Throughout the South, there are many places where you can sip with spirits. This guide covers all of the bars that I have explored in the pages of this blog over the years. Not only have I included independent bars, but breweries, wineries, and restaurants and hotels with bars as well.
Bella’s Fine Dining (located in the haunted Colby Building), 111 West Troy Street, Dothan
Several years before I started this blog in 2010, a series of articles by George Eberhart about haunted libraries was published in the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog. This comprehensive list, still up on the now defunct blog, covers perhaps a few hundred libraries throughout the world with a concentration on the United States. After perusing the list and noting the many Southern libraries missing from the list, I’ve decided to create my own list here.
Like theatres, it seems that every good library has its own ghost. George Eberhart argues that there are two reasons for libraries to be haunted: one, that the library inhabits a building that may have been the scene of a tragedy, or two, that the library may be haunted by a former librarian or benefactor who may continue to watch over it.
Apparently, the Biloxi Public Library is not haunted, but it contains several haunted books. The books were donated in 2014 and the donor contacted the library a short time later to let them know that he and his family believed there was a spirit associated with them.
The donor told the library’s director that his wife acquired the books in the 1960s. For many years, the family had encounters with a female wraith. The director related to the Sun Herald what the gentleman told her, “They would be asleep, then wake up and see the figure of a woman with long, dark hair and what looked like a gauze-like dress. She would hover. When the person woke up, and the apparition startled them, it would disappear.”
While the library still has the books in its collections, no one has been approached by a hovering apparition.
Smith, Tammy. “17 Coast ghost stories that will creep you out.” Sun Herald. 26 October 2016.
Lee County Library 219 North Madison Avenue Tupelo
George Eberhart includes this library in his Britannica Blog article that was the inspiration for this series. Besides his listing, I cannot locate any further information about this haunting. According to Eberhart, this library, which occupies a 1971 building, sits on the site of the home of politician John Mills Allen. The library’s Mississippi Room utilizes elements from Allen’s home. Books are sometimes found on the floor and turn up missing from the book drop for which the spirit of Allen is blamed.
Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library 2517 7th Avenue Meridian
In 2008, a janitor working alone in the Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library had a frightening experience. He was sitting down in the second-floor breakroom when he heard a feminine voice call his name. After searching the building for the mysterious woman, he discovered that he was totally alone.
Staff members have had many odd and creepy experiences in the library. A director reported hearing the elevator ding while he was working late alone in the building. When he investigated, he discovered that the elevator had not moved and there was no reason for the elevator to have dinged. He has also reported feeling a distinct chill accompanied by a feeling of uneasiness. Other staff members have heard voices and the crying of a child here, though no one has seen the spirit.
The library was built in 1967 in the International style that was en vogue at the time. The turn of the century home of A. J. Lyons was demolished to make way for the new library. Lyons’ wife, Josephine, committed suicide in the home. Some have posited that she may be the spirit in the library, though others believe that the spirit may be the shade of Jeanne Broach, the former head librarian. A stern, no-nonsense woman who fit the mold of the classic librarian, Ms. Broach served as head librarian from 1945 to 1975. Perhaps she continues to make sure that the library steadily fulfills its mission.
At the behest of the local newspaper, the Meridian Star, an investigation was conducted of the library in 2008. With author Alan Brown, investigators probed the entire library, but the evidence of a haunting was inconclusive.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Meridian, Mississippi. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Jacob, Jennifer. “Haunted places of East Mississippi and West Alabama: Meridian-Lauderdale County Public Library.” Meridian Star. 20 October 2008.
Noxubee County Library 103 East King Street Macon
Occupying the old Noxubee County Jail, the library still retains some of the jail’s fittings as well as some of its spirits. See my article, “A Mississippi Dante—Noxubee County.”
Rowan Oak 916 Old Taylor Road Oxford
N.B. Originally published as part of “Haunted Mississippi,” 27 January 2011.
“Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished.” — William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
If the theory holds, residual hauntings are just this, something that happens but is never finished; a haunting where the dead still walk, cry, talk, or laugh among the living. These things are still heard at Rowan Oak the former home of perhaps the greatest, most complicated and certainly most haunted of Southern writers, William Faulkner. The house was built around 1840 by Colonel Robert Shegog and purchased by Faulkner in 1930.
The deteriorated state of the house matched the deteriorated condition of the rural South even over half a century after the Civil War. Faulkner, habitually low on money, performed much of the restoration himself. He and his wife experienced odd occurrences in the house and he explained it with the legend of Shegog’s daughter, Judith who he said died trying to sneak out of the house for a tryst with her lover. Researchers, however, have discovered that Judith never existed, but odd sounds still resonate through the old house. Perhaps they are the sounds of life that is unfinished?
While Rowan Oak is not technically a library, it is a literary shrine and Faulkner’s own personal library is preserved within this building.
Hubbard, Sylvia Booth. Ghosts! Personal Accounts of Modern Mississippi Hauntings. Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge Press, 1992.
Rettig, Polly M. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Rowan Oak. 30 March 1976.
1905 City Hall
300 South Second Street
Bay St. Louis
N.B. This was originally published 3 June 2014 as part of “Louisiana and Mississippi: Newsworthy Haunts–6/3/14.”
Two hurricanes, Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005, wrecked much of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi including its graceful 1905 city hall. Camille, which made landfall next door in Waveland, blew off the building’s cupola and Katrina also severely damaged the building when it made landfall nearby. Since its restoration, something else may be occasionally wreaking havoc inside the building.
Originally, the building housed the mayor’s office, city council chambers, police department, and jail. Over the years, many city departments have occupied the building which, after Katrina’s destructive blow to the city, required extensive restoration. After its Georgian splendor was restored in 2014, the building now houses offices with a Greek and Italian restaurant, Mezzo Mezzo (formerly Sonny’s Cypress Café), occupying the entire first floor. It is here, where the old jail was once located, that quite a bit of paranormal activity has been experienced.
An article from a local TV station, WLOX, quotes a restaurant staff member as saying, “We’ve had a lot of things move around, we’ve had glasses fly around. Doors just open and close real quick, and all of our doors have safety mechanisms which [means] you can’t actually open them. There’s just so many things that happened here on a regular basis that just didn’t seem normal.” A staff member interviewed by G-COM, states that mason jars and glasses sometimes fly off the counter and shatter on the floor.
After initially attempting to ignore the activity, the owner and staff decided to call in a paranormal team. G-COM (Ghost Chasers of Mississippi), investigated and captured evidence of three possible spirits in 2014. They produced a video of their investigation which was posted on YouTube. The investigation yielded a number of EVP and some fruitful flashlight sessions.
For the café’s owner, however, the spirits are not fearsome, “nothing bad has really happened, it’s really kind of cool,” she said.
Stories point to an incident in 1928 which may provide the origin of some of the building’s activity. That year, a man incarcerated in the jail shot his way to freedom, killing a man in the process. After he was recaptured, the prisoner became the last person executed by hanging in Hancock County, when he was hung in the Hancock County Courthouse a short distance away. That building may also be haunted by his restless spirit.
Belcher, Geoff. “Old Town ‘Haunt’—Paranormal investigators probe historic Bay building.” The Seacoast Echo. 4 April 2014.
Dunleith 84 Homochitto Street Natchez, Mississippi
Benjamin Franklin proclaimed that both fish and visitors smell after three days. So, what if the guest has yet to vacate the house after more than 150 years? The answer at Dunleith is that the guest enters legend and remains to occasionally disturb visitors, guests, and staff members.
Crowning a low hill rising above Homochitto Street, Dunleith takes the form of an ancient Greek temple with columns completely surrounding the main house and providing an exquisite view from any direction. The current house was built after the original house—a late-18th century structure—burned in 1855 after being struck by lightning.
Job Routh built the first home and named the estate Routhlands. After his death, the estate passed to Routh’s daughter, Mary, who married a wealthy, local banker, Charles G. Dahlgren, before they moved into the house. Dahlgren had the current structure built to replace the original house. In 1858, three months after the couple moved into the new home, Mary passed away and, in accordance with his wife’s wishes, Dahlgren sold the house dividing the proceeds among their children. After the 1859 purchase, the new owner renamed the estate Dunleith.
The exact identity of the spectral houseguest is unknown, and she is only known as Miss Percy. Folklorist Kathryn Tucker Windham included Miss Percy’s legend in her 1974 book, 13 Mississippi Ghosts and Jeffrey, and suggests that she was a relative of Mary Routh Dahlgren. This is a possibility. Mary Malvina Routh was born in 1813 and married Thomas Percy Ellis at the age of 15. She had two children by the handsome and educated Mr. Ellis, but he passed ten years after their marriage.
Among the graves in the Routh family cemetery near the Dunleith property—where Thomas Percy Ellis rests—and within the Natchez City Cemetery—where Mary Dahlgren and her second husband rest—there are no graves bearing the surname Percy, though there are a few that use the name Percy. Therefore, it is possible Miss Percy may have been related to Mrs. Dahlgren from her first marriage, though her exact identity remains unknown.
The legend, as it is commonly recounted, describes Miss Percy as a young woman who ran afoul of the social mores of the time by falling in love. In a time of strict marital customs, Miss Percy began an affair with a dashing Frenchman. Some suggest he was an aristocrat who was part of the entourage of Louis Philippe, the French king who spent time in Natchez on his grand tour of the South before attaining the throne. After saying farewell to her lover, Miss Percy traveled to France, unaccompanied, to be reunited with him. She spent time as a member of the French court and lived a life of luxury, though the man eventually declined to marry the young woman from Mississippi. Socially ruined, she returned to Natchez as a lonely spinster to live out her days with relatives at Dunleith, where she would play her harp for hours each day still dreaming of her lover in France.
While some legends of this type tend to enjoy vague descriptions of activity that “is said” to occur, this activity has witnesses. An article in a 1983 edition of the Hattiesburg American records the stories from a cook, Ella Mae Green, who worked in the house. In fact, Ms. Green states that she almost did not take the job because of the ghost, but Dunleith’s owner convinced her to stay.
Ms. Green provides a visual description of Miss Percy, “she usually came in bones [I presume this means she had a skeletal appearance], but the third time she was wearing a long white gown.” She continued, “you can’t see her face—like smoke around it. She doesn’t talk, just watches, but you can tell she’s unhappy. She died with an unhappy heart.” The cook emphasizes later that the spirit’s face is obscured, saying, “You can’t see her face, but it looks like she has eyes.” According to Ms. Green, the wraith usually stays on the third floor where she can remain undisturbed, but she makes occasional appearances throughout the house including playing her harp in the parlor and making the sound of breaking glass.
While Dunleith’s most famous houseguest continues to roam the main house, she is not the only spectral guest on the estate. Since the mid-1970s, the estate has opened its doors to guests as an inn and the Gothic Revival carriage house has been transformed into a fine dining establishment, The Castle Restaurant and Pub. Staff of the restaurant have had encounters with three spirits in this building including a shadowy man, a woman, and an African-American laborer. While stories of these three spectral guests may be more modern, their stories have been lost in the shroud of time and legend, and none will ever outshine the everlasting, harp-playing, spectral houseguest reigning over the main house evermore.
Brooking, Ann. “Ghost of Dunleith died of an unhappy heart.” Hattiesburg American. 19 October 1983.
Dunleith. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 18 March 2018.
Goeldner, Paul. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Dunleith. Listed 14 September 1972.
Kane, Harnett Thomas. Natchez on the Mississippi. Originally published in 1947. Republished as an eBook by Pickle Partners Publishing, 2016.
‘Twas the night before Halloween and all through the blog, little was stirring…
This move from Blogger to this new site has been tedious and time-consuming. I’ve tossed out a great deal of junky posts and put many posts aside that need to be updated and refreshed leaving me with many bits and pieces that should be republished in a different context. This is a selection of recycled pieces for Halloween.
East Coast/West Coast 138 St. George Street St. Augustine, Florida
This modest commercial building once housed Kixie’s Men’s Store and some odd activity. The shop employed a young tailor, Kenneth Beeson who would later serve as mayor for the city. While working late one evening he noticed a door opening by itself followed by the sweet scent of funereal flowers. After experiencing odd activity for a while, Beeson put out a tape recorder and set it to record just before he left. When he returned the following morning, he was shocked to discover a plethora of sounds including marching feet and guttural growls. Disturbed by these incidents, Beeson had a priest exorcise the building. The activity ceased.
Cain, Suzy & Dianne Jacoby. A Ghostly Experience: Tales of St. Augustine, Florida. City Gate Productions, 1997.
Lapham, Dave. Ghosts of St. Augustine. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 1997.
Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel Chetoogeta Mountain Tunnel Hill, Georgia
As the railroad spread its tentacles throughout the nation before the tumult of the Civil War, a route was needed from Augusta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Numerous obstacles stood in the way, but the biggest was Chetoogeta Mountain. Plans for a railroad tunnel dated to the second half of the 1830s, but work did not commence until 1848 with work completed two years later. The new tunnel was instrumental in Atlanta’s growth as a railroad hub and was a strategic feature for the Confederacy to protect during the Civil War.
The tunnel’s strategic importance led to a series of skirmishes being fought here leading up to the Battle of Atlanta. Following the war, the tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel was built a few yards away. The old tunnel became overgrown with kudzu and was largely forgotten until 1992 when preservationists fought to save the tunnel. It is now the centerpiece of a park that features reenactments of the skirmishes fought at the site.
It is often re-enactors who have encountered anything supernatural at the site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of documented accounts of spirits at Tunnel Hill. At least four books and a handful of good articles document the high levels of activity at this site. Accounts include the apparitions of soldiers seen both inside the tunnel and around it. Ghostly campfires, disembodied screams, spectral lantern light and the smell of rotting flesh (minus the presence of actual rotting flesh) have all been reported by re-enactors and visitors alike.
DeFeo, Todd. “Antebellum railroad tunnel still a marvel after all These years.” com. 22 June 2009.
Kotarski, Georgiana C. Ghosts of the Southern Tennessee Valley. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006.
Underwood, Corinna. Haunted History: Atlanta and North Georgia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel. Tunnel Hill Heritage Center. Accessed 28 November 2010.
Old Talbott Tavern 107 West Stephen Foster Avenue Bardstown, Kentucky
Continuously open since the late 18th century except for a period in the late 1990s when the tavern was being renovated following a disastrous fire, the Old Talbott Tavern has hosted an impressive array of visitors ranging from Daniel Boone to General George Patton. Perhaps one of the famous guests who has never checked out is outlaw Jesse James who stayed frequently in the tavern while visiting his cousin who was the local sheriff. With the claims of Jesse James’ spirit which may also roam the halls of Selma, Alabama’s St. James Hotel, James’ spirit may split the hereafter between two favorite locales. But James’ spirit is not the only spirit acting up in the Old Talbott Tavern. Other ghosts may include formers guests, owners and their families.
Old Louisiana State Capitol 100 North Boulevard Baton Rouge, Louisiana
When the state capitol was moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1846, the city donated land atop a bluff over the Mississippi for the capitol building. Architect James Dakin designed a Neo-Gothic building very much unlike the other state capitols which were often modeled on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The magnificent crenellated and be-towered structure was used as a prison and garrison for soldiers under the city’s Union occupation and during this time it caught fire twice leaving it a soot-stained shell by the war’s end. The building was reconstructed in 1882 but abandoned in 1932 for Governor Huey Long’s new state capitol.
Even before the capitol burned during the war, there was a ghost gliding through its halls. Pierre Couvillon, a legislator representing Avoyelles Parish, enraged by his colleagues’ corruption, suffered a heart attack and died. Though he was buried in his home parish, his spirit was said to reside in the capitol; perhaps checking up on his colleagues. When the capitol building underwent restoration in the 1990s, the spirit or spirits in the building were stirred up and activity has increased. Staff members and visitors have reported odd occurrences. One security guard watched as movement detectors were set off through a series of rooms while nothing was seen on the video.
Two organizations investigated the building in 2009 and uncovered much evidence. Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations picked up a number of interesting EVPs including someone singing the old song, “You Are My Sunshine.” Everyday Paranormal, in their investigation had a few encounters in the basement of the building, the area used as a prison during the Union occupation. It seems that there are many spirits within the crenellated walls of the Old Capitol.
Duvernay, Adam. “Several Baton Rouge sites said to be haunted.” The Daily Reveille. 27 October 2009.
Dwyer, Jeff. Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2007.
Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, LA. Accessed 11 November 2011.
Southeastern Students. “Old State Capitol Still Occupied by Former Ghosts.” com. 29 October 2009.
Jericho Covered Bridge Jericho Road at Little Gunpowder Falls Harford County Near Jerusalem, Maryland
Straddling the county line between Harford County and Baltimore County over the Little Gunpowder Falls is the Jericho Covered Bridge, constructed in 1865. According to Ed Okonowicz in his Haunted Maryland, there are legends of people seeing slaves hanging from the rafters inside this nearly 88-foot bridge. Certainly, there is an issue with this as the bridge was constructed in 1865, after the end of both slavery and the Civil War. Other, more realistic legends, speak of a woman seen on the bridge wearing old-fashioned clothing and people having their cars stop inexplicably in the middle of the bridge.
Varhola, Michael J. and Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
Corinth Battlefield Corinth, Mississippi
Following the Confederate’s disastrous attack in April of 1862 on the Union forces at Shiloh, Tennessee (for a battle description see my entry on the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans), the Union army laid siege for two days to the vital railroad town of Corinth, just over the state line. To save his army from annihilation, General P.T.G. Beauregard gave the appearance of reinforcement troops arriving and being put in place while efficiently moving his troops out of the city to nearby Tupelo. The Union army entered the city the following day to find it devoid of Confederates. In October of the same year, Confederates tried once again and failed to capture the city losing some 4,000 men (including dead, wounded and missing) in the process.
The battlefield on which these two battles were fought is now incorporated into the mid-sized city of Corinth. Portions of the battlefield and earthworks are now preserved as the Corinth unit of Shiloh National Military Park. As one might expect, some of those portions have spiritual artifacts remaining. Some of the best stories from Civil War battlefields come from re-enactors who have experiences while re-enacting battles and one of the primary reports of ghosts from the Corinth battlefield comes from a re-enactor whose story was documented by Alan Brown. This particular re-enactor heard the sound of a phantom cavalry and a few nights later, the sound of someone rummaging through her tent while camping on the battlefield.
Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
North Carolina Zoological Park 4401 Zoo Parkway Asheboro, North Carolina
North Carolina lawyer and folklorist Daniel Barefoot has done much to preserve North Carolina and Southern legends and ghost stories in his books. His series, North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred provides a single ghost story or legend from each of the state’s one hundred counties. From Randolph County, smack dab in the middle of the state, comes the legend of the aptly named, Purgatory Mountain, now home to the NC Zoo. The state-owned zoo is the largest walk-through habitat zoos in the world and a major attraction in the region.
During the Civil War, much of rural North Carolina was resistant to seceding from the Union and, as a result, the state was the final state to secede. Still, many citizens, including the peaceable Quakers of Randolph County resisted joining the butternut ranks. Recruiters were sent to these areas to nudge and sometimes force the inhabitants to join. One particular recruiter in this area earned the nickname, “The Hunter,” for his harsh methods. He rounded up a group of Quaker boys, tied them roughly and marched them to Wilmington to join the army, but a few escaped and returned, bedraggled to their rural homes. When the recruiter returned, this group of escaped boys shot him outside of his cabin at Purgatory Mountain. His malevolent spirit is still supposedly stalking the crags of his mountain home.
Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
Carter House 1140 Columbia Avenue Franklin, Tennessee
By some accounts, the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Some historians have even deemed it the “Gettysburg of the South.” Fought right on the edge of the town of Franklin, the battle hit very close to the home front and absolutely hammered the farm of the Carter family which was located at the center of the main defensive line. During the furious fighting, the Carters, neighbors and slaves cowered in the basement of the house, emerging after the battle to witness the carnage spread through their yard and around their house. The house and outbuildings still bear bullet holes, attesting to their experience.
Fanny Courtney Carter, who was 8 years old when the battle overtook her family’s farm, later recalled the day following the battle: “Early the next morning after the Battle I went to the field. The sight was dreadful. It seemed I could scarcely move for fear of stepping on men either dead or wounded. Some were clod and stiff, others with the lifeblood ebbing out, unconscious of all around, while others were writing in agony and calling ‘Water! Water!’ I can hear them even now.” Fanny’s brother, Tod, who had enlisted in the Confederate army was found some yards from the house, his body riddled with eight bullets, but still clinging to life. The family brought him into the parlor of his home where he died on December 2.
The pastoral fields that once surrounded the Carter House as well as the town of Franklin that saw so much blood that November day have mostly been lost to development though the spiritual imprint of the battle is still felt throughout the city. The spirit of Tod Carter may be one of the more active spirits at the Carter House. He has been seen sitting on the edge of the bed where he may have died and according to Alan Brown, he took a tour of the house, correcting the tour guide when she didn’t use the correct name or date and disappearing before he and the guide could descend to the basement.
Apparently he’s not the only lingering spirit. Poltergeist activity in the house has been attributed to Tod’s sister, Annie. Objects have moved from room to room and one visitor on a tour watched a figurine that jumped up and down.
Battle of Franklin (2009). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena Of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
Rockledge Mansion 440 Mill Street Occoquan, Virginia
The town website for Occoquan (pronounced OK-oh-qwahn), Virginia states that the city, “has an inordinate amount of spooks per capita” and then goes on to list a number of locations in the town with ghosts. Among this remarkable collection of haunted locations is the magnificent Georgian mansion, Rockledge, which commands a literal rock ledge above Mill Street. The town was founded in the mid-eighteenth century as a port on the Occoquan River and during the Civil War this northern Virginia town served as a post office between the North and the South.
Quite possibly the work of colonial architect, William Buckland, Rockledge was built in 1758 by local industrialist John Ballandine. In the yard of this house the ghost of a Confederate soldier has been seen and possibly heard. One witness saw the soldier then noticed peculiar wet footprints on the front steps that appeared to be from hobnail boots, the kind that would have been worn by soldiers during the war. Many people have heard loud footsteps in the house as well as someone knocking at the door. So far, no source has identified this soldier.
Streng, Aileen. “Benevolent ghost believed to haunt mansion.” com. 27 October 2010.
Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Rockledge Mansion. Listed 25 June 1973.
Berkeley Castle WV-9 Berkeley Springs
Berkeley Springs, also known as “Bath,” has attracted visitors who come to take the waters of the mineral springs located there. Overlooking this quaint town from a commanding position on Warm Spring Mountain sits Berkeley Castle, seemingly a piece of medieval Britain transplanted. Modeled and named after Britain’s own Berkeley Castle, the castle was built as a wedding gift from Colonel Samuel Suit for his bride, Rosa Pelham. The Colonel, who was quite a bit older than his bride, died before the castle was finished and his widow finished the building. She lived in the castle after his death and squandered the fortune she inherited and died penniless well away from the castle, but legends speak of her return.
The castle was purchased by paranormal investigators in 2000 but sold fairly shortly after that. Once open for tours, the castle is now primarily a private residence, though it may be rented for weddings, parties and other events.
Fischer, Karin. “Castle in Eastern Panhandle could be in need of a new lord this spring.” Charleston (WV) Daily Mail. 21 November 2000.
History Berkeley Castle. Berkeley Castle. Accessed 19 March 2011.
Robinson, James Foster. A Ghostly Guide to West Virginia. Winking Eye Books, 2008.
The feast is done, the table has been cleared, the guests have left, the spirits have quietly returned to their rest, and the veil between our world and the next has been restored. This season has been great for articles about the haunted South so, I’m wrapping up this Southern Feast of All Souls with a look at some of the new (to me) haunted places that were covered in the news media.
Colby Building 191 North Foster Street Dothan, Alabama
An investigator from Circle City Ghost Hunters said of the Colby Building in downtown Dothan, “Somebody once upon a time put their heart and soul in the building.” Perhaps that soul is still here. According to an October 29th article in the Dothan Eagle, this group investigated the building after numerous reports of paranormal activity in the building surfaced.
While working on my recent book about haunted Alabama, I had a heck of a time trying to find anything on the Dothan area. As the seventh largest city in the state by population, there should be more information on hauntings in the area, sadly there was nothing reliable. Therefore, I was rather excited to see this article appear. The Colby Building was built in 1938 as a J.C. Penney’s Department Store and has since hosted a number of businesses. The building was redeveloped by a private/public partnership in 2008 and currently houses two restaurants, Colby’s on North Foster Street and Bella’s in the back of the building on West Troy Street.
Employees and guests have had experiences in the building including things moving on their own and seeing figures. Others have had their names called and the employees have nicknamed the spirit “’Rachel’ because all kinds of crazy stuff happened.” (I’m presuming this a reference to the television show Friends.) The owner of the restaurants was delighted to host an investigation when Circle City Ghost Hunters inquired about investigating there. The article notes that the activity is explained by a story involving the death of a young woman on the building’s third floor in the 1950s.
N.B. As of 2019, it appears that Colby’s has closed, though Bella’s remains open.
Ingram, Debbie. “Plans unveiled for $2.4 million Penney building project.” Dothan Eagle. 18 August 2008.
Suntan Arts Center (Don Vicente Building) 3300 Gulf Boulevard St. Pete Beach, Florida
Adjoining the Don CeSar Beach Resort, a palatial pink Jazz Age dream, is the Don Vicente Building which was built just prior to the grand hotel to serve as offices during the construction. Over the years, the building has seen many incarnations serving as offices for the hotel, a bank, and even a firehouse. The building has housed the 50 year old Suntan Arts Center for many years. The center provides classes and support for the local arts community.
The center hosted a ghost tour this year highlighting the paranormal activity that has been experienced in the building. For many years people here have encountered the spirit of a man in a white suit. As this building did serve as an office for Thomas Rowe, the hotel’s founder, this spirit has been identified as him. During an investigation of the building in 2013 by SPIRITS of St. Petersburg, the group got a response when Rowe’s name was mentioned. Besides Mr. Rowe’s white-suited spirit there may be other spirits here as well.
“Self-guided ghost tour departs from Suntan Arts Center.” TBN Weekly. 28 September 2015.
Porter Hall, a residence hall on the campus of Mercer University, one of the oldest private universities in Georgia, possibly has something mysterious residing on its fourth floor. One student reported that she “heard things like chairs being dragged across the pine, like a hard pine floor.” The fourth floor is not accessible to students and used for storage. Reportedly, only the dorm’s resident advisor has access. When students complain of noise from that floor, the resident advisor will check it out and find the floor empty of living beings.
Westover Terrace (private) 905 West Main Street Richmond, Kentucky
When the current owners of Westover Terrace began restoration on the house after they acquired it in 1995, the house was severely dilapidated and vandals had defaced parts of the interior. A pentagram had been painted upstairs, walls and windows had been smashed, and the mantelpieces and radiators had been stolen. Local kids occasionally prowled the creepy house in search of ghosts in this former funeral home. The new owners did not realize they acquired ghosts with this magnificent 1881 home.
As work progressed, the owners and contractors began to have odd experiences including loud crashes and bangs that sounded like sledge hammers being used and heavy furniture being moved. The voice of a little girl was heard asking workers what they were doing and warning them on occasion. While doing repair work on a staircase, one particular board was removed several times. After the owner used a hydraulic nail gun to attach the it, the board disappeared entirely. When the owners finally moved into the home in 2005, the activity seemed to quiet down. Evidently, the ghosts are pleased with the renovations. This is a private home, please respect the owners’ privacy and observe the house from the street.
Green Light Bridge Green Light Road Winnsboro, Louisiana
An article about Louisiana hauntings from the Shreveport Times highlighted this very interesting location near Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in the northeast portion of the state. The origin of the road’s odd name has been lost to history, but is possibly related to the paranormal green light that is supposed to emanate from underneath the bridge and along the banks of the stream here. The article does not name the creek, but after looking at Google maps, it seems that the road only crosses one stream, Turkey Creek, in its course from LA-15 to its termination at Dummy Line Road.
The possible reasons for the odd green light are varied. A church once existed on one side of the creek and sometime in the mid-20th century a man was hung from a tree in front of the church. A fatal car accident that occurred here may be related to the activity as well. A woman lost her life when her car crashed into a tree. There is also speculation that the woman was frightened by the mysterious green light.
“’Haunted’ Louisiana: Tales of Terror from Shreveport and beyond.” Shreveport Times. 30 September 2015.
Librarians at the Glen Burnie Regional Library have been spooked by something within this 1969 library for many years. Odd sounds have been heard by staff when they have closed the building at night while books have been pushed to the floor by unseen hands. Staff called in the Maryland Ghost Trackers to investigate. During the investigation, the investigators made contact with a number of male spirits who are apparently hanging around and enjoy making a bit of trouble now and then.
Ole Tavern on George Street 416 George Street Jackson, Mississippi
There are several ghosts still patronizing the Ole Tavern on George Street according to a Halloween article from Jackson, Mississippi news station, WAPT. The article highlights a recent investigation of this establishment by the Mississippi Paranormal Research Institute. Employees of the popular eatery have had several eerie encounters with a few possible spirits here.
One employee saw a woman sitting at the bar one morning as he opened up. He had just removed the padlock from the door when he saw the woman. Realizing that no one was in the building, the employee returned to his car until someone else arrived. This spirit is believed to be the spirit of a prostitute who once worked in the building and committed suicide here in the 1970s. The investigation produced evidence that this woman may remain in the building with some other spirits.
“Ghost hunters seek answers from ‘Bitter Hooker.’” 31 October 2015.
Brandi’s Blues Café 424 West Beacon Street Philadelphia, Mississippi
The chat Brandi’s Blues Café was working in the kitchen early one recent morning. Startled by a loud bang he continued working until he heard water running in the sink. He walked over, turned the sink off and returned to his work. Glancing up he saw a figure standing near the kitchen door. It was “about 6 ft. It had a little pot belly. I saw it for three or four seconds.” Thinking it was a co-worker, the chef returned to work. After discovering he was alone in the building he began to hear footsteps and he left the building until his co-workers showed up.
After researching the history of the building and the area, it was discovered that a man was executed in a nearby street in the 1940s. Paranormal investigators brought in to investigate did pick up an EVP response when they spoke the name of the man executed.
Gater, Harold. “Is this Mississippi blues café haunted?” The Clarion-Ledger. 24 September 2015.
Jennings, Lindsey. “Haunted Philadelphia Café Investigated.” 24 September 2015.
McRaven House 1445 Harrison Avenue Vicksburg, Mississippi
The new owners of the McRaven House, often described as the most haunted house in the state, have been very busy restoring the historic house and mingling with the home’s famous ghosts. In one interaction, the new owners captured an EVP of a female’s voice saying, “That’s a funny old clock.” The house has a number ghosts covering nearly all periods of the home’s history from the late 18th century to the present day. McRaven is now open to visitors for history and haunted history tours.
Norris, Alana. “McRaven House opens its doors Friday.” Vicksburg Post. 28 September 2015.
Old Chatham County Jail 145 Montgomery Street Savannah, Georgia
The Savannah Ghost Research Society has recently deemed the Old Chatham County Jail to be “the most haunted place” in this paranormally active city. Ryan Dunn, founder and head of the society told the Savannah Morning News, “We came in with a lot of equipment and pretty much investigated the place. We caught a lot with audio. We did capture a couple with thermal imaging and thermal cameras.” Dunn notes that the group captured more audio evidence here than they have captured at any other investigation.
The old jail is a formidable modern building that stands out from the historic buildings which surround it within the venerable Savannah Historic District. In use as a detention facility until 1989, the building has since been used for storage of archival records and, for Halloween, the building is being used for a haunted house called “Panic in the Pen,” and hosting paranormal tours as a fundraiser by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff called in paranormal investigators to help add some real life terror to this already terrifying building.
Employees in the old facility have noted paranormal activity here since the building’s retirement as a correctional facility. One of the sheriff’s deputies remarked that he remembers hearing doors slam and footsteps in the building at night.
Hoagland, Karen. “Old Chatham County Jail investigated for paranormal activity.” Savannah Morning News. 13 September 2015.
Ray, Brittini. “Investigators: Old Chatham County jail ‘’most haunted place in Savannah.” Savannah Morning News. 1 October 2015.
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.
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.
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.
Among theatre folks there’s an old saying, “no good theatre, worth its salt, will be without a ghost.” The South is not immune to this phenomenon and its landscape is dotted with many theatres claiming to be haunted. The variety of theatres is quite astonishing; from 1920s-era movie palaces, to opera houses to performance spaces that have been created out of old buildings, and even cinemas, so many of these sites have wonderful and creepy stories to tell.
Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts 501 Broad Street Gadsden, Alabama
This prominent corner of Broad and 5th Streets has witnessed much of Gadsden’s history. A home stood on this corner until 1860 when the First Baptist Church erected a church here with a graveyard surrounding the building. Around the turn of the 20th century, the church was sold and the graves—most of them—were relocated to nearby Forrest Cemetery. A furniture store operated on the site until the building of the Imperial Theatre which opened in 1920. The theatre changed hands a few years later, was extensively remodeled and reopened as the Princess Theatre in 1926. The Princess—a vaudeville and motion picture house—provided the citizens of Gadsden the utmost in comfort and technology until it’s destruction by fire in 1963.
The starkly modern Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts now occupies the corner. Within its modern corridors, galleries, studios and performance spaces there are spirits. Betty McCoy reports that two visitors encountered the spirit of a child who was apparently quite confused. The spirit of a young girl appeared at the Princess Theatre just after it opened in 1920 and many patrons encountered the young and quite curious entity. The identity of this young entity has always been a mystery. Was she attached to one of the graves formerly on the site? Is she one of the spirits in the modern arts center? As long as spirits linger, the questions will remain.
Goodson, Mike. Haunted Etowah County, Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Hardin Center for Cultural Arts. “About the Center for Cultural Arts.” Accessed 18 March 2013.
McCoy, Betty S. Haints, Haunts and Hullabaloos: Etowah and Surrounding Counties. CreateSpace, 2011.
H Street Playhouse 1365 H Street, Northeast Washington, D.C.
Things have a strange way of disappearing at the H Street Playhouse. Some believe that these odd disappearances may be linked to a spirit within the old theatre, besides, these disappearances are truly strange. Take for instance, the matter of the disappearance of the theatre’s router from the office during a meeting. Members of one of the theatre companies that uses the theatre were meeting in the building when the Wi-Fi suddenly went out. Heading back to the office, which was only accessible through the room where the meeting was being held, the router seems to have completely vanished.
Costumes pieces and props also have a tendency to disappear right before performances. A t-shirt hanging on a rack disappeared without a trace while prop money seemed to have departed briefly from the bag it was stored in during the show. As money was required during the scene, the actors pulled together what bills they had on them to use, though when the props master opened the bag to dole out money for the upcoming scene, the prop money had reappeared.
If the kleptomaniac of the H Street Playhouse is, in fact, a spirit, then there is the question of identity. Tour guide and author Tim Krepp speculates that the spirit may either be the shade of Bruce Robey, who founded the H Street Playhouse with his wife, or perhaps the spirit of a young boy who was severely burned in a fire across the street in 1905. But, perhaps the spirit lies somewhere in the playhouse’s marvelous history.
The Romanesque Revival-styled building was built in 1928 as an automobile showroom. At the time, this particular stretch of H Street boasted so many dealerships it was called “Autombile Row.” This building served as a showroom until 1942 when the building was renovated for use as a cinema for the African-American community that occupied this area. As the social upheavals of the mid-20th century led to the neighborhood’s decline, the building was used for a variety of purposes until its conversion to a live theatre in 2002.
Bell, T. David. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Plymouth Theatre. December 2003.
Krepp, Tim. Capitol Hill Haunts. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
Coconut Grove Playhouse 3500 Main Highway Miami, Florida
The Coconut Grove Playhouse is like a famous actor in a vegetative state. The doctors are faced with a hard choice: unplug him from life-support to let him die or revive him with an expensive, experimental treatment and hope that he makes a full recovery. As of now, the doctors are still arguing over the best course to take.
This most famous of Florida theatres went suddenly into a vegetative state in 2006 under mounting debt. Since the theatre company’s closure, the theatre has been embroiled in mounting drama between a cast of politicians, preservationists, thespians and developers. Occupying a prominent corner on Main Highway at Charles Avenue, the location has developers salivating over the money that could come from a luxury condominium development on the site. Some government officials, preservationists and thespians would reopen the playhouse as a theatre and hopefully revive its cherished name. Before its closure, the theatre was a major economic driver in the Coconut Grove, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.
As the drama fills courtrooms, offices and boardrooms outside of the theatre, faces have been seen peering from the buildings upper windows: spiritual guardians of this 1927 edifice. Ghost tours pass by the site regularly as the Mediterranean Revival structure sits forlornly with its doors locked. The theatre opened gloriously as the Player’s State Theatre on New Year’s Day 1927—a jewel in the Paramount crown. All the amenities of the best theatres were incorporated here including a huge Wurlitzer Concert Grand Organ and air conditioning. Riding high on the great Florida Land Boom of the 20s, the theatre’s fortunes ran out when the real estate bubble burst. The theatre closed in the early 1930s. It was not until 1955 that it would resume use as a theatre, but only after being transformed for use as a live-performance venue.
It struggled even as a legitimate theatre, though it did host a grand assortment of prominent actors and productions on its boards. Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot had its American premier here and the stage has seen the work of such noted thespians as Jose Ferrer, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Ethel Merman. But, until the actors in the current drama come to a resolution, the theatre and the spirits peering from its windows will continue to wait for Godot’s eminent arrival.
Bandell, Brian. “Coconut Grove Playhouse hit with foreclosure.” South Florida Business Journal. 17 January 2013.
Feldman, Hal. “Do ghosts walk among us?” Pinecrest Tribune. 28 June 2012.
Uguccioni, Ellen and Sarah E. Easton. Designation Report: Coconut Grove Playhouse. City of Miami. 2005.
Viglucci, Andres. “Coconut Grove Playhouse board decides not to fight imminent state takeover.” Miami Herald. 2 October 2012.
Viglucci, Andres. “Plan for larger theatre at coconut Grove Playhouse remains alive.” Miami Herald. 12 March 2015.
Viglucci, Andres. “State says shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse could be sold to private bidders.” Miami Herald. 14 December 2012.
Viglucci, Andres. and Christine Dolan. “FIU, Miami-Dade in possible deal to save Grove Playhouse.” Miami Herald. 13 March 2013.
Springer Opera House 103 10th Street Columbus, Georgia
As a kid, the Springer Opera House was the first local haunting I was familiar with. I recall the intense jealousy I felt when my sister got invited to a birthday party at the Springer and I wasn’t allowed to tag along to “see the ghost.” As a theatre major at Columbus State University, I visited the Spring a number of times and saw a few performances, though still I was distracted by the fact that there may be ghosts wandering about the antique promenades and still taking their seats in the boxes on either side of the stage.
In school, I also began to hear stories from my friends who had worked in the old theatre. Some of the experiences seemed incredible—like the story of a sound technician being levitated in the booth—while others seemed quite credible—a friend’s encounter with a little girl in a hallway who seemingly wanted to play tag but disappeared. When I got hired to work on a book about this theatre, I was excited to possibly experience the spirits there myself.
I was asked by F. Clason Kyle to work as an editor on his book, In Order of Appearance, a history of the theatre and the many famous personalities—Edwin Booth and John Philip Sousa to Minnie Maddern Fiske and Burt Reynolds—to have walked its boards. Mr. Kyle and I first began by organizing much of the archival material the theatre had. We had our own little room stuffed with boxes of old programs, promotional materials, business papers and the occasional artifact. Among the artifacts was a beaded purse once owned by famed Polish actress, Helena Modjeska. We weren’t sure where the purse was, so we went looking for it.
Before we left the archives room, Mr. Kyle and I had been sorting through the various boxes. We returned to the room after a search of about an hour and I walked straight back to the box I had been searching through. There, sitting on top of the papers within the box was an antique purse. While it was not the Modjeska purse, almost as a consolation prize, an antique pocket watch had been placed on top of the purse. Obviously, if the purse had been there as we were discussing the Modjeska purse I would have asked about it. But to appear after we returned from the search was very odd. Perhaps the Springer’s ghost is similar to the H Street Playhouse’s kleptomaniac spirit.
During my two years working on the book, I also heard footsteps on the second floor and a door slamming shut by itself during a rehearsal. But many others have had more spectacular experiences. The educational director whose office was located on the second floor regularly saw a man walking past her doorway. She also felt a strong bond, motherly really, towards the spirit of a little girl that had been reported throughout the building as well.
There is apparently a host of spirits within the 1871 building, though it seems that the male spirit and the little girl may be the more active. The theatre’s artistic director, Paul Pierce, wrote a book about many of the experiences in the Victorian theatre including his own experience. Pierce had arrived at the theatre early one morning to open the tool room for technicians who were setting up for an event. As he walked through the scene shop, Pierce realized there was a man walking next to him. “Slight of build, he was a young gentleman with a thin, unruly, Van Dyke beard and wearing an ill-fitting tweed suit.”
Pierce walked through the shop with this figure playfully mirroring his stride through the room. They turned a corner and the figure walked behind a screen leaning against the wall. The figure did not emerge from the other side.
Kyle, F. Clason and Lewis O. Powell, IV, editor. In Order of Appearance: Chronicling 135 Years on America’s Most Celebrated Stage. Columbus, GA: Communicorp, 2006.
Pierce, Paul. The Springer Ghost Book. Columbus, GA: Communicorp, 2003.
Paramount Arts Center 1300 Winchester Avenue Ashland, Kentucky
The Paramount Arts Center gained its ghost fairly early in the theatre’s history when, as legend holds, a worker somehow became entangled in the rigging above the stage and died. If this act was an accident or suicide is unknown, but strange things began to be reported in the building. Over time, theatre staff members dubbed the entity “Paramount Joe.”
Just seven months after the Ashland Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1931, the Paramount Theatre opened as a movie palace for the citizens of the city. When the Art Moderne style theatre closed its doors in 1971, locals purchased the building as a performing arts center.
In 1992, local musician Billy Ray Cyrus (father of Miley Cyrus) chose the theatre for the filming of the video of his hit song, “Achy Breaky Heart.” While there, he was told the story of “Paramount Joe,” and Cyrus claimed that he spoke with the spirit during a break and signed a poster for Paramount Joe. Some years later when an executive removed the poster from its place in the box office the staff returned the next day to find all the pictures had fallen from the walls some having their glass and frames broken. After Paramount Joe’s signed poster was restored, all has returned to normal in terms of the pictures.
Ball, Linda Larimore. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Paramount Theatre. October 1975.
Abbey Players Theatre 200 South State Street Abbeville, Louisiana
The Abbey Players had its founding in 1976 when a small group of thespians staged a successful production of Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers. The theatre company was incorporated the next year with the intention of presenting quality theatre to the region. After spending a few years staging shows at various venues throughout town, the group began renting an old building on South State Street. Previously housing the Reaux Lumber Company, the building dates to 1908 and was originally opened as a saloon.
After adapting the building for use as an arena stage, the company settled in and now produces 3-4 shows per season as well as children’s productions. Additionally, company members have had experiences in the building that may be paranormal. These include the shade of an elderly woman and the voice of a young girl among other unexplained noises. An investigation by Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations captured a number of personal experiences for the team as well as EVPs.
A couple of these experiences are highlighted in Chere Coen’s Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana. During the investigation, Louisiana Spirits discovered a cold spot that seemed to move around a dressing room. The investigators also heard a disembodied voice greet them with a “hi.”
Patapsco Female Institute 3655 Church Road Ellicott City, Maryland
The immortal words of Shakespeare have been uttered within the walls of the Patapsco Female Institute for almost two centuries. Even with only the exterior stone walls remaining, the ruins now provide a perfect backdrop for productions by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare’s numerous ghosts may even provide a camouflage for the ghosts that reside among the romantic ruins.
The Patapsco Female Institute opened in 1837 as an elite finishing school for young women. Among some of the more well known alumnae is Winnie Davis, daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Sally Randolph, great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson served as a headmistress. It was during this time in the balmy days leading up to the Civil War that a daughter of a Southern planter was enrolled here.
The young girl hated the school, longed for home and her father would not allow her to return home. The student contracted pneumonia and her body left the school in a coffin. The student’s spirit, however, has remained to wander the ruins of her former school.
The school closed its doors in 1891 and throughout the 20th century the building served as variety of uses including a convalescent home after World War I, a private residence and a theatre. After local officials condemned the building in the late 1950s, the owner gutted the building of its woodwork leaving just the yellow-tinted local stone walls standing. The space is now owned and operated by the Howard County Government as a historic site and an events space.
The white-gowned apparition of the former student still wanders the grounds.
Hannon, Jean O. Maryland Historic Trust Worksheet for Patapsco Female Institute. January 1978.
Hirsch, Rona S. “Ghostly images, spirited debate.” Baltimore Sun. 31 October 2001.
Cinemark Movies 8 Mall at Barnes Crossing 1001 Barnes Crossing Road Tupelo, Mississippi
Any location can be haunted. While most people would not expect to encounter a spirit within a fast food restaurant, big-box retailer (like Wal-Mart or Toys R Us) or a recently constructed building, it does happen. In some cases, recent tragic events may spur such a haunting, but other times, there is no obvious reason at all. Such is the case of this haunted multiplex theatre. According to CinemaTreasures.org, this theatre was opened in 1992, seating 1920 people and a couple spirits. A female spirit, nicknamed Lola, quite mischievously moves things and has been seen peering into the break room trashcan. She apparently gets the brunt of the blame when things go wrong or missing. A male spirit seems to be more elusive and sticks to the projection room.
Bud. The Haunted Natchez Trace. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
Mountainside Theatre 688 Drama Drive Cherokee, North Carolina
Part of my own heart lies in the mountains of Western North Carolina around Cherokee. While I was in college I spent the three greatest summers of my life working on the historical drama, Unto These Hills, which has been performed at the Mountainside Theatre since 1950. It’s a humbling experience to be able to tell the story of the Cherokee people who have existed in this area for millennia. Even more humbling is being able to tell that story surrounded by the spirits of the characters and their living descendants.
The theatre is truly a sacred space where we can commune with the spirits of the past, both figuratively and literally. From my first day here, we were always made aware of the presence of spirits in this enormous amphitheatre. Among the host of spirits are Cherokee, sacred spirits from Cherokee mythology (see my entry on my own experience with the Cherokee little people) and former cast members. Some of these spirits can be truly frightening while others provide comfort.
In recent years, the Cherokee Historical Association—which operates the drama as well as the Oconaluftee Indian Village (it’s also haunted)—has operated a “Haunted Village” attraction around Halloween. This includes a ghost walk through the theatre and cast housing. In 2013, a zombie run was held at the theatre. During this event participants were chased through the theatre complex and cast housing by a variety of zombies. This included an area just behind the theatre called the ready room. This space is a partially enclosed are where actors may wait once they have put on their costumes. On the wall here is an old pay phone.
I was told this story last summer when I was working in Cherokee. One evening in 2013, an hour or so after the zombie run the local police department received a panicked phone call from the Mountainside Theatre. A terror-filled voice begged for help from the theatre. The Cherokee Police Department responded and sent police up the driveway behind the theatre. The theatre complex was quiet and empty without a living soul to be found. The call had been traced to the theatre pay phone. It was discovered, however, that the phone was disconnected.
This is one of countless stories that have been told about the theatre.
Connor, William P., Jr. History of the Cherokee Historical Association 1946-1982. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Historical Association, 1983.
Dock Street Theatre 135 Church Street Charleston, South Carolina
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church aggressively pushes itself into Church Street. Its columned porches thrust out so far that the street must curve to accommodate it. Above the street, the tremendous spire rises like an upright, moral finger, a reminder of the moral duties of the citizens of The Holy City. In the next block south of the church and within the shadow of the spire sits the Dock Street Theatre grinning garishly with its whimsical columns at St. Philip’s and the stringent Gothic Revival face of the French Huguenot Church directly across Church Street.
Theatre has always thumbed its nose at the self-righteous morality of good, church-going folk while often lampooning their foibles and failures on its boards, pulling down the saints from their lofty niches. In turn, the righteous have worked to reign in and silence the heckling theatre. This certainly was the case in Colonial America, a place still reeking of the Puritanism and strict morality that afflicted and bound the earliest settlers. Theatre most certainly struggled to gain a foothold on this steep religious mountain. The original Dock Street Theatre opened its doors in 1736 as, quite possibly, the second oldest edifice devoted to theatrical performance in the colonies.
As a part of a city in its early evolution, the original structure lasted a little less than two decades before that spark of a city’s growth, fire, reduced it to a hollowed shell of brick. The theatre was rebuilt and remained a theatre through the remainder of the 18th century. In 1809 the structure became home to the Calder House Hotel (later known as the Planter’s Hotel) run by Alexander Calder—an ancestor of the 20th century American artist of the same name—to serve wealthy visitors to the city. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration cobbled together the collection of old buildings on this site into the current reincarnation of the Dock Street Theatre which incorporates an 18th century styled theatre and possibly a few brick walls dating to the original 1736 theatre.
The building incorporates a certain spiritual fabric within its aged physical fabric. Most sources refer to two spirits who reside within the old theatre, though I venture that with the Dock Street Theatre’s long history, there’s also quite a good bit of residual energy manifesting itself.
One of the spirits has been identified as the great British thespian, Junius Brutus Booth. Renowned for his portrayals of Shakespearean characters, Booth fathered three sons who were also destined for the stage: Junius Brutus Jr., Edwin and John Wilkes, three thespians who left their mark on the theatrical world and one who would leave a mark upon the world stage. Edwin followed in his father’s footsteps to become one of the greatest tragedians of his day whilst Junius Jr. found better success in the managing of theatres. John Wilkes earned his notoriety as Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.
According to numerous—mostly paranormal in nature—sources, Booth the elder did stay in the Planter’s Hotel and that the well-dressed gentleman’s spirit seen in and around the theatre is his shade. Though it does ask the question of why would Booth haunt this hotel of all the numerous hotels where he stayed? According to the managing director of the theatre Booth was an alcoholic and possibly mentally unstable. During a stay in Charleston Booth allegedly beat his manager with a fire iron. Just as modern actors and performers are prone to bouts of bad behavior, so were the actors and performers of old. It seems this may belong to the phenomenon of historic landmarks picking among their most famous patrons or residents in order to identify their spirits.
Nevertheless, the spirit is still seen within the theatre. A man in a tall hat and overcoat is sometimes seen in the balcony and may sit in on rehearsals. In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe reports on a young woman who saw this gentleman standing in the balcony when she visited.
Though, other stories center on a spirit known as “Netty” or “Nettie.” Likely dating to the same time as the gentleman’s spirit, legend has it that Nettie was a “working girl” who provided entertainment to the gentlemen who patronized the hotel. The legend continues with her dying a violent death on the balcony of the hotel, just above the entrance. While she was out on the balcony one evening, the steel beam supporting the balcony was struck by lightning and she was electrocuted. According to author Terrance Zepke, her spirit form has been observed by passersby and also captured on film. Additionally, she lingers in the second floor backstage hall where she apparently appears to be walking on her knees as the floor was raised during the building’s renovations in the 1930s. Netty is still walking on the original floors.
Bull, Elias B. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Dock Street Theatre. 2 January 1972.
Macy, Ed and Geordie Buxton III. Haunted Charleston: Stories from the College of Charleston, the Citadel and the Holy City. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2004.
Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston. Columbia, SC: U. of SC Press, 1997.
Roffe, Denise. Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2010.
Zepke, Terrance. Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2004.
Paramount Center for the Performing Arts 518 State Street Bristol, Tennessee
In 1991 at the age of 60 the Paramount Theatre, run down and virtually abandoned, rose like its “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ once did from the depths to be reborn as the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts. Opened in 1931, the theatre was meant as a cinema and its small stage had to be enlarged to accommodate live performance in the modern day. Sitting proudly on State Street not far from the Tennessee/Virginia state line, which divides this city, the theatre continues to attract people from all over the region.
According to a 2009 article from the Bristol Herald Courier, the site of the Paramount Theatre was previously haunted. On that site, Bristol’s first hospital stood, a building that had previously been a hotel. During its time as a hotel, a man was shot and killed there. After that, the hotel had trouble renting his room after that as patrons reported hearing and feeling odd things in that room. There is a spirit still hanging around the theatre, though no indication it is the same from the old hotel. The Executive Director has reported that footsteps are still heard in the empty building with the sound of doors opening and closing as well.
Netherland, Tom. “A Timeless Stage: Memories of the Paramount Center.” Originally published in Bristol Herald Courier, 17 February 2009. Republished in A! Magazine for the Arts, March 2013.
State Street divides city of Bristol and marks the state line between Tennessee and Virginia. The Cameo Theatre, on the north side of the street, is in Virginia while the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts, just a few blocks down, sits on the south side of the street in Tennessee. The division between the theatres also marks a gulf of fortunes between them as well. While the Paramount Theatre remains open as a performing arts center the Cameo is currently for sale. Two years older than the Paramount, the 1925 theatre was opened as a vaudeville house and recently served as an arts facility, hosting arts classes for children. Sadly, finances did not allow that to continue and the theatre was put up for sale in 2010.
According to V.N. Phillips’ book, Ghosts of Bristol: Haunting Tales from the Twin Cities, the Cameo replaces The Black Shawl, Bristol’s most infamous brothel. Pocahontas Hale, the establishment’s madam, is said to notoriously patrol the sidewalk in front of the Cameo Theatre. Her shade has been spotted wearing the black clothes and wrapped in the black shawl that she always wore in life.
McGee, David. “Cameo Theatre annex’s inventory being sold off to make way for new owner.” Bristol Herald Courier. 16 June 2010.
Phillips, V.N. Ghosts of Bristol: Haunting Tales from the Twin Cities. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Old Main Campus of Marshall University Huntington, West Virginia
With a cornerstone laid in 1869—just 32 years after the founding of Marshall Academy on the same spot—Old Main continues to carry Marshall University towards the horizon of the future. The structure’s nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places contains the sentimental statement that “alumni consider Old Main and school itself to be identical. Old Main is Marshall University and Marshall University is Old Main.” Not only does this monumental Tudor structure carry students and faculty forward as a university centerpiece and administration building, but it carries a spirit or two as well.
Old Main embodies the history of the school itself in its walls. It is not actually a single building, but five buildings that have been joined over time. Originally one of these building contained an auditorium, though the space has been unused since 1990. School legend relates that a well-dressed man was sometimes seen back stage during performances. Actors and crew back stage would see the man who would be gone with a second glance. This man was identified as a theatre director from the 1920s. The director supposedly disappeared after it was discovered he had embezzled money from the school.
Bleau, Edward R. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Old Main—Marshall University. 28 December 1972.
Bozzoli, Carlos. “Old Main Building.” Marshall University Architectural Guide. Accessed 14 March 2013.
Donahue, Kelly. “Untitled article.” The Parthenon. 29 October 1996.
This is the second half of my two-part article on Haunted Hotels and Inns of the South that I created just after the blog was first posted in 2010. It was my first really big (almost too big) article and I have attempted over the years to revisit it with the hope of updating, revising and completing it (I originally left off Virginia and West Virginia when I got tired of writing). This article with my article, 13 Southern Rooms with a Boo, is the replacement.
This article is just a sampling (2 from each of the 13 states that I cover here) of the vast array of haunted lodgings throughout the South. My article, “Dining with Spirits” is a companion piece to this article. Enjoy!
Tutwiler Hotel 2021 Park Place Birmingham, Alabama
The Tutwiler Hotel, like a ghost, has risen from the dead, almost. When it opened in 1914, the Tutwiler was the finest hotel in the city and was at the heart of its social scene hosting events such as actress Tallulah Bankhead’s wedding reception. The hotel was originally constructed to serve visiting steel company executives in this city that was built on the steel industry. When the industry began to die in the second half of the twentieth century, the hotel fell into disrepair and the 450-room landmark with its 1000-seat ballroom was imploded a year after closing its door in 1972.
With the recovery of Birmingham’s economy, the need for a luxury hotel again arose. Investors purchased the Ridgeley Apartments, a large brick building on Park Avenue that had been constructed by Major Tutwiler at the same time his grand hotel had opened. The apartment building was restored and refurbished into the new Tutwiler Hotel. Not only has the hotel returned from oblivion, but some of its former residents have returned as well. A spiritual knocker raps on the doors of the hotel’s sixth floor late at night. Of course, when the door is answered, no one is seen. Jessica Penot in her Haunted North Alabama tells of the spirit of a young girl who is also seen on the sixth floor and may be the cause of the knocking.
According to Alan Brown, the bartender of the hotel had issues with the lights in the dining room. He would turn them off and leave for the night only to find them on in the morning. After coming in one morning to discover a fully cooked feast laid out on the table, the bartender began saying goodnight to Major Tutwiler upon leaving at night. The lights have remained off. “Good night, Major Tutwiler.”
Brown, Alan. “Knocking at the Tutwiler Hotel.” WierdUS,com. Accessed 28 October 2010.
Lewis, Herbert J. “Birmingham.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 8 January 2008.
Penot, Jessica. Haunted North Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Hay-Adams Hotel 800 16th Street, Northwest Washington, D.C.
Marian Adams, known by her nickname, “Clover,” is at the center of two ghost stories. One tale concerns her tragic spirit haunting the fourth floor of the Hay-Adams Hotel and the other concerns her eerie grave at Rock Creek Cemetery. Clover was the socialite wife of historian and writer Henry Adams whose autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize but omitted his late wife.
The December 10, 1885 edition of the Washington paper, The Critic, briefly notes Marian Adams’ funeral: “The funeral of Mrs. Marian Adams of 1607 H Street, wife of Mr. Henry Adams, took place from her late residence yesterday. The certificate of Dr. Hagner, filed in the Health office, was to the effect that the deceased died of paralysis of the heart superinduced by an overdose of potassium.” Mrs. Adams was an amateur photographer and used potassium cyanide in developing her photographs. It was believed that she had committed suicide, though rumors swirled throughout the city as to why and even if she had possibly been murdered.
The H Street home where Adams had met her death was being rented by the Adams from art collector W. W. Cochran. The couple had been renting the house while an H. H. Richardson-designed home was being built for them on 16th Street. The home was being built next door to the home of John and Clara Hay, close friends of the Adams. Following his wife’s death, Henry Adams moved into the new house and stories came out of the couple’s old house on H Street where residents witnessed mysterious knocking and the ghost of a “sad-eyed lady.”
To mark his wife’s grave, Henry Adams commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a fitting memorial that was not “intelligible to the average mind.” The sculptor created a bronze figure that sat atop the grave shrouded in cloth. The figure’s face is hidden under a hood and is hidden in shadow. Though neither Saint-Gaudens or Adams called it such, the creepy statue became known as “Grief.” Over the years, tales have been spun to explain the statue’s effect on people and some have reported that the figure has supernatural powers.
Adams passed away in 1918 and the graceful pair of Richardsonian mansion that had been home to Adams and his friends the Hays became the victims of “progress” in 1927. A developer demolished the homes and constructed a large Italian Renaissance-styled hotel which he named for the former owners of the property. At some point, the hotel gained a permanent guest in the form of the shade of Marian “Clover” Adams.
Clover has apparently taken over the hotel’s fourth floor. Maids in unoccupied rooms on that floor have reported hearing the sounds of a woman sobbing, asking “what do you want?” and calling their name. The hotel’s Wikipedia page cites a source as saying that the spirit of Clover Adams is accompanied by the faint smell of almonds. Potassium cyanide is extracted from almonds.
Alexander, John. Ghosts: Washington Revisited. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1998.
“Funeral of Mrs. Adams.” The Critic. 10 December 1885.
Rooney, E. Ashley and Betsy Johnson. Washington, D.C.: Ghosts, Legends and Lore. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
Smith, Terry L. and Mark Jean. Haunted Inns of America. Crane Hill Publishers, 2003.
Don Cesar Beach Resort 3400 Gulf Boulevard St. Pete Beach, Florida
Facing the sapphire waters of the Gulf of Mexico stands Thomas Rowe’s palatial pink dream, The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa. Opened in 1928, the resort was, for a time, the heart of the Jazz Age social scene in Florida, hosting luminaries ranging from novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald to baseball legend, Lou Gehrig. The resort survived the tumult of the Great Depression but with Thomas Rowe’s death in 1940, the hotel passed into the hands of his ex-wife. When Rowe died, he had been in the process of changing his will to write out his former spouse, but as this new will remained unsigned at the time of death, the old will was executed. The ex-wife, Mary, was not a business woman and the hotel began to fall into disrepair and was taken over by the government for back taxes.
The immense hotel was transformed by the government into a veteran‘s hospital, stripped of its Old World splendor. Following World War II, the building remained in government hands and served as offices for the Veteran’s Administration and later for other agencies. In 1967, the structure was abandoned and left to the elements. Vagrants, vandals and mice roamed the graffiti painted and trash-strewn corridors. During this time, stories began to circulate of Jazz Age phantoms roaming the beach near the resort and the sound of parties echoing from the ruined patios and terraces.
With the looming threat of demolition, a citizens group banded together to save the pink landmark. The hotel was reopened in 1973 and renovation starting in the early 1980s restored and expanded the resort. Renovations and work in old structures often tends to stir up spiritual activity and such was the case at the Don Cesar. The figure of a man in a tan suit and Panama hat began to be seen poking around the building. Sometimes alone and sometimes seen with a beautiful woman, the man has been identified as Thomas Rowe.
The woman is connected with the legend of the hotel. According to the story, Rowe built this pink palace as a monument to his first love, an opera singer. The couple was not allowed to marry and when Rowe built the hotel, he named it Don CeSar for the male lead in Wallace’s opera, Maritana. Supposedly, Rowe’s lady love was an opera singer whom he spotted first playing the female lead in the opera. Perhaps Rowe and his love have finally found the solace in death that they could ill afford in life.
1935 Labor Day hurricane. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 29 October 2010.
Don CeSar. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 28 October 2010.
Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Volume 1, South and Central Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.
The Riverview Hotel 105 Osborne Street St. Marys, Georgia
The verandas of the Riverview Hotel have faced the waters of the St. Marys River for nearly 100 years inviting visitors to stay and “set a spell.” This family-owned hotel has been operated by the Brandon family since the 1920s and has seen the likes of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Admiral Chester Nimitz and Senator Richard Russell. Something, possibly not of this world, seems to occupy Room 8, even when the guest register shows it to be vacant. Innkeeper Jerry Brandon is quoted by Sheila Turnage in her Haunted Inns of the Southeast as saying that a male apparition has been spotted outside of Room 8 and people staying in that room have been touched by an unseen presence. He continues that during a power outage, the lights in the room stayed on. In St. Marys, the spirit world still leaves the light on for you.
Hampton, Liz. “Living history at the Riverview.” The Florida Times-Union. 21 February 2004.
Reddick, Marguerite. Camden’s Challenge: A History of Camden County, Georgia. St. Marys, GA: Camden County Historical Society, 1976.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Maple Hill Manor 2941 Perryville Road Springfield, Kentucky
Some paranormal researchers speculate that ghosts may see a location as they once knew it rather than what exists now. Despite this speculation, I can imagine the ghosts looking out of the windows of Maple Hill Manor would be confused by the flocks of alpacas and llamas grazing outside. The current innkeepers, Todd Allen and Tyler Horton, raise the alpacas and llamas for their wool which may be used to make clothing, jewelry, and even teddy bears.
In addition to these exotic animals, the innkeepers appear to have a number of spirits on hand in this historic home built between 1848 and 1851. It was the home of Thomas and Sarah McElroy, their children (a few of whom died in infancy) and the family’s slaves. Some of the spirits that are still encountered may be family members, including a son who plunged to his death when a railing on the stairway gave way and the spirits of the McElroy’s slaves including “Mammy Anne” who has been seen sitting in her former room. These spirits are joined by the apparitions of soldiers who were wounded in the Battle of Perryville, fought nearby. The innkeepers have reported that activity, especially in Harriet Beecher Stowe room where the soldiers were treated, tends to spike around October 8, the anniversary of the battle.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Bluegrass State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
T’Frere’s House Bed and Breakfast 1905 Verot School Road Lafayette, Louisiana
During an investigation of T’Frere’s House Bed & Breakfast, Smoke and Mirrors Paranormal captured an EVP of a male voice whispering very gruffly, “that’s it, I want them out!” The spirits here speak a great deal in both English and French. An exterminator was working in the home’s attic when he encountered a small woman who asked him to “viens voir,” or come see. Not wanting to actually see what the mysterious woman wanted to show him, the exterminator fled.
Oneziphore Comeaux, the youngest of seven children, nicknamed T’Frere, meaning “little brother,” built his home in Lafayette in 1880. When the home’s owner, Peggy Moseley decided to open the home as a bed and breakfast in 1986, the name T’Frere’s was perfectly suited for it. When the Pastor family bought the bed and breakfast in 1994, they also didn’t realize their purchase included a ghost.
As the Pastors were moving in the family took a load of things to the house for the night. Their son had forgotten a paper needed for his math homework. He was worrying about it in his room when the sheet suddenly floated down from the ceiling. An investigation of the room did not reveal any reason that the missing paper could have just appeared.
Legend speaks of a young schoolteacher, Amelie, who died when she went to wash her face and fell in the well. When the Catholic Church judged her death a suicide, she was denied burial in the consecrated ground of the cemetery. Amelie’s spirit has been encountered throughout the house, with her mostly making her presence known by rattling pots and pans, turning lights off and on and other mischievous activity.
Coen, Chere. “Ghost hunters search for inn’s oldest ‘resident.’”IND Monthly. 18 August 2014.
Coen, Chere. Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
Ponseti, Valerie. “Ghost Hunt at T-Frere’s.”KATC. 17 August 2014.
Rose, Christopher. “Minding her manor.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune. 19 April 1992.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Wayside Inn 4344 Columbia Road Ellicott City, Maryland
The massive three-story granite Wayside Inn on the Columbia Turnpike outside of Ellicott City can claim that “George Washington slept here,” it can also claim a ghost. While the early history of the inn is lost in the shadows, it is known that Washington, as well as other colonial luminaries passed through the area. Most likely, they would have stayed in one of the inns that lined the Old Columbia Turnpike, between Washington, D. C. and Baltimore. Little has been written on the female ghost that haunts the premises, though an article written around the time of the inn’s reopening in 2004, mentions that a friend of the innkeepers heard a door open followed by footsteps to discover that no one was present.
History. WaysideInnMD.com. Accessed 29 October 2010.
Schissler, Eleanor. “B&B’s renovation doesn’t quiet talk of reputed ghost.” Howard County Times. 3 June 2004.
Cedar Grove Inn 2200 Oak Street Vicksburg, Mississippi
Cedar Grove is a house built for love. Built by John Klein as a wedding gift to his bride, Elizabeth Bartley Day, Cedar Grove was completed in 1852 following a grand tour of Europe with her. With the start of the Vicksburg Campaign during the Civil War, the house was one of the first houses in Vicksburg hit by the Union shelling of the city, in fact, a cannonball is still lodged in the wall of the parlor. Mrs. Klein, a native of Ohio, was also a relative of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman who had been a guest in the house. Sherman gave personal assurances to the Kleins that their home would be spared and he personally escorted the family to safety. Following the Kleins evacuation, the house was used by Union forces until after the fall of Vicksburg.
When the Kleins returned to the city after the war, they were met as traitors with turned backs and averted eyes. When the house was purchased in 1983 and conversion into a bed and breakfast began, the Klein’s proud house had fallen into disrepair. The owners have fully restored the house and included homes across the street as cottages including the cottage that John Klein used while the main house was under construction.
I’ve found two main sources on this inn. While there is no confusion about the history, the sources differ on the spiritual guests. Sheila Turnage mentions two spirits, a male spirit, possibly Mr. Klein, whose pipe smoke appears in the gentlemen’s parlor and a female spirit who has been heard and seen on the stairs. Interestingly, my other source, Sylvia Booth Hubbard’s Ghosts! Personal Accounts of Modern Mississippi Hauntings, provides more spirits. Hubbard mentions the possible spirit of Mr. Klein, but also includes the sounds of children playing and an infant crying. She continues by mentioning that a later owner of the home had a sister who committed suicide in the ballroom and that the sounds of a gunshot and a crash are sometimes heard there. Hubbard also indicates that the spirit of a tour guide who lead tours of the hours during the annual pilgrimage has been seen in the house as well. Nonetheless, it seems Cedar Grove has no shortage of history, charm or ghosts.
“Cedar Grove History.” CedarGroveInn.com. Accessed 31 October 2010.
Hubbard, Sylvia Booth. Ghosts! Personal Accounts of Modern Mississippi Hauntings. Brandon, MS: Quail Ridge Press, 1992.
Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Grove Park Inn 290 Macon Avenue Asheville, North Carolina
Throughout ghost literature there are tales of female wraiths. Over time many of these female spirits have acquired nicknames, usually relating to the color of their clothing: “White Lady” and “Grey Lady” being the most common. Of course, they do appear in other colors; Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, for instance, has a “Red Lady, but I know of only one spirit that appears in that most feminine of colors, pink, and Asheville’s Grove Park Inn is her home.
The legend is almost typical in ghostlore: a young flapper in the 1920s plunged to her death from a fourth or fifth floor railing and her spirit has been seen ever since. Time has kept her anonymity, though I’m curious if a close scan of local papers might reveal her identity. Anonymous she may be, though, the details of her activity seem to be well known. People staying in rooms 545, 441, 448 and even 320 have experienced a variety of strange activity including the appearance of a young woman wearing a pink dress. A North Carolina police chief staying in room 448 felt someone sit on the edge of his bed while a female journalist staying in 441 the same night had doors in her room open and close mysteriously.
The Inn brought in writer and investigator Joshua Warren to investigate the legend of the Pink Lady in 1996. His results, published in his book Haunted Asheville, include some photographic anomalies, but also a number of personal experiences. The Pink Lady still walks this 1913 edifice.
“History.” GroveParkInn.com. Accessed 1 November 2010.
Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Warren, Joshua P. Haunted Asheville. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1996.
Rice Hope Plantation Inn 206 Rice Hope Drive Moncks Corner, South Carolina
Rice Hope Plantation’s resident spirit, Mistress Chicken, certainly ranks among the more amusing spirit names. She was born Catherine Chicken and her grandfather, James Child had founded the nearby community of Childsbury, which no longer exists. Captain George Chicken, Catherine’s father, had been a member of the Goose Creek militia and had been involved in the Yamassee War which helped to exterminate and exile the Yamassee people from the Low Country of South Carolina.
Catherine Chicken’s tale has been told for centuries in this region. After Catherine’s father’s death, her mother remarried and Catherine was placed in a boarding school in Childsbury under the care of Monsieur and Madame Dutarque. Catherine was a sensitive child who bore the strain of the Dutarque’s strict disciplinary methods and she was often punished for minor infractions. Little Catherine had been given some sewing as punishment, but as children are wont to do, she was distracted. Despite the Dutarque’s decree that no student shall possess pets, Catherine Chicken had brought a small pet turtle with her. While she sewed, the turtle had wandered away and Little Mistress Chicken dropped her sewing to pursue it.
Upon finding that the little girl had disappeared, the Dutarques were enraged and Monsieur began to search feverishly for the child. He found her and her small pet and decided to teach the child a lesson with a rather unusual punishment. The child was tied to a tombstone while the cruel schoolmaster threw the small turtle against a stone, killing it before the child’s eyes.
As darkness descended on the tombstones of Strawberry Chapel where the child had been left, the girl grew weary of struggling to cry out and free herself. A slave, out past curfew found her and alerted the locals who found the child limpid with terror and exhaustion. Her limp form was taken to her home where there was a fear she might not awaken. After discovering the culprits behind this travesty, the townsfolk considered hanging for the cruel schoolmasters. Little Mistress Chicken did awaken and exclaimed that she hoped nothing would happen to Monsieur Dutarque. The Dutarques were exiled from the settlement.
Catherine never quite recovered from her ordeal, though she lived a long and fruitful life. Luckins Plantation, where young Catherine had spent happy days before her father’s death eventually became Rice Hope Plantation according to some sources. Joseph S. Freylinghausen, a former senator from New Jersey, purchased the plantation in the early 1920s and remodeled the house there in 1929. It is this house where Catherine is supposed to return to the Heron Room where she rocks in the rocking chair there. Her forlorn spirit is also occasionally heard still crying for help at Strawberry Chapel as well.
Chandler, Andrew W. et al. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Cooper River Historic District. Listed 5 February 2003.
Orr, Bruce. Ghosts of Berkeley County, South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Magnolia Manor Bed & Breakfast 418 North Main Street Bolivar, Tennessee
I am certain that one of the first things the citizens of Bolivar, Tennessee would like you to know is how to pronounce their name. While it is named for the South American revolutionary, Simon Bolivar, the town’s name is pronounced to rhyme with “Oliver,” Though I cannot be completely certain, I’m sure the second thing the citizens would want you to know is that Magnolia Manor has wonderful legends associated with it and quite possibly a few ghosts as well.
Just before the Battle of Shiloh, which took place just two counties over, four Union generals: Logan, Sherman, Grant and McPherson, supposedly planned the battle in the Gentleman’s Parlor. (It should be noted, however, that the battle was the result of a surprise attack by Confederate forces.) But the legend continues with the ill-mannered William Tecumseh Sherman making a very disagreeable and telling remark during a meal in suggesting that all Southerners: men, women and children, should be exterminated.
Magnolia Manor’s hostess, Mrs. Miller, the wife of Judge Austin Miller, the home’s builder, excused herself immediately left the room in tears. Ulysses Grant furiously ordered Sherman to apologize. He did so begrudgingly and stormed up the staircase afterwards slashing the banister with his saber. Mrs. Miller was the first of a long line of strong women to oversee this manse and leave a spiritual mark as well—one of Mrs. Miller’s grand-daughters would become the first woman elected to the Tennessee state legislature.
Activity in the 1849 home is at such a level that paranormal investigators have been at work in the house regularly for a number of years. Therefore, being certified as haunted is really just a formality for Memphis Mid-South Ghost Hunters who have been working in the house for quite some time.
The activity in the house ranges from full apparitions to the movement of objects. Guests in the home have witnessed a woman descend the staircase and others have been touched by a female spirit in their rooms while still others have reported a woman pulling the covers from them as they slept.
Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
Ferree, Lyda Kay. “Magnolia Manor Bed & Breakfast to host ghost tours.” The Jackson Sun. 27 September 2014.
Phillips, Bianca. “Bumps in the Night.” Memphis Flyer. 12 July 2007.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Wayside Inn 7783 Main Street Middletown, Virginia
This building essentially sits at the center of history for this small town. The motley of old buildings forming the tavern were built over a period ranging from the 18th century through to the late 19th century. The oldest portion of the building, that containing Larrick’s Tavern, is considered the oldest portion and may have been constructed around 1750. The road in front was once part of the Great Wagon Road—the road that helped settle the American “backcountry.” The road here, through the Shenandoah Valley, which enters the valley in Winchester, was originally a Native American trail called the Great Indian Warpath, a trail used by the multitude of Native American tribes—including the Cherokee—throughout this region.
In 1797, this collection of buildings became an inn for the many travelers passing on the road. Leo Bernstein, the garrulous personality who took over the inn the latter half of the 20th century, would always claim that this inn was the oldest continuously operating inn in the nation. There does seem to be a good deal of truth behind his claim. It is known that this inn was in operation as war raged up and down the valley during the Civil War and that the inn served both sides.
Like most buildings in the area, the inn has a number of Civil War related spirits, though there is the possibility that the inn may have been haunted by the time the war rolled through the region. Lord Fairfax, who had been given much the land in the area, did live nearby and died in Winchester (he’s buried at Christ Episcopal Church) is claimed as the spirit that moans on a nightly basis in the oldest portion of the inn. Bernstein describes the space in Sheila Turnage’s Haunted Inns of the Southeast, “Upstairs is about a three foot space. There was a set of steps going up there. The straw is still there.” Bernstein would like to believe that Lord Fairfax is the source of the moan, who may have been a guest here with his young surveyor, George Washington, in tow. The loft is located just above one of the bars and Turnage mentions that people gather to listen for the moan at 11:30 PM nightly.
Besides odd moans, the inn is home to numerous other spirits and employees and guests have witnessed much activity. Objects have moved on their own accord, a dishwasher had his apron untied repeatedly by unseen hands, and full apparitions have been seen including those of Civil War soldiers. Paranormal investigations have captured much evidence including EVPs of horses whinnying and photographs featuring specters.
Ash, Linda O’Dell. “Respect the spirits, ‘Ghost Hunters International’ star Dustin Pari tells Wayside Inn paranormal investigators.” The Northern Virginia Daily. 7 November 2011.
Daly, Sean. “In Strasburg, a Medium Well Done.” The Washington Post. 31 July 2002.
Middletown Heritage Society. National Register of Historic Place nomination form for Middletown Historic District. 7 May 2003.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2008.
General Lewis Inn and Restaurant 301 East Washington Street Lewisburg, West Virginia
Last August the General Lewis Inn was purchased by a young couple who remarked that it felt surreal owning “the iconic center of Lewisburg.” The new owners are quoted in a Charleston Gazette-Mail article as saying, “quirkiness is what makes the Inn the Inn. It’s unique; it’s not like staying in a Days Inn or a Hampton Inn.” Most certainly, that quirkiness involves the spirits of the General Lewis Inn as well. When questioned about the inn’s haunted reputation, one of the innkeepers responded, “I haven’t met the ghost. Having them or not having them is fine with me.”
The inn’s history has many layers which have contributed spirits to the site. The oldest portion of the inn was originally constructed as a residence for James Withow in 1834. It is from sometime after this time that one of the inn’s spirits, a slave, comes. Legend speaks of a slave named Reuben who was sold after showing disrespect to an overseer. As punishment, he was sold to another plantation nearby. His new owner promised to free all his slaves upon his death, so Reuben hatched a plan to murder him and make it look like an accident. He killed his new master, but was caught and returned to his former owners in Lewisburg. They opted to execute him by hanging him in one of the outbuildings.
The old Withow house was remodeled and added to in the 1920s to create the General Lewis Inn. The new addition was constructed with beams from some of the outbuildings that stood behind the Withow house, those beams included the beam from which Reuben was hung. Reuben’s shade is joined by a black-clad woman who occasionally strolls into the restaurant and takes a seat. When she is approached by a server, she vanishes. A gingham-clad little girl who may have died in the 1850s also plays throughout the inn. She enjoys stealing socks from guests among other antics and it is believed she enjoys rocking in the lobby’s rocking chairs.
Strange sounds are sometimes heard emanating from Room 206. Ghastly moans have been heard by guests both in and out of the room while guests in Room 208 have encountered a female entity.
Gutman, David. “New owners, but same (haunted?) history for the General Lewis Inn.” Sunday Gazette-Mail. 31 August 2014.
Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
Richmond, Nancy, Tammy Workman and Misty Murray Walkup. Haunted Lewisburg, West Virginia. Privately Published, 2011.