From Ghost Stories to the Macabre

Warrantor's Old Jail

Warrenton’s spooky past will not disappoint this Halloween season

The Post Office soldier

Built in the early 20th century, the post office sits at the intersection of Warrenton’s original cross roads which dated to the later 18th century. Originally, the post office building was used as an Army recruiting office and has been reported to have its own ghostly tales.

In the early 2000s, in the business across the street that is today Shelf Life, an employee was working late one evening and happened to look out across the street. He saw a young man standing on the steps of the post office, looking anxious as he paced back and forth. After a few minutes, he ran up the stairs of the post office and into the building.

Main Street during a monumental snow in 1898. CF Galloway’s Livery Stable was demolished in 1899 and our current US Post Office moved to this location in 1919.

The observer noticed the man’s clothing was out of date and appeared to be an old-fashioned uniform; he wore a green, wool jacket with matching pants. The employee’s curiosity got the better of him. He left the shop and crossed the street to the post office to see if the young man needed help. Upon entering the vacant building, which had been closed for several hours, he was surprised to find he was alone. The young soldier was nowhere to be found.

Maggie Lovitt, Curator at the Old Jail Museum, has seen the young man as well. “Shopping for a birthday gift in Shelf Life, I happened to see a young man dressed in uniform on the steps of the Post Office during the day. I assumed he was a reenactor waiting for someone, and didn’t give him much thought.”

Today, the tales suggest the man continues to wait for his orders outside the recruiting office.  If you like a man in uniform, open a box at the Warrenton post office.

Skeletons in the closet

The Odd Fellows building was sold by the town of Warrenton in 1847 to Charity Lodge 27 of the Odd Fellows. The lot was known as the “Market House” lot and included the first floor of the brick building. The Odd Fellows and Masons shared the second floor space. In 1854, Miss Harriet Swift used the first floor of the Odd Fellows’ Hall as a girls’ school.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal order that was founded in 1819, similar to the Freemasons. The Warrenton Odd Fellows Lodge, dating to 1877, is situated on the corner of 5th Street and Main Street.

In 2001, a contractor was in the building to repair overloaded electrical circuits. As he searched for the circuit box, he happened upon a door between two walls. He entered the small space, thinking the circuits may be inside, and found a cloth on the ground. Upon lifting the cloth, he was shocked to find skeletal remains.

Following an investigation, it was determined that the remains belonged to a woman who was about 5 feet 1 inch tall and dated back to the late 19th century. Her jaw, an arm, and a leg bone were missing. During the time of her death, it was not uncommon for organizations to purchase cadavers from catalogs through the mail. Perhaps her remains were purchased by the order for rituals that were supposedly practiced at that time. The truth was never released to the public; the police were sworn to never share why the remains were there.

After the investigation, her remains were returned to their resting place, between the walls, where they still  lie today.

Dr. Horner’s deadly habits

A well-respected Warrenton man, after whom a street was named, Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown Horner cared for residents in Warrenton and the surrounding countryside in the late 18th century. However, in 1795, Dr. Horner’s patients would enter his office, but not leave. Suspicions rose until the mysterious death of Horner’s own son. An investigation ensued, accusations were pronounced, and even his own assistant confirmed that the doctor poisoned his patients. But suddenly, the charges were dropped and no arrests made. The unfortunate patients of Dr. Horner are reportedly still walking today on the street that bears his name.

Creepy footsteps

The Fauquier Female Institute was opened in 1857 as a boarding school for girls and operated until 1925. One of the building’s most famous boarders was General Douglas MacArthur who visited his aunt at the boarding school in the late 1880s. In the 1980s the property was converted into an assisted living facility and today it serves as an apartment building. Current renters have recounted hearing footsteps in empty apartments and doors will open and close on their own. Perhaps these strange occurrences are the actions of boarders who never left the institute.

Previously the Fauquier Female Institute, this architectural stand-out is still in existence today. Originally, this building served as a local all-girls boarding school. During less successful years, the institution allowed student boarders from outside the area to enroll. Several stories throughout the decades reveal noises and strange occurrences from footsteps to doors shutting on their own accord.

Playing dolls

General store Latham & Green opened around 1882 and the building has been used as both a residence and a store over it’s roughly 180 years of life. The building is located at 20 Main Street (at the corner of Culpeper and Main Street) and is the current home of Allegro Community School of the Arts.

Latham & Green General Merchandise was originally housed in the building at the corner of Main Street and Culpeper Street (where Allegro Community School of the Arts is today). This structure survived the 1909 fire, and families used to live upstairs above the store. Various mentions throughout history reveal some creepy, out-of-ordinary experiences in this dwelling. There are mentions specifically of a presence of a young girl that “plays” with the dolls in the building, as well as footsteps and banging noises.

Are these stories fiction or truth? Interested in more hauntingly good stories? Discover Warrenton’s spooky past by joining a ghost tour from the Old Jail that will have you strolling the streets and pulling back the veil on the macabre and bone chilling tales…if you dare.


8th Annual Warrenton Ghost Walk

Hosted by the Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail, this tour offers costumed guides that take you on a journey through Old Town Warrenton and regale you with ghostly tales.

Tours are October 20, 21, 27, and 28 and are offered beginning at 7 p.m. at the Old Jail. The last tour begins at 9 pm. Family-friendly tours are available at 6 p.m. on the 21 and 28. Admission is $13 for individuals 12 years and older. Children under 12 years old are $5. Tickets sell out fast and must be purchased in advance online (www.fauquierhistory.org).

On Friday, October 13, the Fauquier History Museum will also conduct a paranormal tour of the museum. The tour is from 7 to 9 p.m. and will focus on the ghosts of the Old Jail. The museum’s resident medium will be on site to talk with guests about paranormal activities and experiences. Admission is $20 per person and spaces fill up fast, so book in advance.

Aimée O'Grady
About Aimée O'Grady 31 Articles

Aimée O’Grady is a freelance writer who enjoys transforming stories told by Fauquier residents into articles for Lifestyle readers. She learns more and more about our rich county with every interview she conducts. She and her husband are happy with their decision to raise their four children in Warrenton.

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