History of the Moon River Brewing Building
Moon River Brewing Company is located in the former City Hotel. Elazer Early, a native of Charleston, S.C, built the City Hotel in 1821. Not only was it the first hotel in Savannah, but it was also home to the first branch of the United States Post Office in Savannah, as well as a branch of the Bank of the United States. It must have been convenient having a hotel, post office, bank and bar all under one roof!
Many notable people stayed at the City Hotel, including War of 1812 hero Winfield Scott, the Marquis de Lafayette, the first three commodores of the U.S. Navy and naturalist James Audubon. Audubon stayed six months while attempting to sell books full of his wildlife sketches.
In 1851 Peter Wiltberger bought the City Hotel. He renovated it and put a live lion and lioness on display to draw attention to his business. City Hotel’s final guest checked out in 1864, just before the arrival of General Tecumseh Sherman during the war of Northern Aggression and the subsequent closing of the City Hotel.
At the turn of the century, the building was used as a lumber and coal warehouse. As the use of coal slowly died off, the building was used for general storage. In the 1960s the space was renovated as an office supply store, complete with a large printing press. Hurricane David forced this business to close in 1979 when it blew the roof off the structure.
The building sat empty until 1995 when it was renovated into its current configuration as a brew pub. The Moon River Brewing Company debuted in this space on April 10, 1999.
The following is from Ghost City Tours. For more information on the ghosts of Moon River Brewing and Savannah, Georgia go to: https://ghostcitytours.com
Ghosts in the Basement
Another area in this haunted brewery that gets a lot of attention is the basement. The most famous ghost at the Moon River Brewing Company, the one the staff calls ‘Toby’ is seen in the basement, moving silently through the shadows. The basement does certainly have more than its share of ghostly encounters with the living. Many people who go on ghost tours through the Moon River Brewing Company make a stop in the basement. I was on one of the ghost tours a few months back when a young woman started to panic. She claimed that her entire right-hand side of her body became icy cold…very quickly. She said she could hear voices, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. We took her outside, at which point the experience ended. Was this caused by a ghost? I don’t know. Many people have reported having feelings very similar to this while in the basement of the Moon River Brewing Company.
The Haunted Second Floor
On the second floor of this haunted brewery, the famous shooting of James Stark took place. Shot by a town physician, Phillip Minas, Stark was killed on the staircase..or was it by the kitchen. You will come to find that many of the stories in Savannah have different versions, all depending on whom you are talking with. Starks ghost is said to roam the main floor of the Moon River Brewing Company.
2017 Great American Beer Festival’s Midsize Brewery of the Year
The 2017 Great American Beer Festival competition awarded 293 medals to some of the best commercial breweries in the United States, plus three GABF Pro-Am medals to teams of homebrewers paired with professionals. Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world and the premier symbol of brewing excellence.
In a ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, award-winning breweries received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 98 beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories), establishing the best examples of each style in the country.
The Brewers Association also awards brewery and brewpub of the year. This year’s Mid-Size Brewery was awarded to Moon River Brewing. The Brewery also won a gold medal for their Wild Wacky Wit beer. This gold medal honor was for the best in Belgian-style White Ale, beating out nearly 80 other brews.
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