Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spirited Southern Encounters—An Appeal

Oconaluftee Indian Village
778 Drama Road
Cherokee, North Carolina

Sign for the village, 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights
Back in 2012, I was working as a historic interpreter at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC. The village, a recreation of a mid-18th century Cherokee village on an idyllic mountainside, was populated by craftsmen, warriors and a group of British emissaries who were seeking a peaceful end to the Anglo-Cherokee War. As Sergeant Thomas Sumter—who would later be known as “The Gamecock”—I was in this village serving as a military escort to Lieutenant Henry Timberlake who was leading the expedition.

Me as Sgt. Sumter, 2012.
Photo by Mia Shirley, all
rights reserved.
Sumter was being hosted by the family of Tsiyu-gan-si-ni, whose name was translated as “Dragging Canoe,” who would later be a very important Cherokee chief. Dragging Canoe’s little cabin was located in an area containing two cabins and an underground sweat house. Usually, I was the only one in the cabin and I worked hard to keep the place clean and tidy. Cherokee tradition called for a fire in the fireplace at all times even on the hottest days so I maintained the fire which did help to keep the insects away.
The entrance to the village, 2012. Photo by Lewis Powell IV,
all rights reserved.
The region has been part of traditional Cherokee lands for centuries, though this particular patch of land would not have likely been inhabited. Cherokee villages were always built next to a major water source and mountainsides did not provide enough flat space. Historically, there was a village at the bottom of the mountain (where Drama Drive and US 441 intersect). This recreated village was constructed in 1952 under the purview of the Cherokee Historical Association, which also operates the outdoor historical drama, Unto These Hills, in the Mountainside Theatre located across the parking lot.

The village also has a haunted reputation. Having been in operation for over 60 years, many locals have worked here and eventually returned in spirit. Employees would regularly hear voices and laughter emanating from the village in the morning before the gates have been unlocked. One employee heading to her station one morning passed another employee in costume and ready for the day. She wished the woman a good morning and continued walking past her when she realized that the woman she had just seen had been dead for some years. Another employee who led tours past “my” cabin would occasionally glance inside to see another former employee sitting on the bed. That former employee had also passed on some years before.

"My cabin" in the village, 2012. This is taken from the same vantage
point where I was when I saw the figure enter. Photo by Lewis Powell
IV, all rights reserved.
When I had one of my first experiences in the cabin, it really came as no shock. As usual, this particular day I had a fire going and was in need of firewood early that afternoon. During a lull in visitors, I stepped out and gathered some firewood and headed back to my cabin. As I rounded the sweat house that my cabin looked onto, I looked towards the cabin door. A woman dressed in the traditional clothing female interpreters wear was stepping inside my cabin. Thinking it was the interpreter who worked in the cabin next door, I quickened my pace towards the door. Looking inside, there was no one.

In front of the cabin with a female interpreter.
The figure that I saw was dressed just like my
friend. Photo 2014, all rights reserved.
After putting my wood down inside the cabin, I looked out the door and the other interpreter was standing in her doorway. “Did you see a woman enter the cabin while I was gone.” I asked.

“Nope, but I haven’t been standing here long.” She answered.

Me standing in the cabin
doorway last summer. Photo
by Lewis Powell IV, all rights
I’m not sure who the woman was or if I was simply seeing things. I don’t have a history of hallucinations nor do I indulge in mind-altering drugs. Perhaps I encountered one of the former employees.

Since I started this blog in 2010, I have been collecting the experiences of people throughout the South who have had spirited encounters. Have you had an encounter in the South (I define the South as including the states of Alabama, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia)? I’m primarily interested in encounters in places that are public or semi-public in nature. These include places ranging from historic sites to cemeteries, schools to businesses and public spaces in between like roads, parks and natural areas.

I would like to hear about your experiences for possible inclusion in this blog and future publications. You may contact me in the comments here or on my Facebook page.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

13 Southern Rooms with a Boo

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

St. James Hotel
1200 Water Street
Selma, Alabama

The Queen City of the Black Belt, Selma, has a remarkable history that is intimately connected with the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, events that, despite their names, were hardly civil. The city is perched on a bluff overlooking the Alabama River and among the collection of buildings that peer down upon the river is the St. James Hotel. Built some 17 years after the incorporation of the town in 1820, the St. James has served patrons for nearly two centuries. The structure was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War, one reason the hotel was not burned like much of the city. Towards the late nineteenth century, the hotel fell on hard times and served a variety of functions. Keeping up with Selma’s drive to bill itself as a tourist destination, the St. James underwent a $6 million restoration in the 1990s which has provided 42 guest rooms, 4 riverfront suites with balconies overlooking the Alabama, the Troup House Restaurant (which utilizes the hotel’s name during the Civil War) and a number of spiritual guests.
The St. James Hotel, 2010, by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy
of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Outlaw Jesse James and his gang were frequent guests in the hotel and a male apparition seen in guest rooms on the second and third floors and in the bar may possibly be Jesse or a member of his gang. The spirit has been accompanied by the distinct jangle of spurs. Investigators in one of the hotel’s ballrooms asked “Is anyone there?” during an EVP session. The voice of a male answered on tape, “Well, that’s a stupid question.” Among other spirits still walking the halls of the St. James are a female and a dog whose barking is heard. So, if you check into the St. James, chances are high that you may encounter something, just don’t ask any stupid questions.

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

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

Suite 870 of this 1930 hotel has seen three deaths. Juliette Brown, a live-in maid to the hotel’s owner, Henry Doherty and his family, died there unexpectedly as well as Doherty’s wife and daughter some time later. The apartment remained abandoned for some 50 years while guests staying in rooms around the suite would complain of late-night sounds coming from the room. Hotel staff has experienced being locked out of the room and cold breezes in and around the suite which is now known as the “Ghost Suite.”
The Omni-Shoreham Hotel, 2009, by Jurden Matern.
Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Writer Eric Nuzum spent a night in the room in 2007 and was awakened in the night by an odd, unexplained creaking that happened five times during the early morning hours. Just before he checked out of the room he discovered that lights he had left on were off. As he stood in the dining room pondering the lights, they turned back on by themselves.

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

Nuzum, Eric. “I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts.” Washingtonian Magazine.
     1 November 2007.
     and Monsters. 23 February 2012.

La Concha Hotel
430 Duval Street
Key West, Florida

La Concha Hotel, 2012, by Acroterion. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The theme that runs through the ghost stories of the La Concha Hotel in Key West is falling from a great height, both deliberately and accidentally. This seven story hotel, opened in 1926, is the tallest building in the city and has been the scene of suicides and a horrible accident. The building’s history has also experienced some great falls as well. Opened to great acclaim, this luxury hotel was visited by many of the notable names of the age: Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, even possibly Al Capone and his cronies, but with the stock market crash in 1929, business seriously dropped. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which swept the Keys destroyed the Key West Extension of the East Coast Railway which was one of the island’s major arteries.

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

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

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

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
371 Riverview Drive
Jekyll Island, Georgia

The grand and glorious spirit of the Victorian Era is evident at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, both in the atmosphere but also in the spiritual energy that persists there among the ancient oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Opened in 1888 by a consortium of America’s elite families, the Jekyll Island Club was an exclusive hideaway for families with names such as Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Macy and Goodyear. In addition to the grand clubhouse, some families built mansion-sized “cottages.” As America entered into war in 1942, the club closed its doors and sat vacant until the State of Georgia, who now owned the island, attempted, unsuccessfully, to open the club as a resort in the early 1970s. The club opened as a private resort in 1985.
Jekyll Island Club, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV.
All rights reserved.
Almost from the moment the club opened its doors, tales of ghosts were being told. The president of the club, Lloyd Aspinwall, died during the club’s construction, but some in the crowd spotted him stiffly gliding through the crowd in his usual military manner. He has also been encountered on the Riverfront Veranda of the club. In the annex of the clubhouse, a three-story apartment building called Sans Souci (“without care”), the apparition of Samuel Spenser, former head of the Southern Railroad Company, has been reported, still reading his morning paper. The shade of a former bellhop still knocks on doors requesting laundry.

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

The Brown Hotel
335 West Broadway
Louisville, Kentucky

A sculpted likeness of businessman James Graham Brown stands on the sidewalk just outside the magnificent 16-story hotel he built at the corner of Fourth and Broadway. At his feet sits his little canine friend, Woozem, who, as the story goes, Mr. Brown rescued from a circus that had recently cut the dog’s act. The dog and Mr. Brown lived in the lap of luxury there until the end of their days, perhaps they remain.
Brown Hotel, 2005, by Derek Cashman. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Opening in 1923, the Brown Hotel provided four-star accommodations to the citizens of Louisville for a number of decades. The famous Hot Brown was developed in the hotel’s restaurant. The hotel operated until 1971, just two years after the death of James Brown, when it closed its doors. The grand dame held offices for the public school system and when the downtown began a resurgence in the late 1980s, the hotel was renovated and restored to its former glory.

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

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

Bourbon Orleans Hotel
717 Orleans Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

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

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

Lord Baltimore Hotel
20 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

Lord Baltimore Hotel in a 1942 postcard.
Evidently, Fran is not the only person to witness the apparition of a little girl as a guest was awakened to find a young girl in her room crying. When approached, the girl vanished. One of Fran’s coworkers encountered three or four spirits standing in the hotel’s darkened ballroom. When she turned on the lights, all figures were gone.

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

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

Anchuca Mansion
1010 First East Street
Vicksburg, Mississippi

One guest at Anchuca remarked to the owners that she couldn’t stay in the house because it was too emotional. Indeed, Anchuca’s history is marked with periods of intense emotional turmoil. The house has seen the deaths of some of its past owners, members of their families and then soldiers who came through the home’s doors wounded and ill during the Civil War. Some of them most surely died here as well. Throw in Joe Davis, the brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and you have quite the contingent of spirits roaming the halls of Anchuca.
A 1936 photo of Anchuca taken for the Historic American
Buildings Survey by James Butters. Courtesy of the Library
of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
With a name derived from a Choctaw word meaning “happy home,” Anchuca has hosted a number of families during its long history. It was originally constructed in 1830 for politician J. W. Mauldin and was sold to merchant Victor Wilson some years later. Wilson added the Greek revival portico to the house and he and his wife lived here through the tumult of the Siege of Vicksburg when the house served as a hospital. After the war, the home was owned by Joseph Davis who died here in 1870. The house was then purchased by the Hennessy family.

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

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

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

Balsam Mountain Inn
68 Seven Springs Drive
Balsam, North Carolina
Balsam Mountain Inn, 2012, by Lewis Powell IV. All rights
 Passengers departing from their trains in Balsam, North Carolina just after the turn of the century were met with an inviting and palatial hotel overlooking the station. They would enjoy the cool mountain air from the double porch with views of the town below. Though the train no longer brings them, visitors today can enjoy the same air and views and, if they stay in room 205, perhaps a nice back rub from a spirit. One guest staying in this room with her husband had a bad back and was awaken by a back rub from him, until she realized he was sound to sleep next to her. The unidentified ghost on the second floor of this hotel which opened in 1908 also rattles doorknobs of rooms on that floor.

Bordsen, John. “Room with a Boo.” The Charlotte Observer. 25
     October 2009.
Kermeen, Frances. Ghostly Encounters: True Stories of American’s
     Haunted Inns and Hotels. NYC: Warner Books, 2002.
Turnage, Sheila. Haunted Inns of the Southeast. Winton-Salem,
     NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Battery Carriage House Inn
20 South Battery
Charleston, South Carolina

Sign for the Battery Carriage House
Inn, 2011, by Lewis Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Located at the Southern tip of the city of Charleston overlooking the meeting point of the Cooper, Stono, Wando and the Ashley Rivers is The Battery, one of Charleston’s “best” neighborhoods. It was at The Battery where many of the city’s and state’s best families built grand homes. From the rooftops of these grand homes and White Point Gardens fronting Charleston Harbor that citizens, including the diarist Mary Chestnut watched as the Confederacy laid siege to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Number 20 South Battery is home to the Battery Carriage House Inn, possibly one of the more spiritually active locations in the city.

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

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

Union Station Hotel
1001 Broadway
Nashville, Tennessee

Ghosts are associated with certain types of stone, primarily granite and limestone, water and also iron. The iron rails of railroads that have stretched around the globe have given rise to many ghostly legends associated with railroads. Nashville’s Union Station, first opened in 1900, while no longer hosting the iron rails or even the old train shed, still hosts a few ghosts associated with the railroad. Legend has it that on nights of the full moon, a ghostly train still pulls into the station, while that legend may be a bit ridiculous, staff and guests of the hotel have reported hearing the scream of a steam whistle at times; perhaps a residual noise.
Union Station Hotel, 2008, by The Peep Holes. Courtesy of
During World War II, Union Station was the point of departure for tens of thousands of troops departing for battlefronts around the world. Two spirits remain from this period. One is the revenant of a young soldier who stands near the tracks seemingly waiting for something. The other is the spirit of a young woman who legend states was killed when she fell onto the tracks in front of a train. With the demolition of the train shed, it is unknown if these spirits are still active.

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

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

Martha Washington Inn
150 West Main Street
Abingdon, Virginia

War changes many things and the Civil War certainly changed Martha Washington College. The young girls that had studied and gossiped in the college’s rooms became nurses for the wounded young soldiers brought from battlefields far and near and some of those rooms housed able young men who were training on the grounds. Like so many buildings that served as hospitals during the Civil War, the pain and death left its mark upon the college. A number of soldiers still are rumored to walk the halls and occasionally shock guests and staff alike. In addition a ghostly horse, still looking for its long-dead master, still walks the grounds outside.
Martha Washington Inn, 2006, by RebalAt. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Built as a private residence, General Francis Preston’s 1832 home became an upscale women’s college in 1858. The Great Depression’s punch to the nation led to the school’s closure in 1932 and “The Martha” was later reopened as an inn. The inn is now a part of The Camberley Collection, a group of fine, historic properties.

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

Lowe Hotel
401 Main Street
Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Paranormal events rarely resonate so much within a community or even on a national scale as the sightings of the Mothman have. A series of sightings of this creature occurred between November of 1966 and December of 1967; events that inspired a handful of books, a movie and, for over a decade, a festival in Point Pleasant.
Postcard of the Lowe Hotel circa 1930-45. Courtesy of the
Boston Public Library.
The annual festival has certainly boosted “paranormal tourism” in Point Pleasant and one of the more popular paranormal spots in the city is the Lowe Hotel. During the festival tours will be lead through this haunted, turn of the 20th century hotel. According to an article from the Point Pleasant Register, the current owners of the hotel were initially bothered by the idea that their hotel might be haunted, though as attitudes towards the paranormal have changed, the haunting has become an attraction to tourists.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

At Play in the Field of the Dead—Huntsville, Alabama

Maple Hill Park
1351 McClung Avenue, Southeast
Huntsville, Alabama

What could be creepier than the spirits of children perhaps wistfully singing “Ring Around the Rosie” in a minor key and asking, “will you come play with me?” in a sing-song voice? Why, a playground next to a cemetery that’s crawling with these youthful spirits. It’s from these terrifying images that the legend of the “Dead Children’s Playground” was born.

Within view of the resting dead of adjacent Maple Hill Cemetery (202 Maple Hill Street), children happily play on the playground equipment at Maple Hill Park. Lore says that only some of those children are alive. According to Jessica Penot in her 2010 Haunted North Alabama, the playground has gained notoriety among teens out for a scare. They will sometimes sneak into the park at night to witness the paranormal phenomena that supposedly plagues the park.
A view of Maple Hill Cemetery, 2006. Photo by LonelyPilgrim,
courtesy of Wikipedia.
The internet is rife with stories involving a murderer killing children here in the 1960s and the playground being constructed as a place of solace for parents whose own children rest just yards away in the cemetery. Even Wikipedia has an article though it is riddled with inaccuracies. These stories are mostly just common internet lore, the actual history of the park is a bit more pedestrian.

Other than its close proximity, Maple Hill Park is not a part of Maple Hill Cemetery. Local ghost authority, Jacquelyn Proctor Reeves, is quoted in a 2012 article as saying there is no evidence that anyone has ever been buried in the area of the park. The property, according to Penot, was originally a stone quarry from 1945 to 1955. After the quarry’s closure, the land was donated to the City of Huntsville and the property became a park in 1985.

Some sources provide the park’s founding as 1822, which is the date for the founding of the cemetery. The cemetery was founded by planter Leroy Pope, the founder of Huntsville, only a decade after the city’s incorporation in 1811. Pope would find his final rest here in 1844. Now spanning some 100 acres, the cemetery has some 80,000 interments and within its fences lie five state governors and a number of congressmen with a host of the local citizenry.

The history of the park, however, does not provide any indication that it might be haunted. Penot questioned a number of park visitors for her book and discovered that many of them had stories to tell about odd occurrences in the park. The most common activity recorded seems to be that the swings will often move by themselves. During her investigation, Penot witnessed this activity herself. In fact, there are a number of YouTube videos showing this phenomenon. Others report to Penot that voices of children have been heard. Of course, one must consider that the park is in a residential area and these voices may be from living neighbors.

A local paranormal organization, the Alabama Paranormal Society (APS), has investigated the location in the past few years and did experience some activity. A psychic with the group was able to determine that there were a number of spirits in the park. They believe that the spirits are wanderers who travel to the park from the cemetery. So far, I have not been able to find any documentation that there is activity in the cemetery.

Crider, Beverly. “Dead Children’s Playground.” Huntsville Times. 1
     March 2012.
Dead Children’s Playground. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     4 January 2015.
Maple Hill Cemetery (Huntsville, Alabama). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
     Accessed 4 January 2015.
Penot, Jessica. Haunted North Alabama. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Shuttleworth, Bobby. “Paranormal Mysteries: Haunted Places in Bobby’s
     Bama.” WAFF. 31 October 2012.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Rending the veil—Historic Preservation in Alabama

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom…
-- St. Matthew 27:51 (KJV)

One of Eufaula's magnificent mansions seen through the veil
of trees of North Eufaula Avenue. Photo 2014 by Lewis Powell IV,
all rights reserved.

Frequent travelers on Alabama Highway 431 know the short section that passes through north Eufaula as a verdant meditation, a brief respite from the normal hustle of this four lane highway. For about a quarter mile, the road narrows from four to two lanes; the speed limit drops while ancient oaks spread their branches over the road, and historic homes keep watch from the sides. Travelers throughout north Georgia and Alabama know this lush drive, called North Eufaula Avenue, as they head towards the Florida Panhandle. Movie-goers may recognize this street from the Reese Witherspoon film, Sweet Home Alabama. In the film, the lead character drives down this historic roadway on the way to her Alabama home.

Historic preservationists often talk about the “historical fabric” which includes the concrete things that actually make up a historic structure, but also the things surrounding a structure that help to provide a complete historical picture, or context, if you will. Within a historic district this may include outbuildings, the roads and streets, sidewalks and other fixtures, plantings and the arboreal canopy. North Eufaula Avenue and its trees are a major feature of the historic fabric of the Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District, which encompasses the residential neighborhoods to the north and west of Eufaula’s downtown.

The Alabama Department of Transportation is ramping up to rend part of the fabric of North Eufaula Avenue, considered by many to be the most iconic street in the city, if not the whole state. In an effort to ease occasional congestion on Highway 431—proponants argue that the congestion only occurs a few times a year—the DOT has decided to expand the two lanes to four through the historic district. This will require the destruction of part of the median and the removal of a few trees as well as trimming the arboreal canopy. Aside from this minor destruction to the physical fabric, the construction would cause some drastic changes to the aesthetics and spiritual fabric of the district.

Quite simply, the increased traffic will destroy the quiet beauty of the district. But there’s also the possibility that the spiritual fabric of the district may be harmed. In cities ranging from New Orleans, Louisiana to Savannah, Georgia to Frederick, Maryland and Williamsburg, Virginia—places where the historical fabric is very much intact—there often seem to be many ghosts. Perhaps the ghosts remain because the historical fabric has not been disturbed. While documentation for Eufaula’s spirited side is sorely lacking, there is one documented haunting on North Eufaula Avenue. The grand Shorter Mansion (340 North Eufaula Avenue) has graced this lovely street since 1884, though it was remodeled into its current form starting in 1901 and it may very well be haunted.
The Shorter Mansion, 2014. Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights
Considered an outstanding example of neoclassical architecture, the house remained in the politically prominent Shorter family until 1965 when it was purchased by the Eufaula Heritage Association which has operated the house as a museum, memorial and events facility since. The house has been used frequently for weddings and it is in some of the wedding photos taken here that two spirits are purported to appear, though the man in the top hat and the woman in pink have also made some rare appearances in person as well. In one case, a staff member encountered the woman in pink and spoke to her in the parlor. The staff member turned away from the woman for a moment and turned back to her to find she had disappeared.

In 2007, Southern Paranormal Researchers, a paranormal investigation organization out of Montgomery, investigated the house. In their investigation report they note that there is other activity that has been witnessed within the house including phantom smells, items being moved and a feeling of being watched. Over the course of two investigations, the investigators had a few personal experiences including hearing “loud laughing” and banging in the next room. A possible apparition was observed as well as shadow figures. The investigators concluded that the house had residual energy manifesting itself, though there is the possibility of an intelligent spirit at work here as well.

While the activity at the Shorter Mansion is the only documented paranormal activity on North Eufaula Avenue, I imagine there is activity in many of the other graceful structures along the avenue. It is accepted in the paranormal community that renovation and remodeling can stir up activity, though it may also eventually lead to a decrease. Certainly, the activity from cities that have lost much of their historic fabric is decreased, witness Southern cities like Atlanta, which has little-reported activity from its core.

A sign advertising the Eufaula Pilgrimage in the median in
front of the Shorter Mansion, 2014. Photo by Lewis Powell
IV, all rights reserved.
The battle of North Eufaula Avenue is turning into a David and Goliath type fight. The city government, citizens and supporters of historic preservation have taken a stand against the state DOT and the Governor, who has come out in support of the road widening. Walking down North Eufaula Avenue just last month, I observed that nearly every house had signs against the widening prominently displayed. But the saddest sight seemed to be a large sign advertising the Eufaula Pilgrimage that is held annually in the spring. As if to rub in the destruction, the DOT originally scheduled the widening to be completed by the start of the pilgrimage.

One of the many anti-widening signs
lining North Eufaula Avenue, 2014.
Photo by Lewis Powell IV, all rights
Proponents of the widening have tried to stop or at least put the construction on hold through legal means. A lawsuit in federal court was dismissed just before the new year because the federal government is not involved in this battle. The judge suggested that the heart of the matter is really who owns the median of North Eufaula Avenue. Just yesterday (January 2), the mayor and members of the city council voted to not sue the state over the median’s ownership. It now appears that barring any further delays, Eufaula’s verdant veil will be rent beginning on Monday.

While the fate of North Eufaula Avenue looks bleak, another historic and haunted Alabama site appears to be off the chopping block. The future of Prattville’s landmark Pratt Cotton Gin building has been up in the air for a few years. The huge mill complex, which provides a background for downtown Prattville, has been abandoned since 2011. Recently, developers have taken an interest in the buildings, some wishing to demolish the buildings for their brick and wood while others have bandied the idea of renovating the mill into residential lofts.
One of the old entrances to the building now locked within
the more modern structure. Photo 1997, by Jet Lowe for the
Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
On Monday, the mill complex was sold on the courthouse steps to the Historic Prattville Redevelopment Authority, which will immediately begin to stabilize the buildings and begin creating a plan to reuse the old mill. The HPRA purchased five large mill buildings constructed between 1843 and 1912, some 40 acres of mill property, the millpond, and a few spirits.
Downtown Prattville with the Daniel Pratt Cotton Gin in the
background. Photo 2010 by Spyder_Monkey, courtesy of
Before the advent of child labor laws, mills throughout the country employed young children. Often lacking safety policies and devices, millworkers were sometimes seriously injured or killed. At some point in the late 19th or early 20th centuries, sources do not provide a date, a young boy named Willie Youngblood was killed in one of the mill buildings. After his death, a woman was observed near the mill clad in black. Legend says that she threw herself off the mill dam.
The Pratt Cotton Gin with the mill dam in the foreground. Photo
by Jack E. Boucher, 1974 for the Historic American Buildings
Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division.
Believed to be the spirit of Willie’s mother, the darkly dressed figure has been seen by millworkers for decades. Recently, the mill buildings were investigated as part of the SyFy Channel show, Deep South Paranormal. While the team was able to capture some evidence during their investigation, the most impressive evidence was video of a black clad figure walking on the mill dam. Perhaps the veiled figure won’t be rent from her nightly dam walk by the mill’s renovation.

     Washington Post. 2 January 2015.
Bickham, Tamika. “Prattville’s Cotton Mill Sold, Redevelopment
     Ahead.” CBS 8. 21 March 2012.
     featured in ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’” 30 May 2014.
Floyd, W. Warner. National Register of Historic Places nomination
     form for the Shorter Mansion. 10 June 1971.
Higdon, David and Brett Talley. Haunted Alabama Black Belt.
     Charleston, SC: History Press, 2013.
     31 December 2014
Rogers, Lindsey. “Prattville’s old cotton gin plant auctioned for
     $1.7 million.” WSFA. 29 December 2014.
     The Montgomery Advertiser. 29 December 2014.
Scarborough, Anastasia. “North Eufaula Avenue four-laning set.”
     Eufaula Tribune. 19 November 2014.
Serafin, Faith. Haunted Montgomery, Alabama. Charleston, SC:
     History Press, 2013.
Southern Paranormal Researchers. “Shorter Mansion—July and
     August 2007.” Accessed 29 November 2012.
     Enquirer. 18 November 2014.
     Ledger-Enquirer. 19 November 2014.
     on hold.” Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. 11 December 2014.
Windham, Kathryn Tucker. Jeffrey Introduces 13 More Southern

     Ghosts. Strode Publishers, 1971.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Writer says that ghosts necessary for heritage

I stumbled across this article while searching for ghosts in back issues of The Anniston Star. Without the influence Mrs. Windham’s wonderful books, this blog would not exist. A friend who knew Mrs. Windham was supposed to have gives me an introduction to her in March 2011 when she came to LaGrange for the Azalea Storytelling Festival. Unfortunately poor health prevented her appearance at the festival and she passed away a few months later. As soon as I heard of her passing, I wrote a memorial.

Though she’s not present with us on this physical plain, her spirit and influence is still flitting like a bird reminding us of the ghosts around us.

The Anniston Star (Anniston, Alabama)
21 September 1975
Page 10

Writer says that ghosts necessary for heritage

By Tom Gordon
Star Staff Writer

We need ghosts in order to keep our heritage, says Alabama’s own ghost-writer, Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Our heritage is a mixture of history, folklore, bits of good-natured nonsense and cold-hearted truth. Mrs. Windham, who lives in Selma with her ghost friend Jeffrey, says the heritage is being lost because persons are not taking the time to relax and enjoy life as they once did.

Speaking with intense enthusiasm, Mrs. Windham says that more and more Alabamians are growing up without having their lives enriched by tales and lessons once passed from generation to generation. This high-speed automated age has made it difficult and sometimes unnecessary for people to gather on front porches or in front of fireplaces to talk and learn from each other, she says.

“WE DON’T know who we are or what we are or where we come from,” she says. “We’re not talking about it the way we used to.”

The need to talk about and preserve our heritage, even that part which includes ghosts, was the message Mrs. Windham repeated several times Thursday in a short talk to a noon luncheon of the Anniston Kiwanis Club.

She has repeated it elsewhere—in schools, luncheons, newspaper interviews and on television and radio programs—and in four books of ghost stories she has written in the past few years. The first was “Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey.” Other books have presented 13 ghost tales from Mississippi and Georgia, and elsewhere around the South.

MRS. WINDHAM, a former reporter for the Selma Times-Journal, spends a lot of her time tracking down ghost stories and other folklore. “All you’ve got to do is listen” she says, because tales are everywhere. She even comes across many interesting tidbits in her work as a community services coordinator for the Alabama-Tombigbee River Planning and Development Commission’s Area Agency on Aging.

She grew up in Thomasville, in South Alabama’s Clarke County, and her childhood was filled with the church homecomings, family reunions, tall-tale telling, romance and other features she says make the South unique, even today.

She doesn’t remember the first ghost story she was told, but she says she has had a latent interest in spirits and scary stories since her youth. Much of her early ghost learning, she says, came from Thurza, her family’s black cook.

THAT INTEREST was stirred she says, by “Jeffrey”—the name she uses for whoever or whatever it is that walks the floors, slams the doors and scares the cat in her Selma home.

Jeffrey and two ghost stories figured prominently in her Kiwanis Club talk. One story, about the “Jumbo light,” dealt with a man who lived in the now-dead Chilton County community of Jumbo. The man was killed by moonshiners he surprised in some woods one night while making his way home with the aid of a lantern.

LONG-TIME AREA residents still say they see a moving lantern near the old Jumbo community to this day, she says. A Times-Journal photographer traveled to the Jumbo area to take a picture of the phenomenon, she says, and became scared. He was even more started when the pictures he developed showed not only a swinging light moving along a road, but a pair of empty shoes moving along with it.

Whether a ghost tale is true or not matters little to Mrs. Windham. The tale teller’s feeling about the story is more important.

“I can’t get interested in the stories unless I feel they are true to the people who are telling them,” she says.

Monday, December 22, 2014

13 Southern Haunts You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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

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

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

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

University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama

My friend Sarah (not her real name), had some roommate issues her freshman year at this small Alabama liberal arts college. At night in her dorm room in Old Main Residence Hall Sarah and her living roommate would hear whispering and footsteps both in her room and outside her door. These are not uncommon issues for college freshmen, though Sarah’s problem roommate was a former student who died in a fire in 1908. When the school operated as a women’s college in the early 20th century, a student, Condie Cunningham, caught her nightgown on fire while trying to heat fudge in a chafing dish. She went screaming down the hall and collapsed. She died a few days later in the hospital.
Main Residence Hall, 1993. Photo by Jet Lowe for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Set in the small, central Alabama town of Montevallo, the university has a wide-ranging roster of revenants, one of which even plays an annual part in one of the university’s most celebrated events: College Night. This annual event pits the students against each other producing competing musicals. Created in 1923, this event is adjudicated from the other side by the spirit of the competition’s founder, Dr. Walter Trumbauer, known affectionately as “Trummy.” According to Sarah, during dress rehearsals and performances, Trummy “gets crazy in Palmer.” Pipes are known to shake backstage and his spirit is seen in and around Palmer Hall where the competition is held. Trummy swings the battens of the curtains onstage during performances of the show that gets his approval. Usually that show will win.

Among the many other spirits on this campus are Confederate soldiers seen in and around Reynolds Hall. The oldest building on campus, Reynolds was used as a makeshift hospital during the Civil War. Under the watch of Captain Henry Clay Reynolds, the wounded and sick soldiers were abandoned when Reynolds and his men left to defend the nearby Briarfield Iron Works. When he returned, he discovered the sick and wounded had been massacred by Union troops.
Reynolds Hall, 1934. Photo by W.N. Manning for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Now home to the university’s Department of Theatre, Reynolds Hall is still plagued by spirits from that horrible, war-time event. Another student, Ashley, told me she had experiences while working alone in an office on the second floor of the building. The room suddenly grew cold and the blinds started shaking violently. She fled. A visiting artist was walking backstage when he encountered a man in a Confederate uniform. He was later informed that there was no period production going on or re-enactors in the building.

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

Brown, Alan. Haunted Birmingham. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009.
Interview with JM, Cherokee, North Carolina, June 2012.
Interview with MS, Cherokee, North Carolina, June 2012.

Halcyon House
3400 Prospect Street
Georgetown, District of Columbia

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

This 30,500 square foot manse comes complete with a “whimsical” library, a large studio space, a ballroom, a chapel, six apartments, a very large garage and a panoply of ghosts. A sealed tunnel in the basement of the house is supposed to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. In the early 20th century, a carpenter was asked to seal the tunnel and as he did he heard cries and mournful sobs issuing from it. Over the years, various owners have reported apparitions in the house as well as phantom knocking. In one particular bedroom, several people have reported being levitated by an unknown force.
Halcyon House, 1999. Photo by Jack E. Boucher for the Historic
American Buildings Survey (HABS). Courtesy of the Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
The home’s history is just as dramatic as the hauntings. It was built in the late 18th century by Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy, and was later owned by the eccentric Albert Adsit Clemons, who claimed to be a nephew of Mark Twain. Clemons extensively remodeled the house and refused to install electricity. Since Clemons death, the house was owned briefly by Georgetown University and recently by a sculptor who, with his wife, lovingly restored the home. During their residence, they claimed to have had no odd experiences within the home’s most historic walls.

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

Island Hotel
373 2nd Street
Cedar Key, Florida

Most people head to Cedar Key to avoid the crowds, though visitors to the Island Hotel may encounter a crowd of spirits. According to a number of sources including the hotel’s website, thirteen—a very appropriate number—spirits walk the halls of this hotel.
Island Hotel, 2007. Photo by Ebyabe, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The building was built as a general store in 1860, the eve of the Civil War. In 1862, Cedar Key, at that time a small railroad town, became the first town in Florida to fall under Federal occupation. Some buildings were burned, but the general store was spared and quite possibly used as a barracks and warehouse for the occupying troops. After the war, the building returned to its commercial use as a general store and operated successfully until the collapse of the cedar industry and business began to slow. In 1915, the store was purchased by Simon Feinberg who converted the building into a hotel. It has served as a hotel, under a variety of owners, for the last hundred years.

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

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

Magnolia Springs State Park
1053 Magnolia Springs Road
Millen, Georgia

Of the many transgressions committed by both sides during the American Civil War, the neglect and contempt visited upon the prisoners of war looms large. Large-scale prisons were constructed and packed with prisoners who were underfed and sometimes virtually unclothed often under the open sky. Pestilence and lawlessness prevailed among the tightly packed men with death swooping among them picking off victims like a hawk.
Contemporary illustration of Camp Lawton by Robert Sneden,
a Union soldier who was incarcerated here. Courtesy of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
In this sordid history, Andersonville Prison in West Central Georgia is the most tragic tale and the prison’s site has been spiritually scarred with many spirits still roaming the piney landscape. While it was possibly the worst of these horrendous prisons, Andersonville is not the only one to mar the Southern landscape. Camp Lawton, near the eastern Georgia town of Millen, was one of the largest prison camps erected by the Confederates. Encompassing some 42 acres, the camp was constructed in 1864 and used for only three months.

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

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

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

Hayswood Hospital
West Fourth Street at Market Street
Maysville, Kentucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juju Road
Off of Swan Lake Road
Bossier City, Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston and lived intermittently in a number of cities including Baltimore where he would ultimately die in 1849. There are a few buildings where he lived that remain, including this small, unassuming house in Baltimore where Poe lived for about two years. The house had been rented by Poe’s aunt, Maria Clemm, in the spring of 1832 and was occupied by her daughter, Virginia, and his grandmother. Poe probably moved in the following year and he used the garret room at the top of the house for his writing. He would remain in these cramped quarters until 1835.
Edgar Allan Poe House, 2007. Photo by
Midnightdreary, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Over the years that the house has operated as a museum, some visitors have had unusual experiences, among them the feeling of being tapped on the shoulder by an unseen entity. In the mid-1980s, an actress preparing for a performance in the house had a scary encounter. As she was dressing, she noticed that the window sash was moving in the frame, then was shocked when the sash flew out of the frame and landed at her feet. A 2012 investigation by the Pennsylvania-based Ghost Detectives did turn up some odd voices on the team’s voice recorders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While psychic and author Kala Ambrose was visiting Stagville as research for her book, Ghosthunting North Carolina, she took a moment, sat quietly and opened herself up in hopes of communicating with a spirit or two. Instead, she found herself thronged by them. She described it in her book, “the crowd of people was so large that I couldn’t see all of their faces. Instead, I felt the pressure of all of their bodies coming closer to me wanting to talk.”
Bennehan House at Stagville, 2008. Photo by Cotinis, courtesy
of Wikipedia.
One of the largest plantations in the South at its height, ghost stories have been a mainstay of Stagville Plantation for many years. Neighbors have reported strange lights on the property as well as screams in the night. The apparitions of an African-American girl and a group of African-American men have been reported near the Great Barn. The fire department has been summoned several times by reports of the slave quarters being ablaze. Upon arrival, there is no evidence of fire. Staff working in the remaining buildings have found that doors open and close and lock and unlock on their own. The site has been investigated by a number of groups who have captured a number of EVPs there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baker-Peters Jazz Club
9000 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee

The Baker-Peters Jazz Club is a study in incongruity. This large, brick antebellum home is boxed in by urban sprawl and the house has even surrendered its front yard on Kingston Pike to a gas station which is now being replaced by an oil change center. In the yard of the house a large neon sign depicts a martini complete with an olive and advertises the jazz club that was once housed in the Greek revival splendor behind it. Sadly, the club has now closed but it has not yet given up its ghosts.
The Baker-Peters Jazz Club, 2011. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV,
all rights reserved.
During the Civil War, East Tennessee was a rather dicey place to be no matter with whom your sympathies lay. While the area firmly lies in the bosom of the Confederacy, geography did not change the opinions of the local citizenry. While Knoxville was firmly secessionist, the hearts of the citizens in much of the rest of East Tennessee remained with the Federal Government. When Confederate troops swarmed the area they were harassed by locals who sabotaged rail lines into the city forcing Confederate General Zollicoffer to build a series of forts around the city. Knoxville fell to Union forces in late 1863.

West of the city of Knoxville, the farm of Dr. James H. Baker was a haven for Confederates looking for solace among company of like-minded individuals. Dr. Baker, a prominent physician took in wounded Confederates, turning his manse into a field hospital. After Union forces captured the city, Baker’s home remained a safe house for Confederates and the local postmaster, William Hall, is supposed to have reported Baker to the Union authorities. Soldiers soon appeared at Baker’s door demanding that he give up any Confederate soldiers in his care. Refusing to do so, Baker ascended the staircase and barricaded himself in a room at the top of the stairs. The soldiers followed and shot Dr. Baker through the door, killing him.

But that’s not the end of the killing. Dr. Baker’s son, Abner, returned from service in the Confederate Army to find his father dead. After hearing the tragic tale of his father’s demise, Abner hunted down Postmaster William Hall and avenged his father. Soon after, an angry mob killed Abner for the postmaster’s death.

In the 20th century, the house has served as a series of restaurants where employees and patrons have often felt spirits present. One guest told a reporter for the UT Daily Beacon that she gets “a creepy feeling, almost like you can tell that you’re invading someone else’s home.” After hours, passersby have reported lights in the darkened club, sometimes having the appearance of a lantern. Managers have reported having items moved and having glassware falling on a regular basis. The identity of the spirits are unknown, however, I hope Dr. James and Abner Baker enjoy the soothing jazz.

Burleson, Simpson. “Local jazz club haunted by Civil War era doctor.” UT
     Daily Beacon. 1 November 2005.
Coleman, Christopher K. Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. Winston-Salem, NC:
     John F. Blair, 2011.
Flory, Josh. “Oil change business planned outside of Baker Peters House.”
     Property Scope. 22 August 2014.
Price, Charles Edwin. Mysterious Knoxville. Johnson City, TN: Overmountain
     Press, 1999.
Wheeler, W. Bruce. Knoxville.” The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and
     Culture. 25 December 2009.

Graffiti House
19484 Brandy Road
Brandy Station

It’s not hard to imagine that soldiers throughout the Civil War began to quickly feel their own mortality. As they lay wounded in the homes and taverns, churches and barns that had been hastily converted into hospitals throughout the nation, many scratched their names into adjacent plaster walls and floorboards, perhaps in hopes of gaining some type of immortality. With so much of this graffiti obliterated by the buildings caretakers and time, these exercises into immortality have become increasingly rare, despite their importance to historians and the residents of the modern age.
Graffiti House, 2013. Photo by Cecouchman, courtesy of
Built near a small railroad stop on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, Graffiti House was built by James Barbour in 1858 as a residence and possible commercial building. As battles raged around Virginia, Mr. Barbour’s building was converted into a hospital and the patients began to scrawl on the walls of the structure. In June of 1863, the war that had been trickling into the community until then arrived as a deluge when it was the scene of the largest cavalry battle fought on American soil.

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

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

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

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

A state trooper encountered a pedestrian along this road. As pedestrians are forbidden from walking along the sides of interstates, the trooper arrested the young man. He was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the trooper’s patrol car. At some point during the drive, the state trooper glanced in the rear view mirror to find the back seat was empty. The pedestrian simply vanished leaving the handcuffs on the seat.
West Virginia Turnpike as it passes through Fayette County.
Photo 2006 by Seicer. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
The West Virginia Turnpike has been known for its phantoms for years. Some of these are classic phantom hitchhikers who have even been encountered by law enforcement. In another similar story, a state trooper encountered a little girl wandering by the side of the road. He picked her up and put her in the back seat of his car, though without handcuffs. During the drive, the girl vanished.

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

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

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