Mercer House (Savannah, Georgia)
|Mercer-Williams House Museum|
|Former names||Mercer House|
|Location||Savannah, Georgia, United States|
|Address||429 Bull Street|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John S. Norris|
The Mercer House, now called the Mercer-Williams House Museum, is located at 429 Bull Street and stands at the southwestern end of Monterey Square, in Savannah, Georgia. The house was the scene of the shooting death of Jim Williams' assistant, Danny Hansford, a story that is retold in the 1994 John Berendt book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The house is currently owned by Dorothy Kingery, Williams' sister, and is open to the public for tours.
Designed by John S. Norris for General Hugh Weedon Mercer (great-grandfather of the songwriter Johnny Mercer) construction of the house began in 1860. Construction was interrupted by the American Civil War, and finally completed around 1868 by the new owner, John Wilder. It is an interesting coincidence that Williams had a great-great grandmother by the maiden name of Martha Ann Mercer (1833-1871), though it is unclear if there is any connection, even remotely, to General Hugh Mercer.
For a period in the twentieth century, the building was used as the Savannah Shriners Alee Temple. It then lay vacant for a decade until in 1969 when Jim Williams, one of Savannah’s earliest and most dedicated private restorationists, bought the house and fully restored it.
Before Hansford's death, as retold in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the house had already been the scene of two deaths. In 1913 a previous owner tripped over the second floor banister, fractured his hip, and suffered a concussion, dying three days later. In 1969, a boy chasing pigeons on the roof fell over the edge and impaled himself on the iron fence below.
A full exterior replica of the Mercer House was constructed in Decatur, Georgia.
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