The Martha Washington Inn is a landmark in the historic town of Abingdon, Virginia. Constructed in 1832, this fine mansion is now a luxurious hotel complete with a spa and a gorgeous restaurant. The structure has earned the simple moniker, "The Martha."
The building has served as a stately home, an exclusive female college, a Civil War hospital and living quarters for actors working with the famous Barter Theater.
As such, a number of famous guests have enjoyed the accommodations. The remarkable guest list for the Martha Washington hotel includes Elizabeth Taylor, Eleanor Roosevelt, Earnest Borgnine, Ned Beatty and Patricia Neal. Other esteemed visitors have been Presidents Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, as well as Lady Bird Johnson.
The Twentieth Century was not kind to the structure, the college faded and eventually closed. The building passed from owner to owner and continued to decay. Fortunately, in 1984, a group of investors purchased the facility and invested millions of dollars in restoring the stately manor's original beauty. These efforts were realized and celebrated in 1995, when the Martha was given a place amid The Camberley Collection of stunning historic structures.
A history so extensive does not come without a fair share of stories and legends. Many visitors flock to the Martha to engage in ghost hunting. A number of spirits are said to reside on the grounds from different events during the hotel's life. Eager guests can book room 217 and listen for beautiful violin music played by a lovelorn spirit.
A mysterious bloodstain, a remnant of when the hotel was a Civil War hospital, has never been fully erased. Carpets over the stain develop holes and, no matter how many times the area is refinished, the stain returns.
A secret tunnel connects the hotel with the Barter Theater. It has been closed to the public for some time. The tunnel allowed actors to move conveniently from their lodging to the theater without even going outside. There were reports that, during the World War 2 era, many actors encountered a hostile force in the tunnel. Its origins were as mysterious as its intent.
Many visitors have reported the ghostly gallop of an unseen horse near the entrance. On several occasions, guests have claimed to see the phantom steed as it awaits its master's call.
The basement of the structure is believed to hold numerous spiritual inhabitants. It is believed many slaves were held underground and some were even buried in the walls.
The hallway is not without its own paranormal activity. A mud-covered soldier with a gruesome head wound is said to walk the halls. He hobbles on a crutch and leaves a fading muddy trail behind him.
Whether your interest is history, or the paranormal, the Martha Washington Inn is an excellent example of regal preservation.
For further reading: