Haunted West Virginia

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Photo Credit: PlayWithDeath.com

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, later named Weston State Hospital, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America and was built according to the Kirkbride plan, which many asylums of the day followed (see Danvers State Hospital or Athens Lunatic Asylum). The Kirkbride plan called for long, winding wings in a step-like formation that allowed for lots of light to enter the building. It was built to accomodate only 250 patients; however, at its peak in the mid 20th century, it held roughly 2,400 patients. Before it was finished construction in 1881, it was used as a military fort that changed hands numerous times between Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Although the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was meant to treat patients with dignity and respect, the mental issues most were admitted for would hardly be considered the activities of the mentally ill. There were patients who could not be cared for by their relatives, who may well have been ill-equipped; however, other reasons for admission were "masturbation, laziness, fits, desertion of husband, superstition, and...menstrual derangement."
Today, you can find two mummified patients in Philippi, WV, whose corpses were bought by Mr. Graham Hamrick in 1888 in order to reproduce embalming techniquies of Ancient Egypt. There are so many reports of hauntings in this building that it's almost guaranteed you will encounter something paranormal on whatever floor you happen to be on. There have been many encounters with a woman named Ruth on the first floor (a.k.a. the Civil War Wing) who was allegedly very violent to the veteran patients there and still pushes visitors up against walls; on the second floor, a man was stabbed 17 times by a patient and has never left. In Ward 4, between Ward 1 and the Civil War Wing, there is the ever-active Lily's Room. Many rumors surround Lily's history, but it's undeniable that she is one of the most active spirits in the asylum since she is known to play ball with visitors and his heard laughing and running through the halls. If meeting the ghostly victims of murder and suicide wasn't chilling enough, the sound of screams, voices ordering you to leave and so-called "creeper" apparitions might make you run for the hills.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

Photo Credit: Mandatory

The history of the land Lake Shawnee Amusement Park sits on is a bloody one from start to finish. It started in the late 1700's when European settlers encroached on the land of local Native Americans which led to the deaths of all of the settler's children and many deaths of vengeance against the Native Americans. Fast forward a little over a century to when Conley T. Snidow bought the site of the settler's farm and built an amusement park, complete with a swing set, ferris wheels and swimming pond. It was on the swing set where a little girl was killed when a truck backed into her. After a boy drowned in the lake, the park was closed and had been abandoned since the 1960's. It was bought by the White family, who are currently managing the derelict amusement park for Halloween events and ghost tours.
It would appear dying on the swing set did not make the little girl afraid to go back on; visitors and staff have seen the swings sway when there is no wind to move them. A man has also been seen riding in the ferris wheel seat, though the condition of said ferris wheel would make it impossible for anyone living to go aboard. An excavation of the site revealed the amusement park was indeed built on a Native American settlement, as well as the graves of 13 bodies. Three of the settler's children were murdered and buried on this land, so who could the other 10 be, but possibly indigenous people who had the land first?

West Virginia State Penitentiary

Photo Credit: Map Quest

The West Virginia State Penitentiary has been around since almost the state's infancy and secession from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It wasn't the greatest idea to build the prison on a Native American burial ground, however, and there are even rumors this burial ground was sacred to the Adena Native Americans. Several riots took place at the Pen, one of which resulted in a new cafeteria for the inmates, but also after three snitches were murdered by their fellow prisoners. It may shock some, but not many, to learn Charles Manson actually petitioned to be transferred to West Virginia State Penitentiary and his letter can be seen today in the electric chair area. Talk about Electric Mayhem if that request had gone through! In the 129 years the Pen was open, 93 men were executed there (85 by hanging and 9 by electrocution). The hanging executions were public until 1931 when the inmate being executed was decapitated by accident. An inmate was commissioned to build the electric chair and then was subsequently transferred to "Rat Row," the section for rats and snitches, for his own safety. "Old Sparky" was installed with 3 switches and they were marked in such a way as to give the guards a 2 out ouf 3 chance of being the one to electrocute the inmate.
Despite the Pen being open until the 1990's, there have been reports of paranormal activity since the 1930's. The guards would periodically see inmate walking along the grounds when he shouldn't have been doing so. When the alarms were set off and they went to investigate the area where the inmate would have been heading, no one was there. Prisoners would constantly say they saw a "Shadow Man" walking along the halls; no one seems to know who this might be because there are no discernable facial features. If you travel to the "Sugar Shack," the recreational area in the basement, you may hear former inmates arguing and talking; other visitors have noticed there are unexplained cold spots down there, as well.

West Virginia University

Photo Credit: Charleston Gazette

The history of West Virginia University starts shortly after the Civil War. It was established in 1867 as the Agricultural College of West Virginia with the low tuition, per term, of $5.00 for preparatory education and $8.00 for collegiate education. Even though it was initially labeled as an agricultural college, the school also had departments in literature, science and military tactics. It only took another year for the college to be called West Virginia University. After the main hall, College Hall, burned down, Woodburn Hall was built in 1876 and shortly thereafter, law classes were conducted there. It is near this hall that a stubborn spirit refuses to moooo-ve on. Some of the first students at WVU stole a cow from a nearby farm and brought it up to the clock tower as a prank. When the cow refused to go back down the steps, it was killed in the hall; sometimes people can hear hushed mooing throughout the campus.
Another spirit animal roaming the WVU campus is Sheba, the pet cat of the first female librarian on the campus. Phantom meows can be heard among the old sections of the Charles C. Wise Library. Maybe Sheba and the cow hang out every once in a while? Another spirit who is still having fun after death is a young girl in a yellow dress named Sally. She visited the university to go to a party at Reynolds Hall, where the Mountainlair is located now, and danced the night away. Unfortunately, she died not long after that party during the typhoid fever outbreak. She was buried in the East Oak Grove Cemetery, on the site of Stewart Hall. Sally is regularly seen dancing in the hallways of both locations. The last ghost at West Virginia University has made her role as a mother and guardian an eternal job. E. Moore Hall is named after Elizabeth Moore, a former principal of Woodburn Female Seminary. She truly was a mother figure to her students and a firm believer in women's rights. Numerous accounts have her keeping watch over students in her namesake hall, especially on dates at the swimming pool.

Hotel Morgan
hotel morgan

Photo Credit: Travelocity

The Hotel Morgan opened in October, 1925, and is considered a jewel in the crown of downtown Morgantown, West Virginia, and is named after the city's founder, Zackquill Morgan. In addition to being a hotspot for weddings, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman have stayed in this premier hotel, as well as John F. Kennedy while on his presidential campaign in 1960. The hotel took a downward spiral with the rise of chain hotels, but in 1999, it received extensive renovations that restored it to its former glory, along with updates that brought it into the 21st century. As is common with renovations in historical buildings, the Hotel Morgan now has quite a reputation attributed to its longterm guests.
If you're needing accomodations in Morgantown and you don't mind sharing, you may request to stay in Room 314. Here there is a young girl who allegedly drowned in the bathtub and guests will often report feeling her presence and being struck by unexplained sadness. Other paranormal activity has been reported at the hotel, though the stories are not very specific. Accounts from employees and guests share a general sense of uneasiness at the Hotel Morgan, so it could be the hotel sometimes hosts the spirits at West Virginia University or the now-closed Warner Theater...or it's the mark left by John F. Kennedy's long stays in Morgantown.

Blennerhassett Hotel

Photo Credit: Wedding Wire

The Blennerhassett Hotel was opened in 1889 and it was designed by the mayor at the time, Colonel William Nelson Chancellor. It was easily the grandest hotel in West Virginia at the time as it was built during a very properous period in Parkersburg history. It was originally going to be called The Argyle, but eventually the decision was made to call it the Blennerhassett after Harmon and Margaret Blennerhassett, originally from Ireland who bought an island west of Parkersburg. They named it "Blennerhassett Island" and it was there that they and Aaron Burr conspired to build a separate empire in the Southwest of North America. They were eventually betrayed and the Blennerhassetts escaped before the locals looted and destroyed their mansion.
In the late 1970's, the Blennerhassett caught fire and though it wasn't completely destroyed, it went through a couple of renovations to bring it back to its former glory. It may be that the original owner William Chancellor approves of the improvements, which is why he sticks around. Guests and staff have seen him as an older man in a three piece suit. There has also been seen a man in grey on the second floor, though this could possibly still be Col. Chancellor or a friend of the Colonel. The elevator constantly makes stops to the second floor, even if it wasn't the floor requested by the living passengers. It's possible the elevators are just so old, that this is to be expected, but it has to be more than a coincidence that apparitions are seen on this floor more than any other part of the hotel. Children are regularly heard playing and giggling on the second floor, and also trying to get the attention of the living. Parties have been heard in the Charleston Ballroom, but when it's investigated, the revelers have scattered.

Berkeley Springs Castle
berkeley castle

Photo Credit: Berkeley Springs

The town of Berkeley Springs, WV, actually has two names: Berkeley Springs and Bath, so named for the natural warm spring water that drew such people as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Colonel Samuel Suit, a wealthy businessman from Maryland, called the house he had built in 1885 for his (very) young bride, Rosa, a "cottage." However, the rest of the community called it "a regular castle in appearance," and the name of Berkeley Springs Castle has stuck to this day. Samuel did not get to enjoy his castle with his new family for long as he succumbed to an unknown illness in 1888. Not only was Samuel Suit a politician, but also a manufacturer of whiskey that was sold nationally; therefore, Rosa and her three children would have been set up for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, Rosa was a big spender and wasted the entire Suit fortune on her lavish parties that would last for weeks. By 1909, her funds were gone and the Berkeley Castle was put up for auction multiple times over the years.
Electronics and cars seem to have problems around this castle, but are inexplicably fine once they're out of the general vicinity. Some visitors have noticed orbs or something out of the norm that can't be attributed to the flash of a camera. Allegedly, a mirror in the dining room fell and was rehung upside down, but when anyone looked into it, it wasn't themselves who stared back. Since the castle is really only open for weddings and special events, it almost makes sense that people would hear disembodied footsteps and the laughter of children throughout the castle. It may also be just coincidence that power failures occur in such an old building, but why only during the wedding ceremonies? When Samuel Suit had died, rumors flew, as they tend to do, that Rosa had something to do with his sudden death; could Samuel be trying to warn couples to not fall in his footsteps? Furniture has also been moved, but by no one who actually works in Berkeley Castle.

Apollo Civic Theatre

Photo Credit: Cinema Treasures

The Apollo Civic Theatre is the twinkle in the eye of most Martinsburg citizens. Built from the ruins of the old Central Opera House thanks to the generosity of Harry Thorn, it made its grand open in the beginning of 1914. It was built with a main auditorium with 509 seats and would show films, plays and Vaudeville performances. It was also built with a small stage and orchestra pit that was later expanded with the purchase of more land in 1920. Through two world wars, the Great Depression and various other events, the Apollo Theatre has remained a cultural fixture in the small town. Many entertainers have performed in the theatre, including Will Rogers, the Great Rubinoff, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall and Jeff Daniels. Since 1936, a community theatre group has owned and operated the Apollo Civic Theatre and they have kept the spirit of entertainment alive in the area and the theatre itself.
Speaking of the spirit of the theatre, it's believed there are at least five different entities residing there. Many patrons and employees of seen and smelled a man smoking a cigar, who is affectionately called George. When it's closed and quiet in the theatre, staff will sometimes hear footsteps in the wings and shadowy figures walking along the balconies. There is also the random tapping of the shoulder or even being pushed by unseen forces.

The Lowe Hotel
lowe hotel

Photo Credit: West Virginia Explorer

The original building was contructed in 1901 and called the Spencer Hotel after J.S. Spencer, a local judge and steamboat company operator. Though Spencer didn't run the Spencer Hotel, he was one of the financial backers for this venture and probably loved the idea of passengers from his steamboat enterprise staying in the ideally situated hotel along the river. The two owners of the hotel, brother duo Homer and Griff Smith, had success with hotels in the past and Homer's own wife and children lived in the hotel. After the stock market crash in 1929, the Lowe family bought the hotel and renamed it to, you guessed it, the Lowe Hotel.
The current owners have been renovating the Lowe Hotel back to its former glory since they bought it in 1990 and it seems they've kicked up some spirits in the process. Arguably, one of the most dramatic of the ghosts at the Lowe Hotel is a young, disheveled woman in a nightgown who enjoys dancing in the mezzanine area. It's believed she is Juliette, the middle child of Homer Smith, who lived her entire life a spinster while one of her first loves married another and that she can be moved to reveal herself if you love her a rose. Another popular ghost is that of a young child intently riding their tricycle on the second floor. Sometimes they look as if they're still alive and other times, you can just hear the faint squeak of tricycle wheels and their accompanying laughter. There are a couple of rooms on the third floor that have quite a lot of paranormal activity. The ghost of Captain Jim, possibly Captain James O'Brien of the Home Smith steamboat, has been seen in Room 316, gazing out the window toward the river. A guest actually confronted him and he told her his name and that he was waiting for a boat. Apparently he wasn't leaving anytime soon because the guest saw he had no legs, and they quickly ran out. Another man has been seen in Room 314, wearing clothes from the 1930's and a beard. If you need to calm your nerves, you can always venture up to the fourth floor ballroom where a phant-astic string quartet has been heard playing.

Historic General Lewis Inn
general lewis

Photo Credit: The Register-Herald

The General Lewis Inn has been in continuous operation for nearly a century when it was first convernted into an inn by the Hock familiy in 1929. Prior to their residency, the main house, which emcompasses the eastern side of the building, was constructed in the mid-1800's by John H. Withrow, a merchant in Greenbrier County. When it was bought by the Hock Family, they curated several pieces of furniture and numerous other items from Greenbrier County to fill the General Lewis Inn, most likely named for the town of Lewisburg's namesake, General Andrew Lewis. Generations of the Hock Family worked to renovate the Inn into a "boutique hotel," and this work is continued by the new owners who bought the property in 2014.
Along with the antiques procurred by the previous owners, there is also the main desk that originated in the Sweet Chalybeate Springs Hotel in Virginia, where both Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson allegedly checked in. There are no recorded deaths at the General Lewis Inn, so it's possible the three reported ghosts who still haunt here may be tied to the artifacts that were used to fill the Inn, some of which have been seen to rock on their own. A "lady in white" has repeatedly been seen in Room 208, though Rooms 202 and 206 are also allegedly haunted by "disruptive" ghosts who tend to laugh and cry in all three rooms. One of these ghosts is a young girl of whom the crying is linked to, but when Room 206 is opened, no one is there. Though there are no reported deaths at the General Lewis Inn, there is an unsubstantiated story of a slave named Reuben who was hung where the dining room now sits, so guests will regularly report seeing a black man roaming in the dining room and sitting at the table.

Historic Harpers Ferry
harpers ferry

Photo Credit: Historic Harpers Ferry

It's crazy to think an entire town could be haunted, but Harpers Ferry has such a volatile past that the entire town is lousy with spiritual energy. The town was first established in 1732 and then later was "acquired" by Robert Harper in 1747 when Harper cashed in his Squatters Rights, which basically means he took possession since the actual owner was absent for a prolonged period of time and didn't actually try to kick him out. In 1761, Harper established a ferry across the Potomac River, and two years later the town was named by the Virginia General Assembly as Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry. The former home of the Harper's is on top of the hill on Public Way and is reportedly still haunted by Rachel Harper, wife of Robert. Rachel accidentally fell off of a ladder and died the next day; however, the reason why she may still be haunting her home is money. In order to keep their money earned from their profitable ferry business, Rachel started hiding money in jars. She died without even telling her husband where she hid the money, so it's believed that woman in period clothing staring at you from the windows is Rachel ensuring her hoard is still protected.
Just down the hill from the Harper House is Hog Alley, which is traversed by Dangerfield Newby, a freed slave, who was part of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Since John Brown took possession of the arsenal, built in 1801 and proposed by George Washington, the citizens of Harpers Ferry made their own weapons to repel John Brown's "Army." Poor Dangerfield Newby was pierced in the throat with a six-inch spike shot from a rifle and then immediately set upon with knives and dismembered by Harpers Ferry residents, and then left in the alley to be eaten by hogs. Witnesses say you can tell him apart from any re-enactors by the slash across his throat.
The entire raid by John Brown and his "army" of 21 soldiers was essentially set up for failure, but it did foment additional civil unrest between the North and South. On the night of October 16, 1859, with backing from the Secret Six, a group of prominent abolitionists who supported Brown at varying degrees, John Brown raided the arsenal in Harpers Ferry in order to arm his existing forces and recruit current slaves for a grand uprising. He took hostages, including some slaves, but they were quickly pinned down in the engine room of the arsenal, also known as "John Brown's Fort," by 90 Marines whom were led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Captain J.E.B. Stuart. Ten people were killed as a result of the raid, including two of Brown's sons, and John Brown himself was wounded and captured. Although Brown was hung in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), it's been reported he walks the streets of Harpers Ferry and is so clear as to be mistaken for an actual re-enactor. John Brown's Fort was actually disassembled, shipped to Chicago, Illinois, and showcased for The World's Columbian Exposition. At the end of the 19th century, it was moved back to Harpers Ferry, and then moved a few more times before it finally settled in a spot 150 feet east of where it originally stood. The same arsenal that was a key point in Brown's plan was set on fire by Federal forces less than a day after Virginia seceded from the Union, though apparently this was almost useless since the fire was extinguished and some weapons were salvaged by Confederate Forces. However, this would irreparably harm the economy of Harpers Ferry since a new arsenal was never rebuilt after the war.
During the entirety of the Civil War, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times and was apparently a nightmare to defend given its position on a mountainside. During the war, St. Peters Roman Catholic Church functioned as a hospital and, because of Father Michael Costello, avoided a great deal of damage from both sides by flying a British flag over the church. The church was actually the only church in Harpers Ferry that avoided severe damage from both the Confederate and Union forces. There's no evidence Father Costello served as a soldier during the Civil War, but he did fight against John Brown's raiders and worked as a "doctor of souls" (National Park Service, 2019) during the Civil War. Father Costello has been reported to walk near his church on a hill. There is also at least one spirit of a soldier at the Catholic church who allegedly died from battle wounds at the very moment he was brought into the church while whispering his last words, "Thank God, I am saved." Visitors who walk through the doors have reported hearing those same soft words spoken to this day.
Joining the ranks of the dearly (and undearly) departed, are former troops from the end of the 18th century who were prepping for a war with France. They paraded Main Street of Harpers Ferry every night and apparently they still do today, along with the sounds of a fife and drums. There is also the legend of a woman named Jenny whose clothes caught fire and was so panicked that as she ran outside of her home, which sat very near the tracks, she did not notice she was running in the path of an incoming train. As the legend goes, on the anniversary of her death, you can see Jenny in the shape of a fire ball that disappears as soon as the train hits her again.

Whipple Company Store

Photo Credit: The Fayette Tribune

You may have heard in History class that coal miners would be paid in scrip, vouchers to be used solely at company-owned stores located in company-owned coal mining towns. Whipple Company Store, built between 1890 and 1900 by Justus Collins for his one of many mining towns, is an example of this type of capitalization and one of the few of its kind left standing. The Whipple Company Store was built with three levels and a basement, though the second floor was kept hidden from the workers, and designed in a hexagonal plan to spy on the miners and their families' conversations as their voices ricochet off the walls...or maybe it really was for esthetic reasons. The Whipple Company Store sold everything "from candy to caskets" (WhippleCompanyStore.com), but it also functioned as a town hall, post office and doctor's office, as well as housing the morgue in the basement. As with any operation where human lives are part of a production line, accidents will happen; a mine explosion in 1907 led to the deaths of 16 miners, 14 of them instantly dying in the explosion. Deaths have also been recorded in the company store itself, and not just the random shooting; a man was found hanging in the elevator shaft and another man was found with his head submerged in a bag of grains. It operated under Whipple Colliery Company until the mining operation was bought in 1937 by the New River Company and then the mine and store permanently shut down in 1957.
The Whipple Company Store functioned as the social and economic hub of the town and, according to numerous reports, now may act as the paranormal hub for the company's former workers. Full bodied apparitions have been seen in the store, as well as the random fall of footsteps, and the smell of pipe smoke and coal dust can still be smelled, though does that ever really go away? Unexplained whispers and voices have also been heard and have even been recorded as EVP's. The odd cold spot here and there has also been felt by visitors and investigators. One of the most haunted parts of the store is the third floor ballroom, built for Lucy Collins by her husband to entertain her guests; though there is no real explanation as to why it's so haunted, when the store was used as a private home, the owner boarded up the third floor for fear of ghosts. If you get to tour the old store, you may meet the spirit of a little boy who likes to mess up hair, pull on pant legs and even asks if vistors will play upstairs.

21 at the Frederick
21 at frederick

Photo Credit: Huntington Quarterly

Here there will be history and reports of paranormal activity in 21 at the Frederick.
We're eternally grateful for your patience.

Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center
keith albee

Photo Credit: Keith-Albee

Here there will be history and reports of paranormal activity at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.
We're eternally grateful for your patience.

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