Notes on Haunted North Carolina

Seemingly, the pandemic has affected everything, including my own writing and research. While I have continued to research, my motivation and focus when writing has been severely undermined.

In my research for this blog I have amassed a tremendous amount of information in the form of books, as well as in periodical articles and blog entries. Yet, so much of this information hasn’t been utilized. When I write blog entries, I usually pour a great deal of research into my subject or subjects, which of course takes time. These entries, however, have been written in a “fast and furious” style and utilize just one or two sources. I expect that these may be used and expanded in the future. Please enjoy this “fast and furious” tour of North Carolina haunts!

Asheville

1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage
173 East Chestnut Street

This Asheville bed & breakfast has been in operation for many years. Over that time, guests have reported quite a bit of paranormal activity. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times notes some of that activity including footsteps on the stairs and an old woman sitting on an outside chair.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Lewis Memorial Park Cemetery
415 Beaverdam Road

Workers in this cemetery have reported a ghostly horse and rider as well as a phantom dog. Some believe the rider may be the spirit of Robert J. Lewis who created the park in 1927.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.

Bath

Devil’s Hoofprints on the Cutler Farm (private)
NC 1334

These mysterious prints on the edge of the woods now on private property are believed to be those of the Devil. Sometime in the early 19th century, a local man by the name of Jesse Elliott was known for his fondness for horses and racing. He was approached by a stranger wearing black astride a black horse. The stranger made a wager with Elliott as to whose horse was faster.

Elliott soon found himself in the lead and he boasted to the stranger “Take me as the winner or take me to hell!” As soon as the words left his mouth, the stranger was next to him and Elliott’s horse stopped running. Jesse was thrown from his horse, his head hitting a pine tree killing him.

The stranger got off his horse and supposedly took ahold of his soul and disappeared. The only sign that the Devil had been there were hoofprints left in the soft earth. Like the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Bear Creek (also included in this article), debris falling into the hoofprints is quickly swept away by an unseen force.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.
  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Bear Creek

Devil’s Tramping Ground
4005 Devil’s Tramping Ground Road

Devil's Tramping Ground Bear Creek North Carol;ina
A view of the Devil’s Tramping Ground in 2007. Photo by Jason Horne, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a state full of paranormal landmarks, the Devil’s Tramping Ground outside of Siler City is perhaps one of the most famous. This circular clearing in the woods oddly has no plant life or debris within it. Legend states that this is due to the nightly tramping of the Devil, though scientific investigation has not been able to find a reasonable answer. Curious visitors have left things within the mysterious space only to find it swept clean in the morning.

Sources

  • Devil’s Tramping Ground. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

Burke and Caldwell Counties

Brown Mountain

Brown Mountain North Carolina
Brown Mountain in 2016. Photo by Thomson200, courtesy of Wikipedia.

On the border of Burke and Caldwell counties within the Pisgah National Forest is the famed Brown Mountain on whose flanks ghost lights have been seen for quite some time. One of first mentions of the lights in the media occurred in 1913 and an investigator with the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the lights were simply those of a train. Another investigation by the same government entity in 1922 put the blame squarely on trains, automobiles, and stationary lights. However, after a flood in the area cut off electricity and damaged railroads, the lights were still seen. In the years since, scientists have continued to ponder the mysteries and have discovered few answers to the famous Brown Mountain Lights.

Sources

Burlington

Paramount Theatre
128 East Front Street

As all good theatres have a ghost, Burlington’s Paramount Theatre is no exception. The kindly, yet mischievous, spirit has been dubbed “Herschel.” Some legends point to his identity as that of a customer who passed away in the men’s room, while others say that he is the spirit of a projectionist who was electrocuted in the projection booth. According to a 2011 article in the local paper, no one has died in the men’s room or projection booth. Despite the debunked legends, seat bottoms have been seen to move on their own, and lights sometimes act up, while actors onstage have seen a shadowy figure in the projection booth.

Sources

  • Boyd, Walter. “Burlington has more than its share of ghosts and goblins.” Times-News. 28 October 2011.

Buxton

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
46379 Lighthouse Road

Cape Hatteras Light Buxton North Carolina
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 2020. Photo by Jschildk, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has stood over the beach and protected ships from ground on the offshore Diamond Shoals since 1870. During that time, it has also attracted ghosts and paranormal activity. Within the lighthouse itself, a spectral cat has been seen by surprised visitors who have also felt the cat rubbing up against their legs. When the visitor reaches to pet it, the cat vanishes. The apparition of a man in a yellow raincoat has also been spotted here.

Sources

  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Candler

Owl’s Nest Inn
2630 Smoky Park Highway

A search of Google reveals that this inn may have closed, though the spirits may remain. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the innkeeper was still scrutinizing an odd photo taken inside the inn. In a room that was supposed to be empty, the photo shows a woman standing in the room with a shroud over her head. But the spirits here did not just make their presence known by appearing in photographs, unseen hands would sometimes turn on gas fireplaces as well as setting alarms on alarm clocks to go off in rooms that had been unoccupied for days.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Stony Fork Picnic Area
711 Pisgah Highway

Located within Pisgah National Forest on the outskirts of Asheville, this picnic area is reputed to be an old dump site for bodies during the Prohibition era. More recently, bodies of two murder victims have been found in the area. One was identified as a victim of Gary Michael Hilton, while the other remains were those of Judy Smith, who may have also been a victim of Hilton.

Visitors to the area after dark have reportedly been pursued into woods by apparitions, including those of a man and a small boy. A paranormal investigation team heard disembodied footsteps there and one of the investigators described the area as being “very uncomfortable.”

Sources

Chapel Hill

Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro Street

Built in 1924, the Carolina Inn was meant to house visitors to the University of North Carolina next door. In 1948, William Jacocks, a physics professor and 1904 graduate of the university, made his residence in a suite on the second floor, which he would occupy until 1965. Following his death, visitors staying in Room 256 have experienced activity possibly caused by the mischievous professor’s spirit. One of the most occurrences is that the door will lock by itself and refuse to admit guests.

Sources

  • Gardner, George. “Haunted N.C. hotels.” Charlotte Observer. 3 October 2014.

Corolla

Currituck Beach Light
1101 Corolla Village Road

Currituck Beach Light Corolla North Carolina
Currituck Beach Light, 2007. Photo by Warfieldian, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Constructed in 1875, this lighthouse was the last to be built in the Outer Banks. The north room in the keeper’s house may be the domain of two spirits, a little girl who once stayed in the room and a woman who may have died there. The little girl is supposed to have been the daughter or ward of the first lighthouse keeper. While playing on the beach, the child drowned. Afterwards, her form has been encountered on the property. The woman may have been the wife of a keeper who died from tuberculosis here.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
  • Sledge, Joe. Haunting the Outer Banks: Thirteen Tales of Terror from the North Carolina Coast. Gravity Well Books, 2019.

Greensboro

Aycock Auditorium
Campus of University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Facade of Aycock Auditorium UNCG Greensboro North Carolina
Facade of Aycock Auditorium at UNCG, 2015. Photo by Willthacheerleader, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend holds that the spirit haunting this auditorium is that of Jane Aycock, daughter of Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, for whom the facility is named. Another story lays the blame for the haunting on the woman who lived in a house that once stood on this spot.

Sources

  • Clodefelter, Tim and Nicole Chenier. “The state of fright: North Carolina history rich in the weird and unexplainable.” Winston-Salem Journal. 29 October 2000.

Kure Beach

Fort Fisher
1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, South

Fort Fisher was one of the linchpins that kept the Confederacy together. Guarding the approach to Wilmington harbor, the fort aided blockade runners thus keeping the Confederacy alive after so many other ports had been blocked. After the fall of Mobile, Alabama, Fort Fisher became a major target of Union forces. After the first battle waged against the fort was a dismal failure, regrouped Union forces launched a second battle against the fort that was successful. Wilmington fell shortly after.

Fort Fisher Kure Beach North Carolina
Fort Fisher just after the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

According to Alan Brown, one of the first incidents of paranormal activity was witnessed in 1868 during a reunion of soldiers was held there. Three former soldiers saw a figure atop one of the gun placements. When they waved, the figure raised its sword into the air, revealing it to be none other than General Whiting who had commanded the fort but had been wounded in the second battle and died in captivity. The figure disappeared before their eyes. Figures such as that of the general have been seen repeatedly since and an investigation of the fort in 2004 captured interesting evidence including a human shaped figure that appeared in a photograph.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Places in the American South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Fort Fisher. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.
  • Wardrip, Stanley. “Fort Fisher Civil War Battlefield.” In Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2005.

Morganton

Broughton Hospital
1000 South Sterling Street

Avery Building Broughton Hospital Morganton North Carolina
Avery Building at Broughton Hospital, 2019. Photo by Warren LeMay, courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the lobbying of Dorthea Dix, the state of North Carolina set out to build modern hospitals for the treatment of mental illnesses. The Western Carolina Insane Asylum opened in 1883 and continues to serve as a mental health facility, though with fewer patients and under the name Broughton Hospital. Most facilities treating mental illness have spirits and Broughton is no exception. Reports mention apparitions, disembodied screams, and eerie feelings haunting this facility. Broughton’s sister hospital is Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro which I have also covered here.

Sources

  • Broughton Hospital. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

New Bern

Attmore-Oliver House
510 Pollock Street

Attmore-Oliver House New Bern North Carolina
Attmore-Oliver House, 2006. Photo by Self, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During a paranormal investigation of the Attmore-Oliver House a door slammed in the face of an investigator. After checking the door, there was no obvious force that could have slammed it. Along with some EVPs, this is the main evidence of paranormal activity in this circa 1790 house. Legend tells of a father and daughter who possibly died in the attic during a smallpox epidemic, though this cannot be confirmed through historical records. Others look towards the last resident of the house who was known for her eccentricity. Regardless, there appears to be some very interesting activity going on here.

Sources

  • Manley, Roger. Weird Carolina. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2007.

Orrum

Lumber River State Park
2819 Princess Ann Road

The swamps and lowlands of America were considered bewitched and dangerous places to the Europeans who settled here. During the American Revolution, patriot General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion used these mysterious places to his advantage by utilizing guerilla warfare throughout the swamps of South Carolina and even extending into North Carolina on occasion. The land along the course of the Lumber River is mostly undeveloped and remains much as it was when Marion traveled along its swampy run. An old local legend tells of one of Marion’s officers who loved a young woman from a Tory family and passed information on to her father. Marion pursued a group of Tories to Tory Island along the Lumber River and destroyed their settlement. He killed the traitorous officer and hung him in the ruins where the officer’s lover found him. The pair is still seen roaming the island.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Lumber River State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.

Raleigh

North Carolina State Capitol Building
1 East Edenton Street

North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.
North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.

It seems that many current and former state capitol buildings throughout the South are haunted. Old state capitols in Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia have ghosts as well as the current state capitols for Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Of these, only the North Carolina Capitol has received any paranormal investigation. The investigation was conducted by none other than the Rhine Research Center, an organization originally established as part of Duke University, which is now independent of the university, devoted to the scientific study of parapsychology. The Rhine Center discovered paranormal activity in the capitol and one investigator who saw a man in nineteenth century clothing sitting in the legislative chamber.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

Rockingham

Hudson Brothers Deli
115 South Lee Street

In 2011, the Sandhills Paranormal Research Society set out to investigate Hudson Brothers Deli, a bar in Rockingham. The building housing the bar originally served as a funeral home. The owner even mentions the existence of crematoriums in the basement.

Among the reports from the bar are the apparition of a girl seen by both a bartender and a manager. One patron reported seeing the apparition of a man in a business suit that told him to, “wait right here.” A former owner reported that an employee sent on an errand to the basement ran screaming from the establishment and never even returned to pick up their paycheck.

The investigation appeared to be successful with the group picking up evidence including the odor of flowers in the basement and EVPs. The group stated that there was definitely spiritual activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Philip D. “A haunting in Hudson Brothers.” Richmond County Daily Journal. 5 April 2011.

Weaverville

Inn on Main Street
88 South Main Street

New Year’s Eve 1999 offered the owner and guests of the Inn on Main some paranormal activity. As the small group celebrated the new year they “heard two things fall of the wall in the next room.” When the owner walked into the next room, nothing was out of place and the room was empty. A moment later, they heard the sound of a door shutting behind them. The inn occupies a home built around the turn of the 20th century for a surgeon.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Wilmington

Bellamy Mansion
503 Market Street

A spectacular mix of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture, the Bellamy Mansion has been restored and preserved as a monument to history and design. Dr. John D. Bellamy, a physician, planter, and businessman began construction of the house in 1858 and it was completed in 1861, as civil war was breaking out. When Wilmington was captured by Union troops, the house served as headquarters for the Union general. The house is now under the purview of Preservation North Carolina and open as a museum.

Bellamy Mansion Wilmington North Carolina
Bellamy Mansion, 2012. Photo by Jameslwoodward, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The museum staff reportedly doesn’t say much about spirits in the house, but according to Alan Brown, night managers have reported quite a bit of activity. One of those night managers called by the police twice in one night because inside doors were opening by themselves. Another night manager reported seeing the figure of a man and seeing a wheelchair that belonged to one of the Bellamy family members move on its own accord.

Sources

  • Bellamy Mansion. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

USS North Carolina (BB-55)
1 Battleship Road

This mighty battleship was laid down in 1937 and it was completed in 1941, more than seven months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, one of the events leading the U.S. to enter World War II. The ship was quickly sent to the Pacific Theater where she served valiantly for the Allied cause and then helped ferry American servicemen home following Japan’s surrender. After the ship was struck from the Naval Register, she was preserved as a museum ship.

USS North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina
The USS North Carolina, 2007. Photo by Doc Searls, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the ship’s service, it is known that ten men lost their lives aboard the ship. It is believed that the spirits of these men remain aboard the ship, along with a great deal of residual energy. During one investigation, a recorder was dropped into a well. After it was retrieved, investigators heard the words “Help! Help!” and “Tommy” clearly spoken in the well. Research showed that a sailor had once fallen into that well and cracked his skull.

Sources

  • Jordan, Annette. “Ghost hunters: Positively Paranormal is who you’re gonna call.” Courier-Tribune. 16 September 2013.
  • USS North Carolina (BB-55). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 January 2021.

Notes on Kentucky Hauntings

In my research for this blog I have amassed a tremendous amount of information in the form of books, as well as in periodical articles and blog entries. Yet, so much of this information hasn’t been utilized. When I write blog entries, I usually pour a great deal of research into my subject or subjects, which of course takes time. These entries, however, have been written in a “fast and furious” style and utilize just one or two sources. I expect that these may be used and expanded in the future. Please enjoy this “fast and furious” tour of Kentucky haunts!

For other Kentucky hauntings, see my Kentucky Directory.

Auburn

Shaker Museum at South Union
850 Shaker Museum Road

Shaker Museum at South Union Kentucky
The main dwelling at the Shaker Museum at South Union, 1969. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by E. R. Pearson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This museum and its supporting organization preserve the historic Shaker village of South Union. The village was established by the Shaker religious sect in 1807 and was occupied until 1922. In the mid-1980s, a husband, wife, and their 6-year-old son visited the village and spent part of their day exploring the many buildings. In one particular structure, the husband and his son ventured upstairs and spied a strange opening in the wall. When they peered through it, they saw evidence of damage from a fire. A moment later, the pair felt something come through the opening and surround them with a strange energy that unnerved them.

Sources

  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Shaker Museum at South Union. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 14 November 2020.

Barbourville

Pfeiffer Hall
Campus of Union College

Room 245 in this campus residence hall is home to a legend. In 1963, a student named James Garner attempted to close his dorm room window when he accidentally slipped out and died in the fall. Consequently, students to open the window of this room will have it slammed shut by the spirit.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Speed Hall
Campus of Union College

This building, built just after the turn of the 20th century, currently houses the college’s Office of Financial Aid. The apparition of a woman has been seen in this building and staff has experienced doors opening and closing by themselves. The identity of the woman is unknown.

Sources

  • Ogden, Tom. Haunted Colleges and Universities: Creepy Campuses, Scary Scholars, and Deadly Dorms. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2014.

Warfield Cemetery
KY 459

Legend holds that visitors to this cemetery are sometimes plagued by a spirit that follows them around and sometimes even following them home.

Sources

Bardstown

Chapeze House
107 East Stephen Foster Avenue

This large brick home was built in 1787 for Dr. Henri Chapeze, a French surgeon who arrived in this country with the Marquis de Lafayette. Local legend tells of Dr. Chapeze arriving home one day to find his wife in the arms of another man. His wife lost face and lived in shame while her cuckolded husband left town to settle in Ohio and start a new life. The house has been known for years to be haunted with the spirits of a young boy, possibly Chapeze’s son Benjamin, to whom he left this home, and a woman. The woman, who has been seen peering from the windows is sometimes seen without a face. Is this the visage of Chapeze’s unfaithful wife who lost face when her philandering was discovered?

Sources

  • Westmoreland-Doherty, Lisa. Kentucky Spirits Undistilled. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

Jailer’s Inn Bed & Breakfast
111 West Stephen Foster Avenue

Jailer's Inn Bardstown Kentucky
Jailer’s Inn, 2009, by C. Bedford Crenshaw. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the old Nelson County Jail, which was in use from 1797 to 1987, the Jailer’s Inn allows guests to sleep in a space where criminals once served their sentences. These paying guests have encountered spirits of these criminals in the form of apparitions, and spectral sounds.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

My Old Kentucky Home State Park
501 East Stephen Foster Avenue

Federal Hill My Old Kentucky Home Bardstown Kentucky
Federal Hill, 2015, by Firthpond1700. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This state park preserves Federal Hill, the mansion of Senator John Rowan, which inspired the song “My Old Kentucky Home,” by Stephen Foster, a relative of Rowan’s. Spirits may roam both the house and the Rowan Family Cemetery nearby. John Rowan left instructions that following his death no memorial was to be erected over his grave. When family insisted on erecting a monument, his ghost has been blamed for toppling it.

Sources

  • Floyd, Jacob and Jenny. Kentucky’s Haunted Mansions. Seventh Star Press, 2017.
  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Benham

Benham Schoolhouse Inn
100 Central Avenue

In 1926 the Wisconsin Steel Company, which had founded the small town of Benham as a coal camp, built an all-grades school. That school closed in 1992 and was converted into use as an inn. Guests have since reported run-ins with the spirits of former students.

Sources

Berea

Boone Tavern
100 Main Street North

Boone Tavern Berea Kentucky
Boone Tavern, 2009, by Parkerdr. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A restaurant, hotel, and guesthouse affiliated with Berea College, Boone Tavern was built in 1909. A paranormal investigation in 2012 produced evidence of “an abundance of spirits.” Investigator Patti Star described the tavern to the Richmond Register as being like a “train station with spirits coming and going.”

Sources

  • Boone Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 27 November 2020.
  • Robinson, Bill. “Ghost hunters detect spirits at Boone Tavern.” Richmond Register. 2 April 2012.

Campbellsville

Hiestand House—Taylor County Museum
1075 Campbellsville Bypass

This small stone house is one of only 12 German stone houses standing in the state. According to Dennis William Hauck’s Haunted Places: The National Directory, residents of the home have experienced paranormal activity for years. The house now houses a county museum.

Sources

Clermont

Jim Beam American Stillhouse
526 Happy Hollow Road

Jim Beam is one of the largest producers of Kentucky bourbon producing more than a half million barrels a year. But is this famous distillery producing spirits beyond bourbon? It seems that the apparition of a woman has been seen in the old T. Jeremiah Beam House and other spirits have been encountered throughout the distillery and its grounds.

Sources

Cynthiana

Rohs Opera House
122 East Pike Street

This 1871 opera house is possibly occupied by a handful of spirits including children and a woman dubbed, “The Lady of the Opera House.” These spirits manifest themselves in a variety of ways including the children playing with people’s hair, strange noises, and apparitions.

Sources

  • Dailey, Bonnie. “The haunting of Rohs Opera House.” 8 August 2013.

Danville

Breckinridge Hall
Campus of Centre College

The spirit of a young man named Peter continues to haunt this dormitory. During a renovation in the 1990s several people saw his face on the wall of a particular dorm room. When they contacted painters to cover up the image, they could not find it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011.

Sutcliffe Hall
Campus of Centre College

A staff member working in this building reported “Sometimes I’d be in the building alone and would hear basketballs bouncing in Bowman Gym. I would go right to the gym door and look in, and there was never anyone in the gym playing basketball. But I could definitely hear the ball bounce.” The staff member also reported that during renovations workers would find their tools moved or missing.

Sources

  • “Ghost hunter hopes to find paranormal activity at Centre.” The Centre College Cento. 27 October 2011. 

Elsmere

Allendale Train Tunnel
Near East Covered Bridge Drive

This mis-named site is not an actual train tunnel, but rather a culvert that carries Bullock Pen Creek underneath a set of railroad tracks. Metal hooks protrude from above both ends of the culvert from which stems the legend that a man once hung himself here and he continues to haunt the site. However, there is no documentary to prove that the suicide ever happened.

Sources

Erlanger

Narrows Road

There are reports that drivers along this stretch of road a night have been pulled over by a police officer in an old-fashioned police car. As the officer approaches the car he vanishes, much to the surprise of the driver.

Sources

  • “Residents say Northern Kentucky Road is haunted.” 29 August 2016.

Frankfort

Buffalo Trace Distillery
113 Great Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace Distillery Frankfort Kentucky
Interior of one of storage houses at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, 2018, by Jaimin Trivedi. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Quite possibly the oldest distillery in the United States, the Buffalo Trace Distillery includes the oldest building in the county, Riverside House. Reports and an investigation by Patti Star reveal strange activity in Stony Point Mansion, formerly the home of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, a former president of the company. Riverside House, which is occupied by the distillery gift shop, is home to several spirits as well. In the storage space above the gift shop, a psychic detected the spirits of four men who continue to work in the hot, confined space.

Sources

Glenns Creek Distilling
3501 McCracken Pike

Formerly the Old Crow Distillery, Glenns Creek Distilling may be the habitation of spirits. The distillery’s owner, David Meier, told Roadtrippers that he frequently hears disembodied footsteps throughout the old buildings.

Sources

Liberty Hall
218 Wilkinson Street

Liberty Hall Frankfort Kentucky
Liberty Hall, 2018, by Christopher L. Riley. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After an elderly aunt, Mrs. Margaret Varick, died following an arduous trip to Frankfort to console her niece, her spirit has remained in this National Historic Landmark. This 1796 home was built by James Wilkinson, founder of the city of Frankfort, and the home remained in the family for many years before opening as a house museum. Mrs. Varick’s spirit is said to help out in maintaining the house and her spirit may have been joined in her ethereal romps by a Spanish opera star who also died in the house during a visit in 1805.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.

Harrodsburg

Harrodsburg Spring – Young Park
502 Linden Avenue

On the site of this park once stood the Harrodsburg Spring Hotel, which attracted visitors to take advantage of the spring. Early in the 19th century a young lady checked into the hotel alone. That evening, she appeared in the hotel’s ballroom where she danced all evening with a number of young men. As she danced with one eager suitor later in the evening, she collapsed and died. Since it was discovered that the young woman checked in under an assumed name, her identity remained a mystery. She was buried on the hotel property under a stone bearing the words, “Hallowed and hushed be the place of the dead. Step softly. Bow head.” Though the hotel is long gone, the young woman’s dancing apparition still appears in the park.

Sources

Hazard

Crawford Mountain Road

Author R. J. Stacy has had many experiences as he’s lived throughout the southeastern portion of the Commonwealth that he’s included them in his 2013 book, Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. In the mid-1990s, Stacy and his wife were driving this twisted mountain road one evening when they watched a bluish-white orb of light float slowly over their car and vanish in the woods on the other side of the road. Stacy reports that this road has seen a fair number of accidents, though he posits that one particular may be correlated with the orb. This accident, which occurred in August of 1975, was a hit and run with the driver at fault fled into the mountain forest. The driver was not found until several months later when he was discovered to have plunged off a cliff after fleeing the scene.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Jackson

Quicksand Road

Running south out of Jackson, the county seat of Breathitt County, this two-lane rural road was the scene of an accident in 2010 when a young man was struck and killed as he walked the thoroughfare in the early morning. Several motorists driving along this road have nearly hit a young man wearing a hoodie with the hood up and covering his face. When the driver stops to check on the pedestrian, they find no one in the road.

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lawrenceburg

Anderson Hotel
116 South Main Street

When a haunted attraction was opened inside the old Anderson Hotel in downtown Lawrenceburg in 2018, 50 of the roughly 400 people who entered took off after being frightened by the very real spooks that inhabit the building. Previously, the hotel had been abandoned for nearly 30 years. A few years ago, the owner of a restaurant that operated on the first floor of the hotel building called in a paranormal investigator to check out the odd sounds she frequently heard coming from the abandoned hotel above. As he investigated, he discovered that a number of tragic deaths, including several suicides, had left a remarkable amount of paranormal activity inside the empty building.

Sources

  • Carlson, Ben. “Dozens flee during debut of Lawrenceburg haunted house.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 3 October 2018.
  • “Closed hotel still has ‘guests.’” 26 October 2015.

Lebanon

St. Ivo Cemetery
St. Ivo Road

Named for St. Ivo of Kermartin, a 13th century French saint who is also the patron of abandoned children, this rural cemetery is reported to be the home to many children’s spirits. It is said that visitors often have cameras and other electrical devices malfunction while inside the cemetery.

Sources

Leslie County

Cutshin Road (KY 699)

For much of its route through rural Leslie County, two-lane Cutshin Road parallels Cutshin Creek. As author R. J. Stacy and his stepdaughter drove this road at dusk the pair watched a “transparent black mass floating across the road” in the headlights. This section of road has been the scene of many tragedies over the years, perhaps one of these has contributed to the shadowy apparition?

Sources

  • Stacy, R. J. Spirits of Southeast Kentucky: True Personal Paranormal Encounters. CreateSpace, 2013.

Lexington

Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate
120 Sycamore Road

Ashland The Henry Clay Estate Lexington
Ashland, 2007, by Analogue Kid. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the most prominent politicians in the early 19th century, Henry Clay represented the state in both houses of Congress, served as Speaker of the House, and was appointed as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. Clay created this large plantation just outside Lexington starting around 1806. Reports note that Clay’s presence has been noted inside the large home.

Sources

  • Ashland (Henry Clay estate). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.
  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Drive

Loudoun House Lexington Kentucky
Loudoun House, 1940, by Lester Jones for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

This large, Gothic-revival private residence was constructed in 1851 and has been home to the Lexington Art League for many years. Stories of its haunting include the apparition of a woman in a Victorian gown and the sounds of merriment that are sometimes heard in the empty house.

Sources

  • Newman, Rich. The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Press, 2011.

London

Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park
998 Levi Jackson Mill Road

Formerly a state park, this city park offers history, recreation, and several ghostly children that run around. During an investigation in 2011, several investigators were locked out of a building when they left to get more equipment and a rocking chair was seen to rock on command with no one sitting in it.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Louisville

3rd Turn Brewing
10408 Watterson Trail

This brewery occupies a building that was constructed in 1878 as a church in the Jeffersontown neighborhood of Louisville. According to one of the co-owners, the building had served as a Moose Lodge for some 60 previous. When the brewery moved in, a note was found instructing the little girl to behave herself and the new owners soon realized that they shared the old church with the spirits of both a little girl and a man. Co-Owner Ben Shinkle told Louisville Magazine that he once had an encounter with the man while getting ready to open on a Sunday afternoon. “I saw a guy standing there, but I was running downstairs and said, ‘Hang on. I’ll be right with you.’ I popped back up and nobody was there. And all the doors were locked.”

Sources

Seelbach Hilton Hotel
500 South 4th Street

Opening in 1905 after nearly two years of construction, the Seelbach Hotel soon became one of the most sought out hotels in downtown Louisville. For much of the 20th century it remained a glittering landmark, even inspiring F. Scott Fitzgerald as he wrote The Great Gatsby, though financial problems led to its closure in 1975. It was abandoned for only three years before a local actor bought it and began a restoration. Since reopening in 1982, it has continued to offer top notch service.

Seelbach Hotel Louisville Kentucky
Postcard of the Seelbach Hotel, 1905, by the Detroit Publishing Company.

An incident in the 1920s has led to the hotel being haunted by a “Lady in Blue” who is thought to be the spirit of Patricia Wilson. She and her husband checked in to the hotel and the couple arrived separately. Mrs. Wilson arrived, but her husband did not show up as he was killed in a car accident on the way. The unfortunate wife was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft a short time later and her spirit has continued to haunt the building for decades.

Sources

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
4400 Paralee Lane

Waverly Hills Sanatorium Louisville Kentucky
Backside of Waverly Hills Sanatorium, 2018, by Royasfoto73. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the rise of paranormal shows on television, Waverly Hills Sanatorium has established itself as one of America’s preeminent ghost-trekking locales. Construction began on this massive facility in 1911 to care for tuberculosis patients in a time before adequate treatments were available. The facility expanded and grew until streptomycin was introduced as a treatment leading to a decline in the number of TB patients. The facility closed in 1962 to reopen as a nursing home later that year. The nursing home closed in 1981 and the building has sat empty. Vandalism and the elements have caused some deterioration of the building since that time. Legends have surfaced that may explain the huge amounts of paranormal activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.
  • Waverly Hills Sanatorium. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 January 2010.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
1 Mammoth Cave Parkway

Mammoth Cave Kentucky
Tourists explore the interior of Mammoth Cave, 2007, by Daniel Schwen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The largest cave system in the world at nearly 400 miles, the name does not refer to its linear size but rather the huge rooms and passages that form the cave’s labyrinth. Since its discovery by Native Americans, the cave has been a source of medicine and saltpeter, shelter for various people including tuberculosis patients, a tourist attraction, and a burial chamber. It’s little surprise that numerous odd experiences have been reported, though, it should be noted that the cave’s unusual environment may alter one’s senses. Nevertheless, reports from the cave include apparitions in old fashioned clothing including the spirit of Stephen Bishop, an enslaved man who was one of the earliest guides and explorers of the cave.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Kentucky. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
  • Olson, Colleen O’Connor and Charles Hanion. Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave. Dayton, OH: Cave Books, 2002.
  • Taylor, Troy. Down in the Darkness: The Shadowy History of America’s Haunted Mines, Tunnels, and Caverns. Alton, IL: Whitechapel Press, 2003.

Marion

Baker Hollow Road Cemetery
Baker Hollow Road

This country road outside Marion in rural Crittenden County along the Ohio River is supposed to be the site of much strangeness, especially at night. This cemetery, next to Baker Church, is actually two separate cemeteries located near the church building. People driving down Baker Hollow Road, running beside the church, have encountered a demonic dog in the road. Others have heard disembodied voices, and even apparitions hanging from the trees.

Sources

Maysville

Phillips’ Folly
227 Sutton Street

Phillips' Folly Maysville Kentucky
Phillips’ Folly, 2010, by Greg Hume. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

William B. Sutton built his grand home over the course of six years between 1825 and 1831. Evidence in the home’s basement may attest to its use as a stop on the Underground Railroad. It seems that Mr. Phillips may continue to be in residence here accompanied by his loyal dog. An investigation here in 2011 by the team from the show Ghost Adventures produced evidence that there are spirits here.

Sources

  • Maynard, Misty. “Ghost Adventures episode filmed in Maysville airs today.” Maysville Ledger-Independent. 12 May 2011.
  • Phillips’ Folly. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 November 2020.

Newport

Monmouth Street Antique Gallery
822 Monmouth Street

This antique store’s former name, Sin City Antique Gallery, pays homage to Newport’s rowdier days when members of the Cleveland Syndicate, operated by a group of gangsters, ran casinos and carried on illegal operations throughout the city. Housed in a building that once held a Kresge’s Five & Dime and possibly may have been used for more illicit activities, the owners of the antique shop have had multiple experiences with spirits within the building. Activity here includes disembodied footsteps and voices, alarms being tripped when no one is around, and items moving on their own accord. A paranormal investigator who has investigated this location described it as “one of the most active and haunted locations I’ve been to.”

Sources

Owensboro

Campbell Club
517 Frederica Street

Campbell Club Owensboro Kentucky
Campbell Club, 2013, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Occupying the 1880 French Empire Gillem House, this private dining club closed in 2017 after operating here since 1959. One of the recent chefs noticed a woman sitting in the restaurant staring out the window. When he asked about her, no one knew anything but when one of the staff members approached her, they found no one there.

Sources

The Miller House
301 East 5th Street

The Miller House is a 1905 home that has been transformed into a restaurant. The home is also the residence of several spirits including a little girl who plays with a ball.

Sources

Theatre Workshop of Owensboro (TWO)
407 West 5th Street

Described as “one of the most haunted sites in Western Kentucky,” Owensboro’s Theatre Workshop was originally Trinity Episcopal Church, now Old Trinity Centre. TWO has occupied this 1875 building since 1973 and many of its staff have had encounters with some of the resident spirits here. Spirits include a young lady who is supposed to have hung herself in the bell tower, as well as a priest who, after stumbling upon her body, killed himself in the basement.

Sources

Paducah

C. C. Cohen Building
103 Market House Square

For the past several decades, occupants of this building have experienced all sorts of paranormal activity. This commercial building, built in 1850, has housed a number of businesses throughout its existence, most recently several restaurants have occupied the space. The building is named for the Cohen family who purchased the building around 1900. It is perhaps spirits of members of this family who continue to haunt the building today.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Perryville

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road

The quiet stillness of rural Perryville was interrupted in October of 1862. On the 8th, Confederate forces fought Union forces in their attempt to seize control of the whole of the state. Their defeat on these farm fields led General Braxton Bragg to pull his forces all the way back to Tennessee following the bloody battle.

Perryville Battlefield Kentucky
Perryville Battlefield, 2006, by Hal Jesperson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Not only did the Confederates leave their hopes of controlling Kentucky on the battlefield, but they left spiritual scars. “Many say vivid echoes of the past remain, usually after the sun goes down, in the form of booming cannons, soldiers’ voices, flickering lanterns, phantom horses, and other ghostly occurrences.”

Sources

Windsor, Pam. “Ghost soldiers.” Kentucky Living. October 2014.

Pikeville

Pikeville Cemetery
Cemetery Road

The grave of Octavia Hatcher is marked by a large monument topped with a statue of the deceased. Hatcher passed away in 1891 after being ill for some time and falling into a coma. A few days after burial, James Hatcher began to worry that his wife may not have been dead at all when she was buried. After exhuming her coffin, it was discovered that she was indeed alive when she was buried and had tried to claw her way out of her grave. A handful of rumors have since sprung up regarding the creepy monument including that the statue may turn its back on occasion. Others have heard the sound of “mewling” near the grave and have witnessed the apparition of Hatcher strolling through the cemetery.

Sources

  • Quackenbush, Jannette. West Virginia Ghost Stories, Legends, and Haunts. 21 Crows Dusk to Dawn Publishing, 2017.

Prospect

Sleepy Hollow Road

With a name coming from Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, it’s no surprise that this road is haunted. Along this stretch some drivers have been followed by a mysterious car only to discover, when it passes, that it is a hearse. In some cases, the cars may have been run off the road by the strange vehicle. The road also includes a classic Cry Baby Bridge where the wails of a child are still heard. During the Satanic Panic of the 1970s and 80s, stories of devil worshippers also sprang up along this thoroughfare.

Sources

  • Gee, Dawne. “Kentuckiana’s Monster, Myths and Legends – Sleepy Hollow Road.” 31 July 2014.

Richmond

White Hall State Historic Site
500 White Hall Shrine Road

White Hall Mansion Richmond Kentucky
White Hall, 2009, by Jim Bowen. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This huge Italianate mansion was the home of noted anti-slavery Kentucky legislator Cassius Clay. It remains the home of several ghosts including the possible spirit of the famed politician.

Sources

  • Landini, Leigh. “Things that go ‘bump’ in the night may be a mischievous may be a ghost in downtown Paducah.” The Paducah Sun. 31 October 1999.

Scottsville

Allen County War Memorial Hospital
99 Hill View Drive

Opened in 1952, this low-rise community hospital provided locals with medical attention for many years. Until it’s closure in 1994, many lives were brought into and exited life here, with spiritual reminders being left behind. Kentucky’s great collector of ghostlore, William Lynnwood Montell, notes the experiences of a nurse here in his 2001 Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. This nurse spoke of hearing the crying of an infant coming from one of the rooms, though when she investigated, no one and nothing was found.

After the building was closed and abandoned, a local man leased the property for use as a haunted attraction, only to hear the same crying of an infant as they cleared the brush. As these stories began to emerge, many other locals began to speak of their strange experiences in the old hospital. The remains of the hospital have recently been renovated for use as apartments for low-income veterans.

Sources

  • Butler, Telia. “Throwback Thursday – The Haunted War Memorial Hospital.” 8 October 2020.
  • Montell, William Lynnwood. Haunted Houses and Family Ghosts of Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2010.

Stanford

Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site
6725 KY 300

This historic site preserves the estate and cemetery of the state’s first governor and has been investigated for paranormal activity.

Sources

  • Brummet, Jennifer. “Paranormal investigators use own time and money to seek out supernatural.” The Advocate-Messenger. 28 October 2007.
  • Isaac Shelby Cemetery State Historic Site. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 23 November 2020.

Stanton

Nada Tunnel
Nada Tunnel Road (KY 77)

Heading into the dramatic Red River Gorge on Kentucky Route 77, the road narrows at the Nada Tunnel. This roughly carved tunnel is only wide enough to allow a single car to pass at a time and doesn’t have lighting inside.

Nada Tunnel Stanton Kentucky
Nada Tunnel, 2010, by Patrick Mueller. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Originally carved to allow trains to carry timber to Clay City, but over time it has come to carry automobile traffic. Legend says that one of the construction workers was killed here by a dynamite blast and that both a green orb seen near here and moaning heard inside the tunnel may be attributed to his restless spirit.

Sources

Shulhafer, Rachel. “Most people don’t know the story behind this hidden tunnel in Kentucky.” OnlyInYourState. 24 October 2016.

Van Lear

Van Lear Coal Miner’s Museum
78 Miller’s Creek Road

The community of Van Lear was incorporated as a coal mining town in 1912 and named for Van Lear Black, the director of the Consolidated Coal Company. The building housing the museum was constructed a year later as an office for the coal company, as well as housing the city hall and several businesses. The community is now unincorporated, and the building now serves as a museum. Along with artifacts detailing the area’s history the museum is in possession of a number of spirits.

Sources

  • Starr, Patti. Ghosthunting Kentucky. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2010.

Walton

Abner Gaines House
150 Old Nicholson Road

Abner Gaines House Walton Kentucky
Abner Gaines House, 2020, by Joekaush35. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The oldest house in the town, the Abner Gaines House has served as a tavern, inn, private residence, and stagecoach stop in its early history. With so many people passing through, the house has experienced more than its fair share of violence, death, and suicide have left spiritual legacies that have manifested themselves as apparitions and odd sounds. The house has since been restored and is operated as the Gaines Tavern History Center.

Sources

  • “Mystery Monday: Real Haunted House.” 10 November 2014.
  • “Strange and Supernatural Happenings at The Abner Gaines House.” Boone County Reporter. 26 July 1899.

West Point

Fort Duffield Park & Historic Site
Fort Duffield Road

In the fall of 1861, Fort Duffield was built overlooking West Point to protect the Union’s supply base there. During the following winter, many succumbed to an outbreak of measles which took the lives of 61 soldiers. Possibly as a result, spirits of those soldiers remain around the site of the fort.

Sources

  • Coulter, Amber. “Fort Duffield tours highlight paranormal accounts.” News-Enterprise. 25 October 2012.
  • O’Neill, Tom. “Ghost walk to be held at Fort Duffield.” Courier-Journal. 31 October 2012.

Wilder

Bobby Mackey’s Music World
44 Licking Pike

Perhaps one of the most infamously haunted places in the country, this country-western bar, owned by singer Bobby Mackey, has been plagued with paranormal activity for years. While some of the legends of this place have been called in to question, there is little doubt that the activity is high, and the spirits of both kinds are plentiful.

Sources

  • Mayes, Cynthia Bard. “Just how haunted is the Bluegrass State?” com. 31 October 2012.

Cherry-picked history—Goldsboro, North Carolina

This is the fourth entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas.  

Cherry Research Farm (formerly Cherry Hospital)
604 Farm Road
Goldsboro, North Carolina

Ghost stories pop up in unusual places. These stories are often so entwined with history that these tales and stories pop up in places that are often unexpected. Today’s example is a story that appears in Modern Farmer magazine. While its pages usually discuss practical subjects such as antibiotic use in chickens or soy production, an article about sustainable agriculture research in North Carolina piqued my interest. It seems that the haunted grounds of Cherry Hospital in North Carolina have become an agricultural research station since the hospital’s move to its new, urban facility.

Cherry Hospital Goldsboro North Carolina
An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.

“You must have heard,” the agricultural scientist remarks in the article, “Cherry Hospital has a strange history.” The history of the hospital recalls the brutal treatment of the mentally ill, and even worse, the archaic views of race that persisted in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the 19th century, states established facilities to deal with the mentally ill and those who stood apart from society. Mental illness encompassed people who thought beyond their social station, independent women, those with “unnatural sexual desires,” and masturbators; as well as the depressed, anxious, and those with more serious mental illnesses. During Reconstruction, many of these facilities were actively segregated and new facilities created for African-Americans. This is where Cherry Hospital was established.

The North Carolina Asylum for Colored Insane opened its doors in 1880. The facility operated specifically for African-Americans until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 when the Cherry Hospital—as it was renamed in 1959 for former governor R. Gregg Cherry—was forced to open its doors to all North Carolinians. Thousands of acres surrounding the hospital were cultivated by patients in what is now deemed “horticultural therapy.” These vast acres have been overseen by the state’s Department of Agriculture since 1974.

An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.
An undated postcard of Cherry Hospital.

However, Cherry Hospital’s treatment of its patients has not always just included the genial sounding horticultural therapy. Patients have endured a cavalcade of therapeutic abuses including electroshock therapy and being placed in cages as well as simple neglect. An entire ward of the hospital was closed in 2008 after a patient was neglected for almost an entire day. That patient died after being found unresponsive. In 2016, the original hospital closed and moved into a new facility within the city limits of Goldsboro. Since much of the land surrounding the original hospital was owned by the state department of agriculture, the whole facility has been transformed into the Cherry Research Farm.

Perhaps the saddest story from this facility became the subject of a 2007 book, Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. A 17-year-old African-American man, Junius Wilson, was incarcerated here in 1925 on charges of rape. The young man could not communicate verbally, except through grunts and hand gestures, which were interpreted as being signs of mental illness. Mr. Wilson spent most of his life at Cherry Hospital before a social worker identified him as simply being deaf. Wilson’s grunting and wild gesticulation was simply a form of sign language used by African-Americans in the South. He was released and allowed to live his remaining days in a small cottage on the hospital grounds where he passed away in 2001.

Of course, the environment in places of such mental and physical travail, is often imprinted with profound human emotions: the despair of depression, the anguish of anxiety, or perhaps the confusion that marks disorders like schizophrenia. Rumors of hauntings have been passed among locals for years. In fact, the Modern Farmer mentions that some of these rumors and stories have been documented in a book. I suppose this is Margaret Langley’s series of books on Cherry’s sister facility, Broughton Hospital in Morganton. The third volume of her series includes stories from other mental facilities and hospitals in the state.

Langley, an R.N. who worked at Broughton, began collecting ghost stories during her time at the hospital. These stories eventually included stories from a number of other hospitals including Cherry from which she published several. Most of these stories involved elevators. One particular story involved a staff member who boarded an elevator only to notice someone else walking up to the doors as they were closing. Hitting the open doors button, the staff member was surprised when the doors opened to reveal no one else on the other side. Another staff member reported hearing the elevators operating in a portion of a building under renovation. These buildings were not occupied at the time and the elevators required keys to function.

Other than this source, there are few other texts that specifically speak to the haunting of this facility except for storyteller Randy Russell’s 2014 book, The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. In it, Russell explores stories of band music being heard within the facility. The hospital did have a band for patients and Russell reports that this band may still play on accompanied by the shuffling of feet as patients danced and whirled.

Sources

  • Barth, Brian. “The strange, horrifying history of Cherry Research Farm in North Carolina.” Modern Farmer. 11 December 2017.
  • Burch, Susan. Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson. Chapel Hill, NC: U. of NC Press, 2007.
  • Cherry Hospital. org. Accessed 30 December 2019.
  • Langley, Margaret. Haunted Broughton, Book III: History and Horror. CreateSpace, 2016.
  • Russell, Randy. The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2014.
  • “Ward where mental patient died closes at Cherry Hospital.” WRAL. 22 August 2008.

A cupola seaman—Louisville, Kentucky

This is the third entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 28 more days until All Hallows Eve!

United States Marine Hospital
2215 Portland Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky

There’s something quite jaunty about the cupola atop the old U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville. The rest of the building is stately and noble and almost bows to travelers as they cross the Ohio river into Kentucky; perhaps it’s a gracious bow of warm Southern welcome. But the little cupola adds a certain joyful flair to this staid structure, almost like a hotel bellman’s pillbox cap.

US Marine Hospital Louisville Kentucky ghosts haunted
The U.S. Marine Hospital with its jaunty cupola, 2007. Photograph by Censusdata, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Travelers have been passing this spot for nearly two centuries and they have been greeted by this landmark. Almost a hundred years ago, the Dixie Highway was routed across the steel lace of the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge from New Albany, Indiana into the bustle of Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. Automobile traffic over the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge ceased in 1979 and rerouted to Interstate-64 and its nearby concrete bridge. The interstate rushes past the sober hospital with its jolly cupola at Exit 3 as it hurries towards the spaghetti bowl interchange with I-65 and I-71.

Built by the Federal government to provide healthcare to boatmen operating on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and Great Lakes. This hospital was situated here on the Ohio River, for the “beneficial effect of a view of the water, and the impressions and associations it would naturally awake in the minds of men whose occupation were so intimately connected with it.” After the decline of the Marine Health Service in the late 19th century, the facility continued to operate as a hospital and later as quarters for medical professionals until 1975.

The now ancient building saw a multi-million-dollar restoration of its exterior some years ago, though the interior remains unusable, except for a few ground-floor rooms. Efforts to restore the entire structure have yet to succeed.

During the restoration in 2004, a painter working inside heard someone whistling down one of the hallways. When the painter realized that he was alone in the building he grew more curious. A few days later he was working with another painter and the two decided to take a smoke break on one of the building’s galleries. As they walked into the unrestored portion of the building, painter’s co-worker accused him of staring at him and making him uncomfortable. The painter denied that he was staring at him and said he was only concentrating on his work.

“So, we stepped out onto the gallery and lit up our cigarettes, and it just weird all of a sudden. The hair stood up on our necks and the whole place just felt all staticky and like it was charged with energy or something. It got real cold, too, just like an icy wind blew in, and when that happened, my buddy just sort of looked at me as if to ask what was going on.”

The two men were standing facing one another, the painter standing against the railing his back to the railing, while his co-worker was looking out towards the river. Suddenly, the co-worker appeared to see something, and his eyes got big. When the painter turned to see what his companion was looking at, there was a man standing next to him.

Staring at the man in disbelief, the pair was aghast when he simply vanished before their eyes. “He just sort of appeared for a moment or two, and then he was gone. It was almost like we were seeing an old-fashioned picture.” The painter described the man as appearing like “an old-time sailor.” He was wearing “tight, striped pants and a short jacket and a straw hat.”

George Caleb Bingham Jolly Flatboatmen in Port 1857
George Caleb Bingham’s “Jolly Flatboatmen in Port,” 1857. Dating to the period when the Marine Hospital opened, it depicts men who might have been patients here. The description of the seaman seen by the two painters resembles some of the men in this work. This painting hangs in the St, Louis Museum of Art.

After the spectral vision vanished, the co-worker fled back inside the building and refused to talk about what had just happened. The painter, however, told his story to Louisville author and tour guide David Domine, who included it in his 2006 Phantoms of Old Louisville. Hopefully, this magnificent building with the jaunty cupola can be fully restored as old mariners continue “blurring the fine line between the Here and Now and the There and Then.”

Sources

  • Brooks, Carolyn. National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for the United States Marine Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. 15 March 1994.
  • Domine, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville: Ghostly Tales from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.
  • United States Marine Hospital of Louisville. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 October 2019.

Eight-sided Spirits–Kentucky

N. B. This article has been expanded and revised 16 December 2019.

Octagon Hall
6040 Bowling Green Road
Franklin, Kentucky

As the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and his Confederate counterpart Jefferson Davis, Kentucky could be considered the birthplace of the American Civil War. Though, when its Southern neighbors began to secede from the Union, the state attempted to remain neutral. When the Confederate army invaded the state and occupied Columbus, Kentucky on the Mississippi River, all hell began to break loose. A Confederate shadow government was created to oppose the Unionist state government already in place and the state joined the Confederacy in December of 1861. The provisional capital at Bowling Green had to be evacuated the following year and some eight to ten thousand fleeing soldiers camped on the grounds of Andrew Caldwell’s estate with its unique eight-sided home outside of Franklin. The soldiers only camped on the estate overnight before heading into Tennessee.

Two days later, pursuing Union troops swept through the plantation and continued to frequently search the grounds for hidden Confederates while they held the area. Wounded soldiers, knowing of the Caldwell’s pro-Confederate leanings, sought out the house as a hiding place. A story told by the Caldwell family involves soldiers being hidden in the cupola that once topped the house. Mr. Caldwell kept bees in the cupola and Confederates would be dressed in bee suits and hidden there. When Union troops would search the house, the bees prevented them from searching the cupola

haunted Octagon Hall Franklin Kentucky ghosts
Octagon Hall, 2008, by Kentondickerson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

Andrew Jackson Caldwell began construction on this unique plantation home in 1847 completing it in 1859. The home’s location: on the Nashville & Louisville Turnpike (now U. S. Route 31W) and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (about a mile east of the road) made this home a landmark for travelers and locals alike. Throughout the home’s history it remained a private residence until 2001, when the Octagon Hall Foundation took over the house transforming it into a house museum.

A host of spirits remain at Octagon Hall. Some investigators have suggested that the building’s unusual shape and limestone bricks may exacerbate the hauntings. Keith Fournier, a paranormal investigator who investigated the house many times, told the Bowling Green Daily Times that the house is “probably one of the most haunted sites in the country. For its size…there’s more evidence caught in that location than for any other location oi its size in the country.”

haunted Octagon Hall Franklin Kentucky ghosts
Rear view of Octagon Hall, 2008, by Kentondickerson. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the primary spectral residents is the spirit of Mary Elizabeth Caldwell, daughter of Octagon Hall’s builder. Young Mary was around seven years of age when she died in 1854. Legend purports that the child was playing in the kitchen when her dress caught fire. During some of his investigations, Fournier has heard the child weeping in the house accompanied by the deep male voice speaking in a Southern drawl.

The museum’s executive director had an experience with the child’s spirit only three or four weeks after his arrival. “We were doing renovations in the basement and I saw a little girl. I thought she was a tourist and I said, ‘can I help you?’’ When the child vanished, he stood there with his mouth agape. Many others have seen other spirits roaming the grounds including Confederate soldiers and shadow figures.

Sources

  • Episode 2. “Octagon Hall.” Most Terrifying Places in America, Season 7. Travel Channel. Originally aired 22 October 2010.
  • French, Jackson. “SyFy’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ to lead ghost hunt at Octagon Hall.” Bowling Green Daily News. 13 April 2018.
  • History.” Octagon Hall Museum. Accessed 16 December 2019.
  • Kentucky in the American Civil War. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 13 December 2010.
  • Swietek, Wes. “Sites throughout the region full of ghostly lore.” Bowling Green Daily News. 10 October 2015.
  • Westmoreland-Doherty, Lisa. Kentucky Spirits Undistilled. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.

A Southern Feast of All Souls—Patient Souls at the Park

E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park
3000 Freys Hill Road
Louisville, Kentucky

 On a cool Sunday morning in Fall, like today, it’s not hard to imagine that E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park is teeming with life. Joggers, bikers, walkers, and families with children throng the paths, playgrounds and Activities Center in the park unknowing of the patient souls that still roam these grounds. Some of these souls may still suffer the effects of the mental illnesses that afflicted them in life. There is some indication that death may not end the mania, though I would prefer to believe that these poor patient’s souls have passed on leaving only the confused energy that they exuded in life.

One of the park’s paths. Photo 2008, by TeleD, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The grounds of this modest state park were home to Native Americans for centuries before the intrusion of white men into the utopian “Kaintuck” territory. The land was later settled by the Hite family. According to an article from Louisville TV station, WDRB, Isaac Hite died from injuries sustained in a Native American attack here.

In 1869 the state of Kentucky acquired the land and began construction on the State House of Reform for Juvenile Delinquents at Lakeland. This facility evidently went through a series of name and purpose changes with adults being moved to the facility. Around 1900, the facility became Central Kentucky Asylum for the Insane.

Throughout the 20th century, the hospital was investigated a number of times after allegations of corruption and abuse surfaced. The old hospital was closed in 1986 with patients being moved into a newer facility nearby. After sitting abandoned for a decade, the deteriorating hospital buildings were demolished by the state. The land near the old hospital that had once served as a farm was converted into a state park in 1974. The park was named for E. P. “Tom” Sawyer, distinguished local judge and county executive who was the father of journalist Diane Sawyer.

Main building of the Central State Hospital, ca. 1920. This is one of the buildings demolished in 1996. Courtesy of Asylum Projects.

While the park grounds were not actually the site of the hospital, they are still possibly occupied by the spirits of some of the patients who died there. Many of the graves of former patients are unknown and may be scattered throughout the park’s property. Paranormal investigators within the park have captured numerous EVPs, especially around the Sauerkraut Cave. Legend holds that patients who became pregnant were brought to the cave and some of those infants were possibly disposed of here. Others mention that the cave was also used by patients trying to escape the facility. For someone escaping through the cave without flashlights or other equipment, it is likely that the escapees got lost and died within the labyrinth.

Of the cave, an article on Louisville.com quotes the park’s naturalist as saying, “They say it’s kind of a sad place. There’s people trapped there, spirits trapped there. There’s a man who’s angry and they say he’s not letting any of the other spirits go.” Indeed, one recent paranormal investigation captured the image of a large burly man within the cave. Should you take some time to visit the park, be mindful of the patient and not so patient spirits of patients who still reside here.

Sources

Birmingham’s Haunted Five

After my recent entry on Alabama, I had a comment on Facebook, “Interesting, but there’s more than the library in Birmingham…” Indeed.

I’ve previously covered two magnificent Birmingham theatres: the Alabama and Lyric; and the Tutwiler Hotel, in addition to the Linn-Henley Library which I covered in the Haunted Alabama entry. So here are a few more locations to add to the Birmingham list.

When Alan Brown wrote his 2009, Haunted Birmingham, he noted that this city’s ghostlore “is not nearly as rich as that found in much older cities.” Certainly, Birmingham is the youngest of Alabama’s large cities, having only been founded in 1871. Still, the city has some very interesting ghostlore including the iconic Sloss Furnaces.

Sloss Furnaces
20 32nd Street, North

Perhaps one of the most iconic haunted places in the whole state, this National Historic Landmark site is iconic of Birmingham’s history. Birmingham was built on industrial facilities like this producing iron during the latter half of the 19th and into the 20th centuries. While the facility opened in 1882, nothing remains of the original furnaces here. The oldest building on this site dates to 1902 with much equipment installed and added in later years. This facility closed in 1971 and local preservationists began work to save the facility. Their efforts paid off and the facility is open as a museum and events facility.

Sloss Furnaces, 2006. Photo by Timjarrett, courtesy of Wikipedia.

There is always a chance for death in industrial sites, even more so around molten metal in a furnace. In 1887, Theophilus Jowers, assistant foundryman at the Alice furnace (one of the first furnaces on this site) fell to his death into the molten iron in the furnace. Some of his remains—his head, bowels, two hip bones and some ashes—were fished out of the molten iron. Jowers’ death remains one of the most spectacular and grisly, though many more men died throughout the time that the furnaces were in operation.

After Jowers’ death, his spirit was observed by co-workers. Kathryn Tucker Windham quotes one former employee, “We’d be getting ready to charge the furnace, and we’d see something, something like a natural man walking around on the hearth. Just walking slow and looking around like he was checking to make sure everything was all right.” Windham describes the first time that Jowers’ son saw his father’s spirit in 1927. The now grown son took his son for a drive over the First Avenue Viaduct and there, while watching the action at the furnace, they observed a man walking through the showers of sparks and flames.

Two more spirits are believed to be in residence at this site, but less historically based. A white deer that has been seen on the grounds is believed to be the spirit of a pregnant girl who committed suicide by throwing herself into the furnace. The other “apocryphal”—as Alan Brown describes him—spirit is that of a fiendish foreman named James “Slag” Wormwood. Like Jowers and the pregnant girl, Wormwood supposedly fell to his death into one of the furnaces, though it is suspected that he was really pushed by an angry employee. It is Wormwood’s angry spirit that is responsible for pushing employees.

The furnaces are known as a hotbed of paranormal activity and were investigated for the first time in 2005 by Ghost Chasers International out of Kentucky. They were joined by psychic Chip Coffey who would soon make his name working on the A&E show, Paranormal State. During the investigation, Coffey made contact with the spirit of a man who had lost a limb in an accident there. Moments after losing contact with the spirit, team members noticed blood on Coffey’s hands. After investigating him for scratches or another injury that could have produced blood, nothing was found. Over the past 10 years of paranormal investigations at the site, a slag heap of evidence has been produced.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
  • History.” Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Accessed 12 June 2015.
  • Parks, Megan. “Sloss Fright Furnace: The haunts heat up in Alabama.” USA Today. 14 October 2014.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker. The Ghost in the Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Historical Society, 2005.

East Lake Park
400 Graymont Avenue, West 

On the 1st December 1888, Richard Hawes accompanied his daughter to the newly built lake here. Sometime later, he left without the seven-year-old. On December 4th, two boys playing on a boat in the lake discovered the child’s half-naked body in the water. The discovery caused a sensation among the citizens who thronged the funeral home where she was taken to view the body. Eventually, she was identified as May Hawes. As his train pulled into Birmingham, Richard Hawes, May’s father, was arrested.

May Hawes’ body as pictured in a local paper, 1888.

Richard Hawes was aboard the train with his new bride and still in his wedding suit. He told investigators that he had divorced his wife and was paying for the support of the children. His new wife, from Columbus, Mississippi, was described as being prostrate with grief after finding that her new husband was suspected of murder. Hawes’ wife Emma and daughter, Irene, age six. As newspapers stirred the city’s emotions, Emma’s body was found in a lake in the Lakeview neighborhood. Outrage overtook countless Birminghamians who gathered outside the city jail demanding Hawes be brought to justice immediately. A militia that had been called out to protect the jail eventually opened fire on the crowd killing ten including the city’s postmaster and wounding many others. A few days later, the pathetic body of Irene Hawes was found in the same lake where her mother had been found.

Postcard of East Lake from the roller coaster that once perched on the shores, 1909.

After a swift trial, Richard Hawes faced the gallows and was hung for the murder of his wife and two daughters. Hawes’ second wife was granted from her depraved husband. The lake in Lakeview where Emma and Irene were drowned is now a golf course while East Lake is the centerpiece of East Lake Park, which became a city park 1917. Little May Hawes is still seen in and around the lake where she is sometimes called the “Mermaid of East Lake.”

Sources

  • East Lake Park. Accessed 12 June 2015.
  • Jones, Pam. “The Hawes Murders.” Alabama Heritage. Spring 2006.
  • Kazek, Kelly. “’Tis the season: Haunting tales from ghost tours in 3 Alabama cities.” com. 2 October 2012.

Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens
331 Cotton Avenue

Described as the “Birthplace of Birmingham,” Arlington is the oldest remaining home in Jefferson County. The core of this house was constructed in 1822 with additions being made to the house in 1842. As it served as the headquarters for Union General James H. Wilson during the closing months of the Civil War, the house was spared while the orders for the destruction of the University of Alabama, the arsenal at Selma and iron works throughout the region were issued from this home. As can be expected in a house of this age, there is some paranormal activity. Alan Brown notes that docents have heard doors slamming and witnessed rocking chairs rocking on their own accord.

Arlington by Jet Lowe. Photo for the Historic American Buildings Survey, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
  • Floyd, W. Warner and Mrs. Catherine M. Lackmond. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Arlington. 9 September 1970.

Carraway Methodist Medical Center
1600 Carraway Boulevard

This defunct hospital was, for many years, one of Birmingham’s leading medical facilities. In the 2000s, the hospital was plagued with financial difficulties that lead to its closure in 2008. The facility has been deteriorating since and it has attracted homeless people, vandals, copper thieves and some ghost hunters. A November 2014 article by Kelly Kazek reports on an investigation conducted by investigator and author, Kim Johnston. After touring the facility with the owner, Johnston reported that the Emergency Room had a “palpable heaviness.” Her group did have the experience of hearing muffled voices in the cardiac surgery area of the third floor. Even after bringing in local police, no one was found to be in that area. This building is closed and tresapssers will be prosecuted, please only observe from a distance.

Sources

  • Carraway Methodist Medical Center. Acc. 6 Jun 2015.
  • Kazek, Kelly. “Abandoned Alabama Part 2: The ghost of cities past.” com. 28 Nov 2014.

The Hotel Highland at Five Points South
1023 20th Street, South

Originally constructed as the Medical Arts Building in 1931, this building served as offices for surgeons and dentists for many years. In the 1980s, a former cardiac surgeon renovated the Art Deco structure into a hotel, the Pickwick Hotel. During this time, stories emerged of a nurse still making rounds on the eighth floor. Sheila Turnage quotes a former director of sales who said that the elevator would mysteriously be called to the eighth floor unexpectedly. The hotel was transformed into a boutique hotel in 2007.

Sources

  • Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.
  • “History of the Hotel” The Hotel Highland at Five Points South. Accessed 18 May 2015.

Something in the halls of science—Ruston, Louisiana

Old Biomedical Research (CREST) Building
Louisiana Tech University

711 South Vienna Street

If a building can resemble a person, then the CREST Building’s white brick and severe lines resemble the old fashioned, white-clad nurses of days gone by: stiff, strict, and starched. Author Jeanne Frois ascribes a more sinister appearance to the building’s windows as looking “like hollow eye sockets holding an empty presence within.”

Perhaps these nurses are still patrolling the halls of this former hospital. The building opened in 1928 as the Ruston-Lincoln Sanitarium. At that time, the morgue was located on the first floor with the hospital’s surgical suite located on the fourth floor. In 1963, the facility was transformed into a nursing home and served that purpose until the 1970s, when it was turned over for use by Louisiana Tech.

While the academic faculty and students are working to improve the lives of the disabled, it seems that the old nursing staff may continue to check up on them as well. In a 2007 article from the university’s newspaper The Tech Talk, one staff member reported that she believes the spirit may be the nursing home’s former director of nurses. According to the article, this woman had an apartment on the fourth floor so that she could respond quickly if there was a problem. This particular staff member worked under this nursing director whom she describes as “never mean,” though she was “strict and firm; she was a stickler for every detail.” She told the newspaper that, “She had a good heart, though, the patients all loved her, and the doctors loved her because she kept the patients happy.”

Perhaps this devoted nursing director has maintained her devotion in the afterlife, though none of the reports of paranormal activity point to a specific spirit haunting the building. The activity is varied and most commonly includes the sound of doors opening and closing. One staff member working in the building after hours heard the sounds of doors opening and closing all up and the down the hall on the fourth floor. Annoyed and curious, he checked all the doors on the hall to find them all closed and securely locked.

Electronic equipment also sometimes has odd issues. One student watched as a printing calculator began to print random numbers. Another person put fresh batteries in a number of toys in preparation for young patients only to find the batteries drained the next day.

There are also issues with the elevator which regularly makes the journey from the first floor to the fourth floor without being called. In his recently published book, The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South, Randy Russell states that the ghost will often open the doors to anyone carrying doughnuts. It’s an absurd notion, but in the world of the paranormal, anything can happen.

UPDATE: It seems that Louisiana Tech has moved it’s Center for Biomedical Research to a new building on its campus. The old hospital building it once occupied is currently for sale.

Sources

  • Frois, Jeanne. Around Louisiana: Northern Louisiana.” Louisiana Life. September-October 2009.
  • History: Building.” Louisiana Tech University. Accessed 10 November 2014.
  • Jones, Davey. “Frightening encounters flourish in old Biomedical Engineering Building. The Tech Talk. 25 October 2007.
  • Russell, Randy. The Ghost Will See You Now: Haunted Hospitals of the South. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2014.

Feeling Umbrage for the Upstate—South Carolina

N.B. Edited 28 February 2019.

I’m feeling a bit of umbrage for the spirits of the Upstate region of South Carolina. A recent Halloween related article appeared on the website of a Charlotte, NC news station (I’d rather not just call them out) regarding haunted places in the region. Included with the article is a slideshow of 43 locations that are purported to be haunted. But that’s all that’s included: a slideshow. The slides show pictures of some of these haunted hotspots with a name and town, but no further information. While it’s all fine and good to say a place is haunted, it is a serious disservice to pronounce a place haunted but provide no further information regarding it.

There is a link within the article to a list of haunted places on the website of a local paranormal investigation organization. While it’s obvious that this list is the only source for the locations included in the slideshow, what I find so annoying is the fact that the organization’s source is the notorious Shadowlands Index of Haunted Places. After briefly comparing the lists, it became very clear that the paranormal organization’s list was simply cut and pasted from the Shadowlands list.

My problems with Shadowlands stems from the fact that it is made of user submitted entries. Someone, anyone, can go to the website and submit information on a haunted place. The information submitted is not checked or vetted, it is added to the list and readers often take this information as fact. It is such shoddy information gathering and publishing that I’m working hard to combat with this blog.

To post information about hauntings in such a willy-nilly manner is not just disrespectful for the spirits which may haunt these locations, but shows a lack of respect for the locations and their respective histories. Reputable sources on this region are not lacking and most are still in print. In fact, the article quotes the author of one of those primary sources. So, a much better list can be provided with a modicum of research.

While my coverage here is not as lengthy as the news station’s list, hopefully this article will help to provide a far better alternative. For your consideration, I’m presenting a few of the more interesting—and documented—stories from the Upstate region.

Abbeville County

Abbeville, the county seat and namesake for the county, is a fascinating town with a number of hauntings including its historic opera house which I covered a few years back.

Burt-Stark Mansion
400 North Main Street
Abbeville

Sometimes called the “Grave of the Confederacy,” the Burt-Stark Mansion was the scene of the Confederacy’s final council of war; where Jefferson Davis met with some of his cabinet officials and generals following the fall of Richmond and General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The Confederate government was in disarray, and its officials on the run through the war-weary South.

Varina, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ wife, had arrived at Major Armistead Burt’s elegant Abbeville home in mid-April with her family in tow. She stayed with the Burts for a little more than a week before continuing their journey into Georgia. On May 2nd, Jefferson Davis arrived in Abbeville. Stopping by a small cabin on the edge of town, Davis asked for a drink of water from the lady of the house. As he drank, a small child wandered across the porch towards him. The woman asked, “Ain’t you President Davis?” After he answered in the affirmative, the woman nodded at the child, “he’s named for you.”

Producing a small gold coin from his pocket, Davis handed it to the woman saying, “Please keep this for him and tell him about it when he’s old enough.” Davis whispered to Postmaster General John H. Reagan and told him that that was the last coin he had to his name.

haunted Burt-Stark Mansion Abbeville South Carolina ghosts
Undated postcard image of the Burt-Stark Mansion. Published by the Echo Novelty Store, Albertype Company.

Soon after, Davis took up residence at the Burt home where his wife had stayed previously. Later that afternoon, the remaining cabinet met in the parlor. It was there that Davis responded, “all is indeed lost,” conceding to the loss of the Confederacy.

The mansion has been preserved as a museum, and due to the nature of the final meeting of the Confederate cabinet is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. Though very little paranormal activity had been witnessed in the mansion, due to the numerous other hauntings in Abbeville it was decided to allow a paranormal investigation team to investigate the home in 2007. According to John Boyanoski’s description of the investigation in his More Ghosts of Upstate South Carolina, the team came away with a great deal of evidence.

Members of the Heritage Paranormal team felt the presence of a man in the bedroom where Davis had slept. Moments later, one of the lead investigators witnessed the clear outline of a woman in period dress descending the staircase. Lending credence to his experience, the team’s equipment near the staircase registered some disturbances at the time the investigator saw the specter. In the separate kitchen building, the team detected two spirits, possibly those of slaves.

Sources

  • Bearss, Edwin C. National Historic Landmark nomination form for Burt-Stark Mansion. 28 April 1992.
  • Boyanoski, John. Ghosts of Upstate of South Carolina. Mountville, PA: Shelor & Son Publishing, 2006.
  • Burt-Stark Mansion. “About Us.” Accessed 13 October 2014.

Anderson County

Anderson Municipal Business Center
601 South Main Street
Anderson

Unlike the Burt-Stark Mansion with its flood of history, the Anderson Municipal Business Center is a rather utilitarian government building with little history. The building opened in August 2008 and odd events began to occur less than a year after it opened. The security person in charge of the building—a 15 year veteran of the local police department—began to notice odd things on the security monitor installed in the Anderson credit union office. A white blur appeared on the video and would flit around the room. It returned night after night.

The room was checked for bugs and the camera was cleaned, but the white blurs continued to return. Workers in the office reported hearing odd sounds after hours including knocking and the sounds of furniture being moved. A customer, who supposedly knew nothing of the activity, reported the feeling of being grasped by the shoulder. The activity lasted for a few months, but then petered out by late 2009.

The property has a fairly quiet history, certainly nothing that would explain the odd white blurs that appeared for a period.

Sources

  • “Ghostly images leave people wondering.” 30 October 2011.
  • Smith-Miles, Charmaine. “Anderson employee to appear on TV’s ‘My Ghost Story.’” Anderson Independent Mail. 13 April 2011.

Cherokee County

Ford Road Bridge
Ford Road at Peoples Creek
Gaffney

It was obvious that the killer wanted to play when he called reporter Bill Gibbons of The Gaffney Ledger on a day in early February 1968. He instructed the reporter to pull out three pieces of paper and then gave the reporter directions to find the bodies of two of his victims. The killer even provided the victims’ names. The reporter summoned the sheriff and traveled to the two sites provided by the caller, finding bodies at each location. The body of the third victim had been previously found, and the woman’s husband had been convicted of the murder. Gaffney woke to the fact that it had a serial killer on its hands.

The Gaffney Ledger headline, 9 February 1968.

The killer would kill once more before he was arrested. Lee Roy Martin, the killer, was found guilty and sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment. He was killed by another inmate in 1972.

Just below the lonely Ford Road Bridge over Peoples Creek, one of Martin’s victims was found. Her nude body lay on the creek bank with her face in the water. She had been raped and strangled with a belt. Over the years, locals have reported hearing a woman screaming and moaning below the bridge where the body was found. An investigation conducted as part of the filming of Haunted Echoes: The Gaffney Strangler, a documentary that was posted on YouTube, did not hear any screams, just the trilling of bullfrogs in the creek.

Sources

  • Dalton, Robert W. “Gaffney Strangler terrorized town 40 years ago, murdering 4 women.” Spartanburg Herald-Journal. 5 July 2009.
  • Gibbons, Bill. “Search underway here for slayer of 2 women; Tip to newsman leads officers to scene.” The Gaffney Ledger. 9 February 1968.
  • Haunted Echoes: The Gaffney Strangler, Episode 3.” Haunted Echoes: South Written and directed by Daljit Kalsi. Posted on YouTube 26 October 2013.
  • Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the South Carolina Upcountry. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005.

Greenville County

Herdklotz Park
126 Beverly Road
Greenville

Jason Profit, owner and operator of Greenville Ghost Tours, describes Herdklotz Park in his book, Haunted Greenville, South Carolina, as having “all the ingredients for an active paranormal soup.” This tranquil city park was once home to the Greenville Tuberculosis Hospital, which closed in the 1950s after operating for some 20 years. For some time, the building sat abandoned but was then reopened in the 1990s for a brief period of time as part of a prison work-release program.

As with many abandoned buildings of this nature, the building served as a playground for teens and the occasional vandal who would leave with stories of the supernatural there. Of course, the building also attracted the local homeless. It is believed that they may have accidentally caused the fire that destroyed the building in November of 2002. The remains of the building were demolished.

But, the spirits have remained. Jason Profit recounts an EVP session that he held on the steps of the old hospital (the building’s foundation remains intact) in 2008. He was able to capture the sounds of what he described as “a busy lunchroom. It sounded like the echoing of voices in a hallway or large room.” He reports that many residents of the neighborhood around the park have witnessed shadow people in their homes and in the area that may be related to the old hospital. In a 2009 report for the local CBS affiliate WSPA, Profit states, “I would have to say that beyond a shadow of a doubt that Herdklotz Park is one of the most haunted parks you’re going to find in Upstate South Carolina.”

Sources

  • Cato, Chris. “Greenville County Park Haunted by Hospital’s Ghosts?” WSPA. 31 October 2009.
  • Profit, Jason. Haunted Greenville, South Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

Greenwood County

Ninety Six National Historic Site
1103 Highway 248
Ninety Six

Scholars still argue as to how Ninety Six got its odd name, some say it’s that the town was 96 miles from the Cherokee village of Keowee (which is incorrect) and some say that it’s a reference to the many creeks in the area. Nevertheless, this oddly named village was the scene of a siege during the American Revolution. General Nathanael Greene led his Patriot troops against loyalists entrenched in the village. Despite having far more troops, Greene’s 28-day siege failed to capture the village, and he withdrew his troops. Perhaps, though, he did leave some spirits behind. Residents living near the battlefield and re-enactors camping on the battlefield have heard voices throughout the site.

Sources

  • Ninety Six National Historic Site. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 February 2011.
  • Siege of Ninety-Six. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 February 2011.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.

Pickens County

Colony Theatre
315 West Main Street
Easley

Ghost stories often grow out of odd bits of natural phenomena. That may just well be the story behind this small town movie theatre in the Upstate. A member of the family who built this theatre in 1948 and owned it until it closed claimed the “ghost” was simply the curtains in the projection room being blown by air from the projector. Though, locals have a different theory: it’s the ghost of a woman who hanged herself on this site before the building of the theatre.

In his marvelous collection of ghost stories from the Upstate region, Ghosts of Upstate South Carolina, John Boyanoski documents the story of a passerby who saw the spirit peering from a window of the empty theatre one night. While driving home to Greenville from a football game in Clemson one night in 1989, the driver slowed to admire the old, art moderne-style theatre. Looking up, he saw a woman staring out of one of the building’s second floor windows. She didn’t move and she appeared to have a faint glow about her. He continued driving and then turned around to catch a second glimpse. The theatre was quiet and dark. Nothing appeared in the windows. Even after parking and walking around the front of the building, nothing stirred.

At the time of this writing the theatre serves as a church and remains as a landmark along South Carolina Highway-93 through Easley. The theatre is owned by Robinson’s Funeral Home and it plans to maintain the theatre as a local landmark.

Sources

  • Boyanoski, John. Ghosts of Upstate of South Carolina. Mountville, PA: Shelor & Son Publishing, 2006.
  • Robinson, Ben. “Colony Theater not in danger from Robinson’s expansion.” Easley Progress. 16 December 2011.

Spartanburg County

Old Main Building
Campus of Wofford College
Spartanburg

Wofford College, a private, independent school associated with the Methodist Church, has about 130 faculty and staff members, 1,500 students, and more than a handful of ghosts. The old campus features some noted historic structures including the campus’ centerpiece, the Old Main Building which may have a few of its own spirits flitting about the halls. South Carolina folklorist, Tally Johnson, an alumnus of the school, witnessed Old Main’s legendary “Old Green Eyes” when he was a student. He and another student crept into the auditorium one night and witnessed the odd pair of lights that appear above the drapes over one of the auditorium’s windows. The “eyes” appeared and Johnson and his companion were unable to find a source for the lights.

Old Main Building, 2010, by PegasusRacer28, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The odd, green orbs have not been identified and there’s no apparent explanation. Regardless, that’s not the only odd activity. The blog of the college’s archives recounts that the spirit of Dr. James Carlisle—one of the first faculty members and president of the school for the latter half of the 19th century—has been seen and heard prowling the halls.

Sources

  • Brabham, William C. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Wofford College Historic District. 29 August 1974.
  • Johnson, Tally. Ghosts of the South Carolina Upcountry. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005.
  • Stone, Phillip. “Are there ghosts at Wofford?” From the Archives. 31 October 2011.

A Spectral Tour of the Shenandoah Valley

I recently had an inquiry from a friend who’s a student at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia regarding a “haunted road trip” he and his friends want to take next month. After consulting my resources, I’ve devised a suitable tour of the area’s numerous haunts.

This tour makes a circle through the Shenandoah Valley, beginning and ending in Winchester. It heads south on I-81 towards Staunton with a few stops along the way. After Staunton the tour heads east to include the famous Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville before returning to Winchester. The tour includes a range of haunted places from historic homes to government buildings, churches, battlefields, commercial buildings, cemeteries, a train depot, a former mental hospital and a cave. Some of these locations are open to the public while a few are private and should only be viewed from the street.

N.B. This article has been reworked a bit and I have begun separating these cities into their own distinct articles.

Winchester

The Winchester section of this article has been broken off into its own, separate article, “The Wraiths of Winchester.”

Middletown

WAYSIDE INN (7783 Main Street) This building sits at the core of history of 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, containing Larrick’s Tavern,  may have been constructed around 1750. The road in front was once part of the Great Wagon Road—the road used by settlers pouring into the American “backcountry.” In this area, the Great Wagon Road  was originally a Native American trail called the Great Indian Warpath and used by a multitude of Native American tribes including the Cherokee.

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.

Wayside Inn. Photo 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 before that time. 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.” 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.

WAYSIDE THEATRE (7853 Main Street, now closed) The sad fate of the Wayside Theatre echoes the fate of so many theatres throughout the country. The company was established in 1961, by Leo Bernstein, the owner of the Wayside Inn just down the street. The summer stock theatre provided training for actors such as Susan Sarandon, Peter Boyle, Kathy Bates and Donna McKechnie. After a precipitous drop in revenue, the theatre closed its doors in 2013.

The building was originally constructed as a cinema and it is from this period that the theatre’s ghost may come from. “George,” is supposedly the spirit of an African-American man who either worked in the theatre or was a caretaker at some point. His spirit is said to haunt the stage, balcony and basement of the building.

CEDAR CREEK AND BELLE GROVE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK (Belle Grove, 336 Belle Grove Road) Historically and architecturally, Belle Grove is one of the most important houses in the region and listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is currently owned and operated by the National Trust and most sources state that the docents are discouraged from talking about the spirits which still reside here.

Belle Grove, 2013, by AgnosticPreachersKid. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The history of Belle Grove begins in the late 18th century with the land being acquired by Isaac Hite, the grandson of Jost Hite, a German immigrant and one of the early pioneers in this area. Construction of the house began in 1794 and ended in 1797. The house remained in the Hite family until just before the beginning of the Civil War when it was bought by John and Benjamin Cooley. The first of two ghost stories begin with this family. Not long after acquiring the house, Benjamin Cooley married a local woman named Hetty. Not long after her arrival in the home, Hetty became the subject of ire from one of the slave woman working there.

Though the details are unclear, Hetty was attacked by the slave and her beaten body was thrown either into the smokehouse or the icehouse on the property. Hetty’s spirit reportedly returns frequently and has been seen throughout the house. According to two sources, she actually let a deliveryman into the house one afternoon after the home had been closed for the day. The deliveryman was returning the antique carpets which had been removed for cleaning. After arriving late, he was let into the house by a woman in a period dress who did not speak but only gestured to where the carpets should be placed. When the staff discovered the carpets had been returned and put in place, they called the cleaning company who put the driver on the phone. They were shocked to hear about the woman who let him in.

A few years after Mrs. Cooley’s death, the estate became the scene of the Battle of Cedar Creek. During that battle, Major General Stephen Ramseur of North Carolina was gravely wounded. He was taken to a room at Belle Grove where he passed away the following morning surrounded by some of his former classmates from West Point from both armies including George Custer. This scene was witnessed by a gentleman some years ago. While idly passing through the house, he glanced into a room to see a group of Civil War soldiers in both blue and grey standing around someone in a bed. Later, when he asked who had been presenting the tableaux that day, he was informed that nothing of the sort was taking place in the house.

Employees have told various paranormal writers that voices and other odd noises are regularly heard in the house, while singing is heard in the slave cemetery on the property.

Early on the morning of October 19, 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early launched an attack upon Union forces camping in the area. These forces under General Sheridan (who was headquartered at the Lloyd Logan House in Winchester, see stop #3H) had spent their time clearing the Shenandoah Valley of Confederates. Known as “The Burning,” this period included the destruction of much of the area. Early’s early morning attack was one of the last chances for Confederates to stop the decimation of the valley.

While Early’s attack was initially successful in beginning to route the Federals, Sheridan, hearing the sounds of battle from Winchester, jumped upon his horse and made a triumphant ride to Middletown to rally his troops to victory. At the end of the day, Early’s forces had been driven from the field.

The stories of spirits on this battlefield began not long after the battle ended. These stories included spectral soldiers on the battlefield both singly and in groups and even stories of headless horsemen. Michael Varhola notes, however, that the gentlemen he met working in the visitor’s center, refused to answer his questions about the battlefield being haunted.

Grottoes

Formations within Grand Caverns. Photo 2010 by P199. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

GRAND CAVERNS (5 Grand Caverns Drive) From the oldest continuously operating inn in the country to the oldest operating show cave, Grand Caverns has been open for tourists since 1806. I’ve covered this cave and its ghosts in a blog entry here.

New Hope

PIEDMONT BATTLEFIELD (Battlefield Road) Outside of New Hope, near the community of Piedmont, is an open field that was the scene of a battle, the 5th of June 1864.

Around 5 AM, June 5, 1996, a group of reenactors camping on the southern edge of the battlefield were awakened by an unusual ruckus: the sounds of wagons approaching. In an effort to greet the approaching wagons, a few of the reenactors stepped towards a nearby fence. The sounds, the creak of wagon wheels, the tinkle of chains, the clop of horses hooves and their whinnies, increased for a moment as they apparently neared the awed witnesses then they suddenly ceased. Some of those present later discovered an overgrown trace or wagon road in the woods near the spot where they’d heard the sounds. It is believed that this road may have been in existence at the time of the battle.

Of course, there’s no way to know if the sounds were related to battle or simply spiritual residue from the road’s history. Either way, the reenactors will likely tell this story for years to come.

Staunton

Like Winchester, Staunton has a myriad of haunted locales and a ghost tour. Black Raven Paranormal presents a handful of different tours; see their website for further information.

MRS. ROWE’S FAMILY RESTAURANT (74 Rowe Road) This popular restaurant has been investigated twice in the past few years after employees and guests have had run-ins with spirits. In addition to activity in the building’s attic and basement, the back dining room and men’s room have reportedly had activity. Two local news articles describe the activity as ranging from full apparitions to employees being touched.

DeJARNETTE CENTER (located behind the Frontier Culture Museum, 1290 Richmond Avenue, the center is closed and private property though one of the tours offered by the Ghosts of Staunton tours the grounds, don’t ask for further information at the Frontier Culture Museum, they can’t tell you much of anything) There’s a good deal of misinformation about this location. Of course, mental and psychiatric hospitals tend to be haunted, along with other medical facilities. Among those with a paranormal bent, there is a tendency to exploit these types of places and often repeat misinformation.

DeJarnette Center. Photo 2011, by Ben Schumin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the DeJarnette Center, there is a tendency to confuse it with Western State Hospital, which also may be haunted. Though their histories are intertwined, these are two separate facilities. Western State was founded early in the 19th century to handle the overflow from the Williamsburg Hospital which handled the insane and mental cases. The complex that once house Western State has recently been converted into condominiums called The Villages at Staunton.

During the first half of the 19th century, Western State was under the aegis of Dr. Joseph DeJarnette, a revolutionary figure in the field of mental health. His controversial legacy included institutionalizing a eugenics program that forcibly sterilized numerous patients throughout the state.

This facility opened in 1932 originally as the DeJarnette State Sanitarium, a private pay unit of Western State. The state assumed control of this facility in 1975 and renamed it the DeJarnette Center for Human Development. The facility experienced severe budget cuts starting in the mid-70s and continuing until the patients were moved into a newer, smaller facility adjacent to Western State in 1996. Since 1996, the site has been abandoned and waiting for the wrecking ball. Countless ghost stories have been told about the facility, though few have actually been published.

DOWNTOWN STAUNTON Like downtown Winchester, Staunton has a number of haunted places, though the information on them is not as readily available (as opposed to Winchester with Mac Rutherford’s book on its hauntings). I imagine many of these locations will be presented on the Ghosts of Staunton tour.

STAUNTON COFFEE AND TEA (32 South New Street) This building was the scene of a homicide in August of 1951. Elmer Higgins, a heavy gambler who lived in an apartment on the building’s second floor was shot in the head, execution-style. The murder remains unsolved and it is believed his spirit remains on the premises.

AMTRAK STATION (1 Middlebrooks Avenue) There has been a train station on this site since 1854. The first station was burned during the Civil War while the second station was destroyed April 28, 1890 by train. The New York Times described the event, “This morning about 3 o’clock a railroad wreck occurred at the Staunton (Chesapeake and Ohio) Station. The vestibule train, due here from the west at 1 o’clocl was two hours late. About 3 o’clock it came whirling on at a speed of seventy miles an hour, the engine having the appearance of a sheet of fire…As the train reached the passenger station the rear sleeper careened, striking the platform covering, tearing away the iron posts, and demolishing the whole platform structure.”

Staunton Amtrak Station. Photo 2009, by Ben Schumin, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The train was carrying members of a traveling operatic troupe out of Cincinnati, Ohio. The only death to occur was one of the company’s singers, Miss Myrtle Knox who was badly mangled by the accident and bled to death.

Myrtle’s sad spirit has been spotted on the platform wearing a nightgown. Women with long blonde hair have had their hair tugged and it is believed that Myrtle’s spirit may be to blame for that as well.

An old rail car at the depot once contained a restaurant. Visitors to the station have seen odd lights, shadows and heard voices around the old Pullman car. Along the tracks the apparition of a Civil War soldier has been seen. A Confederate soldier was walking these tracks after having a bit too much to drink at a local saloon. He was hit by a train and killed.

THE CLOCK TOWER BUILDING (27 West Beverly Street) This 1890 structure has been the scene of at least three deaths. Two early deaths on the premises, which was originally constructed as a YMCA facility, include a heart attack and a young woman who fell down a coal chute. Recently, someone fell to their death from the third floor in a possible suicide. These spirits are still said to linger in this old building.

MARY BALDWIN COLLEGE (Intersection of Frederick Street and New Street) According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for this college’s main building, Mary Baldwin is the oldest women’s institution of higher learning associated with the Presbyterian Church. The school was opened in 1842 as the Augusta Female Seminary. In the midst of the Civil War, Mary Baldwin and Agnes McClung, former students of the seminary were appointed as principals. They would serve the school through the latter half of the 19th century and Mary Baldwin’s contribution would be recognized in 1895 when the school was renamed for her. The spirits of Mary Baldwin and Agnes McClung may remain on campus along with a few other assorted spirits.

In the old Main Building, one of the first buildings constructed on campus, a male spirit named Richard likes to occasionally cause trouble. McClung Residence Hall, just behind the Main Building includes the rooms where Baldwin and McClung lived during their tenure here. Students living there have reported the spirits of both women, with one student even waking up to find a white figure hovering over her as she slept. The Collins Theatre, located inside the Deming Fine Arts Center, also features a spirit, possibly that of one of Mary Baldwin’s most illustrious alums, the actress Tallulah Bankhead. The spirit in the theatre is known to mess with the stage lights.

Gordonsville

Exchange Hotel, 2008, by Rutke421. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

CIVIL WAR MUSEUM AND EXCHANGE HOTEL (400 South Main Street) The Exchange Hotel has, in recent years, become one of the Southern meccas for ghost hunters. Opened on the eve of the Civil War, this hotel became one of the premier hospitals for the wounded during the Civil War. With so many deaths here, it’s no wonder that the place is crawling with ghosts. In one of my early blog entries, I’ve covered this location. At one time, the museum offered ghost walks, but I can currently find no information about these. This haunting was also covered on the Biography Channel show, My Ghost Story, first season, episode six.

Sources

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