Beginning in 1818, the building of Wayne Gordon House in Georgia was completed three years later. It was a house of typical build for the era nicknamed ‘Savannah boxes’ but inside the building, the addition of two curved bays at the back, outstanding architectural features, and the recessed elliptical arches on the second floor gave an elegant and sophisticated, and original design.
The History of Wayne-Gordon House
The house was designed and erected for James Wayne. James was Savannah’s Mayor between the years of 1817 to 1819. In 1831 he sold the home to Sarah Gordon and her husband. The house that takes a large and imposing form with steep steps leading up to the front door remained in the Gordon family until it became the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Centre. Their son also named William Gordon II but nicknamed Willie, would inherit the property in 1851.
Willie is said to have immediately fallen in love with his wife Eleanor, adoringly named Nelly from the moment he met her. At first sight, Nelly was seen sliding down the bannister of Yale House where he was visiting at the time. Nelly was not shy about displaying behaviour that was frowned upon by members of the societal class. Despite attempting to fit in more during her marriage, Nelly continued to do ‘inappropriate things’ and was known to be the laugh of the party. Whether this was the reason or not, Wille doted on Nelly and it was clear to everyone who knew them that the love was true and unbreakable.
When Willie passed away in 1912 Nelly continued to live at the family home until she died in 1917. Nelly was surrounded by all five of her surviving children and their spouses.
One of these children was Juliette Gordon Law. Juliette was the founder of Girl Scouts within the USA. Juliette had married in 1886 and moved to England to live with her husband, returning regularly to spend time with her family in Savannah. Unfortunately, Juliette was widowed early but was not ready to slow down. Meeting Robert Baden Powell, whom she spent a lot of time talking to in 1911 she listened to many stories about the Boy Scouts that he had initiated in England. Juliette returned to Savannah permanently where she set up the Girl Guides Movement.
The building is now used as the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Centre and the director; Katherine Keena describes it as a building with a bright and happy feeling.
The Haunted Wayne Gordon House
As in life, Nelly and Willie refused to do things the traditional way in death. On the night that Nelly was dying surrounded by her family, her daughter in law was sat outside of Nelly’s bedroom. Suddenly she saw Willie Gordon leaving his wife’s room, walking through the old bedroom, and then making his way down the stairs. Within moments her husband, Arthur Gordon, came out of the bedroom and informed her that Nelly had passed on.
At first, Arthur believed that his wife was having a moment of insanity due to the stress of Nelly passing away and brushed off her remarks. That is until the butler excitedly told the pair that he had just seen Willie walking out of the front door.
From this moment it was clear that his wife had not imagined the sighting and was in fact witness to his father’s return to escort the love of his life to the other side.
Visitors to the centre and the staff who work there have reported hearing footsteps when there has been no one walking around and occasionally the apparition of Nelly is accompanying the sounds.
There have been recollections of items going missing but reappearing in plain sight without explanations. Employees have noticed that things will move overnight while the building is empty, this includes furniture and smaller items. Passers-by have noticed Nelly stood in the window, watching the world go by.
Staff that arrived early in the morning have witnessed Nelly’s spirit sat at the dining table while wearing her robe and on occasion, there has been the sound of the piano playing softly in the background. This is practically impossible as the condition of the piano is unplayable.
According to locals the Sarah also remains in the house and has been witnessed wandering around in her old-fashioned clothing although there are fewer reports of this than of Nelly.
Regardless of the numerous sightings, the pranks being played, and the strange noises within the property, no one is scared of the paranormal encounters and enjoy the feeling of love and comfort that they experience when Nelly is around.
Photo: Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, formerly the Wayne-Gordon House (1818), image by Flickr user sfgamchick via Creative Commons