Sunday, October 17, 2010

West Point, Georgia Ghost Walk

I had the privilege of attending the West Point Ghost Walk last evening. Sponsored by the West Point Depot Visitors Center and Museum, this was a really great tour through West Point’s history and hauntings. Last night was one of two nights it will be held, it will be held again on Saturday, October 23, from 7-10 PM and it costs $5, a real bargain for an hour long ghost walk! Not only was the walk very well done, it served as an introduction to the ghosts of West Point for me. Having grown up down the road in LaGrange, I was glad to finally hear some stories from West Point. I’m presenting three of the haunted locations featured on the tour.

West Point, Georgia, as the name implies, lies right on the state line between Georgia and Alabama. The Georgia portion of the city straddles the Chattahoochee River and the downtown sits just west of the river. It was this location that established the city’s importance to the railroad. There was a change in gauges between the railways heading east and west and West Point was a main point for changing trains. During the Civil War, the city was a major target as the Union army marched across Alabama and across Georgia to Savannah. At Fort Tyler, a Confederate military outpost on a hill overlooking downtown, the Battle of West Point was fought on Easter Sunday, 1865, some seven days after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The city recovered and grew with the building of textile mills on the river’s banks. Following the closing of those mills in the late 20th century, the city foundered, but with the building of a car plant by the Korean auto maker, Kia, the area is beginning to experience resurgence.

W. C. & L. Lanier Bank Building
800 3rd Avenue


W. C. & L. Lanier Bank Building, the third floor was once
the West Point Opera House. Photo by Lewis Powell, IV,
2010, all rights reserved.
Constructed around 1880, this building originally was three stories tall. The first two stories held offices of the West Point Manufacturing Company, one of the most important textile manufacturers in the Southeast, with a 600 seat opera house, the West Point Opera House, on the third floor. The theater featured both professional and amateur productions. In March of 1920, a tornado destroyed the top floor of the building but the offices below remained intact. According to my guide on the tour, people working in the building still hear the sound of people walking on the third floor. The building now serves as offices for a financial services firm.

U. S. Post Office
729 4th Avenue

Just one block over from the site of the old opera is the post office, built in 1932. My tour guide pointed out that there are reports of the apparition of a young girl in a bloody dress. I have found nothing further on this spirit.

U. S. Post Office, West Point. Photo by Lewis Powell, IV,
2010, all rights reserved.

Atkinson House
1201 2nd Avenue

N. B. I have posted an update on this location.
One of the more interesting stories on the tour was told about the Atkinson House. According to my guide, Judge Nathan Atkinson, who constructed the house in 1869, had a daughter named Martha, known as Mattie, who lost a child in the flood of 1886. She would stand mournfully in a particular window still waiting for her lost son. She died in the house and has been seen still standing at the window. Additionally, subsequent owners have reported doors opening and closing by themselves, footsteps and children have had their covers pulled up over them while they sleep.

The Atkinson House. Photo by Lewis Powell, IV, 2010,
all rights reserved.

This location has been the easiest to research. Judge Nathan Lane Atkinson built the home following the end of Reconstruction. Having served in the state legislature during the Confederacy, the Judge and his wife, Elizabeth, had ten children, among them, a Mattie born in 1854. The genealogy of the family makes no mention of Mattie marrying or having children. Mattie’s little brother, Nathan Lane, Jr., the only male child, married a Martha and she lived in the house until her death sometime in the late 20th century. The flood of 1886 did affect the house and following it, the house was raised but as for the story of a young boy being swept away, I can find no mention. The house now serves as an events space.


Is the spirit of Mattie Atkinson still seen looking
out this window? Photo by Lewis Powell, IV, 2010,
all rights reserved.
For further information on the West Point Ghost Walk, please see the West Point Depot website.

Sources
Battle of West Point. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     17 October 2010.
Davidson, William H. Pine Logs and Greek Revival: Houses
     and People of Three Counties in Georgia and Alabama. Alexander
     City, AL: Outlook, 1964.
Fretwell, Mark E. West Point: The Story of a Georgia Town. DeLeon
     Springs, FL: E. O. Painter Printing, 1987.
Johnson, Forrest Clark. Genealogical and Historic Registry of Troup
     County, Georgia, Vol. III. LaGrange, GA: Family Tree, 1987.
Johnson, Forrest Clark and Glenda Major. Treasures of Troup
     County: A Pictorial History. LaGrange, GA: Troup County
     Historical Society, 1994.
Smith, Clifford. History of Troup County. Atlanta, GA: Foote
     & Davies, 1933.
     15 October 2010.

7 comments:

  1. The information listed about the Atkinson House is NOT true. Please don't believe everything you hear.

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  2. Anonymous, I would be interested in hearing what you know about the house. I've only presented this as one of the stories presented on the tour and not as truth.

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  3. Anonymous, feel free to email me if you like, my email is listed on my profile page. I look forward to hearing from you!

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  4. Lewis, Good work. I enjoyed reading your comments and yes there is a lot more to the history Of West Point than most would think. I worked as a tour guide on the 23rd and really enjoyed the experience. I have been working on some extensive research as it relates to The Battle of West Point and you might be interested in some of that. You might be surprised that Shermans "March To The Sea" really had very little effect on the actual Battle at West Point and the threat actuall came from the West"Alabama". Anyway, Enjoyed your work and photos are really nice. Great Work,Billy Clark

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  5. Hi Billy!

    Thank you for your compliments! I would certainly be interested in hearing about your research, especially anything relating to ghosts at Fort Tyler. Take care! Lewis

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  6. I have been in the Atkinson house, looking out of the front window (2nd floor). I didn't see anything (ghost) but it was a weird feeling--as if I were looking from someone's else viewpoint. Hmmm?

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  7. I have been in that house numerous time and have experienced paranormal activity in there. I had a connection to that house through a previous owner. Interesting stories about this house.

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