Local Haunts: 13 spots around the Triangle where you just might encounter a ghost or two

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by Miranda Evon | photography by Justin Kase Conder 

 

The Graveyard at Dorothea Dix Park

At the cemetery near where the Dorothea Dix Hospital for the mentally ill in Raleigh operated from 1856 to 2012, some say they can still hear the screams of deceased patients at night.

 N.C. Executive Mansion

The first governor to live here, Daniel Fowler, a widower with four children, had a bed made to accommodate himself and a son who often crept in at night. “But he didn’t get to enjoy it for long—he died in this bed,” says Brad Kennedy, a guide at Tobacco Road Tours, known for its Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour. When Governor Bob Scott removed the bed, he reported hearing a “screeching sound” behind the walls.  But once the antique bed was put back into position, the “knock of Governor Fowler” ceased.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground

Near Bear Creek in Chatham County lays a barren circle that never grows any grass, trees or flowers within its forty-foot diameter. It’s said that the Devil paces here at night, burning all the vegetation.

N.C. State Capitol Building

“This is considered the most haunted capital in America,” says Kennedy, citing numerous reports of, among other things, the sound of a barrel going up and down the stairs (filled with whiskey for Sherman’s troops). Owen Jackson, a night guard in the 1970s and 1980s, often heard a woman screaming and observed the elevator move for no reason.Kennedy thinks this may be the work of phantom cavalryman, who was hung from the portico by Union soldiers. “He’s maintaining a vigil.”

Mordecai House

Built in 1785 (it’s older than the city of Raleigh!), the home to Mary Willis Mordecai Turk, is also well-known for it paranormal activity. It’s been rumored that you can see Turk standing on the balcony late at night or hear a piano playing throughout the home.

Crybaby Lane

Off of Bilyeu Street, near N.C. State’s centennial campus, is a grassy spot where a Catholic orphanage burned down in 1958. It’s been rumored that the air still smells like smoke and that you can hear the cries of children.

The Carolina Inn

Opened in 1924, this Chapel Hill hotel is rumored to be haunted by almost 20 ghosts. The most famous of them all is Dr. William Jacocks, who lived in room 256 until his death in 1965—but no one’s ever felt threatened, as he was known to be a prankster in life and is deemed a friendly ghost. Other ghosts are said to be trying to leave, rattling door handles looking for a way out.

The White-Holman House

The “peg-legged ghost” lives in one of Raleigh’s few 18th century homes. Here, decades of owners have reported a “thud-clack, thud-clack” in a back staircase. Kennedy says the phantom’s identity is not known, but he suspects it’s either a Civil War soldier who died while the home was used as a hospital, or a kitchen servant. “These were well-heeled Southerners, and the ghost has always had a respectful nature.”

Andrew Johnson’s Birthplace

A small house on the Mordecai grounds, was the home of our 17th president; here, neighbors and property managers have seen a light being held by an invisible hand through the window on the first floor, and some say another is lit simultaneously on the second—then quickly extinguished.

Xoco Restaurant 

At one point a dairy processing plant, what’s now a Mexican restaurant on Glenwood South has received many reports of paranormal activity from employees over the years, including banging on the wall, ghosts running through the space, laughing and name-calling. Last year, paranormal investigators confirmed their suspicions, so now a sign warns patrons that the staff is not entirely responsible for otherworldly goings-on. 

Historic Oakwood Cemetery 

Inside the 150-year-old Raleigh Cemetery lies the grave of Etta Rebecca White, who died in 1918 after being admitted to Dorothea Dix Hospital. Legend says that the carved angel that marks her gravestone follows you with her eyes while you walk through the cemetery.

Horace Williams House

This quaint farmhouse was owned by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Horace Williams. The former philosophy department chair owned the home until his death in 1940. It’s said that people have since heard Williams’ ghost, toilets flushing on their own and rocking chairs rocking with no one in them. The home is now open to the public for tours—and maybe even a conversation with Williams.

Catsburg Country Store Building 

The site of a Durham country store that closed in the 1980s, rumor is that on moonless nights you can see a light and hear the train’s engine and whistle on the nearby tracks—but no train comes.