One of the most haunted homes in Savannah is the Espy House, located at 421 Abercorn Street off Calhoun Square. There are two different stories about the Espy House and family, but no one knows if either one is true.
According to legend, the home belonged to Judge Espy during prohibition in the 1920s. The judge ruled with an iron fist and was quick to give the maximum penalty to anyone bootlegging alcohol in Savannah. Justice had to be served under Judge Espy’s watch because he was a bootlegger himself and didn’t like competition. One story about Judge Espy is that he and his son, Wesley, were running gin to Tybee Island and Savannah speakeasies. Wesley was a big deal in Savannah and earned a lot of money as a bootlegger, but he was also known to get a little rowdy at these establishments. One of the establishments was owned by a mob boss, and unfortunately, Wesley became involved with this mob boss’ niece. The mob boss was not happy about this relationship due to Wesley’s illegal activities. He also didn’t want Wesley to get drunk and draw attention to his own illegal operation as well. Of course, being the song of a judge only complicated matters more so the boss went directly to Judge Espy. His message was simply, ‘End the relationship with my niece and get Wesley to stop acting up’. It’s not known if the judge told Wesley about the meeting because Wesley continued the relationship with the niece and getting drunk in the mob’s establishment.
A few months later, on a cold December morning, Judge Espy awoke to see his son outside on the front stairs beaten, unconscious, and with his manhood cut off and stuffed into his breast pocket. Judge Espy carried his son inside realizing the mess he’s gotten himself into. He didn’t want his son to bleed out and die in the parlor, but he also couldn’t call the police since they were both bootleggers themselves involved with the mob. With very few options to keep the situation under wraps, the judge sent a telegram to his friend in New York who also happened to be a renowned doctor. He asked his friend to come to Savannah and save his son’s life, but unfortunately, the doctor arrived too late. Wesley had already died.
The mob boss who killed his son was put away, and Judge Espy got off without being charged, sort of. The judge had to resign in shame, and he left Savannah with his wife shortly thereafter.
But that’s not the only story about Judge Espy.
Locals also tell a story of Wesley having a young daughter named Katie who the Judge and his wife often watched when Wesley was out enjoying the nightlife. One night when Wesley was out with a female companion, possibly even the niece of the mob boss, he left his daughter with Judge Espy and his wife. The couple had a little too much gin that particular night and started an argument that turned into an actual physical altercation. Frightened by the noise, Katie came downstairs and hid in the kitchen under a marble table. The argument eventually led to the kitchen where Judge Espy threw his wife onto the marble table causing it collapse on Katie. The couple continued to fight not realizing the table had crushed poor Katie and killed her. No one knew about little Katie lying under the broken table until the next morning when servants found her limp, lifeless body.
Some people say this never happened while others swear it did claiming that Katie’s death was the reason Wesley went out drinking which ultimately led into his run-in with the mob.
The only thing known for sure is that the house is haunted by something. Visitors to the home tell stories about seeing an apparition of a man walking the halls. The man is believed to be a grieving Wesley trying to cope with the loss of his daughter. The ghost of a young girl has also been spotted looking out of the second story window.