The Haunted House that wasn’t – Richmond Dispatch staff and their own “In Search Of” (1852)

Posted on October 4, 2016 by


Why not? It’s October, after all…

I’m not quite sure if both James A. Corwardin (Proprietor of the Daily Dispatch) and Hugh R. Pleasants (Editor) took part, but, in September 1852, some of the staff (apparently) of the Daily Dispatch decided to visit a haunted house in Richmond, and report their findings (in the issue of September 29th, 1852)…

THE HAUNTED HOUSE. – On the Southern bank of the river, about a mile west of this city, stands upon a very conspicuous eminence a large old brick house, familiar to the eyes of all the citizens of Richmond, and known as “the haunted house.” There it has stood, for nearly fifty years, “solitary and alone,” the cold winds whistling through its open windows, a monument of all that is dreary and desolate. How it obtained the cognomen of “the haunted house,” we know not. Feeling a desire to know something of the history of this celebrated abode of ghosts and hobgoblins, we were induced, a few days ago, to pay it a visit. We found none of the frightful family at home. Rawhead and bloody bones were not there. For half an hour we sojourned within its barren and silent walls, the only ghost to be seen or heard. Nor could we discover any signs of ghosts from another world having been there; although there were abundant evidences of a large number of the spirits from this world having paid it a visit. The hand-writings upon the wall, and other signs, showed that the most mischievous ghosts of all, the living spirits of this world, had haunted it more than the dead ghosts of another world. There were no spirits there, “black or white,” living or dead, to hold converse with us, either in relation to the history of the house, the affairs of this, or of the things of the world to come. But, our visit was not an unprofitable one. We came away pleased that we had made it; for we obtained one of the most pleasing, beautiful, and magnificent views of Richmond and all the surrounding country, that we ever beheld. We found that that old house occupies the highest point and commands the most extensive and charming view of any location in all this region. A more delightful place for a residence is no where to be found in the vicinity of Richmond. From no other point can be obtained so full, accurate, and beautiful view at every point of the compass, embracing Manchester, Rocketts, Richmond, the River, Islands and Bridges, the Canal, &c. Here is a choice spot for the exercise of the artist’s pencil, or the painter’s brush. At 5 o’clock in the evening, (the house at which we visited “the haunted house,”) when the declining sun is gilding the houses, steeples, bridges, &c., with a silvery brightness, a scene of almost unequalled beauty is presented. A view such as would have compensated us for a walk of at least ten instead of two miles. We are surprised that no one ever thought of making that his local habitation – The walls of the house are still apparently as good as ever, (to the credit of the bricklayer be it said) and the slate-roof, but little the worse for wear. The interior of the house, although originally finished (as far as completed) in the best style, has received much damage from the mischievous ghosts who have haunted the house from Richmond and elsewhere, and needs repairs. There is a fine spring of water on the river bank, just below the house, and everything inviting except alone the ghosts. But, we apprehend, they would be the least troublesome of all spirits.

The “Haunted House,” we understand, was built near fifty years ago, by two gentlemen of the names of Winston and Waddell, who purchased the land adjacent to the river there, for the purpose of erecting a milling establishment. After they had proceeded so far as the erection of a dame across the stream to Bell Isle, had laid the foundation of their mills and had erected the house of which we have been speaking, on the hill immediately above their mill seat, it was discovered that their dam backed the water upon the cotton factory mills of their neighbors, immediately above. An injunction and suit at law put a stop to further operations, and finally, after incurring considerable labor and expense, the mill, dwelling house, &c., were all abandoned – and this has the property remained unoccupied and unimproved ever since. But, the day is not distant, we predict, when this property will claim a much higher estimate than at present, and when a great change will come over the face of things round and about “the haunted house.”

If one considers the gothic atmosphere we project on the time, perhaps under the veil which Edgar Allan Poe created for us (especially considering his ties to Richmond), it’s an interesting read.

For “ghost stories” in previous years of Cenantua’s Blog, consider this, this, and… these