Meet Some of Virginia’s First Residents in Williamsburg
Williamsburg was one of the first settlements established in the New World and has been a cherished home to many since its founding in 1632. Given the vast swathes of history surrounding the region, it goes without saying that the town of Williamsburg has seen plenty of hard times and self-sacrifice in the face of desperation.
Known as a historic site that witnessed both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Williamsburg is the most paranormal place in Virginia. Here are some haunts within Williamsburg where you might encounter a strange chill.
The Wren Building
The Wren Building is not your typical haunted house. Constructed in 1695, it’s actually the oldest college building in the United States as a part of the College of William and Mary. This building has served as a place of education for 400 years, maintaining its role as an active site for current college faculty and students.
Being around for 400 years comes with its bumps, and the building has seen some turbulent times. The Wren Building served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during both the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars. The building has also suffered bouts of unusual fires on three separate occasions.
On top of having a tumultuous past, the building hides a crypt that was built in 1729 to serve as the final resting place for some prominent Virginians such as Sir John Randolph, Peyton Randolph, Lord Botetourt, and several college presidents. However, during the Civil War, these crypts were looted by Union soldiers, disturbing the burial sites…and some say the ghosts resting there.
Students claim to see Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers patrolling the halls during late-night study sessions. Many people have claimed to hear screams coming from the crypt and, upon investigation, find no one there. Other reports of mysterious footsteps, moving furniture, and cries of pain have been experienced by students and faculty alike.
Peyton Randolph House
The Peyton Randolph house is considered to be the most haunted structure in Colonial Williamsburg. Sir John Randolph had the home built in 1715 by William Robertson. He left the house to his wife, Susannah Beverley Randolph. At age 24, his second son, Peyton, inherited the property. The house remained in the family until 1824 when it was purchased by Mary Monroe Peachy.
The grounds didn’t treat Peachy as well as the original owners. One of her children was killed in an accident there; others succumbed to disease, as did a boarder who died of tuberculosis. A family member even committed suicide at the home. The paranormal emerge when there exist such heavy memories and sustainable loss. Unsurprisingly, there are several accounts of phenomena at the Peyton Randolph House, including the shattering of a mirror and the sound of heavy footsteps coming from no one. Even famous visitors aren’t safe from these ghostly encounters. General Marquis de Lafayette wrote the following in a letter after his stay in 1824: “I considered myself fortunate to lodge in the home of a great man, Peyton Randolph. Upon my arrival, as I entered through the foyer, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It nudged me as if intending to keep me from entering. I quickly turned, but found no one there. The nights were not restful as the sounds of voices kept me awake for most of my stay.”
Williamsburg Public Hospital
Williamsburg Public Hospital was America’s first mental hospital, housing those deemed mentally unfit. With a lack of understanding of mental illness, the treatment philosophies of early America would sometimes call for virtual imprisonment in the cases of particularly violent or aggressive patients. Beyond painful isolation, other practices included the use of strong drugs and methods to shock the patient out of mental illness, such as plunge baths, electric shocks, and bloodletting.
Later administrations applied more humane treatments to the hospital patients. When Union soldiers took over the hospital building by force during the Battle of Williamsburg, the administrator, Dr. John Galt, was said to have been devastated. He is rumored to have died from a drug overdose following his grief. According to local folklore, Galt’s spirit still roams the grounds, seeking to treat his patients humanely.
Williamsburg Public Gaol
The public gaol, or jail, held prisoners who awaited minor consequences, such as paying fines, or more severe ones, like being branded, whipped, or hung for their crimes. Among the most notorious prisoners were 15 henchmen of the famed pirate Blackbeard. The gaol was known for having bouts of “gaol fever,” or what might be considered typhus fever, as the living conditions were horrendous. As a result, the public gaol has been known to host angry and desperate spirits who likely suffered slow deaths. Visitors coming to the jail sometimes report a sense of overwhelming sadness hanging in the air, along with seeing objects move on their own.
If your clients are looking for a ghostly thrill or just love history, show them around Williamsburg and they can put themselves directly in the action to experience what the area has to offer. The median home value here is $329,396 according to Zillow. Home values are expected to rise 4.1% within the next year which is great news for sellers, but even better news for homeowners looking for real estate markets with a positive ROI.
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