The Wraiths of Winchester, Virginia

N.B. This article was originally posted as part of “A Spectral Tour of the Shenandoah Valley,” which I published in 2014. Seeing that the article needed some serious work, I have decided to shift some things around and post each city as a separate article.

Winchester, Virginia’s twisting history certainly makes it fertile ground for hauntings.

Chartered in 1752, the city was one of the most important cities in the region during the 19th century. Nine major roads converged along with the Winchester and Potomac Railroad, making this a crucial market town.

With the coming of the Civil War, the city’s location made it a prize coveted by both armies. It would famously change hands many times during the war. Three major battles took place here with a host of smaller battles and skirmishes taking place throughout the region. This bloody history has most certainly left a spiritual mark on the Shenandoah and especially on Winchester.

Winchester’s ghosts have been documented primarily in Mac Rutherford’s 2007 book, Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. There is a ghost tour, Ghost Tours Old Town Winchester, Virginia, which is hosted occasionally.

The tour is arranged alphabetically by street, with the sites in order by street address south to north and east to west.

East Boscawen Street

Mount Hebron Cemetery
305 East Boscawen Street

Encompassing four different cemeteries, Mount Hebron holds some of the oldest burials in the city. Two of the cemeteries within its precincts date to the mid-18th century, while the large Stonewall Confederate Cemetery was created just following the Civil War. This may also be the most haunted section of this cemetery. The marker for the Patton Brothers, George and Tazewell (Col. George S. Patton was the grandfather of General George S. Patton who lead American forces during World War II), has some reported activity with it involving a lone figure seen near it. Wearing a military greatcoat and peaked hat, the figure walks towards the marker and disappears. Legend holds that the figure may be none other than Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. During the 1930s, Rommel was one of a number of German military leaders who spent time in the area studying the military tactics of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

Mount Hebron Cemetery Winchester Virginia
Entrance and Gate House for Mount Hebron Cemetery. Photo 2010,
by Karen Nutini, courtesy of Wikipedia.

While the Confederate dead—some of whom were unknown—were buried in the cemetery here, the Union dead were buried across Woodstock Lane in the National Cemetery. Mac Rutherford notes that people living in the area and passersby just after sundown have seen gray figures rising from the Confederate section of Mount Hebron and making their way across the street towards the National Cemetery.

Sources

  • History. Mount Hebron Cemetery. Accessed 21 September 2014.
  • Klemm, Anna and DHR Staff. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Mount Hebron Cemetery. 25 July 2008.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.

West Boscawen Street

38 West Boscawen Street, private

One of Winchester’s most accomplished daughters, the singer Patsy Cline, is associated with this building. It was here, at the G&M Music Store, where Cline bought her first guitar and made some of her first recordings. Visitors to the room that once housed the recording studio have experienced a coldness and claim to have felt the spirit of the famed singer.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

125 West Boscawen Street, private

This circa 1790 home is now occupied by a law firm. Like many buildings throughout the city, this structure served as a hospital for the wounded during the Civil War. Employees of the businesses that have occupied this space over the past few decades have reported hearing footsteps regularly and feeling a cold chill in certain rooms.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Fuller House Inn
220 West Boscawen Street

This magnificent home was constructed in 1854 incorporating the late 18th century servants’ quarters from the Ambler Hill Estate. On the eve of the Civil War, the house was purchased by prominent local dentist, Dr. William McPherson Fuller. This building was also commandeered for use as a hospital during the Civil War and that may explain the presence of a soldier who has been seen in the house. The house serves as an intimate event space and lodging.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

South Braddock Street

South Braddock Street
Between Cork and Boscawen Streets

Soldiers from the Civil War have been seen along this street. After the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, which was a Confederate victory, Union forces retreated along this street. According to Mac Rutherford, they held their formations along this street until they reached the center of town where they broke rank and ran for their lives. The reports of soldiers seen here usually include large formations of many soldiers.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot
Intersection of South Braddock and Wolfe Streets, Southeast Corner

This block has spiritual activity from two different wars. The Braddock Street United Methodist Church Parking Lot has possible activity dating to the French and Indian War (1755-1762). During that war, Fort George, one of two forts built in the area under the purview of Colonel George Washington, stood near here. This piece of property was used for drilling recruits and Colonial soldiers have been seen in the area and in the building that once occupied this site.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

North Braddock Street

Kimberly’s (Lloyd Logan House)
135 North Braddock Street

Lloyd Logan, a local tobacco merchant, built this home around 1850 and it was considered one of the finest homes in town. When war came, the house was taken over by Union generals Franz Sigel and later by Philip Sheridan. Under orders from General Sigel, Lloyd Logan was thrown in jail and the house and most of its contents were confiscated for army use. Logan’s wife and daughters were later removed from the house and unceremoniously dumped along the Valley Pike. This incident may contribute to the spiritual activity within the home.

From Braddock Street, look up at the two windows on the south side of the second floor. Passersby have seen the figure of a man pacing and throwing his hands into the air. One witness described him as not “really clear, sort of gray and fuzzy. I think he was even pulling at his hair.” Employees of Kimberly’s have also seen the man in that room and state that he is accompanied by a woman crying in the corner.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Cork Street

Cork Street Tavern
8 West Cork Street

Occupying a pair of early 19th century residences, the Cork Street Tavern has a pair of ghosts, though there seems to be some uncertainty as to why they’re there. Much of the structure’s history is well-known except for the period during Prohibition when the building may have been used as a speakeasy and brothel. The pair, nicknamed John and Emily by the restaurant staff, have both made their presence known with a variety of activity. Apparitions of both have been seen in the building while Emily’s voice has been heard calling, “John,” a number of times. A spirit has also been known to trip female patrons walking into the non-smoking section. The level of activity here is high enough that it led an investigator to remark during a 2009 investigation that “nothing holds a candle to Cork Street.”

Sources

  • History. Cork Street Tavern. Accessed 17 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Williams, J.R. “Paranormal investigators examine Cork Street Tavern for ghost activity.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 3 August 2009.

South Loudoun Street

Water Street Kitchen
(formerly Old Town Café)
2 South Loudoun Street

This large, brick building was originally the family home of the prominent Holliday family and this was the home of Frederick Holliday who served as governor during the 19th century. The building has seen a variety of uses including post office, a dry goods store and drug store. Since its use as a restaurant, the owners have discovered that the building is also the residence of two ghosts. A male spirit has been seen ascending the stairs from the basement, though he always just stops and stares upon reaching the top. A woman’s spirit has been seen entering the building’s front door and rearranging items on the shelves inside the restaurant.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Red Lion Tavern Building
204-208 South Loudoun Street

This historic tavern building was constructed in 1784 by a German-born Revolutionary War veteran named Peter Lauck. He is known to have had seven daughters, one of whom may still be seen and heard in the building. People recently working in the building have been thanked by a soft, feminine voice saying, “danke.” The shadowy figure of a woman in colonial dress is sometimes seen when the voice is heard.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007. 

North Loudoun Street

Old Court House Civil War Museum
20 North Loudoun Street

Of all the buildings throughout Winchester that were impacted by the Civil War, the biggest impact was possibly on this building which was constructed in 1840 as the Frederick County Court House. The building served as a hospital and, after the Third Battle of Winchester, a prison for captured Confederates. Many of the scars left on this building including the graffiti left on the walls by soldiers from both sides have been preserved. The building has also been the scene of some rather intense spiritual activity.

old frederick county courthouse winchester virginia
Old Frederick County Court House, 2011, by Saran Stierch. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Some spiritually sensitive passersby have witnessed gray forms huddled in the building’s courtyard where Confederate prisoners were kept. In the old courtroom, voices have been heard ranging from faint whispers to obnoxious shouting and the cries of the wounded that once crowded this space. During the building’s renovation, workers had tools and equipment moved. Three workers walked off the job when scaffolding was moved from one side of the room to another during a lunch break.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

33 North Loudon Street 

Near this address be on the lookout for a young woman in Civil War era clothing hurrying along the street with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. This is believed to be the spirit of Tillie Russell, a local woman who legend calls, “The Angel of the Battlefield.”

A small engagement occurred at Rutherford’s Farm outside of Winchester on July 20, 1864. Union forces attacked a Confederate division on General Stephen Ramseur throwing that division into confusion. Capt. Randolph Ridgeley of the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry was seriously wounded when Tillie Russell found him and nursed him through the night. Ridgeley was found the next morning being cradled by Miss Russell and survived his wounds.

For years, people have seen the spirit of Miss Russell leaving the building at 33 North Loudoun pulling her shawl about her shoulders as she heads off towards the battlefield at Rutherford’s Farm.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Village Square Restaurant and V2 Piano Bar and Lounge
103 North Loudoun Street

These two establishments occupy a series of haunted structures all built in the early 19th century. Spirits flit and float throughout the restaurant, but the V2 Piano Bar and Lounge has the real story to tell. This building formerly housed Miller’s Apothecary which opened on this site in the mid-18th century. The apothecary was operated by the Miller family until 1992 when they decided to shutter the business. Subsequent owners of the building have all had run-ins with the resident spirits including Jeanette, a young woman who lived with the Miller family in the 18th century.

Perhaps one of the saddest stories of this location comes from the Civil War. Union soldiers from the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry were quartered in the upstairs rooms. A young African-American male was lynched by the group in a tree just outside the building. The pacing of boots and the shouts of arguing soldiers are still heard here.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.

Taylor Pavilion
125 North Loudoun Street

In its heyday, the Taylor Hotel offered the grandest accommodations in the city. Opening about a decade before the Civil War, the hotel provided accommodations to many of the generals leading troops through the area during the war. Sadly, one of the red-headed call girls who served at the hotel still lingers in this building.

In 2011, the old hotel was purchased by the city and renovated to hold five apartments and restaurant space as well as an outdoor events venue. Apparently, something doesn’t like the restaurant space, though. Kitchen staff have reported that grease burners, often turned off at night, will be found to be on in the morning. One cook installed surveillance cameras to put an end to this. However, he saw that the burners were turned off by the night staff, though they were found on again that morning.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

151 North Loudon Street
(formerly Olde Town Armory and Heirlooms)

Originally constructed as the Arlington Hotel, this building houses a ghost that is known to make a bathroom run every morning. Past operators of a shop here reported that the front door would frequently open by itself followed by the sound of footsteps racing into the store and up the stairs. The water in the bathroom would be turned on in the upstairs bathroom. After some time, the spirit began leaving a penny outside the bathroom door. In one case, the spirit left a penny on the floor and placed a penny on the breasts of a female mannequin being stored just outside the bathroom.

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Brewbaker’s Restaurant
168 North Loudoun Street

With a core dating the late 18th century, this old commercial building has been home to a continuous line of restaurants since 1910. However, the history does not explain the apparition of a young woman who appears near the fireplace. A photograph taken here some years ago seemed to show the shadowy figure of a man wearing boots; a figure some have interpreted as a Confederate soldier.

Sources

  • Brehm, Brian. “Spirits frequent several Winchester haunts.” Winchester Star. 24 October 2017.
  • History of Our Building. Brewbaker’s Restaurant. Accessed 24 September 2014.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

West Piccadilly Street

Phillip Williams House
(formerly Joe’s Steakhouse)
25 West Piccadilly Street

A Confederate officer is frequently seen staring out the windows of this circa 1845 mansion. Legend holds that this is the spirit of Colonel George S. Patton (the same one buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery above) who died here September 19, 1864 from injuries sustained during the Third Battle of Winchester. He is believed to have passed away on the second floor.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Handley Regional Library
100 West Piccadilly Street

Handley Library Winchester Virginia
The glorious Beaux-Arts facade of the Handley Library.
Photo 2011, by Missvain, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Opened in 1913, this glorious Beaux-Arts library was constructed as a gift to the city of Winchester from coal baron, Judge John Handley. The face of a man with a “drooping mustache” has been seen peering from the windows of the building’s rotunda. A full apparition of a man with a mustache and wearing a frock coat has been seen by library staff inside the building. Perhaps Judge Handley is checking up on his gift?

Sources

  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Indian Alley

Figures of very tall Indians have been witnessed along this street. There are a number of legends dating to the 18th century regarding very tall Native Americans who once lived in the area. Perhaps the spirits of these original inhabitants return? The Indians are generally seen during the first and last light of the day.

Sources

  • Austin, Natalie. “Local ghost expert shares stories of the supernatural.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 30 October 2004.
  • Rutherford, Mac. Historic Haunts of Winchester: A Ghostly Trip Through the Past. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.

Located southeast of downtown is this site:

Abram’s Delight
1340 South Pleasant Valley Road

One of the best places to understand the early history of Winchester is in the restored home of the Hollingsworth family, one of the first white families to settle in the area. Built by Abraham Hollingsworth in the mid-18th century, the house remained in the family until the City of Winchester purchased it in 1943. The house is apparently haunted by spirits of family members who once lived there. The family’s mill, which is now home to offices for the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society, is also the scene of some paranormal activity. Please see my blog entry (An independent spirit—Winchester, Virginia) for further information.

South Carolina Haunt Briefs

Needing a project to carry me through this quarantine, I’ve decided to return to some original blog roots. Just after establishing this blog in 2010, I created a series of articles highlighting ten haunted places within each of the 13 states that I cover. Over time, these articles have been picked apart, rewritten, expanded, and used elsewhere. When I moved this blog, I did not move over those articles. Because I have a backlog of incomplete articles and bits and pieces that haven’t been published I’m creating a new breed of these articles during this quarantine.

Aiken County Courthouse
109 Park Avenue, Southeast
Aiken

Aiken South Carolina County Courthouse haunted
The Aiken County Courthouse, 2007. Photo by Festiva76, courtesy of Wikipedia.

A number of spirits are believed to flit through the rooms and corridors of the 1881 Aiken County Courthouse. One of the spirits is thought to be the ghost of a young girl whose body was once held in the basement morgue of the building. Legend holds that her body changed position after being deposited in the drawer. Supposedly, she continues to roam the building giggling. A male spirit is known to whisper, “hey!” in the ears of employees, while another female spirit sometimes demonstrates her disapproval of the court’s decisions by moving chairs, rattling papers, and sending pens and pencils flying off desks.

Sources

Beaty-Spivey House (private)
428 Kingston Street
Conway

Beaty-Spivey House Conway South Carolina ghosts
The Beaty-Spivey House, 2010. Photo by Pubdog, courtesy of Wikipedia.

A tragic tale has been told about the Beaty-Spivey House, known as “The Oaks,” since the death of young Brookie Beaty in 1871. Thomas and Mary Beaty had five children, four of which passed before they reached adulthood. After her son fell ill, Mrs. Beaty was greeted by a vision of several angels in the form of her deceased daughters. The angels revealed that they had been sent to retrieve their brother. Rushing into her son’s room, Mrs. Beaty discovered that he had just died.

Sources

Blakeney Family Cemetery
John Blakeney Lane
Pageland

Irish-born John Blakeney served in the American Revolution under General Francis Marion. When he died at the age of 100, he was interred in this rural family cemetery where he joined many members of his family. According to online rumors, those family members regularly appear to roam amongst the headstones, though the veracity of these stories is questionable.

Sources

Brown House
328 Greene Street (private)
Cheraw
 

Known for many years as the “Brown House” due to its unpainted exterior, this now white early 19th-century farmhouse has activity that have led locals to believe it may be haunted. That activity includes the furniture on the front porch being rearranged by unseen hands.

Sources

Carolina Country Store & Café
11725 South Fraser Street
Georgetown
 

The main road from Charleston to Georgetown, U.S. Route 17, passes through many small communities including one called North Santee. This ramshackle general store and gas station has been serving travelers and locals since 1929. As well as selling food, drinks, gas, and souvenirs, this small business also features a ghost. Called Mary Jane by employees, the spirit tends to rattle doorknobs, fiddle with the knobs on the crockpot, call employee’s names, and sometimes appear as a shadow.

Sources

  • Carmichael, Sherman. Legends and Lore of South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.

Enfield
135 McIver Street (private)
Cheraw

When Union troops invaded the town towards the end of the Civil War, General Sherman took up headquarters in the Hartzell House, while General Oliver Howard set up in Enfield next door. Local lore preserves a story that one of Howard’s officers shot a young enslaved girl when she fumbled with the reins of his horse. History does speak to the veracity of this story, though the spirit of this woman is supposed to haunt the home.

Sources

Florence National Cemetery
803 East National Cemetery Road
Florence

In late 1864, the Confederate government open a prisoner of war camp on the outskirts of Florence. Known as the Florence Stockade, the prison held nearly 18,000 prisoners in miserable conditions. During its operation, nearly 2,800 prisoners died and were interred in trenches outside the prison walls. Following the war, these burials were incorporated as Florence National Cemetery.

Florence National Cemetery South Carolina
Florence National Cemetery. Photo courtesy of the National Cemetery Administration.

Among the graves is that of Florena Budwin, a female who fought in the Union Army alongside her husband. Her grave is believed to be the first burial of a female in a national cemetery.

Investigation by author Tally Johnson reveals that Mrs. Budwin and her comrades may not be resting peacefully. He observed an orb hovering over her tombstone as well as hearing moans and groans from the trenches holding the many other soldiers who died imprisoned.

Sources

  • Florena Budwin. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 July 2019.
  • Florence Stockade. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 July 2019.
  • Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the Pee Dee. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.

Gurganus-Collins House (private)
902 Elm Street
Conway

In 2012, the family occupying the 1862 Gurganus-Collins House revealed that their 12-year-old son encountered the spirit of the home’s builder, William Gurganus, sitting on a bed one morning. The apparition “turned and smiled at him,” which prevented the young man from sleeping upstairs for six months.

Sources

Hangman’s Tree
Saints Delight Road (US-17 ALT)
Andrews

Looming over this two-lane road outside of Andrews, this ancient cypress’ story is told in its gnarled trunk and limbs. On the outskirts of the community of Lamberttown, this tree, as legend holds, has been the scene of many hangings since the American Revolution. After the Civil War, several people were lynched from this same tree. Sources indicate that some locals are reticent to pass by the tree late at night. Travelling northeast on Saints Delight from the intersection with Walker Road, the tree is roughly a mile on the left.

Sources

  • Floyd, Blanche W. Ghostly Tales and Legends Along the Grand Strand of South Carolina. Winston-Salem, NC: Bandit Books, 2002.
  • Huntsinger, Elizabeth Robertson. More Ghosts of Georgetown. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1998.
  • Orr, Bruce. Haunted Summerville, South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
  • Summey, Debby. “The Hanging Tree.” South Strand News. 29 January 2013.

Hopsewee
494 Hopsewee Road
Georgetown 

Created as a rice plantation around 1740, Hopsewee was the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of the four signers of the Declaration of Independence from the South Carolina Colony. Along with his father, he served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, the only father and son within the body. When the Declaration was signed, Lynch’s father was too ill to make the journey, so only his son signed the document.

Hopsewee Plantation Georgetown South Carolina
Hopsewee in 1971. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Hopsewee was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971, and the house and grounds are open to the public as a historic site. In addition to the watchfulness of the current owners, it seems that Thomas Lynch, Sr. may remain here watching over the grounds. Some years ago, a neighbor and his son watched as a man in colonial dress and carrying a lantern walked down a road near the house and disappeared into a swamp.

The spirit of the indomitable Thomas Lynch, Sr. may have once revealed his distaste for immodesty. While a crew was filming in the house, the film’s costumer took photographs of the actresses in their costumes. A group photo was taken of the young ladies in their period underclothes. When the picture was developed, a prominent white streak covered all of the women from their necks to just below their knees.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Snell, Charles W. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Hopsewee. 4 June 1971.

Lamar High School
216 North Darlington Avenue
Lamar

School ghostlore is often the product of overactive young minds, and that seems to be the case here. According to author Tally Johnson, a student athlete at Lamar High School was killed in a tragic automobile accident during her senior year. In her memory, the school retired her number and enshrined a picture and her shoes in the school’s trophy case as well as establishing a scholarship in her name. Supposedly, the young lady returns to the school gym on the anniversary of her death.

Sources

  • Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the Pee Dee. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.

Lincoln Village Apartments
712 South 8th Street
Hartsville

The end of this small apartment complex came ignominiously with a small fire in one building in 2015. Two years later, the City of Hartsville chose to demolish this blighted property. A local resident who lived across the street told a reporter for WMBF (the Myrtle Beach NBC affiliate) that the complex—which was abandoned in 2000—brought down the morale of the entire neighborhood.

Perhaps the decaying state of this property aroused ghost stories, but the idea has been bandied about online for a number of years. A small cemetery is supposed to exist on the site, though the graves are unmarked. Legend speaks of some of the buildings having been built over graves, though there is nothing to prove this.

Stories speak of residents experiencing “babies crying and adult voices begging for help in otherwise empty apartments.” Tally Johnson spoke with a sheriff’s deputy who said that law enforcement had been called to the property several times by reports of lights on and people inside the abandoned buildings. There is no word if the demolition has ended these urban legends.

Sources

Lower River Warehouse
206 US-501 BUS
Conway

For nearly two centuries, the old Lower River Warehouse that sidled up next to the Waccamaw River served as a main shipping point for goods being brought to Conway by many of the town’s best-known families. A few years ago, the building housed a haunted Halloween attraction, Terror Under the Bridge. While employees were working to manufacture scares for their guests, they were being frightened by actual paranormal activity. An employee working the fog machines in the back of the building fearfully noticed that the fog was blowing against the draft created by an open window and door. Footsteps were sometimes heard in the empty building as well.

Sources

  • Carmichael, Sherman. Legends and Lore of South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.

Lucas Bay Light
Near Gilbert and Little Lamb Roads
Conway

Along these country roads near the community of Bucksport is Lucas Bay. The bay is not a typical large body of water, but a “Carolina bay,” an elliptical depression in the landscape. Occurring all over the east coast, these bays hold special significance geologically and ecologically, while this particular bay is also a part of the landscape of legend.

Stories tell of a mother in the area towards the end of the Civil War, when Union troops were advancing through the state. Hearing rumors of the approach of troops and worried about her infant, the mother hid the swaddled child underneath a bridge, while she returned home to secure her meager possessions. When a storm erupted during the night, the mother rushed into the rain and wind to find her child. Both mother and child were lost in the deluge.

Since that time, many have witnessed an odd light near Lucas Bay and the account of this mother and her child is retold. This story bears many of the hallmarks of the typical “Crybaby Bridge” legend, and, as is usually the case, there are no historical records to back up the story. Paranormal investigators have confirmed that the area is rife with spirits, though they cannot confirm the legend either.

Sources

  • Boschult, Christian. “Lucas Bay Lights-urban legend or true ghost story?The Sun News. 30 October 2016.
  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Palmetto State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2010.
  • Floyd, Blanche W. Ghostly Tales and Legends Along the Grand Strand of South Carolina. Winston-Salem, NC: Bandit Books, 2002.
  • Lucas Bay Light.” Phasma Paranormal. 12 April 2012.

Memorial Hall
Campus of Coker University
Hartsville

This small, private liberal arts college (which has just recently changed its name to Coker University) has a 15-acre campus, around 70 faculty members, about 1,200 students, and one resident spirit. A college history attributes the hauntings of Memorial Hall and the school’s former and current library buildings to a student, Madeline Savage, who attended the school in the 1920s. According to legend, Savage died on campus, but historical records only note her enrollment as a student from 1920 to 1921. Her whereabouts after that time are unknown.

Memorial Hall Coker University Hartsville South Carolina ghosts
Memorial Hall at Coker University, 2018. Photo by Jud McCranie, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Though she may have disappeared from the historical record, she has supposedly remained active in Memorial Hall, the oldest residence hall on campus. Students in this circa 1916 dormitory have had a variety of encounters with the other side. Madeline has appeared wearing a long, white gown, while she has been heard crying in empty rooms.

Sources

Upper Long Cane Cemetery
Greenville Street
Abbeville

About 2 miles north of the town of Abbeville, the Upper Long Cane Cemetery serves as a resting place for about 2,500 souls. According to local folklore, the first burial on the site occurred around 1760 when John Lesley buried a young girl who was either a relative or visitor to his home. The girl had succumbed to severe burns she received while making lye soap. With her burial, the family established the spot as a family cemetery. Over time, the cemetery became a prominent cemetery for locals.

Upper Long Cane Cemetery Abbeville South Carolina haunted
Upper Long Cane Cemetery, 2012, by Upstateherd, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to John Boyanoski, the cemetery was investigated by the Heritage Paranormal Society from Georgia. While there were no stories of activity in the cemetery, its age led them to believe that there might be something. During a review of photographs taken during the investigation, members of the group were shocked to see the image of a balding man wearing a blazer in one of the photos. When the photo was taken, a living person was not seen walking through the frame.

Sources

  • Boyanoski, John. More Ghosts of Upstate South Carolina. Mountville, PA: Shelor & Son Publishing, 2008.
  • Power, J. Tracy, et al. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Upper Long Cane Cemetery. 29 October 2010.

Woodburn
130 History Lane
Pendleton

A former resident of Woodburn, which is now a house museum, reported several encounters with a little girl in the house. Since that time, a photograph has been taken that seems to show the figure of a young girl in the window of the nursery. Police have also seen a figure peering at them from the same window.

Woodburn Pendleton South Carolina ghosts
Woodburn, 2009. Photo by KudzuVine, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Woodburn was constructed around 1830 as a summer home for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a son of the prominent Pinckney family. Named for his uncle who was one of the authors of the U. S. Constitution, Pinckney was a prominent lawyer, politician, and planter.

Sources

  • Hornsby, Ben. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Woodburn. 15 October 1970.
  • Staed, John. “Does Woodburn Historical House still hide some secrets?” Anderson Independent. 29 June 2010.

Street Guide to the Phantoms of the French Quarter—Burgundy Street

N.B. This article was originally published 16 June 2016 with Basin and North Rampart Streets. 

The French Quarter has been lived in and died in; human energy has been manifested continuously and freely for 250 years. Where we find presently a sedate restaurant, we would have found—20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago or more—a dry goods store, a grocery, a saloon, a coffeehouse, a patisserie, an apothecary, a gambling joint, a silversmith, a printer, a jeweler, a letter-writer, a whorehouse, a bank. They may have disappeared along with their proprietors, but they’ve left behind an aura that infuses the atmosphere.

–Andy Peter Antippas, A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). 2013.

New Orleans’ French Quarter—the Vieux Carré to locals—is among a handful of locales in the South that possesses a high concentration of haunted places. Encompassing nearly two-thirds of a square mile (.66 to be exact), the French Quarter has been said to have spirits in nearly every building and site. Even looking at the documented hauntings here, the number is quite impressive.

The French Quarter is generally defined as the section stretching from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and from the Mississippi River northwest to North Rampart Street. This section of the city is where the city was originally founded by the French in 1718. With buildings and sites spanning three centuries, the French Quarter is easily the most paranormally active neighborhood in the entire city.

This series of articles is meant to act as a street by street guide to those hauntings. While some of these stories have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the literature, like Royal Street’s LaLaurie Mansion, and Bourbon Street’s Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, some stories have only been explored in the literature once or twice. This is an attempt to synthesize information from the many sources that exist on the French Quarter into a succinct guide.

For more haunted places in the French Quarter visit the main page for my series, “Phantoms of the French Quarter.”

Sources

  • Antippas, Andy Peter. A Guide to the Historic French Quarter (History & Guide). Charleston SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.

Burgundy Street

This street takes its name from Louis, Duke of Burgundy (1682-1712), who was the son of Louis, the Grand Dauphine, and father to King Louis XV of France.

Hotel St. Pierre
911 Burgundy Street

The Hotel St. Pierre, a motley assemblage of buildings, occupies the corner of Burgundy and Dumaine Streets and contains some of the oldest structures in the city. Standing in the carriageway of large building next to the hotel’s lobby, a liveried enslaved man has been spotted. He is believed to be the carriage master who worked here in the mid-19th century. He is seen throughout the day still waiting for a carriage to arrive. During an investigation in 1996, investigators saw this man standing in the carriageway. He was described as a black man “between forty-five and fifty years of age, medium build, wearing a royal-blue colored shirt and pants.”

Hotel St Pierre Burgundy and Dumaine Streets French Quarter New Orleans
The Hotel St. Pierre as seen from across Dumaine Street. The spirit of the carriage master is seen in the large brick building with the red facade on the far right. Photo by Rafal Konieczny, 2004, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Guests staying in one of the hotel buildings just across the street from the lobby have reported encounters with a gray-clad figure, believed to be a Confederate soldier. One guest had an encounter with a spirit that changed channels on the room’s television and later sat on the edge of the bed, chilling the guest’s feet under the covers.

Sources

  • Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2016.
  • Montz, Larry and Daena Smoller. ISPR Investigates the Ghosts of New Orleans. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2000.

Cosimo’s
1201 Burgundy Street

Several spirits are believed to occupy this cozy neighborhood bar at the corner of Burgundy and Governor Nicholls Streets. Established in 1934, this bar is supposed to be haunted by two entities: a woman who has been seen in the bar wearing a robe and slippers, and a man who is known as “Uncle Joe.” The apparition of the woman may be the spirit of a former resident of the building. Uncle Joe is believed to be the spirit of a former patron who continues to imbibe in the afterlife.

cosimo's bar french quarter new orleans louisiana ghosts haunted
Cosimo’s 2009, by Infrogmation. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sources

  • Smith, Katherine. Haunted History Tours Presents: Journey Into Darkness…Ghosts and Vampires of New Orleans. New Orleans, LA: De Simonin Publications, 1998.

Morro Castle
1303 Burgundy Street

For decades, this structure on the corner of Burgundy and Barracks Streets has been the focus of legend and mystery. Even the 1938 WPA guide to the city describes it as a “so-called rendezvous of ghosts.” Jeanne DeLavigne’s monumental 1946 book, Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, further cultivated the building’s legends. Those legends speak of this building as having been built during the Spanish occupation of the city between 1763 and 1801 and it being used as a garrison for troops. Some stories claim that the building was also used as a prison where many were tortured and kept in abominable conditions.

The truth, however, is far more interesting. Historian Stanley Arthur proved that the structure dates to the 1830s and was used during the city’s occupation by Union forces.

When once again, war arrived at the city’s doorstep in 1862, it came in the form of a blue-clad former resident, Admiral David Farragut, with a fleet of Yankee ships and troops. The city’s defenses were easily overcome, and the Confederate forces fled leaving the humiliated city to the mercy of the Union. General Benjamin Butler took charge of the city imposing martial law with an iron fist.

Morro Castle Old Spanish Garrison french quarter new orleans louisiana ghosts haunted
The Morro Castle, 2011, by Reading Tom. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The city’s military government took over this building for use as a prison and the city’s ardent Confederates found themselves confined here along with local citizens who rebelliously heaped indignations on their Union occupiers. Conditions were notorious and likely led to many of the tales that have circulated regarding this building.

The Morro Castle was divided into apartments many decades ago and has been off-limits to the prying eyes of the public, providing even more fodder for the fanciful fables of ghastly spirits roaming the corridors. Victor C. Klein includes the tale of the Old Spanish Garrison in his 1993 New Orleans Ghosts, basing it on DeLavigne’s version of the story. Six years later, he corrected his original story after talking with a resident of the building. That resident noted that the activity did not live up to the horrifying tales, and only had “the earmarks of a classical ghost story. He [the resident] alleged that cold spots, noises and ghastly odors occurred without all of which were without rational explanation.”

Sources

  • DeLavigne, Jeanne. Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2013. Reprint of original 1946 edition.
  • Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. New Orleans City Guide, 1938. Reprint by Garrett County Press, 2009.
  • Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts. Metairie, LA: Lycanthropy Press, 1993.
  • Klein, Victor C. New Orleans Ghosts II. Metairie, LA: Lycanthropy Press, 1999.

Columbia, South Carolina’s Haunted Five

The city of Columbia was born out of conflict over representation between small farmers in Upstate South Carolina and the wealthy planters of the Low Country. As a compromise, Columbia was founded in 1786 on the fall line near the center of the state. Over the following decades, the city developed from what George Washington described on his visit in 1791 as “an uncleared wood with very few houses in it,” into a wealthy, and bustling city by the middle of the 19th century.

As talk of secession began to circulate throughout the South, Columbia became a hotbed for pro-Secession sentiments and the first state Secession Convention was held here until it was forced to move to Charleston due to a smallpox epidemic. The city’s location in the interior of the Confederacy spared it the harsh realities of war until Sherman’s arrival on the city’s doorstep in February of 1865. During Union occupation, fires spread destroying a large portion of the city. Throughout the latter years of the 19th century, the city recovered its importance as an economic engine for the state with the building of textile mills.

As it moves from its industrial past, Columbia has continues in its role as an Upstate economic powerhouse and still crawls with ghosts of its past. 

Hampton-Preston House
1615 Blanding Street

During the 1982 Christmas Season, docents led visitors on candlelight tours of many Historic Columbia Foundation properties including the Hampton-Preston House. State law required the presence of a firefighter if open flame was used and, at the end of the night, the firefighter accompanied the docents as the candles were extinguished. One evening, after seeing that all the candles were out, locking up the house, turning on the security system accompanied by the firefighter, another docent was surprised to see flickering light in the windows of the Hampton-Preston House. Through the window, the docent could see all the candles in the sitting room were brightly burning and she called police. The police arrived to find that the house was still securely locked with the security system on, despite the blazing candles in the sitting room.

Hampton-Preston House, 2017, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Built by merchant Ainsley Hall in 1818, this magnificent manse was purchased by General Wade Hampton, patriarch of the powerful Hampton family, who had fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The purchase was carried out much to the chagrin of Hall’s wife, Sarah, who had been promised the house by her husband. In turn, Hall began work on a large house directly across the street, which is now called the Robert Mills House (see the entry further down the page). The house remained in the Hampton family until the Civil War. After barely escaping the burning of the city by Union forces, the house was saved by a nun from the nearby Ursuline convent who begged to use the house for refuge after the convent was burned. The house later became Chicora College and was restored and opened in 1970 as a house museum.

Docents, staff, and visitors have all reported encounters with possible spirits within the house. Some docents working in the house afterhours have reported a feeling of being watched and a general sense of uneasiness pervading the house.

Sources

  • Hook, Debra-Lynn B. “Spooky tales of South Carolina.” The State. 31 October 1991.
  • Kelly, Sharon. “’Ghost houses’ continuing to baffle Columbians.” The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, SC). 1 January 1983.
  • Lister, Mrs. Toney J. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Hampton-Preston House. 29 July 1969.
  • Workers of the Writers’ Program of the WPA of SC. South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State. NYC: Oxford University Press, 1941.

Olympia Mill
500 Heyward Street

Olympia Mill, 2014, by Batterup55. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

When Olympia Mill was constructed in 1899, it was called the largest cotton mill under one roof in the world. This massive mill continued under operation until it was closed in 1996. After sitting empty, it has recently been converted into loft apartments.

As was common at the time, the mill operated using the labor or children, as well as adults. Because of their small hands, children were ideal for certain tasks in keeping the looms running and, as a result, some children were killed or had arms and hands mangled by the high-speed machines. Roger Manley writes in Weird Carolinas that since the mill has been turned into lofts, residents have reported the sounds of children crying and have seen small handprints appear in fogged up windows.

Sources

  • Hamilton, Cynthia Rose. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Olympia Mill. Listed 2 February 2005.
  • Manley, Roger. Weird Carolina. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2007.

Robert Mills House
1616 Blanding Street

The Robert Mills House, 1970. Photo by V.D. Hubbard for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Usually houses are named for former owners, but rarely for their designers. This home, however, is known for its architect, Robert Mills, one of the first great American architects known best for his designs for the Washington Monument. Mills designed the house for merchant, Ainsley Hall. Sadly, Mr. Hall did not have a chance to live in his new home as he died before it was completed. With the death of her husband and litigation over her husband’s estate, Mrs. Hall was forced to sell the incomplete house to the Presbyterian Church. It is believed to be her spirit that leaves impressions on the bed in one of the second-floor bedrooms.

Sources

  • Fant, Mrs. James W. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Ainsley Hall House. 16 May 1970.
  • Hook, Debra-Lynn B. “Spooky tales of South Carolina.” The State. 31 October 1991.

South Carolina State Museum
301 Gervais Street

South Carolina’s economy has been powered by textiles since the 18th century, so it’s no surprise that the state museum’s largest artifact is the Columbia Mills building that houses the museum itself. Built between 1893 and 1894, the Columbia Mills opened as the first totally electrically powered mill in the world. It remained running until it closed in 1981, and the building was donated to the state.

South Carolina State Museum, 2010, by Abductive. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After the mill’s conversion to a museum, a ghost, nicknamed “Bubba,” was reported on the third floor. Witnesses have seen a man in overalls and boots wandering about the exhibits. Two visitors walking towards an elevator saw a man climb on just ahead of them. When they hurried to board the elevator before the doors closed, they discovered an empty car.

Author Tally Johnson posits that up to four spirits may haunt the museum. Johnson encountered one spirit near the museum’s replica of the CSS Hunley. Johnson had accompanied his god-daughter to the museum, and she had gotten away from him. Seeing a man standing near the replica, Johnson asked if he had seen the child. The man did not reply but turned and walked towards the replica where he vanished.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Palmetto State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2010.
  • Johnson, Tally. Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Postmortem Press, 2013.
  • Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the Pee Dee. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
  • National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Columbia Mills Building. Listed 24 May 1982.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cemetery
1100 Sumter Street

Among the many historic churches in the state of South Carolina, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral ranks among the most important. Sitting just across Sumter Street from the state capitol, the church has had a seat front and center to the panoply of South Carolina’s history. Modeled on York Minster Cathedral, Charleston architect Edward Brickell White designed this edifice in 1840. Construction began in 1845 with additions added throughout the 19th century.

During General Sherman’s occupation of Columbia after its surrender in 1865, fires broke out throughout the city and quickly devoured much of it. The grand statehouse across the street withstood six artillery strikes and was soon alight. While some public buildings were “put to the torch” by Sherman’s troops, there is controversy as to how many of the fires started. Legend holds that to spare the church from destruction, all signs of the church’s Episcopal denomination were removed, and papier mache crosses placed on the roof to disguise the church as Roman Catholic. Supposedly, this spared the church the fate of its neighbors.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 2018, by Farragutful. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The church’s cemetery holds the graves of some of South Carolina’s elite of the including three Confederate generals, Wade Hampton I and his son and grandson (who occupied the Hampton-Preston House), poet Henry Timrod and assorted governors. According to Jody Donnelly of Spirits and Spectres of Columbia tours, there are also ghosts under the cemetery’s ancient oaks. He tells a story of a love triangle that ended when one man shot the other. The woman ended up nursing the man who was shot, and they fell madly in love. Both were buried here, but their grave is visited by the specter of the shooter.

Sources

“Where 23 people laughed in the face of death.”—Pass Christian, MS

This is the site of the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi. This is a place where 23 people laughed in the face of death. And where 23 people died.

–Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News, August 1969

Richelieu Manor Apartments Site
Northwest Corner, Intersection of Henderson Avenue and US-90
Pass Christian, Mississippi

Considered among the most trustworthy journalists of his time, Walter Cronkite added substance to fiction as he intoned the above statement. Standing at the former site of the Richelieu Manor Apartments, a three-story apartment building that had been swept off its foundation by the storm surge from Hurricane Camille, he opened the CBS Evening News, with this tale of hubris.

Alongside the screaming headlines tracing Camille’s destructive path through the Gulf Coast was this tragic tale of 23 people partying in the face of death until the storm ripped apart their building, killing everyone. There are reports of people near this site still hearing sounds of a party, though it never really happened.

The Richelieu Manor Apartments prior to Hurricane Camille’s arrival. Courtesy of NOAA.

Today is the 46th anniversary of Hurricane Camille’s dreaded arrival on the Gulf Coast. The category 5 storm swept into Waveland, Mississippi, just west of Pass Christian, in the early morning hours of August 18, 1969. Shrieking winds heralded the arrival of what would be deemed the third most destructive hurricane to hit the country in the 20th century. It would continue its destructive path inland bringing heavy rains and destructive flooding to western and central Virginia that would result in more than 150 deaths there.

In the historic town of Pass Christian, Camille roared ashore accompanied by a massive 24.7 foot storm surge that obliterated many of the buildings facing the Gulf, including the Richelieu Manor Apartments. In the very next block, the beautiful Gothic-Revival Trinity Church sheltered 16 members of the church sexton’s family. As the surge swept in, the 1849 church collapsed under the strain of water and wind. Only three of the family members who had sought shelter there survived.

The surge left just the concrete pad and in-ground swimming pool of the Richelieu apartments covered in debris punctuated by the occasional body of a former resident and seeds of a legend.

On August 20th, the front page of Greenville, Mississippi’s Delta Democrat-Times published this story from the UPI wires:

20 out of 23 revelers died

 PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (UPI)—A police official said today that there were three known survivors in a group of 23 persons who chose to throw a party during the approach of hurricane Camille.

     Assistant Police Chief Tom Ruspoli made the disclosure in telling how he pleaded in vain for everyone to evacuate the Richelieu Apartments before Camille hurled ashore with 190 mile an hour winds.

            “Sunday evening three of us went in and told everybody in the Richelieu to get out,” Ruspoli said. “We went to the Richelieu I can’t say how many times, probably three or four.”

            “We talked to the manager and told her to have all the people evacuated.”

            Ruspoli said the second time he went to the sturdy three-story brick building the people were moving all the furnishings to the top floor.

            “There were 23 of them waiting it out on the third floor. They didn’t think they would be harmed. But we explained to them that even if the water got only to the second floor they would be cut off.”

            Of the 23, Ruspoli said, 14 were known to have died, six were missing and three were rescued from clinging from the apartment.

            “I imagine there was a little bit of drinking that did take place,” the officer said.

Much of this story was pieced together from the account of a young lady who was the lone survivor. According to her story, this young lady tells of partying in a well-stocked apartment on the third floor of the apartment building. Copious amounts of alcohol and drugs fueled the party. The young lady went to sleep with her husband only to be awakened as the walls of the building began to rend and peel away; she survived by clinging to furniture. 

The site of the apartments after Hurrican Camille’s destruction.
Courtesy of NOAA.

Sadly, this young lady’s life unraveled over the years since her miraculous survival. She was involved with alcohol and drugs and in 1982 she was found guilty of murdering her 11th husband. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, though she was paroled in 1992. Throughout her trial, her lawyers argued that her survival during the hurricane led to her mental unraveling. Of course, the other survivors from the terrible night began to surface and they’re stories were very different.

According to blogger Margie Kieper who has researched the story in depth, there were only 14 people total in the building. Eight died and six survived. Those staying in the apartments had spent the previous day securing the building against the storm. At least one elderly couple was part of that group and many of the younger people stayed in order to watch over them. While the police had told the landlord that everyone in the building should evacuate, those staying believed that the building was strong enough to survive. It had been deemed a fallout shelter and little did they know that the apartment building’s shoddy construction would not withstand the power of Camille. Those remaining were too tired from their preparations to party; they were simply guilty of making the bad decision to remain.

Author Bud Steed notes in his Haunted Mississippi Gulf Coast that stories of paranormal activity at the site began to circulate in the 1970s and 1980s. He spoke with one woman who reported hearing the sounds of a party in the early 1980s. She heard laughter, music and the clinking of glasses which evolved into screams and the sounds of glass breaking. Steed posits that it’s very difficult to know if this is truly paranormal or the product of overactive imaginations. Regardless, the activity and legend still stands as a testament to the many lives that were tragically cut short here.

The site was later developed into a strip mall which was destroyed by the powerful storm surge from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Sources

Montgomery, Alabama’s Haunted Five

N.B. This article was edited and revised 18 May 2019.

Alabama’s state capital, Montgomery, appears to play second fiddle to Birmingham, the largest city in the state. But Montgomery has a complex history that has put it often at the forefront of many historical movements in the South. Starting as a frontier trading post, the city served as the first capital of the young Confederacy until the rebel government moved to Richmond, Virginia.

After the Civil War, the city became known for technological achievements in the form of an electric trolley system, and in 1910, a flying school opened by the Wright brothers. In the mid-20th century, the city’s sad racial history placed it at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement presenting us with a mighty lion in the form of a petite seamstress named Rosa Parks.

bird's eye view of Montgomery Alabama ghosts haunted Southern ghosts
1887 Bird’s Eye View of Montgomery by H. C. Davidson.

Paranormally speaking, the city has a fascinating panoply of spirits, many of which have been covered in two recent books: Faith Serafin’s Haunted Montgomery and Shawn Sellers and Jake Bell’s Montgomery: A City Haunted by History, both published in 2013.

Capital Towers Apartments
7 Clayton Street, private

On February 7, 1967, fire ravaged the swanky restaurant on the top floor of this building. Dale’s Penthouse restaurant was one of the most fashionable dining options at the time in Montgomery. As the fire broke out on this frigid February night, rapidly moving flames blocked the elevator and the stairwell, trapping and killing 26 patrons including several well-known politicians and local personalities. While some conspiracy theories exist as to the origin of the fire, the official explanation points to a lit pipe left in a coat pocket.

haunted Capital towers apartment building Montgomery Alabama Dale's Penthouse fire ghosts haunted Southern ghosts
The headline of the Montgomery Advertiser on 8 February 1967 report the fire at Dale’s Penthouse.
Capitol Towers Apartments Montgomery Alabama haunted
Capitol Towers Apartments in October of 2016. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The building itself only received slight damage and the penthouse that once housed the restaurant is now a private residence. Former residents of the building have reported hearing screams of “help,” while residents in the penthouse have spotted misty, black forms. Shawn Sellers notes that passersby near the building have smelled smoke and heard screams coming from near the top floor.

Sources

Chris’s Hot Dogs
138 Dexter Avenue

While the hot dogs are legendary around these parts, the good food is not the only reason Montgomery citizens still flock to Chris’ Hot Dogs, it’s the atmosphere; an atmosphere still punctuated by spirits. Founded in 1917 as the Post Office Café, this restaurant has become an institution in its 98 years of business. For three decades, this café was a popular late night hotspot serving hot dogs and liquor and attracting the likes of country singer, Hank Williams.

Chris' Hot Dogs Montgomery Alabama ghosts haunted Southern ghosts
Chris’ Hot Dogs, 2016, photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Shawn Sellers and his investigation team explored the restaurant and discovered that the staff has countless stories about employees still working their shifts from beyond the grave. Perhaps Hank Williams can be heard still singing under the green and white striped awning?

Sources

  • Cumuze, Greg. “My Immutable Heaven.” Chris’ Hot Dogs History. Accessed 26 May 2015.
  • Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History. Shawn Sellers, 2013.

Downtown Montgomery’s Lady in White

Dexter Avenue fountain Montgomery Alabama Lady in White ghosts haunted Southern ghosts
Montgomery’s main street, Dexter Avenue, from the fountain looking up towards the state capitol on Goat Hill, 2016. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

The identity of this mysterious woman is unknown, but her apparition is quite frightening. Seen throughout downtown Montgomery, the Lady in White is dressed entirely in white with long and dark hair and animal-like, ferocious teeth. In a 2013 article, Shawn Sellers is quoted as saying, “She’s actually the most reported ghost of anywhere in downtown Montgomery. She’s always seen outside. She’s never looking at anybody. She’s just always walking up the street, and people say they feel her before they see her. She’s just a creepy, creepy energy.”

Sources

  • Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History. Shawn Sellers, 2013.
  • Sutton, Amber. “Ghosts, curses and more: Take a walk on the supernatural side with Haunted Montgomery Tours.” AL.com. 2 Oct 2013.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum
919 Felder Street

In Fitzgerald’s classic novel of the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan remarks on the birth of her daughter, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Some suspect that Fitzgerald’s Montgomery-born wife, Zelda, may have made a similar remark on the birth of their daughter. Zelda, whose zest for life strongly influenced her husband as well as legions of young women, lived her life as the epitome of the “foolish” Flapper.

Zelda and her husband lived in this house for a scant five months—October 1931 to February 1932—but during that time F. Scott Fitzgerald completed his novel, Tender is the Night, while Zelda outlined her one and only novel, Save Me the Waltz. The house was saved from demolition in 1986, and later opened as a museum to the literary couple. The upper floor of the house now has several private apartments, and residents there have reported hearing faint jazz music and disembodied footsteps. The museum’s director has reported that Zelda’s “foolish” spirit has remained active in the house and is believed to be the spirit responsible for flinging a painting from the wall while a staff member watched.

Sources

  • Curnutt, Kirk. “Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 15 Mar 2007.
  • Herbert, Katherine. “Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 14 Aug 2014.
  • Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History. Shawn Sellers, 2013.
  • Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium
200 Coosa Street

Home to the Montgomery Biscuits, the city’s minor league baseball team, Riverwalk Stadium is located on the site of a former Civil War prisoner of war camp. During the war, this site was occupied by a cotton warehouse. After the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862, Union prisoners were housed in the warehouse in reportedly deplorable conditions until they were moved to Tuscaloosa in December of that year. Faith Serafin notes that some 200 prisoners died while in captivity at this site.

Riverwalk Stadium Montgomery Alabama ghosts haunted Southern ghosts
The field at Riverwalk Stadium, 2008. Photo by markcbrennan, courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to Shawn Sellers, before groundbreaking took place for the ballpark, this site was occupied by a hotel. Maids would sometimes find rooms disturbed after they had cleaned them, while guests observed mysterious figures in their rooms. After the hotel closed, the building was occupied by offices where similar activity was reported. The stadium may host activity including shadow figures, the sounds of weeping and screaming, and the occasional apparition.

Sources

  • Sellers, Shawn & Jake Bell. Montgomery: A City Haunted by History. Shawn Sellers, 2013.
  • Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Other Montgomery Hauntings

Several other Montgomery hauntings have been covered elsewhere in this blog. Coverage of Alabama’s State Capitol Building can be found in my “Southern Spirit Guide to Haunted Alabama.” Two locations at Huntingdon College have been covered: Houghton Memorial Library in my “Guide to the Haunted Libraries of the South –Alabama,” and Pratt Hall as the representative haunting for Montgomery County in my “Alabama Hauntings–County by County, Part VI.”

Night Nurse on Duty—Key West, Florida

Eduardo H. Gato House
1209 Virginia Street
Key West, Florida

A registered nurse who occupied a first floor apartment in this house in 1976 was awakened in the middle of the night. “I leaped with my hands over my face to protect myself. A white sort of energy was crossing from one end of the room to the other. I had the feeling of being invaded—that something that was not me was in the room.”

Gato House Key West Florida former hospital ghosts haunted
The Mercedes Hospital in the 1920s. Photo from the Monroe County Library Collection.

Some years later in another apartment, another woman was sleeping next to her boyfriend when she was suddenly awakened. “Something had touched her. She saw a short, stoutish woman at her bedside. The woman’s hair was in a bun, and she was wearing a grey dress with long sleeves and a high collar. Next to her was a man.” The figures seemed to be conferring about her as she lay in bed. The sleeper realized after a few moments that the woman was holding her wrist, checking her pulse.

Yet another woman in an apartment in the building experienced the ethereal nurse more recently. She had been sick with the flu and in bed for the day when she was started awake by something cold on her forehead. Waking, she found a nurse standing over her with her hand on her forehead while checking her pulse. She tried to scream and pull away but could not. The spirit quickly faded.

Gato House Key West Florida former hospital ghosts haunted
Courtyard of the Gato House in 1966 after the home’s conversion to apartments. Taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The spirit, however, returned the next evening. After hearing about the spirit from another women living in the building, the woman was not so frightened. The woman addressed the spirit and said that while she appreciated the attention, she was frightened. “She took a step back from the bed, gave me an understanding smile and faded away.”

This large, grand home was not built to house the sick and the dying. It was a grand home for cigar magnate Eduardo Gato. At the outbreak of the Ten Years’ War—the first of three wars fought as Cuba tried to break away from Spain—Key West was filled with Cuban émigrés who built up the cigar-making industry on the island.

Eduardo Gato built the home around 1890 possibly using Cuban carpenters though he only lived in the house for a few years before returning to Cuba in 1898. The building was briefly used as a school, and then in 1911, the house opened as the Casa del Pobre (Home for the Poor) Mercedes Hospital.

Named for Eduardo Gato’s wife, the Mercedes Hospital was opened by Maria Valdez de Gutsens and a handful of other ladies who had been concerned with medical care for the poor and indigent. She was known around town as a marvelous fundraiser and personally collected money to keep the hospital running. Gutsens would haunt the exits of the local cigar factories on pay day asking for quarters for her beloved hospital.

While she was only an administrator, Gutsens aided the hospital’s small medical staff in their duties when needed. From 1911 until her death in 1941, Gutsens was a constant fixture in the hospital. She may still be there.

Gato House Key West Florida former hospital ghosts haunted
Gato House, 2011 by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The tale is told that just a few months after her death a patient was in the hospital with severe pneumonia. Not being in contact with his wife and children the man pleaded for help writing to his family. An older woman appeared at his bedside and calmly wrote the letter the man dictated. Feeling better the next morning, he asked who the kindly woman was so that he could offer his thanks. The night nurse insisted that she was the only person who had been on duty and she was shocked to see the letter the man had dictated in the hand of the late Maria de Gutsens.

A year after Gutsen’s death, the hospital closed its doors and cockfights were held in the building’s Spanish courtyard. The large home then was renovated into an apartment building and remains so to this day. Tenants still encounter the grey shade of the good Maria de Gutsens checking the pulses of the living while Dr. Fogarty—one of the many doctors who served the hospital—stands quietly by.

Sources

  • “Ghost of Nurse Haunts Key West House.” Playground Daily News. 4 November 1976.
  • Eyman, Scott. “Ghost Houses in Old Key West, The Walls Have Ears— And Eyes. Here Are Four Guests Whose Names You Won’t See on The Register. But They’re There.” Sun-Sentinel. 4 August 1985.
  • McCoy, Charles E., Jr. Report on Eduardo H. Gato House for the Historic American Buildings Survey. 16 Septrember 1966.
  • Sloan, David. Ghosts of Key West. Key West, FL: Phantom Press, 1998.
  • Williams, Joy. The Florida Keys: A History and Guide, 10th NYC: Random House, 2010.