The Moon River Brewing Company is located in the former City Hotel. Elazer Early, a native of Charleston, S.C, built the City Hotel in 1821. Not only was it the first hotel in Savannah, but it was also home to the first branch of the United States Post Office in Savannah, as well as a branch of the Bank of the United States. It must have been convenient having a hotel, post office, bank and bar all under one roof!
Many notable people stayed at the City Hotel, including War of 1812 hero Winfield Scott, the Marquis de Lafayette, the first three commodores of the U.S. Navy and naturalist James Audubon. Audubon stayed six months while attempting to sell books full of his wildlife sketches.
In 1851 Peter Wiltberger bought the City Hotel. He renovated it and put a live lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business. City Hotel’s final guest checked out in 1864, just before the arrival of General Tecumseh Sherman during the war of Northern Aggression and the subsequent closing of the City Hotel.
At the turn of the century, the building was used as a lumber and coal warehouse. As the use of coal slowly died off, the building was used for general storage. In the 1960s the space was renovated as
an office supply store, complete with a large printing press. Hurricane David forced this business to close in 1979 when it blew the roof off the structure.
The building sat empty until 1995 when it was renovated into its current configuration as a brew pub. The Moon River Brewing Company debuted in this space on April 10, 1999.
Our history with the building began in 2001 when we were called to investigate the building by some of the staff. It was a lot easier to get into the building than we thought. They were so open and friendly, it was unlike anything we had ever dealt with. Usually they are so worried about stories getting out and nervous about how things will be received. We were one of the first (if not the first) groups to investigate the Moon River Brewing Company.
During the night of our investigation, there was myself, an
investigator named JR and two employees of the bar. That night was one of the most intense investigations of my life. We chased footsteps all over the building. When we went up the stairs, you would hear "something" running down the stairs. As we sat on the main floor, "something" stomped over our heads on the second floor. One of our investigators asked if anyone was here to give us a sign. There was a short pause and then a sound like someone smashing wooden
chairs into each other. I immediately ran up the back stairs going to the second floor. Here I noticed a huge, heavy window that was propped up by a good sized piece of wood. I wanted to make sure that the sounds weren't coming from the alley out back. I knew it wasn't, but you sometimes try to rationalize when you're faced with the unknown. The alley was empty, but as I looked out the
window, I noticed something shoot by my face. It was hit so hard, that it flew clear across the alley and hit the opposite wall. It was, as I came to find out, the wood that was propping the window open. JR had seen the wood look like it was hit and went flying out of the window frame. He said it just flew out and nobody had touched it. A second later, the window came crashing down on my shoulders and neck. It didn't hurt me, but it did leave a nice bruise.
The rest of the night was spent with some unseen force messing with us.The ladies in our group went to the bathroom and heard something come up behind them real quick and make a duck sound. They didn't turn around and they were made at JR and I. They thought we were trying to scare them. The problem was, we were in front of the building and never moved until they came back. The whole
investigation was exhausting. I know I saw a figure in white moving down the hall on the second floor as I came down the stairs from the third floor. We all heard a giggling from an empty basement. The last incident though left us cold.
We were doing an evp session on the second floor. All the lights in the building were off. I asked the question, how do you feel now, and a voice was recorded. It sounded like an older black man and he said "Cold". Just the one word, and we never heard from him again. Now the building was used during the yellow fever
outbreaks. It was used as a hospital after the Civil War. Slaves were kept here by their masters who were staying in the hotel and it was a warehouse for many years. He could come from any of those points, but there is one final detail.
We were given access to the whole property except for one spot, the main cooler. We never went near it, but as we left, we realized the door had somehow come open and inside the door was the imprint of a hand. We closed the door and with that, we left. Walking out into the Savannah dawn, leaving this special place behind, but we all stopped for one last look. You just couldn't help yourself. It still set there, waiting for her next visitors.
Whenever someone asks me about the most haunted locations I have ever been, my list goes Gettysburg, Moon River, The Myrtles. I love the whole city of Savannah and I never take any of my investigations at the Moon River for granted. We have made it a priority to include two investigations here each year. You are almost always guaranteed to get something. We would love you to come with us sometime. Keep an eye on our events page for more details. I promise to include our further investigations here later.