Virginia’s southern heritage is often admired in the plantations from the 18th and 19th centuries that still stand. They are beautiful, and yet their beauty is haunting. And many visitors who have had an unusual experience at these sites would claim they are actually
haunted. As with all ghostly sightings, it’s difficult to prove that these early-American ghosts still roam the properties of some of Virginia’s iconic plantations. It is fascinating that so many incidents have been reported, and it stands to reason that if any homes in Virginia were haunted, it would be those that have been around the longest. Here are some historic plantations that have caused some serious speculation.
1. The Ferry Plantation House (Virginia Beach)
The current structure that stands at the Ferry Plantation House was built in 1830, although the site where it was built has been a residence since 1642. The house was named for the ferry service that ran on the Lynnhaven waterway. Princess Anne's second courthouse was built on the plantation's property, and was the location of Virginia's only witch trial by water. The woman in question was found guilty and was held prisoner in a jailhouse that has long since disappeared. The mansion was lived in by the MacIntosh family, and today the land is owned by the City of Virginia Beach. There are said to be 11 different ghosts that haunt the premises including slaves and those that drowned in the nearby waters.
2. The Berkeley Plantation (Charles City)
The Berkeley Plantation is a 1726 Georgian mansion located along the banks of the James River. This has been the home of many prominent historical figures, including Benjamin Harrison V, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This was also home to the country's ninth President, William Henry Harrison. The ghosts said to haunt this mansion are Benjamin's father and two sisters, who were tragically killed in 1744 by lightning strike when they tried to close the window during a storm. Benjamin, who was only an infant at the time and was being carried in his sister's arms, miraculously survived. The vision of the sister holding her baby brother is the ghost which many visitors have claimed to spot on the property.
3. Boxwood Inn (Newport News)
The Boxwood Inn was originally a mansion owned by Simon Reid Curtis, who had the house built to accommodate his family. This was also the site for a general store and the county's post office. Simon's wife was named Nancy, and the two of them had four children, one of whom continued to live in the house after his parents had passed away. In 1995, the Lucases purchased the house and completely restored it to function as the Inn that can be visited today. The haunting at the Boxwood Inn is said to be Nannie Curtis, who is a gentle spirit that knocks on guests doors in the morning to wake them up.
4. Rosewell Plantation (Gloucester)
All that is left of the lavish Rosewell Plantation are its ruins. This is due to the 1916 fire that destroyed everything but a skeleton of the structure. For over 100 years, this was home to the Page family. The fourth generation of this family decided to donate the plantation's ruins to the Gloucester Historical Society in 1979. Although there is barely anything left of the building, this is one of the most frequently-reported spots for hauntings. Apparently every night, the apparition of a women descending the (invisible) staircase can be seen. Other reports include music playing and guests mingling around the property.
5. Bacon's Castle (Surry)
Bacon's Castle is technically the oldest house in Virginia, dating back to 1665. It's also the only Jacobean structure in America. The mansion was originally known as Allen's Brick House, but was later renamed in honor of Nathaniel Bacon of the 1676 Bacon's Rebellion. Today the house serves as a museum and also has the oldest British garden in North America. The haunting here is a bit peculiar -- visitors frequently report seeing something of a fireball appear and disappear indoors. The property owner's wife used to also report sighting a ghost with a pale face and large black eyes that would unexpectedly appear from time to time.
6. Haw Branch Plantation (Amelia)
The Haw Branch Plantation was settled in 1748 by Colonel Thomas Tabb. The site is located near the Amelia Courthouse and was expanded after the Revolutionary War. The house has distinctive Federal style interior decorations, which were added in 1815. A kitchen, weaving room, schoolhouse and smokehouse can also be found on the property. The portrait of a distant relative of the original owner hangs in the house and is said to blush when she is looked at. Other strange phenomena include the sound of falling objects and unexpected hours as well as a lingering perfume scent.
7. Monticello (Charlottesville)
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello is perhaps one of the most well-known plantations in the state, yet many people aren't as familiar with the paranormal occurrences that have been reported here. The house was built in 1772 and the property also included houses for slaves who worked in the field as well as the house. Today, the house is open to the public for daily tours. Employees have reported hearing Mr. Jefferson himself whistling around the property, as he would frequently do in his day. Other visions include a young boy peering out of the 2nd story widow, which is especially odd considering that visitors are not allowed upstairs due to fire codes.
8. Fall Hill Plantation (Fredericksburg)
Built in 1790, Fall Hill is a beautiful plantation situated along the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg. The mansion itself is two-stories and Georgian styled. In its beginning, the property included nearly 8,000 acres of land that belonged to the Thorton family. The strange happenings at this plantation include lots of electrical problems, cold spots throughout the house, and disembodied voices. Some have also reported seeing ghostly figures circling the upstairs beds.
9. Belle Grove Plantation (Middletown)
Belle Grove Plantation is located just a mile southwest of Middletown. The manor house was built between 1794 and 1797 and was officially opened as a historic house museum in 1967. The mansion is located next to the historic Cedar Creek Battlefield and is also registered as a National Historic Landmark. Some of the hauntings include the vision of a woman dressed in all black peering out from the window of the highest floor. She could either be the original plantation owner's wife or mistress. She can be seen from outside only; when those who have seen her try to look upstairs they see that no one is in the house.
There’s no escaping the beauty that can be found in some of Virginia’s plantation homes. There’s also no escaping the fact that these homes bore witness to the tragedies of a war-torn country, such as slavery, illnesses, and even poverty. These structures are hauntingly beautiful and perhaps not so surprisingly, have accumulated a haunted tale or two. Have you visited any of these historic sites lately? We’d love to hear about your experience there, especially if it was a haunted one!