Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes: Mercer House

'Midnight' and Mercer House

VIDEO: Mercer House

Mercer House
Mercer House

Savannah, Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733 on the Savannah River in southeastern Georgia. Known as the City of Festivals, it was America's first planned city. For a while during the eighteenth century, Savannah was Georgia's capital and became a shipping and cultural center for area planters, leaving it with a historic district over two-and-a-half-square miles, set up in a grid of park-like squares. One thousand historic buildings still stand.


Among the most infamous places is the red brick Mercer House on Monterey Square, initially owned by General Hugh Mercer, the great-grandfather of singer Johnny Mercer. However, no Mercer actually lived there, as the Civil War interrupted the building, and afterward, Mercer sold the house to another family.

It eventually came into the hands of the notorious Jim Williams, an antiques dealer who was responsible for saving and restoring around fifty of the town's historic buildings. Willams decided that he would live in the Mercer House. It took him two years to restore it, and thereafter he used the spacious carriage house for his international antiques restoration business.

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey

Millions of readers and movie fans know Williams as the slightly sinister character at the heart of John Berendt's "nonfiction novel," Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which starred Kevin Spacey when it was made into a film by Clint Eastwood. By that time, Williams himself was dead. The reason he gained such notoriety was because of the shooting that occurred on May 2, 1981 in Mercer House, which resulted in the death of a young hustler named Danny Hansford (played in the film by Jude Law).

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