Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery

Though not a stranger to the famous cemetery, most of my encounters with Bonaventure have been from a four or eight-person racing shell or a skiff out on the river, but a quick glimpse in during practice does not compare to experienceing the cemetery from within.

Were it not for the stone slabs adorning the graves, Bonaventure Cemetery seems like a giant nature preserve. Most common species-the gnat. These gnats, however, are not the typical nuisance. Savannah is home to gnats that--alone or in swarms--deliver painful bites that itch for days and scar the skin if scratched. Unfortunately, swarms of the pests reside in Bonaventure and its neighbor, the Wilmington River.

It's almost impossible to sit down or stand still without getting bitten when the gnats are active, and since bug spray doesn't work well against them, visiting Bonaventure during warm weather, which they thrive in, can quickly become unpleasant. The best way to avoid this problem is to visit in cooler weather, during times of day when it isn't as warm out, or to wear long sleeves.

Those who prefer to visit places when there aren't many people around will find this to be another advantage to visiting Bonaventure in the morning. A walk or jog through the cemetery is a treat at any time of the year, and staying in motion keeps the bugs away. Canopying live oak trees and raggy moss color most of the cemetery grounds and the variety of flowers, which includes azaleas and camelias, breaks up any monotony that may set in with pink and red petals.

"It's beautiful; very peaceful," a young visitor from Atlanta points out. "I think it's interesting how all the family plots are very..."

"Organized," her sister chimes in. They nod in agreement.

"And I really like learning about it--how there are people from England and Germany. A lot of settlers."

Those interested in studying will find plenty to learn, provided that the gnats take a break long enough for a note to be written. Bonaventure is named after the plantation the original family cemetery was located on. It got its fame from the 1990s book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and hosts the graves of celebrities such as Edythe Chapman and Johnny Mercer. Historical names such as Josiah Tattnall and Edward Telfair are also buried in Bonaventure, along with many other significant figures and early residents of Savannah.

Those more interested in the nature aspect of Bonaventure don't have to look to find it--it's live oaks and dogwoods are home to many birds and other wildlife. The Wilmington River neighbors borders a wildlife refuge and can be seen from the cemetery, as can the dolphins and other animals inhabiting the river and its shores.

If you would like to visit Bonaventure you can do so any day of the week between 8 am and 5 pm at 330 Bonaventure Road for absolutely no cost.

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