The Martha Washington Inn

A Room with a BOO

The Martha Washington Inn, in Abingdon, Virginia, hosts a number of ghosts left over from the Civil War.  Built in 1832 by Congressman General Francis Preston, the house passed into the hands of the Methodist Church upon his death two years later.  The church then founded the Martha Washington College for young ladies on its premises.  

When the war reached their doorsteps in the mid 1860s, the college doubled as a hospital for the war wounded.  One soldier, John Stoves, had been badly wounded and lay dying in what was to become room 403.  Beth, a student of the college, tended to him and fell in love.  As he passed from this life, she played the violin to ease his pain.  Beth herself died a few weeks afterwards from complications of typhoid fever.  Her music can now be heard faintly caressing the night, playing to her dead lover and sometimes accompanying her solitary visits to the room.

A phantom horse waits for his master outside the front steps, a Union soldier that was shot in front of the house in 1864.  On moonless nights, the horse has been seen roaming the grounds searching for his owner and awaiting the call to ride home.

The basement holds the spirits of black slaves, they were kept in an underground chamber and some were buried within its stone walls.

Before being killed by enemy soldiers, a young confederate entered the house and ran up the stairs to warn of encroaching Union troops.  Shot upstairs, his blood still stains the floorboards outside the Governor’s Room.  A bellhop, who’s been with the establishment for over 30 years, tells that carpets that lay over the area develop holes over the spot where the soldier lay dying.  Cold spots, apparitions and self-turning doorknobs have also been reported.

My favorite ghost is still looking for half of his head.  Numerous accounts of a soldier hobbling with help from a crutch and leaving a trail of mud in his wake have been reported from a hallway of the Inn.  Long past medical help, there is only speculation why he is here at the old hospital, a ball leaving only a hideous mangle of bone and sparse flesh had split his head.  Perhaps he’s trying to turn off the damn violin…

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