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haunted asheville: a driving tour

I loooove Halloween. Always have. Always will. And while we are in the States, we want to take advantage of all of the Halloween craziness that is around. But, all week long we could never decide what to be for Halloween – actually we’d been thinking about it all month. So, we decided to not be anything. And we decided to have a cozy night of carving pumpkins, drinking drinks, and watching movies.

Then I got an idea. I thought I might search around and find out about lots of the haunted places in Asheville – of course Asheville is known as a very haunted place, what with all of the spiritual, healing, mystical mountains and rivers and such in the area. Seriously, it is pegged as a very haunted city. There were a few ghost stories that I already knew, so I wanted to brush up on them and see what else I could find out… and I’d take Lina and Paige on a haunted tour of Asheville. Fun!!

I mean, you can pay 20-40 bucks for a Haunted tour with a company, but why do that? I knew I could be just as good of a storyteller and guide as anyone. And it’d be free! So, I researched and created a driving/walking tour of about 16 places all over Asheville – and there are more.

grove park inn haunted asheville

The Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn (Room 545)

The unknown woman, or “the pink lady” as she has affectionately been called, came to visit the Grove Park Inn during the 1920’s, and was a guest of room 545. Dressed in a long, pink, flowing gown, the woman fell to her death over the stone wall from the second floor. No one really knows if she jumped or if she was pushed. But, legend has it that she was meeting her married lover in room 545. Something happened, and it ended very badly. Though her body was removed, it seems that her friendly, somewhat mischievous, spirit has lingered behind.

Helen’s Bridge

Zealandia Bridge, aka Helen’s Bridge, was built in 1909 for the Zealandia Estate. It was mentioned in a passage of Thomas Wolf’s “Look Homeward, Angel,” as the novelist used to frequently walk under the bridge. Its ghost, Helen, is believed to have been a woman who lived nearby with her daughter. When her daughter died in a fire, Helen hanged herself from the bridge. Today, folks say that you can visit the bridge and call out to Helen… and she will respond.

Jackson Building

The 15-story Jackson Building is a tourist attraction and the first skyscraper in western North Carolina. It’s ghostly inhabitant is said to be a man who committed suicide during the Depression. The man’s face appears in one of the upper windows, and reports say there is a bulls-eye on the sidewalk that represents the spot where he fell.

Merrimon and Broadway

James Sneed and James Henry were convicted of stealing a horse and hanged at this crossing in 1835, although they claimed to be innocent. Now, the phantom sounds of horse hooves, a wagon, and a gallows trap-door are heard here.

Chicken Alley 

Chicken Alley is a narrow lane named for the fact that chickens used to hang out there in the city’s much younger days. It’s a funny little place that I love. It even has a chicken mural, painted by local artist Molly Must. Legend has it that the alley is haunted by the ghost of Dr. Jamie Smith, in a black fedora hat and duster-style coat, carrying his medicine bag and silver-tipped cane. Dr. Smith was stabbed in the heart at the Chicken Alley bar Broadway’s Tavern in 1902, as he was trying to break up a brawl.

street asheville night

Highland Park area of Montford

Originally known as “Dr. Carroll’s Sanatorium,” Highland Hospital was founded by Dr. Robert S. Carroll, a distinguished psychiatrist. The hospital is located on Montford Avenue and was officially named Highland Hospital in 1912. A variety of buildings built in Georgian Colonial, Norman and Arts and Crafts styles housed the patients and the facilities, most of which still stand today including Highland Hall. The campus also included Dr. Carroll’s home at 19 Zillicoa Street, known as Homewood. On March 10, 1948, a deadly fire broke out in the main building and took the lives of nine women. Among the victims was author Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The doors were locked, the windows were chained, and the wooden fire escapes burned.  People claim to hear screams and see ghosts of the victims walking the streets.

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake is home to the spirit of a young man who drowned here in the 1970s, according to local lore. His ghost is seen on the lakeshore. A female apparition also has been spotted standing on the dam and looking down into the water. She is thought to be one of the many folks who have committed suicide here.

The Reynolds Mansion

At this mansion in North Asheville, guests report noises in the middle of the night, doors unlocking, shadows on the wall, the smell of perfume in the rooms, and one guest actually saw an apparition in his bedroom. Anne Lee Reynolds is said to still walk the halls of Reynolds Mansion and still reside in her room on the third floor, now called Maggie’s room. Generations of Reynolds lived… and died in this house.

Battery Park Hotel

 Although it was a hotel from the early- to mid-1900s, this building now has been renovated into apartments. On July 17, 1936, a beautiful young woman named Helen Clevenger was found brutally murdered in room 224 of the Battery Park Hotel, another property built by Grove.

Clevenger had been beaten, her face mutilated and she had been shot. Police officers arrested Martin Moore, an employee of the hotel, for the murder and executed him using the gas chamber, Warren said.

The Battery Park Hotel has also been the site of numerous suicides, in which people have gone to the top of the 13-story building and jumped to their death, according to Warren.Helen Clevenger’s murder…Apparitions have been reported here; it is said that a woman was murdered on the hotel premises and liked to materialize for the hotel employees. Others jump to their deaths from the roof.

Basilica of St. Lawrence

The Basilica of St. Lawrence is said to be haunted by architect Rafael Guastavino, who was buried there in 1908, and his wife and daughter. A priest who died in the building is also thought to reside here in spirit. Witnesses report cold spots, apparitions, orbs and lights and doors that operate on their own.

Pritchard Park

Pritchard Park is known for its Friday night drum circles, but it is also believed that Confederate soldiers wander through the park… on their way to o r from the Battle of Asheville which took place in1865.

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church was built in 1841 but was burned in 1865, during the Civil War. The churce was rebuilt in its present Gothic style in 1884. Although author Thomas Wolfe’s funeral was held here, it is not his spirit who walks the halls. She is called Black Abbey, an apparition of a woman in a black dress.

Church Street

Church Street is said to have been built overtop old churchyard graves, causing a restless spirit or two to appear. One is a nun, and the other is a woman in old-fashioned garb who seems to be looking for something. Church Street’s asphalt may cover a number of unmarked graves, the tour guide reveals. Yet another reason may be the story McCollum tells: In the early 1900s, a pregnant nun was murdered by her lover, a minister. He secretly buried her between the two ancient trees that front what’s now Central United Methodist Church. McCollum says there’ve been numerous sightings of a ghostly female figure pacing between the trees.


In the area where Barley’s now stands, a massacre took place in 1906 when Will Harris shot and killed five people, including two policemen, and then killed himself. To add to the eerieness, the town gallows once stood nearby as well. Folks say the taproom is home to several spirits who make themselves known by apparitions, footsteps, disembodied voices and an elevator that works by itself.

A little girl in the 1800s. with a gag on her mouth. A facade for some very violent spirits that room in the area that don’t want anyone near.

Eagle Street Massacre

On November 13, 1906, a dude name William Harris walked into Barley’s Tavern and shot and killed three civilians and two police officers. He injured a number of other people, and then he shot himself. Still to this day, no one knows what went wrong that made William Harris do it.

Apparently, the old Asheville gallows used to be located in the vicinity of where Barley’s now sits, so paranormal events have been reported here, understandably for quite some time.

A restored 1920s appliance store. Site of Asheville’s Largest Mass Murder on November 13, 1906 Will Harris, a fugitive from Charlotte, killed five people, including two policemen, and injured more, before being gunned down himself. Harris died from more than 100 bullets from a posse of over 1000 men. Property close behind Barley’s was the site of gallows where many criminals met a public demise for years. Employees and customers, share paranormal experiences dating back to the early 1990s (it opened in 1994) At least one employee quit his job due to paranormal activity. He witnessed a backroom elevator “operating itself.”

Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Cemetery has more than 13,000 graves, including the graves of authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), and influential politician Zebulon Baird Vance. Witnesses have heard gunfire and seen a phantom Confederate army marching here, perhaps toward the site of the 1865 Battle of Asheville, fought a mile away on the current site of the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Botanical Gardens.

* descriptions and stories gathered from many different sources, but most of them are from this website.

Have fun… but be safe! You never know what’s lurking in the shadows in the ancient , sacred hills of Asheville. Happy Halloween!