Believe it or not, ghost sightings in Virginia are not as rare an occurrence as you might think. Whether it’s a 300-year-old building, an abandoned asylum, or another bizarre location, there are certain sites in this state that have so many ghost sightings that it almost becomes the norm. Here are 11 such places in Virginia that you can visit (if you dare!)
1. Peyton Randolph House (Williamsburg)
Not only is the Peyton Randolph House in Williamsburg considered the most haunted in Colonial Williamsburg, it's often considered the most haunted in the state. The site was built in 1715 and has since been the location of numerous ghost sightings. It seemed likely that some of the early families who lived there were almost cursed by tragedy; children were dying young and other relatives fell sick with disease. Visitors today report seeing multiple ghostly figures, whether it's an elderly woman dressed in old white or a man wandering the premises.
2. The Ferry Plantation House (Virginia Beach)
The current building that stands on this Virginia Beach property was built in 1830, although the original structure dates back as early as 1642. The property is currently owned by the City of Virginia Beach, and boasts no less than 11 ghosts. Most of these figures are the spirits of those who drowned during the early days when the house was part of the Ferry Boat Service. Others include a couple of girls, a male slave, and even a ghost cat. For those truly interested in paranormal investigation, the house is open for that very purpose; from April through August. All charges go directly to supporting the upkeep of this historic house.
3. Bacon's Castle (Surry)
Bacon's Castle is unique for its designation as one of only three Jacobean-style houses in the United States. Dating back to 1665, it's also one of the oldest structures in Virginia. It probably goes without saying that the building also has plenty of ghostly associations. Visitors have reported seeing a kind looking figure with a scarf around her head and large black eyes. Another mysterious phenomenon is a fireball suddenly appearing and then disappearing inside the house.
4. Gadsby's Tavern (Alexandria)
Located in Old Town, Alexandria, Gadsby's Tavern was built in 1785 and represented the center of many of the town's social and economic activities. It comes as no surprise that some of its earliest visitors may never have truly left. In 1816, a beautiful young woman died in the building, and her ghost continues to haunt the site. She is often seen carrying a burning lamp, walking upstairs.
5. Fort Monroe (Hampton)
The Fort Monroe National Monument is a military institution that protected the channel between Hampton and the Chesapeake Bay. The site was run by Union forces during the Civil War and was also the site where Jefferson Davis was imprisoned. Today, the site has acquired a haunted reputation, as many have reported seeing ghostly figures walking along the top of the fortress at night.
6. The Byrd Theatre (Richmond)
The historic Byrd Theatre is named after William Byrd II, an important founder of the City of Richmond. It opened in 1928 and was almost immediately known as "Richmond's Movie Palace." The theatre still runs today, offering shows at a discounted price. There are two ghosts that are commonly spotted in the theatre. One is of a little girl, who most frequently appears in the women's bathroom. The other is the spirit of Mr. Coulter, who was the theatre's manager from the time of its opening until 1971.
The Scotchtown plantation dates back to 1717, but is perhaps most famously known for being the home of Patrick Henry from 1771-1777. Henry lived there with his wife Sarah, who suffered from mental illness and eventually died in their home in 1775. During the last two years of her life, Sarah had become violent and was confined to the basement. Visitors report seeing Sarah's ghost in some form, whether as a figure wandering both in and outside the house or simply a candlelight in the window.
8. Martha Washington Inn (Abingdon)
The beautiful Martha Washington Inn originally served as a home, built in 1832. In its history, the building has also been used as a women's college and Civil War hospital. The Inn now serves as an upscale hotel and spa, complete with six reported ghosts. Room 217 is said to be especially haunted, with a ghost by the name of Beth who apparently plays violin for her true love, a Union soldier who died on site.
9. Central State Hospital (Petersburg)
Central State Hospital was originally known as the Central Lunatic Asylum, which was a mental institution for patients "of unsound mind." It was one of the first hospitals to provide care to slaves, but only under the condition that their owners could afford it. The site ran more like a prison than a hospital, often suffering from overcrowding and misdiagnoses. It doesn't seem surprising then that apparitions of suffering patients still appear. Visitors also report hearing screams and sensing a general feeling of despair.
10. Swannanoa Palace (Afton)
The extravagant Swannanoa Palace took eight years of construction and was completed in 1912. It was the second mansion belonging to the Dooley Family (the first was Maymont in Richmond). When the owners passed away, the building was used briefly as a country club. When the Great Depression took over, the building sat vacant for years. The building remains vacant but there are plans for restoration in the works. Several accounts report that the original owners may still reside in this building - if only in spirit.
11. Staunton Train Depot (Staunton)
The history of the Staunton Train Depot dates back to over 150 years. There seems to be something of a curse associated with this particular station, as it's been plagued by fire, war, and even hit by a derailed train. Reports of hauntings include victims of these various tragedies, ghostly figures that seem to linger around the station at night.
Although ghost sightings always seem like figments of the imagination, it’s hard to discount the many claims that have originated from these sites around Virginia. If you’ve experienced anything paranormal from any of these places, be sure to share your experience!