern limit of British defenses during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. If the view looks familiar, it is because an aerial perspective of the park can be seen in the opening scene of Forrest Gump (1994).
The Sorrel-Weed House stands on Madison Square’s north side. Irish architect Charles B. Cluskey designed and built this majestic Greek-Revival home for Frances Sorrel, a merchant from the West Indies, in 1841. His son, Moxley Sorrel, rose to fame as Confederate Lt. General James Longstreet’s staff officer during the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee visited his home in late 1861 and early 1862. During the Siege of Petersburg in 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a brigade. At 26, he was the youngest general officer in the Confederate army.
At some point in the past, a market was built along Bull Street on the mansion’s west side. The Society for the Preservation of Savannah Landmarks opened it for tours in January 1940. It was designated a state historic landmark in 1953. When it underwent renovations, the city tried to prevent the new owner from painting its exterior a gaudy orange, but he was able to prove, by pealing back 20 layers of paint, that was its original color.
Since reopening for tours in 2005, the Sorrel-Weed House has developed a reputation as the most haunted house in Savannah, quite a distinction considering all the old and venerable buildings in this historic city. That year, it appeared in the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters Halloween Special. More shows followed, including HGTV’s If Walls Could Talk in 2006, Travel Channel’s The Most Terrifying Places in America in 2010, and Ghost Adventures in 2014.
The current owner has capitalized on this publicity and offers several different haunted tours from the mansion, including a Ghost Hunters Tour, Paranormal Investigations, and even a Haunted Pub Crawl. The ghostly activity is said to originate in the tragic deaths of two women: Matilda, Frances Sorrel’s wife, and a slave named Molly. Matilda allegedly discovered Frances and Molly were having an affair and she threw herself from the carriage house into the courtyard. Molly later hanged herself. However, there is no record of Frances Sorrel ever owning a slave named Molly.
I took the historical tour and though it seemed a little long on speculation and short on information, our tour guide was lively and fun. She genuinely loved the home and focused quite a bit on the ghost stories and legends. The interior of the home has been altered quite a bit (the result of being divided into apartments at one time), but there is some interesting period furniture and artwork.
The Sorrel-Weed House is located at 6 W. Harris Street, at the corners of Harris, Bull, and Liberty Lane, overlooking Madison Square in Savannah, Georgia. It is open for tours daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Regular tours are $10. The ghost tour is at 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and costs $30 ages 13+. (912) 257-2223. OfficialSWH@gmail.com