Haunted Wilmington: Get into the Halloween Spirit with Haunted History

Haunted Wilmington: Get into the Halloween Spirit with Haunted History

Incorporated in 1740 as North Carolina’s chief seaport, Wilmington has plenty of history to tell. Over the years, some of that history has turned into ghost stories. But what should you know about these maritime ghost stories in haunted Wilmington?

“Most port cities are believed to be [haunted] hotspots,” said Nelson Nauss, executive director and co-founder of The Ghost Guild Inc., a registered non-profit based in the Triangle area. “It is believed that some are due to military and others as a result [of] the higher number of murders and general mayhem. Let us not forget that Wilmington is known for the Wilmington massacre of 1898.”

Nauss said the Ghost Guild looks for places of historical significance to conduct science-based investigations — their search has included several locations in Wilmington. And so we can give you a few of our favorite haunted histories in Wilmington:

USS North Carolina

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The USS North Carolina (BB-55) served as the first newly-built American battleship to enter service during World War II. In the war, it took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater of Operations, said Nauss. And now, it holds several ghost stories to shiver your timbers.

“The USS North Carolina rarely disappoints,” he said. “We’ve heard disembodied voices, and have had several interactions with something able to manifest physical force by hitting pans and pushing benches in the mess hall, and hitting bedsprings in the sick bay.” Consequently, his team sees the place as ripe with unexplained hauntings.

Burgwin-Wright House

Image courtesy of Burgwinwrighthouse.

Built in 1771, the Burgwin-Wright House remains the only colonial-era structure in Wilmington which the public can visit, said Nauss. And its age lends itself to a specter or two, like any old house left over from a former era.

“The house has long inspired ghost stories,” he said. “The most famous involves a spinning wheel, seen with a woman or spinning on its own.”

Poplar Grove Plantation 

Image courtesy of BSLRed – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Poplar Grove Plantation is a peanut plantation located near Wilmington in Pender County. Similar to other remnants of North Carolina’s history of slavery, the location holds horrors both social and (maybe) paranormal.

“The plantation is believed to have a host of spirits in both the main house and the tenant farmhouses,” said Nauss. “One of the most active is of young David Foy, the first-born son. He echoes as a tangible energy in the house.”

Bellamy Mansion

Image courtesy of Bellamy Mansion – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Plantation owner, physician and businessman John D. Bellamy built this mantion between 1859 and 1861 as a private residence for his family, said Nauss. Also, he added that, perhaps, the former family never seemed to leave their historical home.

“The Bellamy Mansion is believed to be haunted by members of the Bellamy family and their servants,” he said. “Apparitions of an elderly couple have been reported in a window in the upper floors and young children have also been reported around the outside of the house.”

Fort Fisher

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As a Confederate fort during the Civil War, Fort Fisher sat on one of Cape Fear River’s two outlets to the Atlantic Ocean. Today we call its location Pleasure Island, said Nauss. But that bloodied history hasn’t forgotten this discreet little spot. Apparently, our bloodiest war hasn’t abandoned this post.

“There are numerous stories of people seeing a sentinel in the woods standing guard in a pine grove north of the fort itself,” he said. “Some say you can still hear the sounds of battle over the ocean at night.” 

If you want more haunted history from the area, Nauss recommends the Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington for more legends. And if you want a spooky story from Asheville, read about Helen’s Bridge as well!