In a place with as much history as Charlottesville, there are bound to be stories of the unexplained.

On weekend nights in the spring through the fall, Rob Craighurst (Com ’76, Grad ’95) leads a walking tour of downtown Charlottesville that explores the city’s paranormal phenomena. The tour focuses on the mysterious 1904 murder of Fannie McCue, the wife of Sam McCue, Charlottesville’s former mayor, but Craighurst also regales his customers with ghostly tales of Charlottesville’s past. Here are three of Craighurst’s favorite stories.

The Ghost of Pavilion X

There are several University spots rumored to be haunted. The ghost of Dr. Bennett Wood Green, whose books were donated to the library after his death in 1913, supposedly stalks Alderman Library. And Edgar Allan Poe’s room on the West Range is said to be haunted not by Poe, but by “the ghost of an awful crime,” as Poe himself carved in the window.

A ghost dressed in old-fashioned clothes is said to haunt Pavilion X. Illustration by Rob Ullman

There’s also a ghost in Pavilion X, where history professor Edward Younger, who taught at UVA from 1946 to 1974, lived with his wife. One evening, his mother-in-law came to visit, and took a room on the first floor in the back of the Pavilion. She awoke in the middle of the night and screamed when she saw a man in period clothing staring down at her. Soon after, a visiting history professor decided to stay in the room, and saw the same apparition. On another occasion, Younger’s nephew, who was visiting, heard a noise in the stairway. He slowly approached the stairs and saw the same ghostly man in old-fashioned clothes standing at the top. The nephew called for help, but when turned back to the stairs, the man had vanished.

The Case of the Flying Candle

410 E. Jefferson Street was built in 1785. Through the years, the building has served as a private residence, law firm, a slate company, a church, a real estate office and now Charlottesville’s Inn at Court Square. But the ghost story Craighurst tells about the inn happened only a decade ago.

The ghost of a former employee has made his presence known at Charlottesville's Inn at Court Square. Illustration by Rob Ullman
According to Craighurst, an employee of the inn complained to the owner that a sconce on the wall holding three candles got in the way of the luggage that he carried up the stairs for customers, but the sconce was never moved. That same year, the employee was stung by a bee in the countryside and tragically died from an allergic reaction. After his funeral, friends gathered back at the inn. As they reminisced about their lost friend, people noticed water coming out of the wall in the area of the nuisance sconce. Then a year later, the owner was standing in the same room and felt something fly through the air and clatter to the floor. She turned around and saw that it was a candle.

The Underbelly of Woolworth’s

The large building on the downtown mall at the corner of 1st Street has been owned by a number of businesses. Today it houses Caspari, a luxury paper goods store. For 40 years, it was owned by Woolworth’s. Before that, it was the property of Edward Perely, who ran funeral parlor in that space. When Perely moved out and Woolworth’s moved in, Craighurst says the new employees had two complaints: The first was that there were still coffins in the basement. The second was that they often heard strange noises from below that couldn’t be explained.