Landon House from Architectural Concepts
The Landon House was built along the Rappahannock River in Virginia as a silk mill in 1754. It was relocated (by barge!) to Urbana, Maryland in 1840 where it became The Shirley Female Academy and then the Landon Military Academy & Institute.
During the first Maryland campaign of the Civil War, it was the headquarters of General James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart. Virginia gentleman that he was, Stuart hosted several social events at Landon, including the renowned Sabers and Roses Ball, a soiree for the rebel troops.
The ball was held on September 8, 1862. Twenty-four hours later, the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day of combat in American history, erupted.
The house was a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during the battle and still has the original signed and dated Civil War “lightning sketches” on its walls, drawn by Yankee and Rebel soldiers.
Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, along with General Robert E. Lee, remain. Landon House, located on the Urbana Pike, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a stop on Maryland’s Civil War Trails program.
Since the hospital days, employees and visitors have witnessed many eerie events in the Landon House and on its property.
The house is reportedly haunted by the civil war soldiers who died in the building, seen by many Landon guests. Orbs are also common phenomena. Ghostly lights have been seen moving through the house late at night.
These soldiers are thought to be residual hauntings, energy that is left behind after an especially emotional or traumatic experience. Death would certainly qualify as one such experience.
Folks who have taken pictures sometimes find Civil War soldiers in the developed prints. One pair of reenactors allegedly have a snapshot of a ghostly apparition looking out of the windows, keeping an eye on them as they toured the house.
Construction workers told of a Union soldier who walked out the nearby woods, waved to them, and disappeared. There were no reenactors or anyone in costume on the site that day.
One reb soldier that has reportedly never left is Colonel Luke Tiernan Brien, an aide to Stuart, who has been seen sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, looking out over his property (he was a later owner of the Landon House). He died in 1912. More often, the chair is reported rocking by itself.
An old spirit is sometimes reported to roam the house halls; many assume it's Brien, still padding around his old digs.
One spooked-out part of the house is the basement area. It is believed to be home to the slaves who were once held there. If you visit this spot, it's said that you may encounter an icy cold sensation, the sense of being watched, and maybe a tap from an unseen entity.
The basement is also home to one of Landon's prized legends, the ghostly hounds. The cellar wall has unexplained scratch marks from claws on the wall, and the most common paranormal report from Landon is the howling of dogs, heard from the deepest level of the house.
They're supposed to be the remnants of an ethereal pack of dogs that were kept in the basement over the years by a variety of owners, used for hunting, as an early home-security system, and to keep the slaves from escaping.
Another famous pooch spook haunts Landon. The dog was accompanying its owner during the battle of Antietam, was wounded, and brought to Landon House, where it died. It's never left.
One photographer captured a ghostly woman and her dog in one picture; pooches apparently were a big part of Landon's early history.
And there are the more mundane reports, such as Civil War music playing, and rolling cannon balls. But not all the ghosties are from the Civil War. A couple of apparitions are from the Shirley Female Academy days.
There is a legend about a woman whose baby died at birth. The woman lost it; she sat in a rocker and rocked the dead baby for three days before admitting it was gone. Her spook has allegedly been seen on the balcony entrance of her room at night.
A ghostly woman in white is rumored to roam the second-floor rooms. And she's on a mission - it's said that she's doing a bedtime check, looking for children to tuck into bed. A kid or two have even reported her visit to their parents. There's nothing like the ministrations of a netherworld nanny to speed you off to dreamland.
The Landon House, now a wedding and events center, embraces its spookiness. "We are happy to include an historic tour or 'ghost walk' of Landon House with your special event at no extra charge" boasts its website.
A Landon House Ghost Walk is hosted every Friday evening from April through September. It even rents out to paranormal groups that want to spend an evening tracking down Landon House legends.
So if you're planning to take the plunge or celebrate a big event and don't mind a couple of twilight zone gatecrashers, the Landon House is your haunt.