Lovely, inviting Staunton, Virginia is calling you, beckoning with its promise of main street gaiety and homespun charm.
But lurking beneath the veneer of this top ranked American small city is a spooky underbelly that, with Halloween and the dying season of Fall upon us, we thought it best to warn you about. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!
Staunton is a very old city. Founded in 1747, the Queen City has nearly three centuries of human activity from which it draws its reputation as a deliciously haunting venue. With roles in both The Revolutionary and Civil War, as well as a long-held position as a rail hub, Staunton saw its fair share of comings and goings, and not always under cheery circumstances.
IN addition to this, Staunton has long been a place where therapeutic as well as punitive measures took place, with a few asylums and prisons in its storied past.
Where many cities fared less brightly in the wake of war, Staunton lost far fewer of its majestic buildings, leaving plenty of familiar haunts for spirits to rest on the other side of the veil. Or not rest, as it were.
Many visitors who come to Staunton "sense" that there's something different about the place. While recent years have seen progress in the town as far as culture, dining, lodging, and retail go, making Staunton feel au courant even as it exudes an air of the past, still many say that a quiet wind blows through Staunton, connecting the present to the past far more palpably than in many other locales.
You can almost feel that many spirits are still among us, mostly benign, but certainly not ready to leave the shining jewel of the Shenandoah Valley.
Even here at Frederick House there's talk of a ghost among us. Never intrusive, but merely quietly "present," this elusive apparition is said to contribute to strange and unexplained events of a most mysterious nature. Never frightening, or alarming, nonetheless this restless entity has earned our respect as a...constant guest, if you will. To test our curiosity we've had more than a few folks who claim paranormal sensitivity walk through several of our rooms in pursuit of this ethereal energy and again and again the same room is identified as the eerie dwelling in question. Maybe you'd like to stay in that room sometime?
Our friendly ghost may keep acquaintence with the reputed gaggle of ghosts over at Mary Baldwin College, just across the street from us. One, known as "Richard," may be a military officer who died during the Civil War and, while gentle, clearly lost his way in crossing to the other side.
Another is said to playfully move items around in several of the buildings, including the adminisgtrative building and library. And still another leaves a child's handprint from time-to-time in Mary Julia Baldwin's former room.
Not leaving the college to dominate the ghastly, ghostly scene, it is said that down the road a piece at Stuart Hall School, the ghost of a woman dressed in 19th century garb walks the halls on occassion. Is it the spirit of Mrs. Jeb Stuart herself, founder of the school? Could be.
Several of our local ghost stories have been compiled on the website Haunted Places. Read about them, and then, if you're not too scared come see for yourself in the tales are true.
One way to test the waters (or is it the mists?) is to take a Haunted Walking Tour while you're in town. From the Wharf to the hyper-paranormally active Staunton train depot to the famed Western State Lunatic Asylum Dejarnette Building there are creaky — and creepy — places galore in which to probe and pry in search of a fright.
And if you find nothing outright don't be discouraged or wonder about the hype. Just take a moment to be very still and quiet, look around, breathe in and feel the energy of Staunton as a whole. The veil is very thin here (and never more than at this time of year).
The spirits are among us, alright. You just have to open your perception.
— Joe and Evy (rhymes with heavy) Harman, Proprietors, Frederick House Hotel