Haunted Williamsburg

Don’t miss these stops on your own haunted tour of Williamsburg.
By: Sarah White
As the birthplace of America’s revolution, it’s no surprise that Colonial Williamsburg harbors stories of intrigue, desperation and self-sacrifice. But along with its rich history live legends of dastardly deeds and disquieted souls trapped just beyond the world of the living. Whether you’re a skeptic or a true believer in paranormal activity, there are plenty of opportunities throughout Williamsburg to be entertained and delighted, if not spooked.

Spanning 301 acres and protected by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, this historical landscape allows visitors to explore the town much as it was when it came to be in the early 1600s. By day, tourists can visit any number of original 18th-century structures, but by night, the historic buildings take on a spookier atmosphere. Don’t miss these stops on your own haunted tour of Williamsburg.
The Wren Building

Photo by: Stephen Salpukas/College of William & Mary

Stephen Salpukas/College of William & Mary

As the sun sets, take part in 1 or more of the many walking tours operated in the area and listen to the tales of woe that local tour guides have perfected over the years. Many of the tours move through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg by candlelight, taking visitors to such places as the Wren Building, which served as a hospital during the Revolutionary War and has gone up in flames 3 times. Sitting on William & Mary’s campus, the Wren Building is the oldest academic building in continuous use, and below it is a crypt that serves as the final resting place of a few key Virginia figures.
The George Wythe House


Photo by: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

A prominent lawyer, esteemed professor and original thinker, George Wythe is a renowned historical figure. He is celebrated for his contributions during the Enlightenment and as a mentor to none other than Thomas Jefferson. At age 80, Wythe was poisoned in his own home by a greedy relative. Although he was buried in Richmond, rumors report that he returns to his home in Williamsburg every year on the day of his death to press a cold hand on visitors’ foreheads.

Another tale is that of Ann Skipwith, a frequent visitor of the Wythe home who died during childbirth. Storytellers say she and her husband had an argument one night over his apparent indiscretions. She returned to the residence with only 1 shoe. Some claim that at midnight, you can hear the strange sound of her footsteps running up the stairs.
The Peyton Randolph House

Photo by: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

This home facing the market square was built in 1715 and is rumored to be one of the most haunted spaces on the East Coast. One story tells of a Civil War soldier who stayed in the home while attending the College of William & Mary. He died of tuberculosis, and since his death, people have reported hearing his heavy boots treading throughout the house. Some have also reported seeing his pale figure appear in the middle of the night.
Witch Trials

Photo by: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Witch trials were no laughing matter in the 17th and 18th centuries, as evidenced in Arthur Miller’s unforgettable play The Crucible, based on the true story of 20 people accused of and condemned for witchcraft in Massachusetts. Williamsburg visitors can relive Virginia’s own drama as it played out during the early settlement of the Colonies by attending a candlelit mock trial of Grace Sherwood, a midwife accused of witchcraft in 1706. Participants can weigh the evidence, as well as question the witnesses. During her trial, the accusers claimed Sherwood’s innocence could be proven only by dunking her in water. If she sank, she was innocent; if she floated, she was guilty. Needless to say, her buoyancy led to her undoing.
Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream
Howl o scream


Photo by: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

If the historic hauntings of Colonial Williamsburg are a little too real, and you prefer scares of a more fantastical sort, head over to nearby Busch Gardens for seasonal attractions. Every fall, Busch Gardens embraces the spirit of Halloween with an event called Howl-O-Scream. Open on weekends from mid-September until the end of October, the park begins its fright night at 6 p.m. There are 6 haunted houses scattered around the theme park, along with 5 “terror-tories,” 1 of which lets visitors catch a glimpse of what it might have felt like to roam the streets of 19th-century England during Jack the Ripper’s rampage. Spooky shows and Halloween-themed bars are also sure to bring the howl out in anyone looking for a frighteningly good time.

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