Haunted Virginia, Briefly Noted

Virginia possesses a vast history; subsequently, it could be described as one of the most paranormally active states in the country. This is a selection of some of the more interesting hauntings throughout the Old Dominion.

Aquia Church
2938 Jefferson Davis Highway
Stafford

Aquia Church , photograph taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

As with many of Virginia’s great landmarks, Aquia Church has a ghost story attached. The legend tells of a young woman murdered in this National Historic Landmark church at some time in the eighteenth century and her body hidden in belfry. Accordingly, her spirit descends from the belfry at night and has been witnessed by many over the centuries. One caretaker also spoke of seeing shadowy figures among the tombstones in the graveyard. The current Aquia Church building was built in 1751 and destroyed by fire just before the construction was complete. Using the remaining brick walls, the church was rebuilt in 1757.

Sources

  • Driggs, Sarah S., John S. Salmon and Calder C. Loth. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Aquia Church. Listed 12 November 1969.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. The Ghosts of Virginia. Progress Printing, 1993.

Assateague Lighthouse
Assateague Island

In terms of books documenting the spiritual residents of the state, Virginia has an embarrassment of riches. Marguerite DuPont Lee can be noted as one of the first authors to document many of Virginia’s ghosts in her 1930 book, Virginia Ghosts. More recently, L.B. Taylor, Jr. has published some 22 volumes covering the state. Most recently, Michael J. Varhola published his marvelous Ghosthunting Virginia and it is that book that documents the haunting surrounding the Assateague Island and its lighthouse.

Assateague Lighthouse, 2007, by DCwom, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Assateague Island is a barrier island along the coast of Maryland and Virginia. Much of the island is now Assateague Island National Seashore with parts of Assateague State Park and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The island is famous for its feral horses, descendants of the horses aboard the Spanish ship, La Galga, which wrecked just off the island in 1720. It is said the spirits of the humans who died in the wreck still comb the beach near the Assateague Lighthouse. The lighthouse, constructed in 1866 and first lit the following year to replace an earlier lighthouse from 1831, may also have some spiritual activity related to it. Varhola cites a National Park Service employee who tells of the door to the lighthouse being found mysteriously unlocked.

Sources

  • Assateague Island. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Assateague Lighthouse. December 1972.

Bacon’s Castle
465 Bacon’s Castle Trail
Surry

Bacon’s Castle, 2006, by Yellowute, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Bacon’s castle ranks highly on a number of lists. It’s described as the only Jacobean house in America and one of three in the Western Hemisphere; one of the oldest buildings in the state of Virginia and the oldest brick home in the United States. Indeed, it may be one of the oldest haunted houses in the US as well. Researchers in 1999 dated tree rings on some of the home’s beams and determined the house was constructed around 1665. Originally called Allen’s Brick House, the house acquired its current name during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 when some of Nathaniel Bacon’s supporters took over the house. The house, which has survived and witnessed centuries of American history, is now a house museum.

As for the ghosts, this house may possess many. The final private owner of the house, Mrs. Charles Walker Warren, told many tales of the house involving doors opening and closing by themselves and footsteps that were heard. Certainly, the most well-known phenomena regarding Bacon’s Castle is the red fireball that has been seen rising from the house and disappearing in the churchyard of Old Lawne’s Creek Church nearby.

Sources

  • Barisic, Sonja. “Houses’ ‘Bones’ Yield Secrets of Its History.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 19 December 1999.
  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Plantations of Virginia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.
  • Melvin, Frank S. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Bacon’s Castle. Listed 15 October 1966.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. The Ghosts of Virginia. Progress Printing, 1983.
  • Tucker, George. “Ghosts Long A Part of the Lore of Bacon’s Castle.” The (Norfolk, VA) Virginian-Pilot. 9 November 1998.

Belle Isle
Richmond

Originally called Broad Rock Island, Belle Isle was used for mostly industrial purposes in the nineteenth century. Mills, quarries and a nail factory appeared on the tranquil island in the James River. Notoriety came to the island in 1862 with the opening of a Confederate prisoner of war camp that was as notorious as Georgia’s dreaded Andersonville and with a huge influx of prisoners, the camp quickly descended into squalor. Prisoners lived in tents that provide little insulation from the bitter cold of Virginia winters or the heat of the summer sun and were offered little in the way of food. By 1865, most of the prisoners had been shipped to prison camps throughout the South and the island was returned to its more tranquil use as the site of a nail factory. The Old Dominion Iron and Nail works operated on the island until it closed in 1972 and many of its buildings demolished. The island became a park around that same time and has been a popular spot for hiking and jogging.

Belle Isle, 2012, by Morgan Riley, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Still, remnants of the island’s past linger: the site of the prison camp is marked but little else remains while there are ruins of some of the old industrial buildings. Indeed, spirits from the islands past may also linger. There are reports from island visitors of shadow people, hearing footsteps on the trail behind them, lights in the woods at night and photographic anomalies. Author and investigator Beth Brown in her Haunted Battlefields: Virginia’s Civil War Ghosts conducted an investigation and picked up an EVP of a male voice clearly saying, “Where are we?”

Sources

  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Battlefields: Virginia’s Civil War Ghosts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
  • Dutton, David and John Salmon. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Belle Isle. Listed 17 March 1995.

Michie Tavern
683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville

Michie Tavern, 2005, by Forestufighting, courtesy of Wikipedia.

My first introduction to the Michie Tavern came through the eyes of paranormal researcher and writer Hans Holzer. Among some of the first books about ghosts I read were some of Holzer’s books and I still vividly remember reading of some of his investigations. For his books, he traveled the world with a psychic medium in tow investigating haunted and historical locations such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City and the famous house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, the basis for the “Amityville Horror.” On his travels through Virginia he visited the Michie Tavern and nearby Monticello and was able, through his medium Ingrid, to find spirits still partying in the ballroom of this 1784 tavern. Staff members have reported the sounds of a party in that very room late at night.

Sources

  • Holzer, Hans. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1997.
  • Michie Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.

Monticello
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville

Monticello, 2013, by Martin Falbisoner, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1928, a Charlottesville preservationist purchased the Michie Tavern, an 18th century tavern in nearby Earlysville and moved it near to Thomas Jefferson’s “little mountain,” Monticello. Jefferson, perhaps one of the country’s most brilliant, enigmatic and creative presidents, designed and built his home over many years at the end of the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth century. Over the years that the house has been open as a museum, there have been a few reports of phantom footsteps and other minor incidents including the occasional sound of someone cheerfully humming.

Sources

  • Holzer, Hans. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1997.
  • Monticello. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.

Octagon House (Abijah Thomas House)
631 Octagon House Road
Marion

Octagon House, 2007, by RegionalGirl137, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a state of magnificently preserved historical homes, it is surprising to find a magnificent architectural gem like the Abijah Thomas House standing forlornly unrestored.  Neglect and vandalism by teenagers out for a “scare” have also taken their toll on this home. The octagon house style found prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century and currently only a few hundred to a few thousand (sources differ) survive. This particular house, described in its National Register of Historic Places nomination form as “the finest example in Virginia of a 19th-century octagonal house,” also has a number of legends about it. According to Michael Varhola, the internet is full of these legends that seem scary but are unlikely to be true. Certainly, this old house is creepy in its deteriorated state, but it really needs a professional investigation.

Sources

  • Octagon houses. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Abijah Thomas House. Listed 28 November 1980.

Old ’97 Crash Site
Route 58 and Riverside Drive
Danville

It’s a mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville,
And a line on a three mile grade.
It’s on that grade that he lost his airbrakes.
You see what a jump he made.
— “Wreck of the Old ‘97” first recorded by G.B. Grayson and Henry Whittier

The wreck of the Old ’97, 1903.

On September 27, 1903, the No. 97 “Fast Mail” train jumped its track on the Stillhouse Trestle in Danville and plunged some 75 feet into the ravine. The train’s engineer, who was rushing to get to Spencer, North Carolina on time, tried to slow the train as it approached the trestle, but the train did not slow. Of the 18 souls aboard, 10, including the engineer were killed. Not long after the crash stories emerged of people seeing odd lights in the ravine where the crash occurred. Even after the trestle was removed and the ravine was filled with growth, the lights are still said to appear.

Sources

  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Wreck of the Old 97. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.

Rosewell
5113 Old Rosewell Lane
Gloucester

Rosewell ruins, 2002, by Agadant, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The magnificent main house at Rosewell burned in 1916, but it is hardly a distant memory. The brick wall still stands, and archaeological excavations have uncovered the remains of items that were inside the house during the fire. Construction began in 1725 and the house was completed in 1738 for the powerful Page family. The power of the Page family extended into the nineteenth century and included friendships with people such as Thomas Jefferson who legend says drafted the Declaration of Independence within the walls of Rosewell. The ruins have been preserved as a historic site and still attract visitors and spirits. An old legend speaks of a woman in red seen running down the remains of the house’ front stairs with the sound of slaves singing has also been heard.

Sources

  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Plantations of Virginia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.

Silver Spirits–Charlottesville, Virginia

Silver Thatch Inn
3001 Hollymead Drive
Charlottesville, Virginia

It’s always exciting to find a new haunted location, especially one with a haunted history that has not been well documented. Set among the pastoral landscape in the Virginia countryside just north of the bustle Charlottesville, the Silver Thatch Inn resembles many other historic Virginia homes with an original house and a series of additions extending from it.  Guests of the seven-room bed and breakfast have been reporting possible paranormal activity in their rooms for years, though the owner has never had an experience herself. The dearth of stories recently spurred the owner to invite members of the Twisted Paranormal Society to investigate.

The home’s history certainly qualifies it to be haunted. A two-story log cabin was constructed here—supposedly the site of a Native American village—by Hessian prisoners of war in 1780 during the dark days of the American Revolution. In the early 19th century, an addition was added and the house was converted for use as a boys’ school. After the Civil War, the house returned to use as a farmhouse, becoming the main house for the 300-acre Hollymead Farm. For nearly 30 years, the house was the home of the Dean of Men at the nearby University of Virginia before the farmland was sold for development in the 1960s. The home became a bed and breakfast in the latter part of the 20th century.

In a 1983 article for the Baltimore Sun, Geoffrey Fielding reported on a former Baltimore couple who purchased the Hollymead Inn, as it was then called. Interestingly, the article refers to the spirit of a Hessian soldier that guests had encountered while staying the night. The reporter even blamed the spirit for a missing wallet. Apparently, the ghost has not been reported on until now.

Hessian soldiers
Hessian soldiers as rendered by Charles M. Lefferts, before 1923. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During recent investigations of the inn, investigators encountered a large, looming shadow figure in the attic. The first group of investigators encountered a figure described as being about “seven feet tall, just standing behind [one of the other investigators]”. Assuming that the entity did not want the investigators there, the group exited the space. A second group also encountered the shadowy form. The inn’s owner remarked that after the investigators left, “we did see a shadow figure appearing to crawl across the floor at the top of the stairs.” Perhaps this is the spirit of Hessian soldier?

Investigators from Twisted Paranormal are convinced that the inn is haunted and the owner is preparing to host more paranormal events in the coming months.

Sources

‘Twas the Night Before Halloween—Recycled Revenants

‘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.

Sources 

  • 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.

Entrance to the old Western & Atlantic Railroad Tunnel, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV, All rights reserved.

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.

Sources

  • 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

Old Talbott Tavern, 2008, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

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.

Old State Capitol, 2009, by Avazina. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • Manley, Roger. Weird Louisiana. NYC: Sterling Publishers, 2010.
  • Old Louisiana State Capitol. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 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

Jericho Covered Bridge, 2009, by Pubdog. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Jericho Covered Bridge. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 January 2011.
  • Ed. Haunted Maryland. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2007.
  • 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 railroad junction at the heart of Corinth. Photo 2013, by Ron Cogswell. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted Southland. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Second Battle of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 January 2011.
  • Siege of Corinth. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 January 2011.

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.

NC Zoo sign, 2010, by Eleazar. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • North Carolina Zoo. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 11 April 2012.

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.

Carter House by Hal Jesperson, 2009. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • O’Rear, Jim. Tennessee Ghosts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 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.

Rockledge Mansion by AlbertHerring, 2008. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources 

  • Occoquan History. com. Accessed 16 November 2010.
  • Occoquan, Virginia. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  • 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 Castle by Jeanne Mozier. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Straddling the line–Virginia and Tennessee

East Hill Cemetery
East State Street
Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia

The city of Bristol straddles the border between Virginia and Tennessee with East State Street marking the state line west of East Hill Cemetery. The cemetery itself is divided into nearly equal portions as it passes through the cemetery. The primary entrance, however, is located on the Tennessee side.

The death of a child is always traumatic, though it was especially harrowing when five-year-old Nellie Gaines passed away in 1857 as her family was preparing to leave the area. Worried that the pitiful grave would be neglected and forgotten, the family sought a proper place for their daughter. One of Bristol’s founders, Samuel Goodson, owned a hill east of town and suggested it as a proper burial place.

A wagon bore the child’s casket up the hill prodded by a branch snapped off by the driver. After the service, the branch was stuck into the earth to mark the grave. The branch grew into a tree atop the grave until the early 1970s. Over the years the hill began to collect graves and eventually became an official cemetery.

haunted East Hill Cemetery Bristol Tennessee Virginia state line ghosts
East Hill Cemetery by Dan Grogan, 2013. Courtesy of Flickr.

This hill had been the scene of strange occurrences for many years prior to its use as a cemetery. During the latter days of the 18th century, this area was a favored hunting ground for General Evan Shelby who lived nearby. As the old general developed dementia in his old age, he took to wandering his old hunting grounds which included East Hill. After his death passersby still spotted the form of the old general still rambling about the hillside.

Even stranger was the image of a burning tree that was spotted on rainy nights. Brave souls who ventured into the cemetery in search of the torch-like tree never found any sign of fire. A local reverend built a home on a nearby hill with a good view of East Hill and he and his family regularly witnessed this phenomenon that they dubbed the “burning tree ghost.”

Sometime after the cemetery was formally established, a man taking a shortcut through the cemetery late on a snowy night heard the sounds of children playing. Thinking the sounds odd, he stopped momentarily to listen and was shocked to see three white figures moving towards him. He fled. Over the years, many others have reported similar sounds on cold, snowy evenings.

Local historian Bud Phillips tells a more recent story involving a woman searching for the grave of her great-grandmother. After tramping through the cemetery and have no luck finding her great-grandmother’s marker the woman decided to give up. As she walked back to her car she saw the strange figure of a woman standing not far away wearing a pink gown and pointing to a shrub. The figure vanished and the intrepid visitor decided to take a closer look at the shrub the woman had been pointing at. Lo and behold, the shrub was covering her great-grandmother’s marker. A short time later, the woman remembered that her great-grandmother had been buried wearing a pink gown.

With the activity here, it seems that East Hill Cemetery may also straddle the line between life and death.

There are several other places that “straddle the line” that I have covered. Two theatres on State Street–the Paramount Center for the Performing Arts on the Tennessee side, and the Cameo Theatre on the Virginia side–have been covered in my article, “Phantoms of the Operas, Y’all–13 Haunted Southern Theatres.” I have also covered the ghosts of the Bristol Train Station in Virginia.

Sources

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Encountering the Souls of Petersburg

Review of Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia & the Tri-Cities Area Pamela K. Kinney
Schiffer Publishing, 2015

When the producers and designers for Steven Spielberg’s recent film Lincoln, were scouting for historic landscapes to use in the film, Petersburg, Virginia came in very high on the list. It can often be difficult to find cities where lines of historic buildings are uninterrupted by modern intrusions, though Petersburg has those. Along with these lines of historic structures the city also has ghosts, many of them. Author Pamela Kinney set out recently to meet some of them.

Kinney is very lucky in her investigations. She seems to be able to capture really great evidence often without the myriad equipment that other investigative teams often lug about. She’ll go into a location with a voice recorder, a camera, and perhaps a Ghost Box. After asking a few prescient questions, she’ll often leave with some interesting answers. While some authors, myself included, simply investigate from the comfort of their desk or a library table, Kinney does the footwork to personally meet many of the ghosts herself.

The range of sites covered in Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia & the Tri-Cities Area provides a unique view into the plethora of hauntings in Petersburg and the surrounding area including Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Chester and Ettrick-Matoaca. Included in this book are Civil War sites, historic churches, a sushi restaurant, theatres, an old motel, cemeteries, and a splendid collection of historic homes. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs, the book is a fun and informative guide to this most historic region of Virginia.

Copies of the book are available at the following sites:

Schiffer Publishing

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Phantoms of the Operas, Y’all—13 Haunted Southern Theatres

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.

Sources

  • 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.

H Street Playhouse, 2012, by Smallbones. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Coconut Grove Playhouse, 2011, by Ebyabe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Interior of the Springer Opera House, 1979. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Paramount Arts Center, 2007, by YoungAmerican. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Ball, Linda Larimore. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Paramount Theatre. October 1975.
  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Conley, Caitlin. “Paranormal activity at the Paramount Theatre. The Parthenon. 27 October 2011.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

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.”

Sources

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • Norotel, Russ. Ellicott City’s Guide to Haunted Places. Cosmic Pantheon Press, 2008.
  • Okonowicz, Ed. Haunted Maryland. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2007.

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.

Sources

  • Cinemark Movies 8. org. Accessed 27 March 2013.
  • 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.

Entrance to the Mountainside Theatre, 2012, by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

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.

The ready room phone, 2014, by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

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.

Sources

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.

Dock Street Theatre, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • Paramount Center for the Arts. Cinema Treasures. Accessed 5 March 2013.

Cameo Theatre
703 State Street
Bristol, Virginia

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.

Sources

  • 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, 2013, by WVFunnyman. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

13 More Southern Rooms with a Boo

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.

Panoramic view of the Tutwiler Hotel, 2011, by Chris Pruitt. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.”

Sources

  • 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.

Hay-Adams Hotel, 2008, by AgnosticPreachersKid. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • Alexander, John. Ghosts: Washington Revisited. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1998.
  • “Funeral of Mrs. Adams.” The Critic. 10 December 1885.
  • Hay-Adams Hotel. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 March 2015.
  • 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 Don Cesar in 2006 by Porkfork6. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnatti, OH: Clerisy, 2010.
  • Powell, Jack. Haunting Sunshine: Ghostly Tales from Florida’s Shadows. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2001.

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.

Riverview Hotel, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

Sources

  • 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.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Bluegrass State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnatti, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • T’Frere’s House, Lafayette, LA.” Smoke and Mirrors Paranormal Investigators. Accessed 5 March 2015.
  • 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.

Sources

  • 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.

Foyer of the Cedar Grove Inn, 2004, by Flowerchild48. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • “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.

Postcard view of the Grove Park Inn, circa 1914.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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.

Sources

  • “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.

Strawberry Chapel where Catherine Chicken was tied to a tombstone. Photo circa 1940 by Frederick Nichols for the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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.

Sources

  • 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.
  • Rice Hope Plantation—Moncks Corner—Berkeley County.” South Carolina Plantations. Accessed 7 March 2015.
  • 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.

Sources

  • 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.

The Wayside Inn, 2008, by DwayneP. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

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.

Sources

  • 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.

Sources

  • 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.

13 Southern Rooms with a Boo

Following on the heels of my article, “Dining With Spirits,” I’ve decided to revamp my Halloween article from 2010 on haunted inns and hotels. That article was so large I published it in two parts so I’m breaking it into a smaller article with just 13 hostelries, one from each of the states that I cover. See part two of this article in “13 More Southern Rooms with a Boo.”

St. James Hotel
1200 Water Street
Selma, Alabama

The Queen City of the Black Belt, Selma, has a remarkable history that is intimately connected with the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, events that, despite their names, were hardly civil. The city is perched on a bluff overlooking the Alabama River and among the collection of buildings that peer down upon the river is the St. James Hotel. Built some 17 years after the incorporation of the town in 1820, the St. James has served patrons for nearly two centuries. The structure was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War, one reason the hotel was not burned like much of the city. Towards the late nineteenth century, the hotel fell on hard times and served a variety of functions. Keeping up with Selma’s drive to bill itself as a tourist destination, the St. James underwent a $6 million restoration in the 1990s which has provided 42 guest rooms, 4 riverfront suites with balconies overlooking the Alabama, the Troup House Restaurant (which utilizes the hotel’s name during the Civil War) and a number of spiritual guests.

The St. James Hotel, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Outlaw Jesse James and his gang were frequent guests in the hotel and a male apparition seen in guest rooms on the second and third floors and in the bar may possibly be Jesse or a member of his gang. The spirit has been accompanied by the distinct jangle of spurs. Investigators in one of the hotel’s ballrooms asked “Is anyone there?” during an EVP session. The voice of a male answered on tape, “Well, that’s a stupid question.” Among other spirits still walking the halls of the St. James are a female and a dog whose barking is heard. So, if you check into the St. James, chances are high that you may encounter something, just don’t ask any stupid questions.

Sources

  • “Dead walk.” The Selma Times-Journal. 23 October 2005.
  • Lewis, Herbert J. “Selma.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. 12 August 2008.
  • “St. James hosts ‘spirit.’” The Selma Times-Journal. 30 October 2003.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

Suite 870 of this 1930 hotel has seen three deaths. Juliette Brown, a live-in maid to the hotel’s owner, Henry Doherty and his family, died there unexpectedly as well as Doherty’s wife and daughter some time later. The apartment remained abandoned for some 50 years while guests staying in rooms around the suite would complain of late-night sounds coming from the room. Hotel staff has experienced being locked out of the room and cold breezes in and around the suite which is now known as the “Ghost Suite.” 

The Omni-Shoreham Hotel, 2009, by Jurden Matern. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Writer Eric Nuzum spent a night in the room in 2007 and was awakened in the night by an odd, unexplained creaking that happened five times during the early morning hours. Just before he checked out of the room he discovered that lights he had left on were off. As he stood in the dining room pondering the lights, they turned back on by themselves.

The blog, Phantoms and Monsters published an account in 2012 of a hotel guest who stayed in room 866, just down the hall from the Ghost Suite. Around 2:25 AM he was awakened by moaning that seemingly came from the room next door. This was followed by a woman’s scream that issued from just underneath the guest’s bed. The terrified guest then observed a female form that began to take shape next to the bed. The form was a beautiful, nude female who smiled at the guest before turning and dissipating in a nearby wall.

Sources

La Concha Hotel
430 Duval Street
Key West, Florida 

La Concha Hotel, 2012, by Acroterion. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The theme that runs through the ghost stories of the La Concha Hotel in Key West is falling from a great height, both deliberately and accidentally. This seven-story hotel, opened in 1926, is the tallest building in the city and has been the scene of suicides and a horrible accident. The building’s history has also experienced some great falls as well. Opened to great acclaim, this luxury hotel was visited by many of the notable names of the age: Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, even possibly Al Capone and his cronies, but with the stock market crash in 1929, business seriously dropped. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which swept the Keys destroyed the Key West Extension of the East Coast Railway which was one of the island’s major arteries.

Following World War II, the La Concha, much decayed, staggered on through the middle of the twentieth century with only the kitchen and the famous rooftop bar open to the public. The hotel was restored and reopened in 1986 to much fanfare. The La Concha Hotel has recovered from its fall, but, perhaps its spirits have not.

On New Year’s Eve, 1982 or ’83 (sources differ), a young man, unfamiliar with the hotel’s ancient service elevator, fell down the elevator shaft while cleaning up after a party. His spirit seems most active on the fifth floor and obviously, around the elevator. More deliberately, according to Dave Lapham’s Ghosthunting Florida, some 13 people have committed suicide from the rooftop bar of the hotel. Some of their spirits may also remain. One gentleman who took the leap in 2006 reportedly downed a glass of Chardonnay before doing so. Since then, patrons have reported their glasses of Chardonnay were sometimes suddenly jerked from their hands by an unseen force. Hopefully, these fallen spirits have found comfort in the Other Side.

Sources

  • Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Volume 1, South and Central Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2008.
  • Lapham, Dave. Ghosthunting Florida. Cincinnatti, OH: Clerisy, 2010.
  • Rodriguez, Stacy. “La Concha Hotel turns 80.” The Key West Citizen. 20 January 2006.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
371 Riverview Drive
Jekyll Island, Georgia

The grand and glorious spirit of the Victorian Era is evident at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, both in the atmosphere but also in the spiritual energy that persists there among the ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Opened in 1888 by a consortium of America’s elite families, the Jekyll Island Club was an exclusive hideaway for families with names such as Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Macy and Goodyear. In addition to the grand clubhouse, some families built mansion-sized “cottages.” As America entered into war in 1942, the club closed its doors and sat vacant until the State of Georgia, who now owned the island, attempted, unsuccessfully, to open the club as a resort in the early 1970s. The club opened as a private resort in 1985.

Jekyll Island Club, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV. All rights reserved.

Almost from the moment the club opened its doors, tales of ghosts were being told. The president of the club, Lloyd Aspinwall, died during the club’s construction, but some in the crowd spotted him stiffly gliding through the crowd in his usual military manner. He has also been encountered on the Riverfront Veranda of the club. In the annex of the clubhouse, a three-story apartment building called Sans Souci (“without care”), the apparition of Samuel Spenser, former head of the Southern Railroad Company, has been reported, still reading his morning paper. The shade of a former bellhop still knocks on doors requesting laundry.

Sources

  • de Bellis, Ken. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the Jekyll Island Historic District. Listed 20 January 1972.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

The Brown Hotel
335 West Broadway
Louisville, Kentucky

A sculpted likeness of businessman James Graham Brown stands on the sidewalk just outside the magnificent 16-story hotel he built at the corner of Fourth and Broadway. At his feet sits his little canine friend, Woozem, who, as the story goes, Mr. Brown rescued from a circus that had recently cut the dog’s act. The dog and Mr. Brown lived in the lap of luxury there until the end of their days, perhaps they remain.

Brown Hotel, 2005, by Derek Cashman. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Opening in 1923, the Brown Hotel provided four-star accommodations to the citizens of Louisville for a number of decades. The famous Hot Brown was developed in the hotel’s restaurant. The hotel operated until 1971, just two years after the death of James Brown, when it closed its doors. The grand dame held offices for the public school system and when the downtown began a resurgence in the late 1980s, the hotel was renovated and restored to its former glory.

The fifteenth floor of the hotel is currently an unimproved storage space for the hotel and seems to be the center of spiritual activity. It’s believed that it was on this floor that Mr. Brown has his suite and perhaps his spirit still roams the floor. The elevator is often called to this floor by an unseen presence. Two employees reported going up to the floor and as they exited they noticed a third set of footprints in the plaster dust on the floor. A guest who had stayed on the fourteenth floor complained of hearing heavy footsteps and furniture moving all night. Perhaps Mr. Brown and Woozem are just making themselves comfortable.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Bluegrass State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2009.
  • Parker, Robert W. Haunted Louisville: History and Hauntings from The Derby City. Decatur, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2007.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnatti, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.

Bourbon Orleans Hotel
717 Orleans Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

Located just behind St. Louis Cathedral and running along the partier’s paradise of Bourbon Street is the grand Bourbon Orleans Hotel. On my first visit to New Orleans, my family stayed in this marvelous hotel. While we didn’t encounter anything paranormal, I remember spending a few wonderful hours sitting on the balcony watching the crowd below on Bourbon Street.

This graceful building was first opened as the Orleans Ballroom in 1817. It was host to the famous Quadroon Balls, balls where mixed race women (a “Quadroon” was someone whose ancestry was 1/4 of African descent) were introduced to wealthy white men. While these people could not legally marry, the system of plaçage provided these men with mistresses or concubines whom the men would support and provide for. By 1881, the building, with the adjoining Orleans Theatre, had begun to fall into ruin and the buildings were taken over by the Sisters of the Holy Family for use as an orphanage, school and convent. This convent, according to Sheila Turnage, was the first convent for African-Americans in the nation. After some 83 years as a convent, the building was converted into a hotel to serve the booming New Orleans tourist trade.

During my stay, I recall reading or hearing a story from the renovation of the building (though I cannot source it). A worker in the building hurt himself and uttered a vulgarity when an unseen hand slapped him across the face. Certainly, the spirits of nuns and the children that they tended have lingered in this building. Guests often encounter the spirits of children throughout the building. But also, the spirits from the structure’s wilder days as a ballroom do appear as well. Dancing couples have been seen in the ballroom and frock-coated gentlemen are sometimes reported in the men’s restroom off the lobby (once a room for playing poker).

Sources

  • “History.” com. Accessed 30 October 2010.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Lord Baltimore Hotel
20 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland

Blogger Lon Strickler of the blog, Phantoms and Monsters, wrote about a visit to the Lord Baltimore Hotel in 1980. Sitting with a friend in the hotel’s lobby, he writes, “I sensed many raw emotions, good and bad…We sat in the lobby over drinks and conversed about our past…but, in the meantime, I was being bombarded by distant sounds of yesteryear. It became so bad that I started to feel claustrophobic and had to make a ‘polite as possible’ excuse to leave.” He has never returned to the hotel.

Authors Melissa Rowell and Amy Lynwander include an account of a hotel employee named Fran in their book, Baltimore Harbor Haunts. In it, Fran describes her personal experiences as well as those of employees working under her. Fran’s account mentions a little girl she encountered on the nineteenth floor. The girl ran past an open doorway and when Fran ran after her, she found the hallway deserted. She turned and saw a couple in formal attire walking towards her. Asking if the little girl belonged to them, she turned towards the direction of the now missing child. Fran turned back to the couple and discovered they had disappeared as well. 

Lord Baltimore Hotel in a 1942 postcard.

Evidently, Fran is not the only person to witness the apparition of a little girl as a guest was awakened to find a young girl in her room crying. When approached, the girl vanished. One of Fran’s coworkers encountered three or four spirits standing in the hotel’s darkened ballroom. When she turned on the lights, all figures were gone.

Certainly, the Lord Baltimore Hotel could be haunted. Built in 1928, the hotel was the largest in the state of Maryland. As one of the tallest buildings in the area at the time, the hotel attracted jumpers after great stock market crash of 1929. Another writer and psychic, Paul Schroeder, had some possible interactions with some of these vestiges of suicides past when he stayed at the hotel. Entering a suite on the 18th floor, he encountered “the reek near the window overlooking the corner was of death and suicide.” After deeming the room unsatisfactory, Schroeder was given another suite where he had “persistent and intermittent visions of a young girl emotionally bereft screaming a face of frozen horror.” He was later told, by the staff, that a young woman had committed suicide on that floor which was believed to be behind much of the paranormal activity on that floor of the hotel.

Sources

  • Rowell, Melissa and Amy Lynwander. Baltimore’s Harbor Haunts: True Ghost Stories. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2005.
  • Schroeder, Paul. “Ghosts and nightmares in a haunted Baltimore hotel: The Raddison Lord Baltimore.” UFO Digest. 31 January 2014.
  • Shoken, Fred B. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Lord Baltimore Hotel. 17 March 1982.
  • Strickler, Lon. “Spooky Lord Baltimore Hotel.” Phantoms and Monsters. 31 January 2014.

Anchuca Mansion
1010 First East Street
Vicksburg, Mississippi

One guest at Anchuca remarked to the owners that she couldn’t stay in the house because it was too emotional. Indeed, Anchuca’s history is marked with periods of intense emotional turmoil. The house has seen the deaths of some of its past owners, members of their families and then soldiers who came through the home’s doors wounded and ill during the Civil War. Some of them most surely died here as well. Throw in Joe Davis, the brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and you have quite the contingent of spirits roaming the halls of Anchuca.

A 1936 photo of Anchuca taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey by James Butters. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

With a name derived from a Choctaw word meaning “happy home,” Anchuca has hosted a number of families during its long history. It was originally constructed in 1830 for politician J. W. Mauldin and was sold to merchant Victor Wilson some years later. Wilson added the Greek revival portico to the house and he and his wife lived here through the tumult of the Siege of Vicksburg when the house served as a hospital. After the war, the home was owned by Joseph Davis who died here in 1870. The house was then purchased by the Hennessy family.

Portraits believed to be Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy grace the wall above the sideboard and with their portraits hang a tale. Some years ago, one of Anchuca’s owners discovered water leaking from the dining room ceiling. He rushed upstairs to the bathroom above the dining room to find that water is coming from the bathroom ceiling and then making its way into the dining room below. He called in a plumber to check the hot water heater and air conditioning unit that were in the attic above the bathroom. As he was looking for the leak, the plumber plunged his hand into the insulation and pulled out these two portraits. The plumber did not find any dampness to suggest a leak and the leaking water mysteriously subsided. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy wished to have their portraits restored to a rightful place within their former home?

Besides mysterious water leaks, the spirits of Anchuca also do a bit of redecorating on occasion. Just after purchasing the house, a friend of one of the owners witnessed a spirited display of displeasure. The owner had hung three South American masks on the wall of his quarters. A friend of his watched one afternoon as one of the masks lifted itself off the wall, hung for a moment in midair and then dropped to the floor. The friend fled in fear. The owner picked up the mask and hung it in its spot on the wall and asked the spirits to leave it alone. The masks have not been cast to floor since. The owners, staff and guests have also encountered a female spirit throughout the house.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Vicksburg. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Miller, Mary Warren. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Anchuca. 25 February 1981.
  • Sillery, Barbara. The Haunting of Mississippi. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2011.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Balsam Mountain Inn
68 Seven Springs Drive
Balsam, North Carolina

Balsam Mountain Inn, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV. All rights reserved.

Passengers departing from their trains in Balsam, North Carolina just after the turn of the century were met with an inviting and palatial hotel overlooking the station. They would enjoy the cool mountain air from the double porch with views of the town below. Though the train no longer brings them, visitors today can enjoy the same air and views and, if they stay in room 205, perhaps a nice back rub from a spirit. One guest staying in this room with her husband had a bad back and was awaken by a back rub from him, until she realized he was sound to sleep next to her. The unidentified ghost on the second floor of this hotel which opened in 1908 also rattles doorknobs of rooms on that floor.

Sources

  • Bordsen, John. “Room with a Boo.” The Charlotte Observer. 25 October 2009.
  • 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.

Battery Carriage House Inn
20 South Battery
Charleston, South Carolina

Sign for the Battery Carriage House Inn, 2011, by Lewis Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Located at the Southern tip of the city of Charleston overlooking the meeting point of the Cooper, Stono, Wando and the Ashley Rivers is The Battery, one of Charleston’s “best” neighborhoods. It was at The Battery where many of the city’s and state’s best families built grand homes. From the rooftops of these grand homes and White Point Gardens fronting Charleston Harbor that citizens, including the diarist Mary Chestnut watched as the Confederacy laid siege to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Number 20 South Battery is home to the Battery Carriage House Inn, possibly one of the more spiritually active locations in the city.

A few of the Battery Carriage House Inn’s eleven sumptuous guest rooms are apparently haunted. A couple staying in room 3 were awakened by noise from a cellphone; while this may be quite common, phones are not supposed to make noise when powered off as this phone was. But this activity seems minor compared to the reports from rooms 8 and 10. Guests staying in Room 8 have encountered the apparition of a man’s torso. There is no head or limbs, just a torso dressed in a few layers of clothing. One guest sensed that this figure was quite negative. The spirit in Room 10 is much more pleasant and even described as a gentleman. The innkeepers believe this may be the spirit of the son of a former owner who committed suicide.

Sources

  • “Ghost Sightings.” com. Accessed 31 October 2010.
  • Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Spar, Mindy. “Local haunts among treats for Halloween.” The Post and Courier. 26 Otcober 2002.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Union Station Hotel
1001 Broadway
Nashville, Tennessee

Ghosts are associated with certain types of stone, primarily granite and limestone, water and also iron. The iron rails of railroads that have stretched around the globe have given rise to many ghostly legends associated with railroads. Nashville’s Union Station, first opened in 1900, while no longer hosting the iron rails or even the old train shed, still hosts a few ghosts associated with the railroad. Legend has it that on nights of the full moon, a ghostly train still pulls into the station, while that legend may be a bit ridiculous, staff and guests of the hotel have reported hearing the scream of a steam whistle at times; perhaps a residual noise. 

Union Station Hotel, 2008, by The Peep Holes. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During World War II, Union Station was the point of departure for tens of thousands of troops departing for battlefronts around the world. Two spirits remain from this period. One is the revenant of a young soldier who stands near the tracks seemingly waiting for something. The other is the spirit of a young woman who legend states was killed when she fell onto the tracks in front of a train. With the demolition of the train shed, it is unknown if these spirits are still active.

In the second half of the twentieth century, the grand station saw fewer and fewer passengers as the automobile became the dominant mode of transportation in America. The last train departed the station in 1978 and the station closed its door only to be reopened as a luxury hotel some years later. A more recent legend tells of a middle-aged couple that would meet at the hotel on a weekend once a month. By all accounts, the man appeared to be married, but perhaps not the woman. The lovers would spend the entire weekend in their room but one month, the man did not show up. The woman, in distress, spent the weekend in her room and was later discovered dead with a revolver at her feet. Her room, 711, has seen a good deal of activity, with one guest reporting her bag, which she had unpacked, had been repacked upon while she had stepped into the bathroom. Activity seems to revolve around this room with the spirit of young woman being encountered in the hall outside this room and in surrounding rooms as well.

Sources

  • Harris, Frankie and Kim Meredith. Haunted Nashville. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.
  • Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Traylor, Ken and Delas M. House, Jr. Nashville Ghosts and Legends. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2007.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Martha Washington Inn
150 West Main Street
Abingdon, Virginia

War changes many things and the Civil War certainly changed Martha Washington College. The young girls that had studied and gossiped in the college’s rooms became nurses for the wounded young soldiers brought from battlefields far and near and some of those rooms housed able young men who were training on the grounds. Like so many buildings that served as hospitals during the Civil War, the pain and death left its mark upon the college. A number of soldiers still are rumored to walk the halls and occasionally shock guests and staff alike. In addition a ghostly horse, still looking for its long-dead master, still walks the grounds outside.

Martha Washington Inn, 2006, by RebalAt. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Built as a private residence, General Francis Preston’s 1832 home became an upscale women’s college in 1858. The Great Depression’s punch to the nation led to the school’s closure in 1932 and “The Martha” was later reopened as an inn. The inn is now a part of The Camberley Collection, a group of fine, historic properties.

Sources

  • Hauck, Dennis William. Haunted Places: The National Directory. NYC: Penguin, 2002.
  • “History.” The Martha Washington Hotel and Spa. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of America’s Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.
  • Rosenberg, Madelyn. “History and Legend Abound at Abingdon’s Martha Washington Inn.” The Roanoke Times. 31 July 1999.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. The Ghosts of Virginia. Progress Printing, 1993.
  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.

Lowe Hotel
401 Main Street
Point Pleasant, West Virginia

N.B. This article was originally published September 24, 2013, as a newsworthy haunt.

Paranormal events rarely resonate so much within a community or even on a national scale as the sightings of the Mothman have. A series of sightings of this creature occurred between November of 1966 and December of 1967; events that inspired a handful of books, a movie and, for over a decade, a festival in Point Pleasant.

Postcard of the Lowe Hotel circa 1930-45. Courtesy of the
Boston Public Library.

The annual festival has certainly boosted “paranormal tourism” in Point Pleasant and one of the more popular paranormal spots in the city is the Lowe Hotel. During the festival tours will be lead through this haunted, turn of the 20th century hotel. According to an article from the Point Pleasant Register, the current owners of the hotel were initially bothered by the idea that their hotel might be haunted, though as attitudes towards the paranormal have changed, the haunting has become an attraction to tourists.

Theresa Racer, of the blog, Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State, presents the best history of the hotel to be found online. The hotel was opened as the Hotel Spencer in the nascent years of the 20th century. The four-story hotel was popular with riverboat traffic operating on the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers which meet at Point Pleasant. The hotel was purchased by Homer Lowe in 1929 who renamed it the Lowe Hotel. It operated until the late 1980s when the owner put it up for sale. The current owners purchased the hotel in 1990.

According to Racer, there is a large contingent of spirits within the hotel. The spirit of a beautiful, but disheveled woman has been reported on the mezzanine between the first and second floors. This section houses the dining room and it is here that the spirit is seen dancing to music that only she can hear. On the second floor, a tyke on a tricycle has been seen prowling the halls. Sometimes the sound of a little girl’s laughter will accompany the sound of a squeaky tricycle.

The third floor seems to be the most active with a few of the rooms there being haunted. One of the most remarkable stories involves the suite at 316. A female staying in this suite entered the room one evening to find a man standing by the window looking out. She asked him who he was and he replied that he was Captain Jim and he was waiting on a boat. After noticing the man did not have legs, the woman fled.

Two chairs on the fourth floor seem to have activity surrounding them. The recent article mentions a wheelchair on that apparently moved on its own volition. The chair vanished for about three years only to reappear out of the blue. Racer reports that an old rocking chair in a storage room on that floor is supposed to rock on its own.

Sources

  • Racer, Theresa. “The Lowe Hotel, Pt. Pleasant.” Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. 2 March 2011.
  • Sergent, Beth. “History of local hotel a festival favorite.” Point Pleasant Register. 19 September 2013.

13 Southern Haunts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

We’ve all seen them and we’ve probably posted links to them on Facebook. They come with a seemingly infinite variety of name, superlative and number combinations: “Top 10 Scariest Haunted Places,” “6 Most Terrifying Places to Eat Dinner,” “50 Academically Prestigious Colleges and Universities with Ghosts,” “23 Super-Duper Awesome Most Haunted Prisons.” During Halloween especially, these “articles” sprout like veritable weeds along the sides of the information superhighway.

Usually, these articles simply rehash the same stories about the same locations and rarely do they ever provide much useful information. The author usually puts in just a modicum of research and produces something that is simply entertaining without providing much depth. It’s like a picture of Kim Kardashian that gets retweeted a million times, it provides nothing useful yet it gets passed around ad nauseum to the enlightenment of no one.

I do, however, have to commend Theresa Racer on her marvelous list of haunted places in all 50 states that she posted on her blog.

This is my attempt at one-upping these “articles.” There are countless haunted locations that are rarely covered, yet, in my humble opinion, are fascinating and worthy of a bit more attention.

University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama

My friend, Jenna, had some roommate issues her freshman year at this small Alabama liberal arts college. At night in her dorm room in Old Main Residence Hall Jenna and her living roommate would hear whispering and footsteps both in her room and outside her door. These are not uncommon issues for college freshmen, though Jenna’s problem roommate was a former student who died in a fire in 1908. When the school operated as a women’s college in the early 20th century, a student, Condie Cunningham, caught her nightgown on fire while trying to heat fudge in a chafing dish. She went screaming down the hall and collapsed. She died a few days later in the hospital.

Main Residence Hall, 1993. Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Set in the small, central Alabama town of Montevallo, the university has a wide-ranging roster of revenants, one of which even plays an annual part in one of the university’s most celebrated events: College Night. This annual event pits the students against each other producing competing musicals. Created in 1923, this event is adjudicated from the other side by the spirit of the competition’s founder, Dr. Walter Trumbauer, known affectionately as “Trummy.” According to Jenna, during dress rehearsals and performances, Trummy “gets crazy in Palmer.” Pipes are known to shake backstage and his spirit is seen in and around Palmer Hall where the competition is held. Trummy swings the battens of the curtains onstage during performances of the show that gets his approval. Usually, that show will win.

Among the many other spirits on this campus are Confederate soldiers seen in and around Reynolds Hall. The oldest building on campus, Reynolds was used as a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. Under the watch of Captain Henry Clay Reynolds, the wounded and sick soldiers were abandoned when Reynolds and his men left to defend the nearby Briarfield Iron Works. When he returned, he discovered the sick and wounded had been massacred by Union troops.

Reynolds Hall, 2014, by Lewis Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Now home to the university’s Department of Theatre, Reynolds Hall is still plagued by spirits from that horrible, war-time event. Another student, Mia, told me she had experiences while working alone in an office on the second floor of the building. The room suddenly grew cold and the blinds started shaking violently. She fled. A visiting artist was walking backstage when he encountered a man in a Confederate uniform. He was later informed that there was no period production going on or re-enactors in the building.

By no means are these the only or most active spirits on campus, many buildings are haunted. These include the mid-19th century King House which may be one of the most active buildings on campus, Hanson Hall with its ghostly housemother and Napier Hall with its marble rolling ghost.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
  • Interview with Jenna M., Cherokee, North Carolina, June 2012.
  • Interview with Mia S., Cherokee, North Carolina, June 2012.

Halcyon House
3400 Prospect Street
Georgetown, District of Columbia

Just as the recent real estate bubble touched properties throughout the country, this very large, imposing haunted house was also affected. The house was put up for sale for around $30 million in 2008, just as the bubble began to burst, and sold for less than half of that in 2011. Of course, such an eccentric house with the dramatic history that Halcyon House has would probably have trouble selling in good times.

This 30,500 square foot manse comes complete with a “whimsical” library, a large studio space, a ballroom, a chapel, six apartments, a very large garage and a panoply of ghosts. A sealed tunnel in the basement of the house is supposed to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. In the early 20th century, a carpenter was asked to seal the tunnel and as he did he heard cries and mournful sobs issuing from it. Over the years, various owners have reported apparitions in the house as well as phantom knocking. In one particular bedroom, several people have reported being levitated by an unknown force. 

Halcyon House, 1999. Photo by Jack E. Boucher for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The home’s history is just as dramatic as the hauntings. It was built in the late 18th century by Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, and was later owned by the eccentric Albert Adsit Clemons, who claimed to be a nephew of Mark Twain. Clemons extensively remodeled the house and refused to install electricity. Since Clemons death, the house was owned briefly by Georgetown University and recently by a sculptor who, with his wife, lovingly restored the home. During their residence, they claimed to have had no odd experiences within the home’s most historic walls.

Sources

  • Alexander, John. Ghosts, Washington Revisited. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1998.
  • Cavanaugh, Stephanie. “Centuries of Drama at Halcyon House.” The Washington Post. 30 August 2008.
  • Krepp, Tim. Ghosts of Georgetown. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Powell, Lewis O. IV. “Haunted Washington, D.C.” Southern Spirit Guide. 22 December 2010.
  • Taylor, Nancy C. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Halcyon House. 3 November 1970.

Island Hotel
373 2nd Street
Cedar Key, Florida

Most people head to Cedar Key to avoid the crowds, though visitors to the Island Hotel may encounter a crowd of spirits. According to a number of sources including the hotel’s website, thirteen—a very appropriate number—spirits walk the halls of this hotel.

 
Island Hotel, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The building was built as a general store in 1860, the eve of the Civil War. In 1862, Cedar Key, at that time a small railroad town, became the first town in Florida to fall under Federal occupation. Some buildings were burned, but the general store was spared and quite possibly used as a barracks and warehouse for the occupying troops. After the war, the building returned to its commercial use as a general store and operated successfully until the collapse of the cedar industry and business began to slow. In 1915, the store was purchased by Simon Feinberg who converted the building into a hotel. It has served as a hotel, under a variety of owners, for the last hundred years.

According to a recent article in the Ocala Star-Banner, the spirit of a Confederate soldier has been quite active recently. Guests have spotted him standing guard throughout the upstairs portion of the hotel. Joining the soldier is a small African-American boy, possibly the spirit of a slave who legend holds drowned in a cistern on the property. Former owners, including Simon Feinberg and Bessie Gibbs still patrol the hotel checking up on guests to see that they are being taken care of.

Sources

  • Allen, Rick. “Cedar Key offers island life, complete with ghosts and clams.” Ocala Star-Banner. 7 August 2014.
  • The History of the Island Hotel.” Island Hotel and Restaurant. Accessed 12 December 2014.
  • Island Hotel Ghost Stories.” Island Hotel and Restaurant. Accessed 12 December 2014.
  • Jenkins, Greg. Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore, Volume 3. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2007.
  • Lewis, Chad and Terry Fisk. The Florida Road Guide to Haunted Locations. Eau Claire, WI: Unexplained Research Publishing, 2010.
  • Nolan, David and Micahel Zimny. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for the Island Hotel. 1 October 1984.

Magnolia Springs State Park
1053 Magnolia Springs Road
Millen, Georgia

Of the many transgressions committed by both sides during the American Civil War, the neglect and contempt visited upon the prisoners of war looms large. Large-scale prisons were constructed and packed with prisoners who were underfed and sometimes virtually unclothed often under the open sky. Pestilence and lawlessness prevailed among the tightly packed men with death swooping among them picking off victims like a hawk.

Contemporary illustration of Camp Lawton by Robert Sneden,
a Union soldier who was incarcerated here. Courtesy of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.

In this sordid history, Andersonville Prison in West Central Georgia is the most tragic tale and the prison’s site has been spiritually scarred with many spirits still roaming the piney landscape. While it was possibly the worst of these horrendous prisons, Andersonville is not the only one to mar the Southern landscape. Camp Lawton, near the eastern Georgia town of Millen, was one of the largest prison camps erected by the Confederates. Encompassing some 42 acres, the camp was constructed in 1864 and used for only three months.

It was built to house 40,000 prisoners but in its short lifespan only held about 10,000 prisoners in conditions that were far better than Andersonville. However, there were about 500 deaths in the camp during its service. When Sherman found the camp during his march from Atlanta to Savannah in 1864, he burned it to the ground along with Millen. The site of the camp is now part of Magnolia Springs State Park.

Employees have reported spirits in the park, particularly around one of the cabins occupied by park staff. One manager reported being awakened by a uniformed apparition standing at the end of his bed. Another staff member approached the cabin and saw a face peering out one of the windows at him when he knew the house was empty. At night, staff members have reported that they get the feeling of being followed or watched.

Sources

  • Wilkinson, Chris. “Civil War Prisons.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 9 September 2014.
  • Miles, Jim. Civil War Ghosts of Central Georgia and Savannah. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.

Hayswood Hospital
West Fourth Street at Market Street
Maysville, Kentucky

The large Neo-Classical building crowns a hill above West Fourth Street and turns its face towards the majestic Ohio River beyond the city’s downtown. It’s obvious that the building has been long abandoned. Windows stand open like empty eye sockets while other closed windows hold broken panes that stare jaggedly towards the river. Along the first floor, plywood covers the windows and doors, a thin barrier to intruders, both human and natural.

Hayswood Hospital has endured a long jag of bad luck since its closure in 1983. Just last year, the building was almost sold to collect on a nearly $6,000 unpaid tax bill, but at the last minute, the sale was withdrawn. Nearly a decade after its closure, the building was purchased with the intent of renovating it into apartments, though that has fallen through. In 1999, a condemnation order was placed on the structure requiring the owner to either demolish or renovate the building, but nothing has come of that. The order still stands like a death sentence over a weary prisoner.

Not only is the crumbling building a blight on the city’s face, but asbestos and lead paint within the building are a danger to the health of the community. The blight also attracts vandals and thieves including the two men who were arrested in the building as they tried to steal copper wiring. In addition to the health dangers, the building’s falling ceilings and weak floors are a physical danger to the curious who decide to investigate the building.

With the constant stream of legends flowing forth from abandoned (and even not so abandoned) medical facilities, it’s no surprise to hear that Hayswood has many of its own stories. Nothing about the reports of apparitions and voices provided in the article from the blog Most Haunted Places in America is particularly unusual. The blog reports apparitions throughout the building including that of a woman holding a baby in the old maternity ward.

A video posted on YouTube on Halloween 2006 purportedly shows a spirit in the building. The very grainy video taken of the exterior of the building at night shows a white figure appearing in one of the windows. The videographer focuses in on the figure and it appears to take on the features of a very large face then quickly vanishes. Personally, something doesn’t really look right about the video, but I cannot positively describe it as fake.

The grand hospital was constructed in 1915 and served the community well. The 87 bed hospital was bought by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in 1981 and it was closed when a new facility was opened nearby. The building remains in its uneasy slumber awaiting its fate and comforted only by the occasional spirit from its past.

The Hayswood Hospital building is closed to visitors, trespassers will be prosecuted.

Sources

  • Barker, Danetta. “Out of the hospital and into custody: Police make arrests at Hayswood.” The Ledger Independent. 22 September 2005.
  • “The Haunted Hayswood Hospital.” Most Haunted Places in America. 18 June 2012.
  • Maynard, Misty. “Video of ‘ghost’ at Hayswood Hospital getting planty of attention.” The Ledger Independent. 22 October 2007.
  • Toncray, Marla. “For Sale: Hayswood Hospital.” The Ledger Independent. 22 March 2013.
  • Toncray, Marla. “Hayswood sale plan halted.” The Ledger Independent. 26 April 2013.

Juju Road
Off of Swan Lake Road
Bossier City, Louisiana

Depending on the version of the legend, his crime ranged from simply looking at a white woman to the murder of two children who were simply fishing. Regardless, legend holds that he took his final breath somewhere along the road that still bears his name and possibly his lingering spirit. His name is said to be “Juju” or more properly “Juju Montgomery” in various versions of the legend, regardless, his name has been applied to this lonely country road outside Bossier City.

Like the countless cry baby bridges and haunted lovers lanes, the old dirt road is a popular hangout for local residents looking for a scare. Online accounts of the haunting describe people encountering the figure of an African-American man standing in the road or hanging from one of the trees with a rope around his neck.

Local paranormal enthusiasts, Marie Edgerly, her husband and son have formed a group called Louisiana Paranormal Addicts which explored Juju Road during the day. While they describe the location as “eerie,” they did not have any direct experiences with the spirit. Arriving home after their investigation, however, they were startled to discover a shadowy human form in one of their photographs from this location. Is it Juju?

Sources

  • Edgerly, Marie. “Juju Road.” Louisiana Paranormal Addicts. 31 October 2014.
  • Patton, Devon. “A Bossier Parish Ghost Story.” 29 April 2014.

Edgar Allen Poe House & Museum
203 Amity Street
Baltimore, Maryland

Of course the home to Baltimore’s favorite son of creepiness is haunted! Why would anyone think otherwise? When Vincent Price, one of the modern masters of creepiness, visited this house he said, “This house gives me the creeps.”

Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston and lived intermittently in a number of cities including Baltimore where he would ultimately die in 1849. There are a few buildings where he lived that remain, including this small, unassuming house in Baltimore where Poe lived for about two years. The house had been rented by Poe’s aunt, Maria Clemm, in the spring of 1832 and was occupied by her daughter, Virginia, and his grandmother. Poe probably moved in the following year and he used the garret room at the top of the house for his writing. He would remain in these cramped quarters until 1835.

Edgar Allan Poe House, 2007. Photo by Midnightdreary, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Over the years that the house has operated as a museum, some visitors have had unusual experiences, among them the feeling of being tapped on the shoulder by an unseen entity. In the mid-1980s, an actress preparing for a performance in the house had a scary encounter. As she was dressing, she noticed that the window sash was moving in the frame, then was shocked when the sash flew out of the frame and landed at her feet. A 2012 investigation by the Pennsylvania-based Ghost Detectives did turn up some odd voices on the team’s voice recorders.

Sources

  • Hayes, Anthony C. “Ghost Detectives investigate ghostly voices inside the Edgar Allan Poe House.” Baltimore Post-Examiner. 16 July 2012.
  • Hayes, Anthony C. “Is the Edgar Allan Poe House haunted?” Baltimore Post-Examiner. 11 May 2012.
  • Hutchisson, James M. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2005.
  • Mendinghall, Joseph S. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Edgar Allan Poe House. 11 November 1971.
  • Okonowicz, Ed. Baltimore Ghosts: History, Mystery, Legends and Lore. Elkton, MD: Myst and Lace Publishers, 2006.

Kuhn Memorial Hospital
1422 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Vicksburg, Mississippi

In a recent series on haunted Mississippi for Jackson, Mississippi’s The Clarion-Ledger, reporter Therese Apel remarks that she heard “completely improbable stories from completely sane people.” While researching for the series, Apel explored the deteriorating carcass of Kuhn Memorial State Hospital and had an improbable experience of her own. On the dusty top of an autopsy table a finger—possibly spectral—had spelled out “pleh,” the word “help” backwards.

The oldest part of this hospital was built in 1832 following an epidemic of smallpox that swept the area. In 1871, the state took over operations of the hospital rendering it a charity hospital for all those in need. During an outbreak of yellow fever in 1878, the dreaded mosquito-borne virus claimed the lives of some sixteen doctors and six Sisters of Mercy working here.

A modern wing was added to the building in 1959. The hospital faithfully served the citizens of Vicksburg and the surrounding area until the state cut funding and the hospital closed in 1989. The building has deteriorated under absentee owners for the past twenty-five years, visited only by urban explorers, filmmakers and ghost hunters. It was during a film shoot here that filmmakers may have unwittingly caught a voice exclaiming “oh my God,” upon the appearance of an evil clown, the film’s protagonist.

Further paranormal investigations of the facility have uncovered a plethora of voices in this most haunted of hospitals.

Sources

  • Apel, Therese. “Creepy phenomena recorded at abandoned hospital.” The Clarion-Ledger. 30 October 2014.
  • Apel, Therese. “Haunted Mississippi: Where are the most spiritually active places in the state?” The Clarion-Ledger. 22 September 2014.
  • Associated Press. “Owner of former hospital given deadline.” Mississippi Business Journal. 29 September 2013.
  • Russell, Randy. The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2014.

Stagville State Historic Site
5828 Old Oxford Road
Durham, North Carolina

While psychic and author Kala Ambrose was visiting Stagville as research for her book, Ghosthunting North Carolina, she took a moment, sat quietly and opened herself up in hopes of communicating with a spirit or two. Instead, she found herself thronged by them. She described it in her book, “the crowd of people was so large that I couldn’t see all of their faces. Instead, I felt the pressure of all of their bodies coming closer to me wanting to talk.”

Bennehan House at Stagville, 2008. Photo by Cotinis, courtesy
of Wikipedia.

One of the largest plantations in the South at its height, ghost stories have been a mainstay of Stagville Plantation for many years. Neighbors have reported strange lights on the property as well as screams in the night. The apparitions of an African-American girl and a group of African-American men have been reported near the Great Barn. The fire department has been summoned several times by reports of the slave quarters being ablaze. Upon arrival, there is no evidence of fire. Staff working in the remaining buildings have found that doors open and close and lock and unlock on their own. The site has been investigated by a number of groups who have captured a number of EVPs there.

The property itself has been the scene of much history. There is evidence of inhabitation by Native Americans and their possible burial on the site. Ambrose states that the remains of settlers have been found bearing evidence of attack from Native Americans. In the mid-19th century, this land was part of the huge holdings of the Bennehan and Cameron families and consisted of some 30,000 acres that were worked by some 900 slaves. Stagville State Historic Site preserves about 71 acres of the original plantation along with a number of remaining buildings and ruins.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
  • Haunted North Carolina. “Historic Stagville.” Accessed 12 December 2014.
  • McDonald, Glenn. “Go ghost hunting with Haunted NC.” Indy Week. 22 October 2014.
  • Stagville. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 12 December 2014.

Longstreet Theatre
Campus of the University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

The building housing the Longstreet Theatre at the University of South Carolina has seen a good deal of joy and a great deal of sorrow. According to the 1941 WPA guide to the state, the 1855 building has twice been pressed into service as a hospital: between 1862 and 1865 during the Civil War and then again in 1918 during the horrible influenza epidemic that swept the world. Legend holds that the room that is used as the theatre’s green room, where actors relax when they’re not onstage, was utilized as the hospital morgue during the Civil War.

To “ward off the Civil War ghosts,” according to a 2011 article from the student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, students now employ a “buddy system” in the building. This may very well be a good idea as it seems that many of the reports of activity seem to stem from people who find themselves alone in the building. A secretary had her glasses “slapped off” her face as she walked through the building late one afternoon. “There was no one in the building but me, but I felt an impact on my face and my glasses flew off,” she told a reporter later.

A student was quoted as having a feeling of being watched while she was in the green room and then having the sensation of having “a wall of cold air being pushed across and around her.” Other students tend to get a very creepy feeling or even feel vibrations within the ancient structure. However, most students and professors take the spirits in stride. Alan Brown quotes a theatre professor, “I love to tease students and tell them the ghosts are real friendly unless you’re a Yankee.”

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted South Carolina. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • Carmichael, Sherman. Eerie South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
  • Ellis, Sarah. “Ghost tours highlight USC’s haunted history.” The Daily Gamecock. 28 October 2011.
  • Kearns, Taylor. “The phantom of Longstreet Theatre?” Carolina Reporter & News. No date.
  • Mitchell, Wes. “Ghosts and legends plentiful on USC campus.” Carolina Reporter & News. No date.
  • Steimle, Douglas. “The Ghosts of Longstreet Theatre.” com. 31 October 2011.
  • Workers of the Writers’ Program of the WPA. South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State. NYC: Oxford University Press, 1941.

Baker-Peters Jazz Club
9000 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee

This entry has been reposted as a separate entry, “Spirits and Smooth Jazz–Knoxville, Tennessee.”

Graffiti House
19484 Brandy Road
Brandy Station

It’s not hard to imagine that soldiers throughout the Civil War began to quickly feel their own mortality. As they lay wounded in the homes and taverns, churches and barns that had been hastily converted into hospitals throughout the nation, many scratched their names into adjacent plaster walls and floorboards, perhaps in hopes of gaining some type of immortality. With so much of this graffiti obliterated by the buildings caretakers and time, these exercises into immortality have become increasingly rare, despite their importance to historians and the residents of the modern age.

Graffiti House, 2013. Photo by Cecouchman, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Built near a small railroad stop on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, Graffiti House was built by James Barbour in 1858 as a residence and possible commercial building. As battles raged around Virginia, Mr. Barbour’s building was converted into a hospital and the patients began to scrawl on the walls of the structure. In June of 1863, the war that had been trickling into the community until then arrived as a deluge when it was the scene of the largest cavalry battle fought on American soil.

The graffiti was only rediscovered in the early 1990s and the building was later purchased by the Brandy Station Foundation, an organization devoted to preserving the local battlefield and associated sites. But it’s not just graffiti that remains in the building, spirits are still active as well. A handful of paranormal investigation organizations have investigated Graffiti House and captured evidence.

A reporter from The Free Lance-Star in nearby Fredericksburg in 2007 observed a paranormal investigation by the Virginia Paranormal Institute. About an hour into the investigation he was apparently touched by something while an investigator had something grab her hand. During a more recent investigation by Transcend Paranormal, video of an anomalous light in an empty room was captured. The video is available on YouTube.

Sources

  • Johnston, Donnie. “What was that touching my back?” The Free Lance-Star. 23 November 2007.
  • Neville, Ashley and John S. Salmon. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for Graffiti House. June 2005.
  • Transcend Paranormal. “Transcend Paranormal: Graffiti House Light Anomaly.” 18 November 2011.

West Virginia Turnpike
Interstate 77
Between Princeton and Charleston, West Virginia

A state trooper encountered a pedestrian along this road. As pedestrians are forbidden from walking along the sides of interstates, the trooper arrested the young man. He was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the trooper’s patrol car. At some point during the drive, the state trooper glanced in the rearview mirror to find the back seat was empty. The pedestrian simply vanished leaving the handcuffs on the seat.

West Virginia Turnpike as it passes through Fayette County. Photo 2006 by Seicer. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The West Virginia Turnpike has been known for its phantoms for years. Some of these are classic phantom hitchhikers who have even been encountered by law enforcement. In another similar story, a state trooper encountered a little girl wandering by the side of the road. He picked her up and put her in the back seat of his car, though without handcuffs. During the drive, the girl vanished.

Ghost blogger Theresa Racer writes in her blog of her own experience on the turnpike. She was traveling with her mother and they passed “a scraggly looking young man wearing dark clothing and carrying an olive green army-like sack” in a particularly lonely area of the interstate. After passing him, the pair looked in their rearview mirror to see the figure had vanished. They turned their car around and did not see anyone along that same lonely stretch of interstate.

Folklorist Dennis Deitz posits in his The Greenbrier Ghost and other Strange Stories that the road cuts across two creeks where tragedies have occurred. Along both Paint and Cabin Creeks there were many mines where miners were killed in accidents. He also notes that both creeks have experienced flooding that has killed residents in the area. During the turnpike’s construction in the 1950s there were also a number of old cemeteries that were disturbed including a large cemetery that was moved for the building of a truck stop. The truck stop and other buildings along the road also have odd stories of ghosts.

Sources

  • Deitz, Dennis. The Greenbrier Ghost and Other Strange Stories. South Charleston, WV: Mountain Memories Books, 1990.
  • Gavenda, Walter and Michael T. Shoemaker. A Guide to Haunted West Virginia. Glen Ferris, WV: Peter’s Creek Publishing, 2001.
  • Racer, Theresa. “WV Turnpike.” Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State. 2 March 2011.

“Blew our schoolhouse away”—Duffield, Virginia

Rye Cove Intermediate School
158 Memorial School Lane
Duffield, Virginia

Oh listen today and a story I tell
With saddened and tear dimmed eyes
Of a dreadful cyclone that came this way
And blew our schoolhouse away.
–“The Cyclone of Rye Cove” by A. P. Carter, originally covered by
The Carter Family

In the news business there’s the old maxim, “if it bleeds, it leads,” thus headlines are often gory. Americans were jarred on the 3rd of May, 1929, by headlines about the huge storm that passed through Virginia and the rural wooden schoolhouse in Rye Cove that didn’t stand a chance against one of the storm’s tornados. The Associated Press story about the tornado was printed in papers from Maine to California.

The story of the storm appeared on the front page of the Alton Evening Telegraph in the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois, incidentally noted to be one of most haunted cities in the Midwest.

RYE COVE, Va., May 3, (AP)—Grief stricken parents searched the debris of the Rye Cove Consolidated school today, fearful of finding additional victims of the tornado that yesterday claimed the lives of 13 children and one teacher in the greatest disaster ever known to this western Virginia mountain village.

The tragedy at Rye Cove has been the worst thing to occur in this tight-knit community in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Indeed, the spirit world will not let the community forget this tragedy and, according to folklorist Charles Edwin Price, the ghastly roar of the tornado’s wind and the accompanying cries of children are still heard on the anniversary of the fateful day.

The history of this quiet cove in the Appalachians began with a tragedy in 1773 when a group of settlers were attacked here. Despite treaties forbidding settlers from settling in territory claimed by Native Americans, settlers began to make their ways into that territory. On the evening of October 9, a group of settlers including James Boone—son of the famed frontiersman, Daniel Boone—were set upon by natives attempting to guard their territory. The sleeping settlers were fired upon as they slept with two killed instantly. Two others escaped into the woods while Boone and another settler were tortured before being killed. One African slave hid in the forest and witnessed the ordeal while another slave was taken by the natives.

Rye Cove’s baptism by blood was just the beginning. Other settlers filtering into the area had their lives cut short in similarly bloody ways. Permanent settlement did not begin until after the American Revolution, though Rye Cove—due to its isolation—grew very slowly. Additionally, farming in the area was made difficult by the large outcroppings of limestone that punctuated the land throughout the cove.

The hard-scrabble families in the cove eventually built a school in the mid-19th century which was replaced by a modern schoolhouse in 1907. By 1923, the Rye Cove Consolidated School had grown to eight rooms and an auditorium. This was the building that housed some 150 students around noon on May 2, 1929.

The school’s principal, A. S. Noblin, was at lunch when his landlady noted the storm that was brewing outside. As he left his boarding house to return to the school he saw the black shape that was quickly making its way up the valley. Noblin reached the schoolhouse just in time to watch one of the automobiles parked outside the school rise into the air. Moments later, the wooden building disintegrated into a mass of splintered wood with students, teachers, chalkboards, pot-bellied stoves and other debris careening through the air.

Noblin told a reporter for the Scott County Herald-Virginian, “Trees were swaying. As it neared the school building it became a black cloud…I think I yelled. It struck the building. The next thing I remembered I was standing knee deep in a pond 75 feet from where the building stood before it was demolished.”

The Bee, a newspaper in Danville, Virginia, picks up the story. “The two-story frame schoolhouse was ripped from its foundations, torn asunder and strewn over a distance of 300 to 400 yards, some of the children were blown almost 100 yards while others were buried in the wreckage.”

Anxious parents and neighbors from throughout the valley soon flooded the scene and began digging through the wreckage. Included among the many neighbors who came to help was A. P. Carter who would compose a song mourning that Rye Cove, “where in life’s early morn, I once loved to roam,” was now “so silent and lone.” The search was intensified when overturned pot-bellied stoves began to ignite the wooden debris of the school.

Headlines from The Bee of Danville, Virginia, 3 May 1929.

The Bee of Danville, Virginia, picks up the story: “Great confusion followed the tornado, anxious fathers worked feverishly in the ruins, fearful that they might discover the bodies of their children. The anxiety of parents was intensified because the injured children were hurriedly rushed away for hospital treatment before the parents arrived.” Rye Cove’s remote location lead rescuers to evacuate the most seriously injured to Clinchport, Virginia while some were taken by train to Kingsport, Tennessee.

In the end, the lives of twelve students and one teacher were lost amid the ruins of the schoolhouse. The remainder of the school term was canceled and a new school was constructed on the site with a memorial plaque installed in memory of the thirteen victims whose memory is still stirred by the sound of howling winds and screams every May 2.

Sources

  • Associated Press. “22 Dead and 100 hurt is state’s toll.” The Bee (Danville, Virginia). 3 May 1929.
  • Associated Press. “Death toll from storm reaches 49.” Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Illinois). 3 May 1929.
  • McDaid, Jennifer Davis. “Rye Cove Cyclone.” Encyclopedia Virginia 23 November 2010.
  • Mills, Elizabeth. “Rye Cove High School: A Brief History.” Scott County Public Schools. Accessed 5 November 2014.
  • Price, Charles Edwin. “Death in the Afternoon: The Rye Cove Tornado.” Rootsweb FOLKLORE-L Archives. 28 April 2000.
  • Price, Charles Edwin. The Mystery of Ghostly Vera and other Haunting Tales Of Southwest Virginia. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain Press, 1993.