It’s not altogether surprising that Williamsburg would be one of the most haunted cities in Virginia, as it was founded in 1632. If you’re a ghost hunter, consider Williamsburg to be your paradise. In fact, there are several ghost hunting conventions that meet in this city for that reason alone. There may be a bit of a tourist aspect to the ghost stories in Williamsburg, but that does not take away from the fact that there’s a
lot of paranormal and suspicious activity here. For those who have never visited, you’ll be shocked to learn just how many haunted ghost stories derive from this colonial town. You may need to brace yourself before continuing.
America's First Insane Asylum
The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds was the first of its kind in America. Patients here were treated like prisoners, and sometimes worse. Inmates were forced to take lots of drugs and were sometimes submerged in freezing water to "cleanse their system." Other times, electricity was used to jolt their systems.
In 1841, a man by the name of Dr. John Galt took over as superintendent and treated the patients with much more compassion. When the Battle of Williamsburg broke out in 1862, Galt was forced out of the hospital when the Union soldiers took over. Devastated, he overdosed on pain medication. Shortly after, the Lee family moved into the space. Mrs. Lee's account of her experience there is terrifying: "I could do nothing to get the blood stain out of the floorboards. No amount of scrubbing would remove it. We finally had to pull up the soiled portion and replace it with fresh wood. I was shocked to find the very next morning, the stain somehow made its way onto the new flooring!” ... “My children are frightened. They wake me most every night claiming a man is in the upstairs room where Doctor Galt died.”
Fort Magruder Hotel
Fort Magruder Hotel has close ties with American history. Perhaps a little too close, some would argue. The hotel rooms have views of Civil War battlefields, and there are also authentic cannons on the property. And that's not all. Ghosts of Confederate soldiers have been known to "perch" on guests' beds.
Staff has reported ghosts appearing as maids, causing all sorts of mischief around the premises. The Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center is a lovely accommodation, but no amount of upkeep seems to be able to keep out these spirits.
Public Gaol and Wythe House
When it was built in 1701, the public gaol was intended to be a "strong sweet prison." Murderers, thieves, and dangerous men were never meant to be housed here. But as Williamsburg was deemed the capital of colonial Virginia, the population increased. This two-story brick prison quickly became overcrowded with not just your average minor-offense prisoners, but blood thirsty pirates and traitors to the country.
Though some additions were added, the conditions were deplorable. Many inmates shivered to death or died from illness. Some believed this fitting for pirates, some of whom served under the infamous captain Blackbeard. What haunts the Wythe House today is more the feeling of utter despair visitors are said to feel upon entering. One visitor described the sensation as complete and total darkness and she then observed chains rattling on the walls. If that was just a visit...imagine what life must have been like for those held there for years.
Peyton Randolph House: the most haunted location on the East Coast
At the corner of Nicholson and North England Streets stands one of the most haunted spots in Williamsburg. The Peyton Randolph House was built in 1715 and its tragic reputation began when the Peachy Family moved into the house in the 1800s. Mrs. Peachy lost a lot of her children: one died from falling out of the tree and several others died from illnesses. A male Peachy relative killed himself in the drawing room. Another visitor who lived in the house came down with an excruciating case of TB and suffered a painful death.
People have reported unusual encounters in this house for upwards of 200 years. One of the most disturbing stories was told by female employee who was descending the stairs when she was suddenly grabbed by an angry presence that attempted to push her down the stairs. Could this have been the troubled man who ended his life?
Elizabeth Lizzie Rowland etched her name into one of the windows at the Edgewood Plantation. She died of heartbreak, having lost her love to the war. Many witnesses have seen the ghost of Lizzie, still patiently waiting for her lost love to return home.
Ludwell-Paradise House: The Tale of Lucy Ludwell
Lucy Ludwell married John Paradise and the two of them lived a lavish life in London. When John passed away, Lucy was sent back to their home in Williamsburg which had previously been rented out. Lucy was said to have some eccentric behaviors, and now that she was a widow, they were taken as a sign of insanity. She was sent away to the Public Hospital for two whole years. After this unbearable sentence, Lucy ended her own life. And yet many believe her spirit still haunts the property. There have been accounts where people enter the empty house and hear "someone" upstairs drawing a bath. Many presume it to be the ghost of Lucy Ludwell.
You don’t have to believe in ghosts or paranormal activity to appreciate the vast amount of ghost stories that have derived from Williamsburg. In addition to having an impressive history of its own, it seems like the city has an equally impressive ghost history. Do you have any haunted tales to tell about Williamsburg?