It is no surprise that a town that displays so much of its history might still have some of the past lingering around. Ellicott City is claimed to be one of the country’s most haunted cities. It was named in Trip Advisor’s Top 10 Spooky American Getaways. This week we are going to explore some of Ellicott City’s most haunted spots.
The Hayden House
The old Hayden House, or Oak Lawn, is a small stone house that was built back in the early 1800’s by Edwin Parson Hayden, the first county clerk in Ellicott City. It is now part of the Howard County Courthouse offices.
Clerks and secretaries have reported lights turning on and off by themselves, a coffee pot that would heat up even when it was unplugged, the sounds of footsteps in unoccupied parts of the building, a rocking chair that moved by itself and of a staff member who came to work early one morning and saw a man through the glass panes of the front door.
The most commonly reported strange events were the smells of soup, bacon and eggs that would waft through the building during the day and into the night. Soon, the ghost was dubbed the “cooking ghost.”
Lilburn was built in 1857 by Henry Richard Hazelhurst, a prosperous business owner. As the years passed, a series of tragedies struck the family as Hazelhurst lost his wife and several children. One of them, a daughter, was said to have died in childbirth at Lilburn.
Reports of paranormal activity started in the 1920s when the Maginnis family heard footsteps and other unexplainable noises. That year a fire broke out and much of the mansion was ruined. It was completely restored except for one minor change: Maginnis replaced the gothic peaks in the tower with stone battlements. Apparently, this change did not sit well with the ghosts of Lilburn, because paranormal activity began to increase, leading many to wonder if Henry Hazelhurst himself might still be lingering behind.
Since then, several of the families who lived there have reported paranormal encounters, including phantom footsteps, a family dog refusing to go in a certain room on the second floor, a heavy chandelier in the dining room swinging back and forth, the sounds of a child crying, the smells of a cigar and the sight of the shadowy figures of a man and a girl in a chiffon dress walking down the hall. The windows in the tower have been known to open on their own, even after a resident tried to tie them shut with rope.
Patapsco Female Institute
The Patapsco Female Institute was one of the first female institutes in the south. Life at the institute could be tough, as the building was made of stone and got bitterly cold in the winter. Colds and sickness spread among the girls during the wet and cool months and a number of girls even died from influenza and croup.
One in particular was said to be Annie Van Derlot, the daughter of a rich southern planter. She resented being sent to the school, and she sent a number of letters home which protested her”incarceration” and spoke badly of the school. She died from pneumonia during her first winter at the school and her ghost is said to still linger there, roaming the ruins where her classrooms and dormitory used to be.
There have been several sightings of Annie’s ghost in the historic park. A few years ago, a girl who found herself separated from a group of visitors saw a young woman in a long gown walk out of the front doors, down the stone steps and across the lawn, where she abruptly vanished.
Historic Mt. Ida is currently the visitor center and office for the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park. In the 1850s Judge John Snowden Tyson purchased the mansion. His daughter, “Miss Ida” Tyson, was the last of the family to live here, and it is rumored that her ghost still watches over her home. In life, Miss Ida kept a ring of keys with her at all times, and witnesses say they hear her keys jingling as her ghost walks through the house.
The Judge’s Bench
The pub is haunted by the ghost of Mary, a young woman who hung herself on the third floor of the building that now houses the bar. She is credited with making sounds around the building, including flushing toilets and stomping around.
The Diamondback Tavern
Previously Tiber River Tavern, employees here have noticed things occasionally moved around in the bar area, and guests have heard unexplained voices.
The firehouse is said to be haunted by a few of the fireman who used to work there. There have been reports of doors slamming, phantom footsteps and even a possible ghost sighting.
As one of the most haunted small towns, Ellicott City has many locations to explore. If you’re feeling brave, some of these locations and many more can be seen on an Ellicott City Ghost Tour.