A brief History of the House
The House at 580 Washington street is a Georgian Revival style home-made of brick, wood and plaster. The glass in its’ windows is as old as the house, you can see the wavy lines and bubbles in the ancient glass as you look out onto Washington Street. The house itself sits atop a small hill, perched roughly 20 feet from the cracks and crags of the sidewalk below. The postage stamp front yard, trimmed and kept neat, has a tiny little stone walk that leads to a side door. That door leads to the basement, which was at one time the kitchen for the home. There isn’t anything particularly “grand” about the place. Walking by, one would think its a nice, historic house. It was built in 1820 by for Ambrose Cross, by his father as a wedding gift. Ambrose lived in this house with his wife and 4 children until his death sometime in the 1860’s. It has been reported that his death, and subsequent viewing and funeral all took place within these walls. After Ambrose shuffled off this mortal coil, his family lived here. His wife, Abigail, passed away in her sleep sometime in the late 1860’s (most likely in the room that I claim as my bedroom…it is the largest of the bedrooms) and his children lived here for decades following that. The house finally changed ownership around 1910. (the name of the purchaser has been lost to history) Following that, the brick structure changed hands several times. The list of owners include a former mayor of Harpers Ferry, several police officers, and a master carpenter. Other than Ambrose and Abigail cross only one other death was reported in the house, and that was of the master carpenter who died of a heart attack in the back room after completing a large mahogany bookshelf. Following his passing the house stayed empty for about 6 years. The bookshelf that was his final act on this plane stands against the brick wall behind me as I write this. A lot of lives have passed through the ancient oak of the front door. A lot of hands have rung the Victorian era doorbell (that still rings when a visitor comes to call) that adorns the front door, and many, many footfalls have resounded on the old hardwood floors over the years. It hard to fathom the number of people who have shared memories, shared their lives, within these plaster and lathe walls in the 200 years this house has stood on its foundations. Some of those memories have been ingrained in the wood of the building, and sometimes those memories are played out for anyone to hear.
Report of Paranormal Activity
As has been my experience in 20 years of paranormal investigation, the activity started small. It was almost unnoticeable at first. A bump here or there. A footstep on the stairs, a phantom knock on the door in the middle of the night. Things that one can easily write off as imagination or the sounds of an old house you are unfamiliar with. But it increased steadily. There is a long-standing theory in the paranormal field that spirits are more “willing” to manifest themselves when a certain energy is constant. The energy could be anything, a constant electrical hum, or the presence of life. It is my opinion that the house was “quiet” (to use the paranormal vernacular) for years because the house was empty and devoid of any kind of energy at all. When I moved in, a source of energy was available and constant, therefore the spirits that inhabit this house were able to manifest and let their presence be known. And they were not shy about that at all.
The most noticeable activity takes place on the stairs that run from the basement floor to the attic in the center of the house. The risers show the wear of countless feet that have tread the stairs. None more so speak to the history of the house than the stairs in the basement. While the stairs in the main house have been replaced and repaired over the years, the basement stairs are original to the construction of the house. You can see where the tread is worn down and bowed from 2 centuries of wear and use. As stated, it started small with a footstep. Then two. Before long one could hear the slow and steady step of someone climbing and/or descending the stairs. It would happen at random times, and not repetitively, as is the case in most residual type hauntings. (A “residual haunting” doesn’t interact with the world around it, its like a scrap of video tape being played over and over) I would hear voices on the stairs in the night when the whole world around was quiet and sleeping. Sometimes the voice was pleading. Almost sad. Other times the voices were arguing. But there were always two voices I heard. One male and one female. Sitting in my living room, I would sometimes see the wisp of a shadow going up the stairs. Normally, I would play it off and simply shrug. “It was a trick of the light.” I would tell myself. Then came the day (it was a bright summer day, I can remember it clearly) I saw her out of the corner of my eye on the landing between the 2nd floor and the attic. It stopped me in my tracks and froze my blood. My mind wrestled with it for a second before I turned to look back only to find her gone. But that glimpse spoke volumes. I caught the hint of a long dress and a high collar. White hair framed the area where her face should have been. I didn’t see what she looked like, it was the briefest of a glimpse, but i knew that someone had been there staring at me. Friends who have visited have reported seeing “A shadow on the stairs” between the 2nd floor and the attic. A shadow where no shadow could have been. Most recently, my paramour woke one morning to tell me quite casually that she heard “someone walking around last night.” (she has been living with me for a little over a month now and to this point hasn’t experienced the activity on any noticeable scale) My immediate question was “Was it Negan?’ (My cat) She said no, in fact Negan was curled up on his chair in our bedroom at the time it happened. She told me that she heard someone walk up (or down, she couldn’t really tell as it was near 3am and she had woken from a dead sleep) the stairs and into the bedroom where we were. She didn’t hear “them” leave the room, but they walked around the room and it just stopped.
While the stairs seem to be the epicenter of the activity, it isn’t confined there.
Most paranormalists will tell you that animals are able to see and sense things we are not. My cat Negan is one of those critters that interacts with whoever is walking these halls. When he was a kitten I would see him chase and scamper about after something in the room that is our dining room. At the time it was simply a large empty room. He would meow and chatter at something. His little yellow eyes would watch with a rare intensity at something then he would hiss and scamper off. Our dog, Zoey, upon her arrival has done the same thing. When Lisa isn’t here and its just me and the animals, the dog would sit at the base of the stairs and whine (or sometimes growl) at the 2nd floor landing, not daring to go up and confront whatever it was.
Small things would move around the house as well. Keys, a lighter, and other small innocuous objects would move from where I left them and reappear somewhere else entirely. Scoff as you might, chalk it up to a lapse in memory if you need to, however I can attest my mind is sharp and I know where I leave things. Soon the mischievous spirit was no longer content with making me look for things. Before long, those small innocuous items would be flung from their resting place with considerable force. Enough to make me jump when they would land. Papers, stacked and ordered with care, would be tossed across the room from my desk. I would feel the temperature drop around me suddenly, and when it dawned on me that I was actually cold, the papers would simply be tossed from beside me on the desk. (cold breeze? No, not in this instance)
All these events pale in comparison to one day in early November of 2017. I had been in the house for a little over a month. I didn’t have many things to my name and I basically lived in the wood paneled back room of the house. I felt no need to move into the other parts of the house yet, as I had little to nothing to furnish them with. Negan was acting particularly strange that day. He was howling and hissing at something that stood in the doorway of the room we inhabited. It was an obvious warning to whatever it was not to enter. he continued this behavior for a full 10 minutes before he jumped higher than i thought he could and ran, full tilt, from the room, his little feet skidding and sliding on the hardwood floors as he searched for purchase to help him get out of there. I grabbed my phone and snapped a photo…
This is the first time i have publicly shared this photo, and even now I hesitate to do so. Even I doubt what was caught because it is so incredulous. It took me months before I would even show friends, for fear of their skepticism. But i can attest to the authenticity of the photo as I was the one who snapped it. No filters have been used, no enhancements, no photo programs were used. This is simply a snapshot from my camera after a particularly weird incident involving my cat. I present it here and will allow you to draw your own conclusions….