Haunted places of Petersburg area

By Zach Armstrong

PETERSBURG, Va -- Trick or treating might not be the safest activity this year as COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Virginia, so many might want to replace the October tradition by taking a visit to some of the communities spookiest spots with rumors of being haunted.

Those in the greater Petersburg area including Prince George, Dinwiddie and Chesterfield County and the townships of Hopewell and Colonial Heights can find themselves in for a treat this year.

Old Central State Hospital located in Dinwiddie County off of West Washington Street was a lunatic asylum for slaves in the 1940s and was the first institution in the country for African Americans deemed to be of an “unsound mind” where slave owners would pay fees to have their slaves committed. Some of the old grounds still operate as a hospital while other buildings have been abandoned.

Locals have reported seeing and hearing odd phenomena in the area. The building prohibits trespassing and has been abandoned for years, and trespassing is NOT encouraged although permits for entrance have been given. Several websites have reported on visitors experiencing apparitions, screams and a general sense of uneasiness making them feel as if they were being watched or followed.

The historic Appomattox Manor in Hopewell also has a history of giving visitors the creeps and other disturbing experiences by the ghost of a Union soldier. During the Civil War, a nurse had hid a Union soldier in the basement wall when Confederates took over and inspected the home.  They arrested her when they found some of his gear in a storage room but the soldier couldn’t escape the hiding place leading him to die there.

 His body was found during 1953 basement work and rumor has it that his ghost has been heard scratching at the walls trying to get out.

Dinwiddie County’s Shirley Plantation beholds an old ghost story involving a painting. A portrait of Aunt Pratt was put away in 1858. Soon, the home’s residents heard weird knocking sounds coming from the attic throughout the day until they put the portrait back up. When the portrait was taken off the wall in 1974 to be shipped to New York City for a gallery of items associated with paranormal phenomena. While in its exhibit, the portrait began to rock crazily in front of many spectators.

The painting was found after being locked up in a storage container and was pointing toward the exit as if it had escaped. The strange occurrences have not picked up since the portrait was placed back.

In Charles City, the Edgewood Plantation is said to be home to a sad widow Lizzie Rowland who has been waiting for her beloved Civil War soldier to come home. One couple reported they were awake an entire night talking to the spirit of a soldier named Aaron Young who was a member of Virginia’s Twentieth Regiment, which passed by Edgewood Plantation during the Civil War.

According to Colonial Ghosts Website, one guest said of Lizzie Rowland’s ghost that “Visitors have looked up to the second-floor window and have seen the apparition of a very sad, dark-haired woman looking down toward them. Eyewitnesses have also seen Lizzie’s apparition from the inside as they reach the top of the stairs and look in the direction of the window.”

Lizzie’s Room is now available for a bed and breakfast stay for $189 a night and includes tours of Victorian tea rooms.

Haunted House websites have also reported ghost stories from Parker’s Battery occupied by confederate soldiers and located in Chester, the Amelia Wildlife Management Area at Amelia Court House and Tribble Farm located in Blackstone.