It’s not just Halloween that has the supernatural visiting

Published 8:18 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

It’s that time of year again, where monsters can be found on Main Street and the creepy and crawly make their way onto front porches and walks — all the better to scare trick-or-treaters.

Much of the scary décor is store bought, or made up, to display on a single night: However, Washington is no less haunted on the other 364 nights of the year.

There are a few such haunted houses in town, as well as other haunted places, where people hears noises that have seemingly no earthly origin, see figures that shouldn’t be there or encounter smells that don’t make sense. With as much history as Washington has, it should come as no surprise that spirits of the past linger in the present.

Take the Hyatt House on Water Street. Built in 1785, the Federal house stands among two others that are considered some of the oldest structures in Washington. But the Hyatt House stands out because it’s long been said to be haunted by the ghost of its builder, an English sea captain named Lockwood Hyatt. Over the years, the ghost of Capt. Hyatt has been seen on the third floor of the home, watching the ships sail up the Pamlico to port.

Just next door is the Myers House, dating back to 1780. While this Federal house is not rumored to be haunted, long-past owners were superstitious enough to ward away evil spirits. When attorneys Herman and Debbie Gaskins bought the house for use as their law office, the couple made an interesting find in the basement: wine bottles buried upside down beneath the front door of the home. These “witches bottles” were said to trap the souls of witches and prevent them from entering the house, protecting the home owners from evil.

GRAVEYARD: While the church only dates back to 1867, the graves in its yard date back much further.

Around the corner, on East Main Street, is the Franklin Bryan House, a Queen Anne-style home built in 1896. Perhaps it’s the prominent businessman Franklin Bryan who haunts the home he built, but successive homeowners have talked about some of the inexplicable, but benevolent, occurrences, from disasters averted with some supernatural help, to repaired glass panes shattering from the inside of the house as homeowners and contractors stood in the drive talking about that very thing, to pets refusing to walk up the stairs on their own — all accompanied by the sweet smell of cigar smoke.

These houses and more are part of the Washington Haunts walking tour of the historic district. Led by Brown Library children’s librarian and storyteller Terry Rollins, the tours take place throughout the warmer months as Rollins leads a crowd to the town’s most haunted places, including the old courthouse on Market Street, where a man on trial for murder attempted to kill an attorney, then killed himself, just after the guilty verdict was read, and the Turnage Theatre, where technical director Stuart Lannon has had several encounters that will raise the hair on the back of one’s neck.

Saturday night is just such a night: at 8 p.m., Rollins will lead those in search of their own supernatural experience from the Harding Square garden at the end of Market Street, to the places where Washington’s spirits still loiter. Tours are $10 cash, no reservations required.

WITH A PAST: A stop on the Washington Haunts ghost walk of the historic district, this house is rumored to be haunted by a past owner who hanged himself.