It’s hard to say why so many places get abandoned. From ghost towns to old shopping centers, times get bad and people get going. But sometimes the history they leave behind can be down right haunting — or haunted. There’s always something sad about abandoned buildings with their boarded up windows and peeling paint. But these 10 places in Virginia take creepy to a whole new level. With auspicious beginnings and ominous endings, you’ll want to think twice before you take a stroll through some of these….
Wise County Orphanage, Wise
As if an abandoned orphanage wasn't bad enough, throw in some paranormal activity and you've got yourself a proper freak-out. This old orphanage used to serve as a home for abandoned and orphaned children. Now long closed, the site is said to be haunted by the sounds of laughing children, bouncing balls and floating lights. Ghostly figures can sometimes be seen at the windows. Creeepppy.
Western State Lunatic Asylum, Staunton
They had me at "Lunatic Asylum." But in case you need convincing of this site's horrifying-ness, Western State Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1828. At first, it was resort-style asylum, but later some pretty nasty stuff went down -including straitjackets, restraints, lobotomies and forced sterilization. The facility relocated in the 1970s and the grounds were turned into a prison until closing in early 2000s. An adjoining cemetery holds more than 3,000 bodies, hundreds in unmarked graves. Rumor has it the building has undergone renovations to become luxury condos. My question: would YOU live there?
Paxton Manor, Leesburg
An old manor home that sits atop a series of caverns known as "The Well of Souls." Yep. It's haunted. After the home was built in the late 1800s, Jedidiah Carver was found guilty of acts of animal cruelty and exiled from Leesburg. It is said that he and his family lived in the caverns under the mansion for years. Haunted tours are now given every weekend in October for those brave enough to venture through the home's hidden staircases and passages. I will not be included in that list.
Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum, Natural Bridge
When Mark "Professor" Cline turned an old abandoned mansion into a haunted house, he also created one of the prime tourist attractions in the area..until it was destroyed by fire in 2012. Stranger still, this was the second mysterious fire to occur in as many years. The "monster" mansion might be gone, but the creep factor is still in full effect.
Barton Mansion (Corner Minor), Richmond
This palatial home, named Corner Minor, was built in the late 1890s, but abandoned when its owner, James Barton, had to flee Richmond after unscrupulous business practices. Since then, it has been used as a home for unwed mothers, a polio hospital, a sanitarium and an old age home. As of 2014, there are plans for restoration. Now, I'm not saying its haunted, but with a history like that? I'm just not saying it's NOT haunted.
Lorton Reformatory, Fairfax County
Some places are just begging for a good revenge haunting. Enter Lorton Reformatory. A working prison for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, the site operated from 1910 until 2001 and was once called the Occoquan Workhouse. Some highlights of its dubious history include the mistreatment of 168 womens' suffragettes arrested and held from June until December 1917. They were beaten and force-fed, all of which was depicted in the film, Iron Jawed Angels, in 2004. Stand up for your rights, ladies! Haunt those halls.
Abandoned Pamplin City Main Street, Prince Edward / Appomattox County
Universal Pops / flickr
It's hard not to love a good ghost town. This once thriving center of commerce has sat abandoned for years. The old buildings lining main street were once used for storage, but now lay vacant and dilapidated - and more than a little unsettling.
Renaissance Faire, Fredricksburg
I don't know what's eerier, walking through ruins of a time long past or walking through the ruins of a time that was pretending to be a time long past. But with manors and towers and interesting relics of...well, relics, there's no doubt this site still entertains. But keep your suit of armor handy, rumor has it the local hunting club now uses the grounds.
Selma Mansion, Loudon County
They say time is a cruel mistress - and sadly, she put a hurtin' on Selma. The mansion, built in early 1900s features sweeping staircases and grand halls, but now lies in ruin. The home which once held weddings, is now considered one of the most endangered historic sites in Virginia.
Cloverleaf Mall, Chesterfield
Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's the fact that I used to shop here as a kid and now I feel really old, but an abandoned mall gives me the heebie jeebies. This once busy shopping center started its decline in the late 90s with the opening of newer malls - and ok, a couple of murders in 1996 didn't help sales. The mall finally went belly-up in 2008. Guess I'll have to find a new place to get my Jordache jeans.
Keep in mind, not all of these sites are open for exploration, but for the ones that are, and for those of you who are much,
much braver than me, check them out. Maybe you’ll get lucky and see a ghost…but if not, I am more than certain, given what you know now, your imagination will do plenty on its own to make the experience a Halloween-worthy haunt.
Let us know if you know of any especially creepy abandoned place in Virginia…we’re always looking for a good scare!