Carol Marks meets her town’s resident spirits during Huntsville, Alabama’s annual Ghost Walk.
Normally I am not a ghost-believing kind of girl, but I know Huntsville has a rich history with all sorts of quirky characters. I wasn’t familiar with the town’s many ghost stories before, but am certainly aware of them after attending Huntsville Ghost Walk last weekend.
Led by Avalon Tours, there are three haunted walks to choose from—Twickenham Historic District, Old Town Historic District and Haunted Downtown—on Friday and Saturday nights through October.
Huntsville historian and author Jacquelyn Procter Reeves is the mastermind behind the tours. As the story goes (told by our tour guide, Bob Boyer, a local ghost hunter and former radio announcer for WZDX), Reeves spent relentless hours researching the history of Huntsville, and what she found fascinated her so much that she hired a medium to come in and help tell the stories of our town’s ghosts.
I chose the Twickenham tour of Alabama’s largest antebellum district. The first stop on the tour is Weeden House, now a museum. The house was built in 1819 as a showcase home for the frontier, and in 1845, Dr. Weeden purchased it for his family. The Weedens owned the home until it was sold in 1956 and occupied the house except for the Civil War years, when federal officers took it as their own.
Bob explains that Weeden House is referred to as the “weeping house,” because there are certain parts of the exterior that, no matter how much paint is applied, always peel away.
Another story goes that, while touring the house, a couple of women were standing by an ornate grandfather clock when they were scared half to death by its loud chiming. Only, the clock has no working parts.
In the bottom bedroom, on the left hand side of the house, is where Maria Howard Weeden, poet and painter, was born. She also died in the same room at the age of 59 and may have never left.
The second haunt on the Twickenham tour is Helion Lodge No. 1, the first and oldest Mason Lodge in Alabama. John Hunt, the founder of Huntsville, was a member of the Free Masons and a member of this lodge.
It’s said the building is haunted by past Mason members, and some tour guides won’t even go inside. Reports of a big blue ball of light showing up in photographs are common. Also, several folks claim to have witnessed the lights going on and off when no one is in the building.
Next up is the Leroy Pope mansion. Here, Bob tells the story of the ghosts of two slaves who still roam the property. These two ghosts like to engage audience members of touring groups, and one was even mistaken for a costumed character once. Another story about this house is of one woman in a tour group having a conversation with a ghost. At the time, she didn’t know it was a ghost and thought she was having a conversation with another member in the group. When the tour guide said the names of the ghosts, the woman nearly fainted upon realizing she’d had a conversation with the dead.
The McClung house is one of many gorgeous antebellum homes in the Twickenham district. At one point in time, four girls had their picture taken here for their senior year of high school. When the photograph was developed, however, five girls were visible. Bob says the owner of the McClung house still has the photograph. Other accounts tell of a sound like a cannonball being dropped over and over again heard in the stairway of the house in the middle of the night.
While I didn’t have a conversation with or encounter any of my own ghosts during the walk, it was a great way to spend an October evening and learn more about Huntsville’s residents, whether they’re living or not.
Huntsville Ghost Walk meets at Harrison Brothers Hardware Store. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and are available at the hardware store all month. It’s good to get there at least 30 minutes early since the walks start promptly at 6 p.m. (An 8:30 p.m. walk is available on Saturday nights.) All walking tours are approximately two hours long and have completely different stops and stories. Trolley Tours are available on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. and limited to 33 seats. Cost is $12 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. Visit the website or call (256) 509-3940 and ask for Jacque Reeves. Tell her Deep South and Carol Marks sent you!
Photos by Carol Marks.
Carol Marks lives in Huntsville and is a mother and business manager by day and aspiring writer by night. She’s been published in Southern Family and Rocket Magazine and has written reviews for Dew On the Kudzu. She also writes a blog and is working on a novel. See her full bio in our “Contributors” section.