If you like a good ghost story, you’ll love these haunted spots in historic Virginia.
Virginia may be for lovers, but it could just as well be for ghost hunters. The Old Dominion State is, well, old. It’s been the backdrop for many significant and insignificant events in our state. Both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were fought right here in Virginia, and the state’s seen many bloody battles. It’s the perfect grounds for paranormal activity.
It’s hard to know if tragedy or violence ultimately leads to the departed sticking around in spirit because they are holding a grudge or feel cheated out of life. But there just might be a connection, at least in our state.
While we have listed five ghostly destinations that are must-see spots for paranormal activity, there are so many more in Virginia. If you like a good ghost story, this state has plenty of them. To find them, all you need to do is open your mind and go out and explore.
4200 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach
This opulent hotel on Virginia Beach’s north end has hosted presidents, movie stars, and business magnates since it opened in 1927. In 1929, the hotel provided hospitality to none other than Adolph Coors, founder of Coors Brewing Company. Coors was recovering from influenza and staying on the sixth floor of the hotel with his wife. For reasons unknown, Coors fell to his death from a window in his sixth-story hotel room. Authorities never determined whether it was murder, suicide, or just simply an unfortunate accident.
Regardless of the cause of his death, visitors have claimed to have heard a thud and possibly even seen a replay of his fall from the building. Still, others claim to have seen an older gentleman bellman on the fifth-floor stairs, warning guests of ghosts on the sixth floor. The hotel does not have bellboys. Ghosts? Maybe. But, for those so inclined to see for themselves, a stay on the sixth floor is always an option.
Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park
6541 Saylers Creek Rd., Rice
Sailor’s Creek Battlefield is home to one of the bloodiest battles of America’s history. This is the site where the last 72 hours of the Civil War were fought. According to the Virginia Tourism Corp., Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee lost more than 7,700 men on April 6, 1865, on this site. Ultimately, this is where America’s Civil War came to an end.
As the battle raged, the Overton-Hillsman Farm House on site was converted into a field hospital for the wounded confederate soldiers. Blood stains from those injured in battle can still be seen on the floor. The losses during the battle were so great that Lee surrendered his army three days later at the Appomattox Court House. These days, visitors claim those soldiers’ spirits still loom large on the battlefields. The park is open from dawn until dusk. The visitor’s center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
St. Albans Sanatorium
6248 University Drive, Radford
When it comes to sheer creepiness and paranormal activity, few places in the United States rival St. Albans Sanatorium in Radford. St. Albans got its start as a Lutheran boys’ school in 1892, but it was shut down due to declining enrollment.
In 1916, the building was brought back to life as a psychiatric hospital, where patients were often unwilling participants in painful and cruel procedures such as lobotomies. Eventually, St. Albans was closed for good in the 1990s. It is now a popular site for ghost sightings and paranormal investigations. People brave enough to step foot on this property, which was also the site of some Civil War bloodshed, can do so with a $20 general admission ticket.
412 South Cherry St., Richmond, VA
Hollywood Cemetery is one of the most prominent burial grounds in Virginia. The garden-style cemetery that was established in 1847 is the final resting place of two former U.S. presidents, six Virginia governors, and two supreme court justices, along with countless others.
It is also home to the urban legend of the Richmond Vampire. Legend has it that the Richmond Vampire surfaced in the 1920s near W.W. Pool’s mausoleum. Some claim that the Richmond Vampire was merely some poor firefighter who was burned during a tunnel collapse in 1925. Others believe that W.W. Pool was a vampire and the double letters of W marking his final resting place represent his fangs. Whether this nocturnal ghoul is real or imaginary is anyone’s guess. If you are curious, you can visit the cemetery from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
497 Swannanoa Lane, Afton
The tale of Swannanoa Palace starts out as a love story between a former confederate soldier and a wealthy businessman. Maj. James Dooley built an ornate marble palace for his beloved and cherished wife Sallie May. But, the story takes several twists after Sallie May and her husband die. First, their relatives sell the 52-room home, and it becomes a country club, which is eventually closed. Then, the property allegedly falls into the hands of a man with ties to a secret society known as the Illuminati, and it becomes known for a time as the University of Science and Philosophy. The university’s members studied mysticism and UFOs.
The palace is now open to the public and is one of the state’s most popular attractions both for weddings and paranormal investigations. Most believe that Sallie May’s spirit continues to roam the halls of this mystical home. If you want to see for yourself, you are going to have to be patient. Guided public tours are sold out for the remainder of the year. But it never hurts to start planning a visit in 2023.