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The Story Behind the Mercer Williams House

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Mercer-Williams House by Chris Carr Photography

Mercer-Williams House by Chris Carr Photography

The haunted Mercer Williams House in Savannah, Ga is famous for its architecture and more recently for the murder that happened there in May 1981.

In 1860, the architect John Norris built the house for Civil War General Hugh W. Mercer, the great grandfather of songwriter Johnny Mercer. Construction was delayed and the house was eventually sold to John Wilder who finished its construction.

Jim Williams

Jim Williams

The eccentric art and antique collector Jim Williams, known for his extravagant parties, purchased the house in the 1969 and began renovation; it became one of the 50 houses he bought and renovated in Savannah. In 1981, Danny Hansford was shot in the study of the Mercer House, and Williams became a suspect. Hansford was Williams’s personal assistant and lover, and some believe his death was the result of a lovers’ quarrel. Williams was tried four times, the only person in the state of Georgia with the record, where his last trial in Augusta, Ga took the judge approximately one hour to come back with a verdict of not guilty. He was announced a free man ten days after the 8th anniversary of Hansford’s death.

Six months later, Williams died from pneumonia and heart failure, and it is said that he died in the same spot where Hansford was shot almost ten years earlier. The deaths of Hansford and Williams go much deeper than what has been told, and there was talk of a voodoo priestess summoning Hansford’s old spirit to hopefully reconcile with his former lover. No one really knows what happened in the Mercer-Williams House except for Williams and Hansford who took the secret with them to the grave.

Mercer House by swampzoid

Mercer House by swampzoid

It is said that Williams and Hansford’s spirits still roam around the house. There are rumors that all of the lights would turn on around the time of Williams’ annual Christmas parties. If you want to learn more about the mysterious deaths of Williams and Hansford and see the Mercer Williams House, take our Sixth Sense Savannah Ghost Walking Tour. Your tour guide talks about the many hauntings all over Savannah, but pays extra attention to the details of this mysterious tale.

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