Virginia and West Virginia are well-known for their farms, wineries, history, and open spaces. Although not widely known, Virginia and West Virginia are also home to hundreds of abandoned houses, barns, medical buildings, and even schools. Buildings are often built for one single purpose, and when the owners become bankrupt or have to leave suddenly, these places are often left to rot. Years go by and nature takes back what was once theirs, leaving behind a ghost from the past.
In 1996, a Renaissance Fairground was built in Fairfax, VA, just off U.S Route 3. The fairgrounds were constructed right inside of what locals used to call Sherwood Forest, land once owned by George Washington’s mother. The park only stayed open for three years, due to the swampy environment, poor ticket sales, and technical issues. The owners of the Renaissance fairgrounds had no choice but to leave the site for dead. 21 years later, the park is still standing, although the forest continues to claim its land. Ticket stands, mini castles, and even a ship can still be easily identified through the tangle of nature. Although the site is well hidden in the rural land, no one is encouraged to step foot on the property. Hunters and police officers frequently scout the area. The land is currently available for sale for seven million dollars.
Much further south in Powhatan, VA sits a solitary school just below the James River. The Old Saint Francis School was a prestigious all-girl school made specifically for African Americans. Built in 1899 by Katharine Drexel, the “Castle on the James,” as it was nicknamed, stayed open for 70 years before permanently closing in 1970 due to desegregation. After decades of neglect, the building has slowly decayed and all that is left is one giant building and the cathedral. The inside of the school is decaying and starting to rot away, however, the bright, colorful stain glass windows in the school’s church are still in excellent condition. Chairs, bed frames, and other bits and pieces have been left behind since the school closed. If you want to explore the site, it is best to ask the grounds keeper, or if unable to make the trip, there is great drone footage on Youtube.
Located in West Virginia, The Hilltop House, in Harper’s Ferry, is only 25 minutes away from Purcellville. The Hilltop House was built in 1888 by an African American man named Thomas s. Lovett. Mr. Lovett dreamed of one day owning a hotel overlooking John’ Brown’s Harper’s Ferry. The hotel was burned in 1912, and its replacement was again burned around 1918. Mr. Lovett and his wife refused to give up, and again rebuilt it. The hotel has since housed famous people such as Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, and Bill Clinton. The hotel was permanently closed in 2008, after it was condemned unsafe due to rotting wood and part of the roof collapsing. Apart from being a perfect urban exploring site, the hotel is also said to
Apart from being a perfect urban exploring site, the hotel is also said to be a great place for paranormal activity. Between the hours of two and three AM, laughing, banging, and voices are said to haunt the halls. Room 66 is said to be especially active. There has been talk of rebuilding the historic hotel, however, no such plans have been finalized. Although this could be a great place for paranormal investigators, the building is not to be trespassed on. If still curious about this building, there is plenty of both drone footage and paranormal investigating on Youtube.