“None of the town is spared of a ghost story”—Shepherdstown, WV

This article touches on Shepherd University. For a further examination of the hauntings on that campus, please see my guide to higher education haunts in WV.

I must sheepishly admit (pun intended) that I was not familiar with Shepherdstown, West Virginia until I stumbled across the website for Shepherd University with a recounting of its campus ghosts. Upon googling local ghosts, a marvelous article from the Shepherdstown Chronicle popped up with the above quote from a local historian. Of course, that got me excited.

Shepherdstown is located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia in Jefferson County. Of the counties in West Virginia, Jefferson County seems to be one of the most paranormally active, most certainly in the area of Harpers Ferry. Standing in the large shadow of Harpers Ferry ghosts, I imagine that is why there really isn’t much written about Shepherdstown’s ghosts.

Settlement of the area began in the early 18th century with Thomas Shepherd being granted over 200 acres in the area. He set aside a portion of that acreage for a town which was chartered in 1762 and is—“arguably” as Wikipedia says—the oldest chartered town in West Virginia. The town was named Mecklenburg and would remain under that name until after the Civil War.

One of the city’s oldest remaining structures is the ENTLER-WELTZHEIMER HOUSE, also known as the “YELLOW HOUSE” (East High Street, Shepherd University Campus) which is now owned by Shepherd University. Not only is the yellow house one of oldest in the city, but the ghost story told about it may be one of the oldest documented ghost stories in the city as well. The story was mentioned in a Shepherd College (as it was called at that point) yearbook in 1928. An article in the student newspaper, the Shepherd College Picket, in 1954 also covers the tale.

In 1910, the Yellow House was the home of a local cobbler, George Yontz and his furry companion, a cat named Ham. When Mr. Yontz’s body was found not far from the cabin, locals assumed he had been killed for his money (many thought him to be very wealthy), though none was found when the house was searched. Since his death, the cobbler’s taps of his cobbler’s tools have been heard in and around the house.

The student newspaper mentions that a family moved into the house not long after Yontz’s death and their cat heard the tapping in the attic. The cat headed up the stairs and not long after came streaking back down and out the door. The cat was not seen again.

The house is built on the site of what was a fort built in the area during the French and Indian War. The house was purchased by the university in 1926 and has been used for a variety of educational uses—including as a Home Economics Cottage—until recently. The university was recently granted money to preserve the house.

McMurran Hall, Shepherd University. Photo by Acroterion, 2012, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Just down the street and around the corner from the Yellow House is McMURRAN HALL (NE corner German and King Streets), one of the grandest buildings on the university campus. McMurran is where Shepherd College was founded in 1871 and its clock tower is featured in the university logo. This grand, Greek Revival building was constructed as the town hall by Rezin Shepherd, the great-grandson of Thomas Shepherd, the town’s founder. Construction began on the eve of the Civil War and building stood incomplete when the wounded from the Battle of Antietam (17 September 1862)—considered one of the bloodiest battles fought on American soil—began arriving in Shepherdstown. Public and private buildings were commandeered for use as hospitals including the unfinished town hall. Perhaps it is the spirit of one of these men who passed in this building that’s seen peering from the clock tower at night.

At the other end of the block, where German Street intersects Princess Street, the corner is graced with the lovely, old ENTLER HOTEL (129 East German Street), also called Rumsey Hall and now home to the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. The first building on this property was a home for the Entler family which was destroyed by fire in 1912. The subsequent buildings constructed here remain and these housed the Entler Hotel.

Entler Hotel, 2008, by Acroterion, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Shepherdstown’s location along a main road from Baltimore to the interior of the southeast, brought a great deal of traffic through the area in the early 19th century. This hotel was opened primarily to serve the wealthier travelers, though the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places notes that there was gambling and other gaming taking place in the inn’s yard. Continuing, it notes that one businessman, having lost his money in a card game, shot himself at the back of the hotel.

This was not the only tragedy here, in 1809 after a duel just across the Potomac River, Peyton Smith was brought here. The duel was held following a card game between Smith and Joseph Holmes, both members of noted Virginia families. The wounded Smith was placed in Room 1 and cried out for his mother before he passed. His mother arrived from Winchester after her son’s passing. People in the building continue to hear Smith’s pathetic cries.

Walking south down Princess Street, visitors will find an old carriage repair shop that formerly housed the CARRIAGE HOUSE CAFE (107 South Princess Street). This building has housed a variety of businesses and the spirit of a former owner is said to remain on the property.

A bit further down East German Street, another corner is graced by a grand building in this case it is the Beaux-Arts style, the old 1906 Jefferson Security Bank. The bank was converted to a restaurant some years ago and now houses the YELLOW BRICK BANK RESTAURANT (201 East German Street). Table 25 was the scene of some activity in the 1990s when a patron reported to the restaurant’s manager that she couldn’t sit at the table because of the ghost. The bartender also reported that he had glasses fall from the glass rack and break.

Of course, for Shepherdstown, I think these hauntings are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more reports from this lovely little town.

Sources

  • Engle, Georgia Lee. “Restless spirit roams campus, haunts High Street Cottage.” Shepherd College Picket. 28 October 1954.
  • Lehman, Mary Corcoran. “Entler Hotel.” Historic Shepherdstown and Museum. Accessed 2 October 2014.
  • McGee, Ted. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Rumsey Hall (Entler Hotel). 6 October 1972.
  • Molenda, Rachel. “Town serves as home to ghosts from past.” The Shepherdstown Chronicle. 28 October 2011.
  • Racer, Theresa. “Shepherdtown’s Historic Carriage House Café.” Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State blog. 16 July 2011.
  • “Shepherd receives restoration grant.” The Shepherdstown Chronicle. 5 August 2011.
  • Shepherd University. “Historic Tour—Yellow House.” Accessed 2 October 2011.
  • Shepherd University. “Legend of the Yellow House.” Accessed 2 October 2011.
  • Shepherd University. “Historic Tour—McMurran Hall.” Accessed 2 October 2011.
  • Whipple, Jim. “The Carriage House to celebrate liquor license.” The Shepherdstown Chronicle. 19 November 2010.

Asheville’s Haunted Five

I occasionally get emails from people wanting information on hauntings within a specific location. Last week I received an email regarding haunted places in Asheville, North Carolina and I gave five suggestions off the top of my head. So I decided to create a blog entry.

Located in Western North Carolina, Asheville is certainly one of the most scenic of major cities in the state. Until European intrusion into the area, the Asheville region was a part of the Cherokee territory. In the years following the American Revolution and the little known Cherokee War of 1776 (which was fought in this area between the patriot colonists and the Cherokee people), settlers began to make inroads into this captivating place at the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers.

The city of Asheville grew rather slowly with the pace of growth picking up after the railroads began building lines through the city. After George Vanderbilt began work on his magnificent estate, Biltmore, just south of the city, other wealthy elites began to visit the city as a mountain playground. The Depression brought crushing debt to the city and it stagnated for decades until that debt was paid off.

During the last decades of the 20th century and into the new century, Asheville has remolded itself into a Bohemian gathering place and a Mecca for artists and travelers.

The city’s unique blend of all things hip with a very interesting history has ranked it among the most interesting cities in the South.

In this blog I’ve already covered a few haunted locations within the city including the Grove Park Inn and Helen’s Bridge. Asheville is city with numerous haunted places and this is a selection of those places.

Asheville City Hall
70 Court Plaza

Asheville City Hall, July 2012, by Lewis O. Powell, IV. All rights reserved.

Asheville is most certainly a quirky city and the city’s marvelous collection of Art Deco buildings adds to that quirkiness. The city’s skyline is dominated by its Art Deco styled courthouse where a tragedy supposedly played out not long after the building’s construction. The building was built between 1926 and 1928 on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash that would mire the country in depression for many years. The building’s exuberant Art Deco styling was created by one of the city’s architectural masters, Douglas Ellington. The city’s fathers boasted that upon completion, no town in the nation could boast a finer municipal building.

On the 30th of November 1930, Central Bank & Trust went bankrupt taking all of Asheville’s optimism for the future with it. As the holder of most of the city’s funds, the city entered a period of penury that would last until the city’s debt was paid off in 1976. According to Ken Traylor and Delas House’s Asheville Ghosts and Legends, the city’s failed finances led the city’s financial manager to take a suicidal plunge from the building. It is believed that it is his spirit wearing a three-piece suit that has been seen within the building.

Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
42 Biltmore Avenue

While mass-shooting events have become commonplace in our news recently, they are not a new phenomenon. Barley’s Taproom may still ring with the echoes of one particular bloody night in 1906. An escaped convict by the name of Will Harris went on a rampage after he made advances on a woman he barely knew. He shot and killed two police officers nearby then began shooting random passersby in the area including a gentleman killed near the corner of Biltmore Avenue and Eagle Street, near to where Barley’s now stands. Will Harris escaped into the night, but a posse of local citizens hunted him down and shot him south of the city near Fletcher.

While this single event may have led to some of the activity within Barley’s, according to Kala Ambrose’s Ghosthunting North Carolina, the area also once was the site of the city’s gallows and paranormal activity has been witnessed in the area since the early 20th century. She reports that a man in black has been seen walking down Biltmore Avenue and disappearing at the door to Barley’s. Perhaps this was also the spirit seen by one of Barley’s owners. His experience, as reported in a 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times article, was of seeing a man walk past the windows of the bar. While seeing people outside is not uncommon, it’s very uncommon to see someone walk past the second floor windows.

Though it’s not just outside the building where there is activity. Ambrose reports that the spirit of a woman may haunt the interior with her perfume detected when she is present.

Biltmore House
1 Approach Road

The Biltmore House is the crowning jewel of the marvelous Biltmore Estate constructed by George Vanderbilt over the course of six years in the late 19th century. The house remains the largest privately owned house in the country and is still owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants. It seems that the spirits of former owners and employees still may roam the estate. Spirits identified as those of George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith, have been encountered as well as those of servants.

Riverside Cemetery
53 Birch Street

Riverside Cemetery is one of Asheville’s most storied cemeteries. It is the resting place of two well-known authors: Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter (known by his nom-de-plume, O. Henry) as well as senators, a couple state governors and three noted Confederate generals. With these noted men rest many of Asheville’s most prominent citizens as well as Confederate soldiers and a number of German sailors who were incarcerated nearby during World War I. Monuments and graves crown stately hills overlooking the French Broad River and lend the cemetery an air of elegance.

Riverside Cemetery, October 2012, by Lewis O. Powell IV.
All rights reserved.

Among these hills, soldiers from the Civil War apparently still march. They have been both seen and heard.

Smith-McDowell House
283 Victoria Road

Asheville’s oldest brick antebellum era building, the Smith-McDowell House has had a long and illustrious history. Built around 1840 by local entrepreneur, James McConnell Smith, the house remained in his family until 1880. The house went through a number of owners until it came into the possession of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in 1974. The campus of the college now surrounds the house. 

Smith-McDowell House, October 2012, by Lewis O. Powell IV.
All rights reserved.

As it is with many historic house museums, the Smith-McDowell House has experienced paranormal activity for years. In 2006, the museum called in a local paranormal group, the League of Energy Materialization and Unexplained Phenomena Research (LEMUR), to investigate. The group identified four spirits residing within the home as well as two unidentified paranormal entities.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
  • Asheville Now. Asheville History: 1930-1940. Accessed 6 September 2014.
  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts are his business Asheville’s own Joshua Warren makes a living from the unliving.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 28 October 2005.
  • Hinson, Mary Alice. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Asheville City Hall. No date.
  • “Museum looks into paranormal activity.” Hendersonville Times-News. 13 October 2006.
  • National Park Service. “Riverside Cemetery.” National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary: Asheville, North Carolina. Accessed 6 September 2014.
  • National Park Service. “Smith-McDowell House.” National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary: Asheville, North Carolina. Accessed 6 September 2014.
  • Traylor, Ken & Delas M. House, Jr. Asheville Ghosts and Legends. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2006.
  • Ward, Kevin Thomas. North Carolina Haunts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2011.

Alcohol and apparitions–North Carolina and Kentucky

N.B. This article was edited and updated 13 February 2019.

Triangle Brewing Company
918 Pearl Street
Durham, North Carolina

The South has always had a tradition of alcohol-making: from the bourbons of Kentucky and whiskies of Tennessee, from modern micro-breweries to the backwoods moonshine that was created when legal liquor production was outlawed. With the rise of Southern wine-making and micro-breweries, many of these businesses have taken to occupying historic structures alongside ghosts.

At some point in the past, a man in Durham, North Carolina died and his body was dumped in a trash bag. When renovations were conducted in the old warehouse that now houses Durham’s Triangle Brewing Company, the human remains were found in a trash bag partially buried in the floor of the basement. Time had taken a toll, leaving only bones and teeth which could not be identified by the Durham Police Department. Not even a date could be established for the remains.

Presumably, the remains were buried in a local cemetery, though with spirited libations and good cheer, the anonymous man is now celebrated as the “patron saint” of a brewery and it may still be his spirit that rambles about the building. According to the spirit’s page on the brewing company’s website, he’s a good sort of spirit who occasionally whispers, moves things, and knocks darts off the dart board. The owners of the brewery have decided to keep him on and have dubbed him “Rufus.”

When he gets a bit rowdy, they pour a beer down the drain to sooth his antics.

Unfortunately, the Triangle Brewing Company will be closing with one last toast in April. Hopefully, Rufus will find a new home.

Sources

  • Rufus. Triangle Brewing Company. Accessed 23 April 2014.
  • Shaffer, Josh. “Durham brewery celebrates 7 years of Rufus the sudsy specter.” The News-Observer. 16 March 2014.

Talon Winery Tasting Room
7086 Tates Creek Road
Lexington, Kentucky 

Unlike the anonymous spirit spreading cheer around the Triangle Brewing Company, Talon Winery’s resident spirit has possibly been identified: none other than famed Lexington transvestite, Sweet Evening Breeze.

James Herndon—known best as “Sweet Evening Breeze” or “Miss Sweets”—is considered “the city’s most colorful character.” The transgender blog, TransGriot, states that Herndon “often wore makeup, occasionally performed or appeared on Main St. on Saturdays in drag, and was apparently quite effeminate. Long before there was RuPaul, Lexington’s Sweet Evening Breeze was titillating and gaining respect from the locals.” The biographical sketch ends by stating that Herndon “cut a path as an openly gay man, drag queen, and possibly a transgendered person.”

In an article from LEX18, Lexington’s NBC affiliate, Herndon is described—somewhat incorrectly—as “a man who liked to wear wedding dresses back in the 1950s.” The article quotes the owner of the winery, “if they go to the stairway that’s where they see the white wedding dress with the dark hair.”

According to what little history that can be found on the winery, the house was built in the 1790s, quite possibly by Isaac Shelby, the state’s first governor. Of course, some of the previous owners have remained in the house and staff reports that children have been seen peering from the windows of the house.

Sources

  • “Agritourism and wine: A natural pairing.” Agritourism Monthly. February 2014.
  • Jones, Jeff. “Sweet Evening Breeze.” Transgriot Blog. 8 February 2007.
  • “Mystery Monday: Haunted Wine Tasting Room.” 31 March 2014.

‘His ghostship’—Salisbury, NC

Fisher Street
Salisbury, North Carolina

Lately, I’ve been enjoying exploring a new resource, Newspapers.com. A subsidiary of Ancestry.com, the site provides historic newspapers from the early 18th century virtually to the modern day. Though the coverage is inconsistent—rarely complete runs of newspapers are provided and their holdings of Deep South papers are poor—there are still 64 million, plus pages of newspapers to search.

Newspapers of the 19th and early 20th were more apt to report on supernatural events and that’s true in this case from Salisbury, North Carolina. On September 1, 1898, The Hickory Press in Hickory, North Carolina—a little more than 50 miles away—picked up this item from the Salisbury Sun.

A genuine ghost was seen on Fisher Street last night. It was discovered by Theo. Hartman, in his room and made its way from the room to the street below by going through the second story window. On the street it was seen by a lady who happened to look out the front door of her house while his ghostship was resting on the fence. The ghost was very tall and perfectly white.

Besides the almost tongue in cheek humor of referring to the ghost as “his ghostship,” this note is very interesting. The movement of the ghost from a room, through the window and down to the street is odd. Generally ghosts are bound to move as living beings. Modern ghost hunters surmise that when ghosts do walk through walls or doors, they are usually following a path available to them in life—i.e. using doors that have since been walled up.

Of course, this is a single event and no information is provided as to if this is a regular occurrence. In a search for information about ghosts on Fisher Street I did come across a listing on a site called ParanormalHotspots.com. The site claims to provide information on haunted businesses directly from the business owners and subsequently has few listings. The only listing for the state of North Carolina is the, now defunct, Brick Street Tavern on East Fisher Street.

Fisher Street is now delineated as East Fisher and West Fisher with Main Street as the dividing line. The 100 block of East Fisher appears to be lined with mostly late 19th and early 20th century commercial buildings and Brick Street Tavern was located at number 122. According to the history at ParanormalHotspots, a large house was on this site in 1885 that may have been a flop house. The current structure was erected in 1912 as part of a wholesale goods company. It has served a variety of uses since that time. Reported activity at the location includes objects moving, apparitions, shadow people and a number of EVPs that have been captured.

With the information provided in the article it is difficult to know if “his ghostship” is still around or if he is responsible for activity at the Brick Street Tavern. If he is, next time I’m in Salisbury, I’ll be sure to buy “his ghostship” a drink.

Sources

Newsworthy Florida–October 2013

There are articles about hauntings blooming all around the South for the Halloween season. Florida, the floral state, is at full bloom. Here’s an overview of recently reported Florida hauntings.

St. Cloud Greater Osceola Chamber of Commerce
1200 New York Avenue
St. Cloud

The Southern literary magazine, The Oxford American, explores Southern culture. As ghosts, ghostlore and ghost hunting (Southerners love their hunting) have permeated Southern culture in recent decades, it’s appropriate that the magazine would publish an article about it. An article by Chantel Tattoli explores this through the experiences of GhostStop, a St. Cloud business specializing in ghost hunting equipment. They also conduct investigations and the St. Cloud Chamber investigation included the article’s author.

According to the investigation team she was working with, the building dates to 1910, when it opened as a bank. One major robbery occurred in the building as well as, if local lore is accurate, a double homicide. The activity in the building includes the requisite footsteps in conjunction with what the author describes as “shadows, rattles and whistles.”

The article ends with the author wistfully asking, “What is a ghost but a smear in the air? A memory, willful and invincible, determined to keep living its life.” I really like that statement.

Source

Florida Theatre
128 East Forsyth Street
Jacksonville

When the Florida Theatre opened in 1927, it was the fifteenth movie palace in the city, but definitely the most lavish. The Mediterranean revival-style architecture was very popular throughout Florida throughout that decade. The grand theatre served the citizens of Jacksonville very well for more than five decades even as many other glorious movie palaces and other theatres were shuttered and demolished.

 

The marquee of the Florida Theatre, 2008, by Craig O’Neal. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

It was here in 1956 that a young singer named Elvis Presley performed. Seated among the screaming fans in the audience was a juvenile court judge to monitor Presley’s notorious hips for movements that were deemed “too suggestive.”

The theatre closed in 1980, but efforts were quickly underway to revive the grand dame. In October of 1983, the theatre opened its doors once again as a performing arts center, a use that has kept the marvelous building open for three decades.

A press release from PR Newswire announces that the theatre will be the scene of a paranormal investigation on Halloween night. The press release includes a remark from the theatre’s house manager that recounts her experience with a strange humming in the theatre. “I’ve heard a strange humming sound that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I thought it was a bar refrigerator, so I unplugged it, but the humming noise continued.”

The ghosts of the Florida Theatre are fairly well documented, especially after an investigation in 2010 captured the image of someone sitting in a seat in the balcony.

An article in the Florida Times-Union from July recounts the experience. The crew was filming with infrared cameras when they began to detect movement in the balcony. “The cameras captured something in Seat E2, Section 500, up in the balcony, where the original 1927 seats are still in place.” The video captured what appears to be someone sitting in the seat and moving their arm.

Perhaps the figure will make an appearance on Halloween.

Sources

The Petite Boutiques
1002 East New Haven Avenue
Melbourne

The Petite Boutiques describes themselves as an “upscale mini-mall” that “hosts a collection of small retail businesses located inside a historic landmark.” The landmark building was once the Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home which moved to new location some years ago. After the building’s conversion to retail space, people working in the building began experiencing odd activity including Christmas trees in the Christmas shop being rearranged.

A member of the family who owns the building was quoted in Florida Today speaking about the Christmas trees. “Every morning, I would come into find a bird on one of our trees that was upside down, and I would have to rearrange it. It happened all the time. Then one night, I closed and knew the bird was on the tree right side up. But when I got there the next morning, it was upside down again.”

The article mentions that various customers have picked up on various entities within the building.

Sources

Eau Gallie Cemetery
Intersection of Avocado Avenue and Masterson Street
Melbourne

Eau Gallie was an independent city until 1969 when it merged with Melbourne. The name may be a reference in French to the salt water found around the town.

In the Eau Gallie Cemetery sleep many of Eau Gallie’s founding and prominent family. But, their rest may not be so easy. The cemetery has been rumored for years as being haunted and has been investigated by Florida Unknown, a local paranormal investigation team.

According to an article from Florida Today, the team did succeed in capturing a female voice responding to a direct question.

Sources

Crooked Mile Cemetery
aka Georgiana Cemetery
Crooked Mile Road
Merritt Island

It appears that the Crooked Mile Cemetery may be quite a bit more active than the Eau Gallie Cemetery. Indeed, the cemetery plays a part in one of the area’s most well-known ghost stories—the haunting of Ashley’s Restaurant in nearby Rockledge.

On November 21, 1934, the badly mutilated and decomposing body of a young woman was found near the river. Nineteen year old Ethel Allen had been seen just a few days before when she stopped at a local packing house to say goodbye to a friend. Ethel was leaving to visit her mother. She may have also stopped by her favorite local hangout, Jack’s Tavern, now Ashley’s of Rockledge. The Tudor style restaurant, on U.S. 1, still has activity, which has been attributed to Ethel Allen.

The gentleman with whom Ms. Allen was travelling was identified, but never questioned. Ms. Allen was laid to rest in the Crooked Mile Cemetery where she continues to interact with the living. In yet another article from Florida Today, the Brevard Ghost Hunters report that they received an EVP saying “yes” at the grave of Ethel Allen. The investigators had asked if Ms. Allen was present.

Within the moss-draped graveyard, others have reported seeing and hearing apparitions, but scarier still, hands have been known to reach out of graves here.

Sources

Pritchard House
424 South Washington Avenue
Titusville

It is said that Lola Pauline Smith Pritchard, known as Miss Lovie, never liked people in her house. Perhaps it is she who is upset about tourists regularly visiting her magnificent Queen Anne-style house.

 

Pritchard House, 2012, by Jigar,brahmbhatt. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

As of late, Florida Today has been ramping up on paranormal articles. Interestingly, the reporter interviewed Michael Boonstra whose blog I used for information concerning Ethel Allen’s murder in the above location. As the director and archivist for the Brevard County Historical Commission, he was invited on an investigation two years ago of the Pritchard House.

Recently restored, the home has been returned to its original color scheme, an orange color with coral colored trim. Captain James Pritchard, a businessman important in the development of the area, built the home in 1891. Until Brevard County purchased the home in 2005, it had remained in the Pritchard family.

The investigation uncovered evidence that members of the Pritchard family may still remain in the house. Voices were heard, a light turned on by itself and a grandfather clock that was not in working order was heard pinging.

Sources

Gourmet Burgers and Ghosts

B & D Burgers
209 West Congress Street
Savannah, Georgia

N.B. This article was edited and revised 15 September 2019.

In a city like Savannah with so much of the original built environment still intact, it can be expected that much of the spiritual realm will be intact as well. Even in places whose histories are not marked with tragic events, there still may be residual energy left from the many souls using these places over decades and centuries. Apparently, this may be the case of B&D Burgers, a gourmet burger joint.

According to two recent stories from Savannah ABC affiliate, WJCL, the B&D Burgers location on West Congress Street, well inside the large Savannah Historic District, may have some spirits lingering about it premises. The Savannah Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District, a recognition afforded to only around 2,500 sites in the nation, and even fewer historic districts.

B & D Burgers Savannah Georgia haunted
B & D Burgers, 2017, by Michael Rivera. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The plain, mid-19th century commercial building located on Congress Street looks out onto Ellis Square, one of the original squares laid out by General James Oglethorpe—the founder of Savannah and the Colony of Georgia—in 1733. The square and the market building within it were demolished in the mid-20th century and replaced by a not so glorious parking garage.

Spurred by this sad fate, locals began to band together to preserve the history that was being demolished around them. When the lease on the parking garage expired almost 50 years later, the city did not renew it and took over the square again with plans to renew the streetscape. The garage was demolished and replaced with underground parking while the square was recreated and reopened in 2010. All this has been witnessed by the little brick building on Congress Street.

For some time, the employees of the burger joint have thought the building to be haunted. One manager reported having had his name called when no one was present. Others have felt uncomfortable in the building’s basement. All of these things are classic signs of a haunting, but it wasn’t until surveillance video revealed some odd occurrences that a paranormal team was called in to investigate.

One video shows an odd light moving around the busy bar area and then seeming to hover. Another video shows a stack of plastic glass pallets toppling over on their own accord. Granted, these odd videos themselves do not preclude the presence of paranormal activity, though when combined with reports from the restaurant’s staff, paranormal activity becomes quite a bit more evident.

Paranormal investigators from 3D Ghost Hunters, did pick up on some spiritual energy within the building. Accompanied by a local psychic, the preliminary investigation of the building produced some high EMF readings and personal experiences for the investigators. A woman’s perfume was smelled, though none of those present were wearing any. Interestingly, when a brothel was mentioned, the odor of perfume got stronger. All of this evidence, coupled with the video and employee experiences appear to be enough to bring the investigators back for a full investigation.

WJCL included the surveillance videos on their website, but they do not appear to be working.

Sources

  • Colwell, Josh. “B&D Burgers Ghost Hunt.” WJCL. 1 May 2013.
  • Colwell, Josh. “Ghost Busters Anyone?” WJCL. 30 April 2013.
  • Squares of Savannah. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 May 2013.

Haunting Huntsville, Alabama

Early in this blog’s history I explored (or tried to) the ghosts of Huntsville, Alabama. The problem was that there was very little available. I found a few poorly written and unsourced articles that basically just repeated each other in terms of information. Besides those articles, there was very little, or so I thought. Just days before I posted the entry, Jessica Penot’s marvelous Haunted North Alabama had been released and in it, there were good, reliable information on a number of Huntsville’s hauntings plus information on locations that were not included in the few articles on the subject. After getting my copy of Ms. Penot’s book, I also began reading her blog which has included more locations in Huntsville. Since, I’ve kept an eye out for articles relating to Huntsville. In my usual search through Google News, I was surprised to find two articles about Huntsville tonight.

The first article, from the local ABC station, WAAY, concerns a business located on courthouse square, Huntsville’s historic heart. In many towns and cities in the South (and really throughout the nation), the courthouse or main square is also ground zero for hauntings, often due to the historic fabric that may be intact there. Huntsville is no exception, with a starkly modern courthouse sitting amid historic commercial buildings. The business is a pizzeria, SAM & GREG’S PIZZERIA AND GELATERIA (119 North Side Square), which is located in one of those historic commercial buildings.

The pizzeria’s website describes the building as having been built in the early nineteenth century and being one of the original buildings on the square. It continues by saying that the building has served as a general store, a dress shop and a gallery before becoming a pizzeria. The article states that the main floor of the pizzeria is quite normal, but it’s the large, unrestored room upstairs that has activity. The building was recently investigated by the Alabama Paranormal Association who certified the building as haunted.

The pizzeria’s location reminded me of an article from Jessica Penot’s blog, Ghost Stories and Haunted Places, regarding the MADISON COUNTY COURTHOUSE (100 North Side Square). A brief internet search does not reveal the history of the current courthouse building, but I would assume from the architecture that it was built anytime between the 1960s and the 1980s. I did discover, however, that the building sits on the site of the original courthouse that was constructed in 1818. According to the blog’s entry, apparitions have been seen in the building along with orbs and odd sounds and lights. One of the spirits may be that of Horace Maples, an African-American who was lynched by a mob on the courthouse lawn.

Madison County Courthouse, 2011, by Spyder_Monkey. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The second article I stumbled across concerns an upcoming investigation at the VETERANS MEMORIAL MUSEUM (2060 Airport Road, SW) a museum displaying memorabilia from wars dating back to the American Revolution. Interestingly, the article points out that the investigation will not be in search of spirits that haunt the museum, but those attached to the artifacts within, specifically those from World Wars I and II. While it has been known that spirits may attach themselves to objects, interest in this has increased in the paranormal community, especially with the recent television show, Haunted Collector. The show features investigator John Zaffis who investigates a variety of hauntings usually centered on a specific object.

Tucked away in my files on the paranormal South is another article on an investigation at another Huntsville location, MERRIMACK HALL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (3320 Triana Boulevard). Opened in 2007, the performing arts center is located in an 1898 structure that once served as the company store for the mill village serving Merrimack Mills. This building and some 200 mill houses are all that remain of this important textile hub.

The investigation, conducted by the Alabama Paranormal Society, appears to have uncovered some interesting evidence. Among the evidence mentioned in the article, odd bangs heard in response to questions, a mysterious drop in temperature in the theatre and orbs are seen on video wheeling about the building. According to the article, the building may be inhabited by multiple spirits.

I imagine this is just the tip of the iceberg of haunted Huntsville.

Sources

The Haunted Red Stick—Baton Rouge, Louisiana

While I’ve been spending time working on a revision of my entry on Columbus, Mississippi, I decided to take a break and write a little something about another city. The basis of this came from a single 2009 article from The Daily Reveille, the student newspaper of Louisiana State University. Other than that article, and a few scattered references, there’s not much on the ghosts of Baton Rouge.

The name, Baton Rouge, “red stick” in French, refers to a red cypress pole festooned with bloody animals that French explorer Sieur d’Iberville, the founder of the Louisiana colony, encountered in the area. It was placed there to mark the boundary between the hunting grounds of the Houma and the Bayou Goula peoples of the region. Research and archaeological evidence reveal that the area now occupied by Baton Rouge has been inhabited since roughly 8000 BCE. These indigenous peoples have left the area dotted with mounds and other landmarks.

The city was incorporated in 1817 and made state capital in 1849. Architect James Dakin departed from the usual designs for state capitols which paid homage to the U.S. Capitol  building in Washington and designed the building in a Neo-Gothic style complete with turrets, towers and crenellations. The site chosen for this grand castle, overlooking the Mississippi River, is believed to be the location of the red stick that Sieur d’Iberville named the city for.

Since its construction, the OLD LOUISIANA STATE CAPITOL BUILDING (100 North Boulevard), has had a busy and somewhat tragic history. During the Union occupation of the city, the building was used as a prison and a garrison for African-American troops. The building caught fire twice and by the end of the war was left a hulking, gutted ruin. The building was restored in 1882 and at this time much of the building’s noted stained glass was added. The legislature used the building until 1932 when a new, modern, art deco styled state capitol was opened. The building underwent full restoration in the 1990s and is now open as a museum of political history.

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

There is one particularly enduring legend about this Gothic edifice involves a late legislator. Pierre Couvillion, a representative of Avoyelles Parish had a heart attack amid a passionate debate. Though he was buried near his home in Marksville, he spirit may still reside within the halls and chambers of the old building. 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.

Many spirits, of the ghostly and liquor kind reside in an old bar on the waterfront. The building that now houses THE SPANISH MOON (1109 Highland Road) served as a temporary morgue for victims of the flooding that ravaged the area in the early 20th century. The spirit of a young girl who legend holds was trampled by horses in the building may also reside within the creepy structure.

Another spirit among spirits may be found at WILLIE’S ON THE RIVER (140 Main Street), so named for its resident spirit. Legend holds that Willie was crushed by a falling wall here sometime in the 19th century. Staff members have reported that the spirit is fond of billiards and balls were seen moving by themselves.

Also on the riverfront is the U.S.S. KIDD VETERANS MEMORIAL (305 River Road South), a ship named as a memorial to Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, the highest-ranking officer to die during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. This memorial ship now serves as a memorial to Louisiana’s World War II veterans.

U.S.S. Kidd, 2013, by Niagara, courtesy of Wikipedia.

This Fletcher-class destroyer saw a great deal of action in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War as well as serving admirably during the Cold War. It was during service in the campaign for Okinawa that the ship was struck by a kamikaze resulting in the deaths of 38 and 55 wounded. It is perhaps this single event that has left a spiritual impression on the now museum ship. Visitors have encountered various apparitions onboard including the images of a single arm or leg moving as if still attached to a human being.

Along the famous River Road which stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge that is lined with many historical and haunted plantations are the ruins of THE COTTAGE PLANTATION (River Road at Duncan Point) just south of the city. Though now reduced to ruined columns forlornly sitting in a private field by the roadside, these ruins were once part of a grand plantation home until a lightning strike and fire reduced it to rubble in 1960. Legend speaks of a man seen wandering the ruins who is believed to be the specter of Angus Holt who served as a personal secretary to Frederick Conrad. Conrad owned the plantation during the Civil War and died before war’s end. Holt returned to run the plantation until his death in 1880. His spirit still lingers to check on the ruins of the mighty manse.

This handful of spirits is most likely just the beginning of the mélange of spirits still dancing about The Red Stick.

Sources

  • Baton Rouge,Louisiana. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 November 2011.
  • 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 Publishing, 2007.
  • Louisiana Spirits Paranormal Investigations. Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, LA. Accessed 11 November 2011.
  • 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.
  • USS Kidd (DD-661)Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 2011.

Southside Spirits–Chattanooga

Southside Saloon and Bistro
1301 Chestnut Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Until quite recently, Chattanooga was a city whose ghosts were ill documented. Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla’s recent book, Haunted Chattanooga, has helped to fix that. I’ve only just gotten my copy of the book and will review it as soon as I’ve finished reading it. It doesn’t seem to include this location, though it’s noted that many stories were not included in this book due to space constraints. Therefore, I’m also quite happy to see this recent article. Adding locations to my list always is a joy!

The Southside Saloon and Bistro is located in an unassuming brick building in downtown Chattanooga. A bit over a century old, the building was built initially as a saloon while the upstairs included cubicles for use as a brothel. Over the decades, the building has seen a number of other uses including use as a bottling company. Some spirits still linger here as well. The article mentions three ghosts believed to remain in the building including a man whom the staff has nicknamed George. Activity has included apparitions, swinging pots and other moving objects.

So, next time you’re in Chattanooga, check out the Southside Saloon and Bistro for good food and a variety of spirits.

Sources

One nation, under the table—The Haunted Taverns of Annapolis

In early America, life was generally centered on a handful of places including the local tavern. Serving as the social and governmental center, the tavern often was the ersatz community center, especially in sparsely inhabited areas. Residents of far-flung farms and plantations could meet other locals, find solace from the ennui of rural life, hear the news, pick up mail, or conduct government business in places where courthouses were unavailable. Travelers could find a drink, meal or sometimes a place for the night as well as possibly hear warnings of Indian movements in the region. Throughout the South, the seeds of many small towns and communities were planted by taverns.

In urban areas, the tavern was one of the primary settings for meeting people, doing business, or hearing and discussing the news of the day. In fact, much of the early work in the founding and building of this country was done in taverns; therefore, it’s no surprise that the tune for our national anthem, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” is an English drinking song. The First Continental Congress conducted much of its business in Philadelphia’s City Tavern and other drinking establishments around the city. The seeds of discontentment that would blossom into the American Tree of Liberty were watered with the beer, coffee, and spirits of taverns.

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in the center of Church Circle. A number of streets radiate from this point. Photo taken 1906, for the Detroit Publishing Company. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Collection.

In Annapolis, long considered one of the most beautiful, cultured and cultivated cities in the colonies, many taverns took root, some of which are still in operation today. The city was incorporated in 1708 but its origins dated to some fifty years earlier with the founding of a small village by the Puritans. Governor Sir Francis Nicholson moved the colony’s government to this small settlement in 1694 from heavily Catholic St. Mary’s City. In planning the city, London-born Nicholson modeled it on Sir Christopher Wren’s designs for London after the Great Fire of 1666. He utilized Wren’s Baroque design for the city streets, with important places, like churches and houses of government, set within it with streets projecting out like spokes.

Reynolds Tavern
7 Church Circle

One of these circles surrounds St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, on its third building built in 1858. Facing the church is Reynolds Tavern, a fine example of an urban tavern. The building was constructed around 1747 to face the first St. Anne’s Church that was around 40 years old when the tavern was constructed. The structure was built by William Reynolds as a private residence and hat shop. At some point in the early history, part of the building was opened as the “Beaver and Lace’d Hat,” a tavern (I would presume the name is a reference to beaver felt which was prized for use in waterproof hats).

The license for the tavern was taken out by Mary Funnereau, who may have later married William Reynolds. The establishment was highly regarded as evidenced by the legend that George Washington was a frequent guest. One story tells of him professing his love to Mrs. Reynolds only to be pursued by Mr. Reynolds out of the building and down the street. More in line with the historical record, the Corporation of the City of Annapolis and the Mayor’s Court met in the tavern. The tavern operated until the building passed into the hands of William Reynolds’ son-in-law who used the building briefly as a boarding house. In 1812, the former tavern was taken over by the Farmers Bank of Maryland. When the bank realized the building was ill-suited as a banking house, a building for that purpose was constructed next door and the house renovated as a private house for the Cashier of the Bank.

Reynolds Tavern, 1960. Photograph by Jack Boucher for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

The bank owned the edifice until 1932. Standard Oil considered tearing down the landmark for a service station but local citizens saved the house and it became a library. In the early 1970s, it returned to its roots and became a tavern and inn. With so many souls passing over its threshold, from slaves to servants, private citizens to future presidents, it’s no surprise that the tavern has paranormal activity.

The tavern hosted an investigation in 2004 that caused quite a stir. The Maryland Ghost and Spirit Society under the leadership of sensitive, Beverly Litsinger, held an overnight investigation that uncovered evidence of what Litsinger claimed was not one (as was previously believed), but five spirits in the structure. An account of the investigation in The Sun notes that activity was picked up by a bevy of monitors throughout the building and a dish was mysteriously broken in the kitchen. According to an article in The Capital, the owners were exhausted by all the commotion stirred up by the investigation and decided not to publicize any further paranormal investigations.

Staircase of the Reynolds Tavern, 1960, during its time as a library. Photograph by Jack Boucher for the Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

The owners, however, did find enough evidence of spiritual activity within the landmark. One of the most convincing pieces of evidence was human-shaped indentions in one of the upstairs beds. Numerous experiences had led up to the investigation including objects moving on their own volition, voices including one singing Christmas carols and human-shaped indentions appearing in an upstairs bedroom. The spirit was assumed to be that of Mary Reynolds, who had run the tavern after her husband, William’s, death. While the owners have discontinued investigations, stories are still told about the tavern and it can be assumed that the spirits continue to make their home within the brick walls of the Reynolds Tavern.

Middleton Tavern
2 Market Place

Looking out towards Annapolis harbor and built to serve many of the seamen coming into the city is the Middleton Tavern. The exact date for the building’s construction seems to be a point of contention, the form on the building for the Maryland Historical Trust estimates the building’s construction at around 1754, though the current owners of the tavern provide that the tavern was established in 1750. It is possible that the tavern predated the building, but no evidence is provided by the Trust. The site, however, was occupied by a ship carpenter’s yard as well as a dwelling and garden.

Middleton Tavern, `964. Photograph for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

It is known that the building was constructed by Horatio Middleton as a dwelling house and at that time or soon thereafter opened as a tavern for seafaring men. Throughout its history, it did attract a notable clientele which may have included George Washington as well as Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. The building remained a tavern until it was converted into the Marx Hotel around the time of the Civil War. After almost a century of use as a tavern and inn, the building fell into disuse in the late 19th century and served a variety of commercial ventures. In 1968, the building underwent restoration and reopened as Middleton’s Tavern. The building was gutted by fire in 1970 and then 1973, but the shell of the building has been restored with a modern interior.

Like its older sister establishment, the Reynolds Tavern, the Middleton’s illustrious history has left a spiritual residue. In my research, I have not located any information on investigations, though the spiritual activity seems fairly well known. According to the Ghost Eyes – Most Haunted Places in America blog, there are three spirits witnessed in and around the tavern: a Revolutionary War soldier and a shadowy form are seen flitting throughout the first floor dining room while outside the tavern a gentleman in 18th century seaman’s attire has been seen staring out to sea.

Rams Head Tavern
33 West Street

While the building at 31-33 West Street that houses the Rams Head dates to around 1831, the site’s history is associated with Annapolis tavern history that stretches into the 18th century. Located just down the street from the Reynolds Tavern, the site was home to the “Crown and Dial” which opened in 1792 and two years later the “Sign of the Green Tree.” The site was utilized as a variety of businesses and the 31-33 West Street building also housed residences. The Rams Head Tavern opened in the building. The business has since expanded with locations opening throughout the region.

The site’s history as the site of historic taverns has given rise to the legend of “Amy.” The legend speaks of a young woman employed to “entertain” tavern guests who may have died while actually plying her trade, so to speak. In fact, what is said to be the bedpost of her bed still survives in the downstairs bar.

31-33 West Street, 1964. Photograph by Jack Boucher for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

While the story has little historical evidence to prove it to be less than fiction, the stories of tavern employees are most definitely non-fiction. Servers have run into Amy’s apparition while Beverly Litsinger (who investigated the Reynolds Tavern above) captured her supposed shadowy image in a photograph. Another spirit mentioned as residing in the tavern is that of an elderly woman. Yet one other spirit is said to rattle the chain-link of the bar’s liquor cage. Among other activity, the staff finds silverware turned upside down and have drinks turned over. Perhaps these are spirits of temperance?

Other Haunted Taverns

A few other haunted taverns have popped up on my radar while doing the research for this article. Beverly Litsinger mentioned O’Briens at 113 Main Street as being “so haunted it’s ridiculous.” The Drummers Lot Pub at 16 Church Circle, the same street as the Reynolds Tavern is on the haunted pub tour, though I cannot find any other information regarding it. But if you’re in Annapolis, raise a glass of spirits to the spirits that may be all around you.

Sources

  • Annapolis, Maryland. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 June 2011.
  • City Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 June 2011.
  • Gary, Nancy. “Annapolis stories: Ghost tales haunt Annapolis’ past.” The Capital. 3 November 2008.
  • Haunts at Maryland’s Middleton Tavern, TheGhost Eyes. Accessed 7 June 2011.
  • Heyrman, Peter. “Annapolis.” Maryland Online Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 June 2011.
  • Horseman, Jeff. “There’s something (spooky) about Mary!” The Capital. 30 October 2002.
  • Knight, Molly. “In an Annapolis tavern, hunting the paranormal.” The Sun. 22 February 2004.
  • Middleton Tavern – History.” MiddletonTavern.com. Accessed 7 June 2011.
  • Pachler, Jessica. “After Dark: Discover ghosts of Annapolis.” The Capital. 30 April 2004.
  • Pitts, Jonathan. “Haunt Hunt: Beverly Litsinger is on the trail of the ghosts of Anne Arundel County.” The Sun. 25 October 2009.
  • Rams Head Tavern History.” Ramsheadtavern.com. Accessed 8 June 2011.
  • Rey, Diane. “Rams Head a favorite haunt for ghost group.” The Capital. 4 May 2009.
  • St. Anne’s Church. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 June 2011.
  • Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 5 June 2011.
  • Trieschmann, L. and K. Williams. Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form for the 31-33 West Street. Maryland Historical Trust.
  • Trieschmann, L. and K. Williams. Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form for the Reynolds Tavern. Maryland Historical Trust.
  • Walker, Andrea K. “The ghostly history of Annapolis.” The Sun. 1 May 1995.
  • Walker, Dionne. “Reynolds ghostbust a bust?” The Capital. 6 March 2004.
  • Williams, Kim. Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form for the Middleton Tavern. Maryland Historical Trust.