Thursday, November 01, 2007

Follow-up: Halloween ghost tour

When it’s a dark Halloween night at one of Mecklenburg County’s oldest surviving properties, everything takes on a certain spookiness.

A breeze through trees sounds like whispering. A cat pouncing in dry leaves causes a start. Darkened windows at Historic Rosedale plantation, built in 1815, convey a feeling that perhaps someone inside is watching.

After writing about local ghost stories, I couldn’t resist attending Rosedale’s Halloween ghost tour last night. I’d heard that Rosedale has a reputation among Charlotte’s historic community as one of the most haunted properties in the region – and executive director Deborah Hunter shared many tales of eerie happenings with me and about 20 other attendees.

The house was occupied by descendants of its original family until 1986. “A lot of their spirits still linger here,” Hunter told the group. “There is a lot of family energy in this house.”

In its plantation days, Rosedale was home to 24 enslaved people. One was a root healer named Cherry, whose plantings of arrowroot and other herbs remain in the woods. She was a nursemaid for many of the plantation’s children, and “she is still here,” Hunter said.

About once a month, Hunter and education director Camille Smith smell smoke outside their offices in the house – which smells exactly like the rabbit tobacco Cherry used to smoke. When they first noticed it, they called the Charlotte Fire Department – and only two of the firefighters could smell it. No cause was identified. Now, they accept the occurrences as part of working in the house.

A small cabinet is built into a post on the back porch. It’s not easy to tug open, but many mornings, workers arrive to find it popped open. One of the home’s servants used to keep shaving equipment for a disabled homeowner there; observers assume the servant periodically visits to give his master a shave. “We do have a raccoon out here, but he does not have a crowbar,” Hunter said.

Sometimes, Rosedale employees, volunteers and board members lead nighttime tours with “intuitives,” or psychics. Many have picked up on impressions of former residents of the house. Everyone – intuitive or not – feels sadness and gets headaches when visiting the top floor of the house, where it is believed a former tutor experienced much personal misery about her reduced economic circumstances, and may have punished her pupils by locking them in a closet.

Hunter once saw a ghostly arm cross a doorway in front of her in the house. Recently on a nighttime tour, she felt a tug on her sleeve while nobody was standing nearby – an intuitive told her it was the spirit of a child. Neither incident has fazed her.

“I think we have multiple people that visit and look after us and look after the house,” Hunter said.

Many presences, both happy and sad, have been detected in the kitchen in the house’s basement. That’s where Cherry is believed to reside. Last night it was difficult to detect anything spooky with 20 other people crowded into the brightly lit room, but I did get the sense I was in a room where much activity had occurred over many years.

And there was one strange thing: Bundles of dried herbs hang from the ceiling in one corner. They aren’t near any obvious drafts, and yet one bundle of rosemary – apart from all the others – rotated slowly in a circle while I stood nearby.


Blogger Current Mortgage Rates said...

did anyone go by the fountain??

sorry i'm still stuck on your other post!

1:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I worked at duke mansion as a housekeeper for 4 yes.I must say I experienced aaaaaa story..truth be told..I was cleaning a room on the 3rd floor and I had just finished for the day.I'm very aware of all the ghost stories and I was always looking for something to happen..well.. As I got my cart on to the elevator which has mirrors on the inside I seen something "walk" past in the mirror as I was bending down picking up a towel that had fallen.out of instinct I look out in to the one..the halls are very long and the all doors click when closed.I was wondering where they went that fast..feeling something wasn't right.I hit the closed button and chose to go to basement where we kept our supplies. I all of a sudden smelled the doors were closing..right before it shut it jerked and started to open back up..I didn't touch anything..the only way to explain that was someone touched the outside call button to open door..I looked back out one ..the door started to close again..same thing happened.the elevator door started to open a I'm scared and decided whatever it was can have the elevator..I pushed my cart out fast.that same towel dropped I picked it up and the doors were closing.I looked up and seen a slight image of a women dressed in old times..I hit the button before getting of to go to basement now the 2nd floor button was lit.I took off..I realized when the doors kept opening it was because she had got on the elevator with me....u know if the doors are closing and u hit the button or slide your hand in front of door it will open back up..well that's not the only story..once I was vacumming which is the last step in housekeeping and I finished and had went in to hall to vacuum rugs and my vacumm turned off I went into room and the cord was unplugged.I plugged it in and went back to vaccuming..again it happened this time I plugged it back in but noticed little foot prints all around the floor near outlet where it was plugged in...meaning someone was playing with me a child perhaps..there should have been no footprints especially a child...I have many more where those two came from

10:30 AM  

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