As the birthplace of America, Williamsburg, Virginia has an extensive history. Depending on what you believe, this goes hand in hand with reports of paranormal activity. There are numerous ghost tours and tales from both visitors and locals of this historic city. Whatever your opinion is on matters of things that go bump in the night, the following sites are said to be some of the most haunted in Williamsburg.
The College of William and Mary
The College of William and Mary has had its fair share of reports of paranormal activity. Being the second oldest college in the United States and having played a role in the Revolutionary War, it comes as no surprise that students, alumni and even faculty of the college claim they’ve experienced otherworldly presences.
The first building that usually comes to mind on campus is the Wren Building. The Wren Building was used for wounded French and American troops during the Revolutionary War. Some who’ve heard footsteps believe that it is a French soldier who died as the result of wounds sustained while fighting for American independence. Others believe it is the building designer himself, Christopher Wren. In 1967, a professor was teaching a night class and he and his students heard footsteps coming from the floor above them in what was supposed to be an otherwise empty building. The class and professor went upstairs to investigate and ensure that there wasn’t an intruder in the building… and found nothing. After the class resumed, they discussed that perhaps it was Christopher Wren inspecting the building and suddenly heard a loud crash from the floor above. The professor, worried a chandelier had fallen, went back up with some students to see if that was the case and again, found nothing.
Next is the Bafferton Building. The building was constructed in 1923 with the funds from an English scientist named Robert Boyle. His intent for the Bafferton Building was to spread the gospel to the Indians. Young Native American men stayed in the building and may still be roaming the halls, according to some students and faculty who lived in the building when it was being used as a dormitory. There were reports of footsteps, sobbing and Indian drum music. More recently, there have been sightings of a young Native American man running bare-chested and barefoot through the Sunken Garden nearby.
Another haunted building, the Ludwell-Paradise House, is located on Duke of Gloucester Street. The house was built around 1775 for Lucy Paradise nee Ludwell and her husband; they mostly rented it out because they were stationed in London. (This was the first house purchased by Goodwin and Rockefeller when they started converting the town into a living history museum.) Left destitute after her husband’s passing, Lucy Paradise returned to her Williamsburg home in 1805. It has been said that Lucy was an eccentric individual who had some odd quirks, like bathing multiple times a day and walking down the streets with her servants as if she were royalty. It was also rumored that she was a thief. Basically, everyone thought she was insane and she got committed to the Public Hospital. She unfortunately took her own life two years later. Today, there are accounts of hearing sounds of bathing and bathwater on the second floor of the house.
George Wythe House
Another haunted spot is said to be the George Wythe House. A lawyer, professor and forward thinker, George Wythe is a renowned historical figure. His contributions during the Enlightenment and his mentoring of Thomas Jefferson are achievements that will continue to be celebrated for many generations to come. At age 80, Wythe was poisoned in his home by a relative who wanted his money. There are accounts of Wythe coming back to his home on the anniversary of his death (June 8) and guests sleeping in his room report feeling a firm and cold hand pressing down on their foreheads.
Peyton Randolph House
Said to be the most haunted in Williamsburg – with the most documented spiritual activity in town – the Peyton Randolph House was built around 1715 by Sir John Randolph, a member of the House of Burgesses. The house was then passed down to his son Peyton, who served as Speaker of the House of Burgesses and later as president of the First Continental Congress. It’s suspected that since the house had many different people living there and was the scene of numerous deaths, that some left a spiritual imprint on it. Former residents, along with guides employed by Colonial Williamsburg, report odd sounds, as well as seeing a man in colonial clothing.
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