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Ghost Hunting in Richmond, Virginia
Interested in the supernatural poltergeists who haunt history? As one of the oldest cities in America, Richmond has plenty of specters drifting through its cobblestoned streets from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and beyond. Former slave markets, Confederate hospitals, and collapsed tunnels help make Richmond one of the most haunted cities in the South--and an inspiration for the work of Edgar Allen Poe, whose creepy tales draw from Richmond's macabre history.
Ghost hunting has been predominant in Richmond since its official founding in 1737 over the site of a previous, doomed expedition led by the Jamestown colonists in 1609. The city was burned to the ground by the British in 1781 and later the Union Army in 1865; during this time period, Richmond served as a major slave market for the South. There are numerous parks, old buildings, and former battlefields that are said to be haunted by the ghosts of the past. Here are a few to check out:
The Governor's Mansion. It's the oldest occupied governor's mansion, so it has to have a few skeletons in the closet (quite literally). The resident ghost, a lady sitting at the window, was first seen in 1890. Since then, paintings have moved around mysteriously and lights turn on and off by themselves.
The Poe Museum. Poe didn't actually live here, but his museum--known as the "Old Stone House"--is only blocks away from his first employer. The building was constructed in 1740 and is the oldest surviving structure in Richmond. Hauntings were first noticed in the early 1900s; visitors noticed two blond children and a shadowy figure resembling Poe himself. These specters tend to show up in visitors' photos, so take a good look at your iPhone pics next time.
The Byrd Theatre. Built in 1928, it's haunted by a little girl who frequently appears in the women's bathroom. The specter of a former manager, who worked at the theatre from the 1920s to the 1970s, can also be seen. This opulent movie palace now shows second-run films for cheap in the hip district of Carytown, but next time you're in the restroom, take the time to notice anyone next to you.
Monumental Church. On the site of this church, built in the early 19th century, was a former theatre that featured in one of Richmond's worst tragedies: the Great Theatre Fire of 1811, which killed 72 audience members. If you listen closely, you can still hear the crackle of the flames and the terrified screams of theater patrons who jumped to their deaths.
Church Hill Train Tunnel. Richmond attempted to build a train tunnel through the residential neighborhood of Church Hill in 1925, but it tragically caved in, killing four workers. Since that event, locals claim that you can still hear the whistle of a train and the moans of workers buried alive by the collapse.
Hollywood Cemetery. No ghost tour of Richmond is complete without a visit to the famous Hollywood Cemetery, home of former presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. A phantom dog is said to roam around the grave of a little girl, and footsteps can be heard long after the cemetery's closing time.
If you'd enjoy a good haunted visit, you have a few options. There are a few private companies that offer ghost tours, or you can make your own itinerary. One thing's for sure: with a history that stretches back 400 years, there are no shortage of ghouls in the River City. Happy hunting!
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