Why is 432 Abercorn Street known as the most haunted house in Savannah?

It’s been an integral part of Savannah’s spooky lore for decades and is a regular spot on many of the nightly ghost tours in Savannah. Some people claim negative energy surrounds the home, while others consider it a breeding ground for paranormal activity.

For a home with so much intrigue surrounding it, there are surprisingly few verifiable facts about the place. The exact same rumors are repeated over and over again on the internet, ad nauseum.

I’m even guilty of repeating a few myself.

Now… I love a good ghost story as much as the next person, but I’m also a big truth-seeker. My never-ending quest for accuracy led me to do some digging into the history of the home. Today, I’m going to share some of the fascinating details I’ve uncovered!

A salmon colored 3-story home in the distance with beautiful landscaping of pink azaleas and large oaks in the foreground

If you’re new around here, first of all…welcome!

My name is Erin, and I authored the Savannah First-TImer’s Guide.

I often tell people I share both the pretty and the gritty sides of Savannah, since I’m a fan of keeping it real.

You might also enjoy stories about these haunted houses in Savannah:
🏚️ The Mercer Williams House: Savannah’s Most Notorious Home
 The Sorrel Weed House Hauntings: Let the Debunking Begin!

A Quick Haunted Disclaimer…

Before I start on this post, you should know that I don’t make up stories for the sake of entertainment. I strongly believe in the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction… especially in Savannah.

It frustrates me when tour guides tell tall tales about the haunted side of Savannah and then charge visitors $30+ to go on a ghost tour, where they then pass those stories off as the gospel truth.

When I write about anything in Savannah (haunted or otherwise), I always attempt to separate fact from fiction. I try my best not to be a source of misinformation.

Savannah is interesting enough without any embellishment.

History of 432 Abercorn Street

Benjamin Wilson House | 432 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31401

[NOTE: I have a personal policy not to share the addresses of private residences, but this one is so notorious that the address is no secret. In fact, the house is known more for its address than its actual name.]

432 Abercorn is an incredibly beautiful home that faces a picturesque square that was formerly known as Calhoun Square. (More on the square’s name change below!)

It was constructed in 1868 for a Civil War veteran and Irish immigrant named Benjamin J. Wilson.

The three-story mansion was intended as the primary residence for Wilson, his wife, and their six children.

View of 432 Abercorn Street through hot pin azalea bushes in Calhoun Square. The home is a 3-story salmon-colored plaster structure with black shutters and white trim
The Benjamin Wilson House at 432 Abercorn Street in Savannah, GA, as it looks today. The home received its Historical Designation in 1973. | ©ErinClarkson

To understand why the house is considered haunted, you first need to understand a little more about the historic square it faces…

Taylor Square (Formerly Calhoun Square)

Calhoun Square (renamed Taylor Square in late summer of 2023, with the new marker dedicated on February 10, 2024) wasn’t one of the original squares in Savannah. It wasn’t laid out until 1851 — more than a century after the city was founded — and it was named after South Carolinian John C. Calhoun, a former Vice President of the United States.

The land the square sits upon is thought to be on or near the site of an unmarked slave burial ground…

The County Surveyor…is hereby authorized and required to admeasure and lay out the said two hundred feet square for a burial ground for the said negroes, and that the same, so admeasured and laid off, shall be forever considered as a place of burial for the negroes.

~ Christ Church (Savannah, G., Boles, J. Durelle., Nichols, G. N.., Gordon, G. A., J. Durelle Boles Collection of Southern Imprints. (1857)

That rumor was further solidified when utility workers were repairing gas lines in the area and stumbled upon a Colonial-era skull. They sent it off to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) crime lab for further testing.

I halfway want to submit an open records request for the results, just to see what they say!

Rain-soaked Calhoun Square in Savannah with Wesley Monumental Church seen in the background.
The bright red door of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church stands out in on a rainy day in Taylor Square. | ©ErinClarkson

Taylor Square is one of the only squares in Savannah where the majority of the original buildings remain intact.

Beautiful Wesley Monumental Church is located on the west side of Taylor Square, and the historic Massie School faces the square on the southern end.

It was Savannah’s first free public school and was constructed in 1855 “for the education of the poor children of Savannah.”

Believe it or not, the Benjamin Wilson House isn’t even considered the only haunted house on the square! The Espy House, which is currently owned by Wesley Monumental Church, is also rumored to be haunted.

If you sense negative vibes in the square, it might be because enslaved men and women were unceremoniously buried in the vicinity, and then their memories were dishonored when the City of Savannah named the square after Calhoun — who was a staunch advocate for slavery.

You Might Also Like: The Story Behind the African American Monument

Separating Fact from Fiction

Getting back to 432 Abercorn…

The rumors surrounding this home run about as deep as the roots on all those massive oaks in Bonaventure Cemetery. I’m going to tug at the threads and attempt to pull them apart one by one.

Are there any facts to back up the claim that this is one of the most haunted houses in Savannah?

Let the debunking begin!

432 Abercorn Street Rumor #1:

The first persistent rumor about this house is that Benjamin Wilson flipped out when he discovered his daughter had been playing with children from the nearby Massie School.

You see, his was a prominent Savannah family, and the children attending the school were considered “beneath” his family’s standing. (Classism also has deep roots in Savannah.)

To punish his daughter, it’s said he tied her to a chair and made her sit in front of a window to watch as the children played without her in Calhoun Square across the street.

Wilson reportedly made her sit in front that window — in a house with no air conditioning, in the miserable Georgia heat — for two full days. And then she died.

Or so the rumor goes.

Spooky ghost stories and photographic “evidence” abound from people who have reportedly captured an image of a little girl in one of the windows of the home.

[NOTE: I don’t even see a girl in the linked photo. Do you? If so, leave a comment to help a girl out!]

So…is the rumor true?

My Magic 8-Ball says, “outlook not so good.” While it’s true that Benjamin Wilson lived in the home with his family, his daughter didn’t meet her demise in such a cruel manner.

Wilson had two daughters, and neither died during their early school years. In fact, they both lived long enough to get married. Their married names were Carrie Wilson Tye and Mary Dell Wilson Potts.

Side view of the 3-story house at 432 Abercorn Street showing signs of age
The three-story home at 432 Abercorn Street showing signs of age and neglect.

432 Abercorn Street Rumor #2

Wilson was so upset that his daughter died from his over-the-top punishment that he became racked with guilt and committed suicide in the home.

Some tour guides claim his spirit still haunts the place and that an image of his face is forever imprinted on the exterior of the home outside the window where his daughter died.

So…is the rumor true?

The Magic 8-Ball says, “my sources say no”. Wilson lived to a ripe old age, and his cause of death was not suicide. He died on February 15, 1896 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

432 Abercorn Street Rumor #3

Another persistent rumor is that a family traveled to Savannah sometime during the mid-1900s and chose to rent out the home at 432 Abercorn during their visit. While staying in the home, they went to dinner one night and left four children alone in the home.

Upon their return, they found three of the children dead and gutted, while the fourth child was apparently spared — but left in complete and total shock.

As legend has it, that child returned to Savannah in his or her later years and purchased the home, but then refused to live in it.

He or she reportedly bought it to prevent any other person from ever having to endure the evil energy that resides within the home.

So…how much of that is true?

It’s debatable. My Magic 8-Ball says, “concentrate and ask again.”

Actually…I’ll send a $200 gift certificate good towards a stay at The Marshall House to the first person who can find an actual newspaper clipping verifying the story about any children being gutted inside that home.

If something that terrible actually occurred, I can almost guarantee it would’ve made the local papers — and likely the national news, as well.

(Could it be that Savannah’s newspapers were as bad about reporting crime stories back then as they are today? Because that’s the best way to get me to believe this dubious tale.)

At least one part of the rumor is true: In the 1960s the home was listed as a rooming house, and each bedroom was rented out as a separate apartment.

And this is where it gets interesting…

One of the renters was named Ralph E. Walden, and Ralph later married a woman named Omi — who actually ended up purchasing the house.


Mrs. Omi G. Walden worked for the United States government under the Carter administration. She was one of only a handful of women appointed to high profile positions during his presidency. Her job was Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy.

But wait…this story gets weirder…

When she purchased the home, she purchased it in her name only — there’s no sign of Ralph on the title. And guess what?

She never lived in it… just like the legend claims.

She and Ralph stayed in the carriage house out back while they and their nephew worked to renovate the home.

432 Abercorn Rumor #4

Aware of the negative energy surrounding the home, Anton LaVey attempted to purchase the home and utilize it as the East Coast branch for his organization, the Church of Satan.

So…how much of that rumor is true?

Again, send some proof, and maybe I’ll believe it. I haven’t found anything to support the claim.

However, in keeping with the holy theme of this rumor, I’ll supply tickets for a family of four to tour First African Baptist Church to the first person to provide definitive proof of a purchase offer from Mr. LaVey.

It’s an awesome tour and more interesting (in my opinion) than any ghost tour you can go on in this hauntingly beautiful city.

Side note…

Before the home was constructed for Benjamin Wilson, there was reportedly a church on the property that actually burned to the ground.

Oh my.

[I’m still digging around for proof of that, so I’m not willing to list the fire as the gospel truth just yet.]

[Update: I toured the interior of this home during the 2021 Savannah Holiday Tour of Homes, and the docent leading the tour mentioned there was a church on the grounds and he confirmed it did burn to the ground. So if that docent truly knows his stuff, then that rumor is indeed true! Since the east and west sides of trust lots were traditionally reserved for public buildings, that usage checks out. I’d still like to see a paper trail, though.]

432 Abercorn Rumor #5

Spirits of the enslaved men and women who were unceremoniously buried in the square are said to haunt both the home and Calhoun Taylor Square.

So…how much of that rumor is true?

My Magic 8-Ball says, “signs point to yes.”

If someone mistreated me for the majority of my life and then placed me in an unmarked grave for tourists to tromp over while listening to ghost tours, then you’d better bet I’d follow those tourists through the streets of Savannah to haunt them. Hehe.

But seriously, I don’t find it too far-fetched to believe that evil energy lingers in areas where bad things happened.

Another side note…

I was taking photos in Taylor Square recently, and I listened intently as one of the tour guides went on and on about some mysterious “shadow people” who roam the square. These ghostly figures apparently chill your body to the bone as they pass near — or through — a person.

I desperately wanted to ask the guide how I could find one of those shadow people and have them follow me around the city all summer long. It sounds like a very “Savannah” way to survive summertime in the Deep South.

432 Abercorn Rumor #6

Legend has it your camera will break if you attempt to photograph the home at 432 Abercorn — especially if you dare to photograph the interior.

How did this rumor start?

Well, during the time the Waldens owned the home, they frequently traveled for work and to check on their other properties in Atlanta and in Alma, Georgia.

The home fell into disrepair and often appeared abandoned.

Since the house was empty, avid ghost hunters would stick their cell phones inside the home’s mail slot to photograph the interior. They often posted those photos online. A few troublemakers even broke inside the house to explore it.

How do I know that?

One of my high school friends actually spent a good portion of the night inside the house shortly after we graduated. The place was empty and deserted back then.

This was during a time when Savannah’s Historic District was not nearly as nice as it is today — prior to “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” being published and Savannah’s transformation into a popular tourist destination.

Some of the surrounding homes also appeared derelict, so the area was rather spooky.

He said (and this is a direct quote), that it was, “Creeeeepy”.

Then again, I’m pretty sure he was high the entire time he was in the house, so take that for what it’s worth.

One of these days I’ll ask him if he’s willing to share his story here!

So…how much of that rumor is true?

My Magic 8-Ball says, “outlook not so good.”

As you can see by the shots above, I’ve taken plenty of photos of the home and haven’t broken a single camera or cell phone in the process.

An AP Press photographer friend of mine also took detailed photos of the interior, and his equipment survived, as well. When I went on the holiday home tour, I saw plenty of people snapping illicit shots of the interior.

Related Reading: Haunted Savannah: A Comprehensive Guide to the City’s Spookiest Attractions

So…is 432 Abercorn Street Haunted?

432 Abercorn sold for the bargain basement price of $744,000 in February of 2018 and then again for 1.2 million in June of 2018. Both of those prices are considered very low for a Savannah Historic District trust lot.

The new owners immediately went to work renovating it.

They’ve done an incredible job on the house — even winning a 2021 Historic Savannah Foundation Preservation Award for their efforts. It’s easily one of my favorites homes in Savannah.

The new owners currently live in the home full time and report NO GHOSTLY PRESENCE.

Yes, you heard right: Nada. Zip. Zilch.

If negative spirits were ever in the home, they appear to have moved on.

However, the haunted reputation of 432 Abercorn has persisted for nearly half a century, and there’s no end in sight. That’s thanks in part to the plethora of ghost tour guides who continue to frequent the square on a nightly basis, as well as the many annoying bloggers who continue to share the home’s captivating story.

“Guilty as charged, Your Honor.”

I would love to interview the owners to see how they feel about living life in a fishbowl.

On the one hand, anyone who purchases a notorious home in the Historic District has to realize they’re buying into the Disneyfication of Savannah. They’re going to be part of the show — whether they like it or not.

On the other hand, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be spending millions to purchase — and then lovingly renovate a home — only to have trolley and hearse tours constantly circling while groups of ghost hunters swarm the place nightly to gawk and take photos of the house.

NOTE: I met the owners recently, and they’re lovely people. We chatted about other topics, so I forgot to ask how they feel about the home’s reputation. Next time!

A white Old Savannah Tours trolley passes in front of a salmon-colored mansion at 432 Abercorn Street in Savannah
Could you imagine owning one of the most notorious “haunted” houses in Savannah? You’d rarely get any peace from the tours constantly passing by to give visitors a peek at the place. | ©ErinClarkson

Which brings me to my next point…

Ethical Tourism in Savannah

The house at 432 Abercorn is a private residence. If you decide to see it during your trip, please refrain from trampling the landscaping, peeking in windows, or posing on the stairs for photos. Yes, those things happen.

It’s also nice to keep your voice down if you go on a nighttime ghost tour. Residents on the block may have to work in the morning and can’t stay up as late as vacationing tourists.

B&W shot of a crowd standing in front of the house at 432 Abercorn while listening to a ghost tour guide
The City of Savannah regularly monitors noise complaints from tour groups, and the 200 block of Abercorn is on the “frequent violations” list.

The tours occur seven days a week, every single night, multiple times per night. Residents in the area suffer from the effects of the tours, but earn no income from them. The tour operators are the ones profiting!

If you happen to spot the owners of 432 Abercorn or any famous house in Savannah and they don’t seem chatty, please realize that they’re just trying to go about their daily lives; they aren’t under any obligation to speak with visitors about the history of the home.

I personally think they’re very kind not to turn the sprinklers on every time a ghost tour ventures near.

To enjoy the home respectfully, it’s best to do so from the vantage point of the square across the street. While you’re in the square, please kindly stick to the sidewalks and avoid trampling the plants in the square.

Thank you for coming to my Savannah-based TED Talk.

Related Reading: The Mercer Williams House: Savannah’s Most Notorious Home

432 Abercorn Listed for Sale

Maybe the ghosts finally made their appearance known to the owners? As of late 2023, the beautiful peach-hued home at 432 Abercorn made its way onto the market.

If you happen to have 5.5 million handy and want to live in one of the most beautifully restored houses in the Historic District, give the listing agent a call.

And if you try to turn it into yet another Airbnb, I hope the demons awaken and cause you to regret that decision with every fiber of your being. Mwahaahaa

UPDATE: As of May 2024 the sale is contingent.

Savannah Travel Blog

As mentioned above, I’m very fortunate to live in Savannah, and I write about the city regularly. In addition to my ebook about Savannah, I’ve also created a few other resources to help you out.

If you’re just here for the ghosts, I created a haunted Savannah guide where you can find all of my “ghost posts” in one central area.

Have you been to 432 Abercorn Street and had a spooky experience? If so, I want to hear about it in the comments below!

Love this post? Pin it now to save for later!

View of 432 Abercorn Street through hot pin azalea bushes in Calhoun Square. The home is a 3-story salmon-colored plaster structure with black shutters and white trim
The three-story home at 432 Abercorn Street showing signs of age and neglect.
Side view of the 3-story house at 432 Abercorn Street showing signs of age

FAQs About 432 Abercorn

Was the house at 432 Abercorn Street sold?

Yes. The home was sold in February of 2018 for $744,000 and again in June of 2018 for 1.2 million dollars.

Who owns 432 Abercorn Street?

I’m not going to list the names of the current owners out of respect for their privacy. They purchased the home in 2018 and immediately began renovating it, so the home no longer looks like the haunted and abandoned house it once did. It was awarded a Historic Preservation Award in 2021 from the Historic Savannah Foundation.

Can you tour the interior of 432 Abercorn Street?

No. The home is privately owned and is not open for touring. If you’re lucky, the owners might add it to the Holiday Tour of Homes or the NOGs Home and Garden Tour.

Is 432 Abercorn Street haunted?

Haunted rumors abound about the house at 432 Abercorn Street, but the majority of them have been debunked.