The Olde Pink House

 

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As I planned activities for my trip to Savannah, Georgia, one restaurant kept popping into my awareness…The Olde Pink House in the heart of the historic district. When I checked out the online menu and found a vegan burger, I made a lunch reservation for day three of my trip.

I’m glad I did. This property is so much more than a restaurant.

The Olde Pink House title

Why is The Olde Pink House…Pink?

There’s a reason for the name of this restaurant. The property began life as a house and the color was unintentional.

In 1771, James Habersham Jr began construction on an elaborate mansion on Abercorn Street in Savannah. The exterior of the house was made from red bricks, that were then covered with white plaster. It’s not known whether the bricks were poor quality or whether the plastering job was faulty, but the red from the bricks bled through the plaster, turning the house a distinct shade of pink.

Fearing he would be ridiculed for living in a pink house, Habersham continually painted the exterior white, as did many different owners over the years. Whenever the pink began to show through, a fresh coat of white paint was applied.

However, when the new owner of the house bought it in the 1920s, to open a tea room, she chose to not fight the inevitable. She painted the house pink and pink it has been since.

The Olde Pink House fireplace
One of many fireplaces in The Olde Pink House

The History of The Olde Pink House

James Habersham Jr was one of Savannah’s most important cotton brokers and a founding family of the city. He occupied the house until his death in 1799.

Habersham House, as it was known then, survived the Savannah fire of 1796 that destroyed 229 other properties. In 1812 the home transformed into Planters Bank, the first bank in Georgia.

After the Civil War, the property changed hands several times, becoming an attorney’s office, a bookstore and Alida Harper Fowlkes’ Georgian Tea Room.

Jim Williams, the famous owner of the Mercer House and featured in the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil book, purchased the property in the 1940s and restored it. By 1970, the house underwent another renovation that included upgrading the foundation. Twin fireplaces were uncovered in the basement. These fireplaces were part of the original cooking kitchen and are now a highlight of the basement tavern.

The restaurant opened in the building in 1971 and continues today with the addition of Arches Bar, located on the south side and Planters Tavern in the basement.

The Olde Pink House brick fireplace
One of 13 dining rooms in The Olde Pink House

The Ghosts of The Olde Pink House

It turns out, not only is The Olde Pink House a fine place to eat, it also makes the list of haunted locations in Savannah.

The ghost of James Habersham Jr is said to appear in the restaurant, wearing his Colonial clothes while drinking an ale. He is often seen in the basement tavern, people watching as guests enjoy what used to be his home. Some have even supposedly had a conversation with Habersham, only to have him disappear suddenly.

Employees of the restaurant see Habersham’s ghost. He’s been known to straighten table settings and push chairs into place. He is also blamed for lighting candles on tables throughout the restaurant.

Other The Olde Pink House Ghosts

A friendly Revolutionary War veteran spirit visits the bar and asks visitors to raise a glass for a toast. A sobbing female ghost lingers on the second floor.

Former servants appear wandering throughout the house. Frequently patrons get locked into the women’s restroom. And children who died from Yellow Fever can be heard in the basement, playing tricks on guests or even hitting the bartenders and wait staff.

The wait staff are very happy to share ghost stories about The Olde Pink House and encourage diners to tour the house and tavern after they finish their meals.

Check out more Savannah Ghost Stories.

The Olde Pink House basement seating
Seating in the basement tavern at The Olde Pink House

Tips for Enjoying a Meal at The Olde Pink House

The restaurant is located at 23 Abercorn Street, on Reynolds Square. Reservations are required. Click this LINK to make yours. I recommend making reservations well in advance of your trip to Savannah.

There are 13 dining rooms throughout the restaurant, in various rooms of the original house. You can also dine in Planters Tavern, which is only open in the evenings.

Casual wear is appropriate for dining at The Olde Pink House although you can also dress up if you wish.

The Olde Pink House offers southern influenced cuisine and features a large selection of fish, beef, pork and chicken entrees. Crispy flounder with apricot shallot sauce is their mainstay meal. Other favorites include fried green tomato BLT and braised pork. Their signature praline basket filled with berries is the perfect way to end the meal. They also offer a vegan burger and salads. See their menu HERE.

The Olde Pink House ballroom
The Olde Pink House ballroom, where I dined.

My Experience at The Olde Pink House

I arrived ahead of my lunch reservation so I could take photos in Reynolds Square and capture the outside of the property. When I entered the foyer, I was seated immediately in the upstairs ballroom.

I enjoyed a vegan burger for lunch along with crispy onion rings and the wonderful praline basket with berries for dessert. My waiter was attentive and full of interesting historical facts about The Olde Pink House. He also shared a number of ghost stories with me and invited me to look around after my meal. Although the basement tavern was not open yet, he gave me permission to walk around there.

It was fun to explore the house, peeking into the various dining rooms. The beautiful house structures are still there, along with time appropriate antiques and art.

There were four other people in the basement tavern when I first enter that area. By the time I explored the old wine cellars, now converted to intimate dining areas, I was alone in the tavern. As I turned to exit a cellar, something smacked me hard on the forehead. I stopped in surprise and raised a hand to my head as I peered around. No one was there. Nothing hung low from the ceiling that I’d run into. My only explanation is that one of those mischievous ghost children in the basement played a trick on me!

The Olde Pink House cellar
I had just exited this cellar when an unseen force smacked me in the forehead.

Will You Dine at The Olde Pink House on Your Trip to Savannah?

I highly recommend this restaurant in Savannah, not just for the food, but for the historical importance of the property and for the fun possibility of encountering a ghost!

It’s a beautiful house to explore and the wait staff are eager to share stories as they deliver your meal and keep your glass filled.

Next time I’m in Savannah, I intend to dine in the tavern, where live music is often performed. And this time, I’ll be watching those shadowy corners for a wee trickster ghost.

Will you dine in The Olde Pink House when you visit Savannah? Or have you enjoyed a meal here?

Intimate dining room
One of the smaller dining rooms.

 

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