The Historic Preservation Club’s Annual Ghost Walk raised over $6,000 this year, doubling their revenue from last year’s walk.
Senior Drew Radtke, president of the historic preservation club, said that the increased attendance could be due to this year’s better weather on Oct. 29 and 30. Both nights of last year’s tour were cold and rainy.
“We gauge a successful walk by the numbers of people who come out,” Radtke said. “Lacking exact numbers, I can only say that this was the best attended year that I have seen in four years here.”
The funds raised from the Ghost Walk go toward the events that the historic preservation club plans throughout the year.
The Victorian Ball, a period dance in the spring with a 19th century band, is one of such events.
The proceeds will also go to support the club’s annual spring trip. This year, they are planning to go to Newport, R.I.
“Because of Ghost Walk, we can offer the trip to club members for free, provided that they have paid dues and helped out with at least one large event,” Radtke said.
Douglas Sanford, chair of the department of historic preservation, said, “We are enormously proud of the club as to Ghost Walk. It’s a significant operation involving numerous students, the community and a high degree of logistical organization. Ghost Walk is now over 25 years old, so [it’s] a true tradition.”
Students, mostly from the departments of history and American Studies, and historic preservation, were involved in the planning and implementation of the event as tour guides, actors and even floaters, who hide in bushes and jump at unsuspecting tourgoers.
The tour traditionally begins at Market Square on Princess Anne and William Streets. From there, it visits Hugh Mercer’s Apothecary, Kenmore Plantation, the Mary Washington House, the James Monroe Museum and other historic places downtown. The tour ends back at Market Square.
Along the way, the guides tell local ghost stories such as the story of a headless female ghost at the Smithsonia on Charles Street, which used to be a girl’s orphanage. The woman was seen by several young girls playing in the yard, and they said she was surrounded by blue light.
Another story is of the ghost of one of Mary Washington’s servants that has been seen in the Mary Washington House.
Yip, a Union soldier killed during street fighting in 1862, is said to haunt a house on Princess Anne Street.
The director of the James Monroe Museum a number of years ago reported that he saw the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe arguing in front of the building.
Another popular story is of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, who has been seen tending to wounded soldiers in the Presbyterian Church on George Street.
Other than the high attendance, the tour was uneventful, according to Radtke. At least compared previous year’s tours, that is.
“That sounds bad to say, but it beats the year there was a car crash on the tour route,” Radtke said. “Everyone ended up being ok, but we had to stop tours and eventually reroute past the affected stops.”
Photo: A participant of the Annual Ghost Walk. Courtesy of Kelly Knight