Charlotte's Most Haunted Places

Elizabeth, Founders Hall and Spirit Square, Antique Kingdom on Central Avenue

| October 25, 2006
The haunted mirror inside Antique Kingdom
The haunted mirror inside Antique Kingdom
- Jared Neumark

Charlotte is more haunted than people think, says Stephanie Burt Williams, a fourth-generation Charlottean and author of Ghost Stories of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. "People are shocked to learn there are ghosts in Charlotte."

Williams took a more journalistic approach to the telling of ghost stories, including histories of haunted properties. She gathered the 19 stories from a variety of sources. The North Carolina Reading Room at Charlotte's library kept a file of ghost story clippings that had appeared in The Charlotte Observer over the years. She also made cold calls to businesses and restaurants, which is where she found out, for example, about the ghost who haunts Alexander Michaels.

"Once you find someone who believes in ghosts, they can usually tell you about the next one," says Williams. She did run into several "old Charlotte institutions" that wouldn't allow her to print any stories about their buildings being haunted. "Some businesses are very open about it. There are some bed and breakfasts that say, 'yeah we're haunted. Please come stay with us and maybe the ghost will tickle you in the night.' Other people take the opposite stance."

The creepiest haunting story that Williams encountered in her research was at an old plantation in Huntersville haunted by a child who died years ago of pneumonia. Whenever the homeowners take a shower, a child's handprint appears in the steam on the glass. Children's toys in the house are frequently found moved to other rooms.

Williams, who has just published another book on sinister Charlotte tales called Wicked Charlotte: The Sordid Side of the Queen City (she'll be appearing at Park Road Books this Saturday at 1 p.m.), says, "Ghost stories are a way to feel at home. I think that's why people like them because they're the back stories."

Here are a few of Charlotte's spookiest places:


Elizabeth is, by far, the most haunted neighborhood in Charlotte; even the main green space -- Independence Park -- is teeming with activity. An old female ghost haunts the Cajun Queen on Seventh Avenue, one of the area's oldest houses converted into a restaurant. Talking to some of the wait staff, I heard conflicting reports on the reason why she haunts it. A bar was built in the old owner's bedroom, and one waitress says she's hosted the old woman's relatives, who say the old maid, a proper Southern woman, is ticked off that such debauchery is occurring in her bedroom. Other Cajun Queen employees say the opposite, that the woman was a lush and haunts the bar because she wants to get crunk.

Another restaurant in Elizabeth hired an exorcist to rid its establishment of poltergeist. But just before telling CL the specific tales from beyond the grave, the proprietor had a sudden change of heart, fearing the publicity would drive away business.

Sandy Pawlowski, a former resident of an apartment complex called The Mayflower on Oakland Avenue, frequently saw a shadow ghost hanging out in the stairwell of the building. The apartment, built between 1915 and 1920, was ordered from a Sears catalogue, says Pawlowski. Like the description of the shadow ghost given in the main story, the dark spirit was wearing a top hat. When Pawloski saw it, she would walk past it and pretend it wasn't there. "I don't like to look at ghosts," she says of her aversion technique. On another occasion, Sandy saw a little girl ghost with a bluish hue walk through the wall.

Pawlowski wasn't the only one to see the shadow ghost; her neighbor at the Mayflower asked Sandy one day if she had ever seen a ghost with a funny little hat on.

Founders Hall and Spirit Square

Founders Hall, formerly a medical school, is said to be haunted by a girl whose corpse was sold there. Employees at McGlohan Theatre have reported hearing singing in the building that used to be a church.

Antique Kingdom on Central Avenue

At various times in the house's history, it has served as a dormitory for high-class single women visiting the city, a moonshine distillery and a wedding parlor. The Antique Kingdom, built in 1903, was the only place that Williams researched that she experienced paranormal activity firsthand. Williams was perusing the antiques on the second floor when she suddenly felt "closed-in" and short of breath. Then she felt something touch the back of her neck.

Owner Steve Highsmith says he doesn't go to the second or third floor unless he has to. All the mirrors on the third floor are what make the room creepy. Highsmith says he often sees "shadows or movement in the mirrors." Once, Highsmith says, a plumber threatened to quit if he was ever made to go up on the third floor again.


Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

This is a well written article that I really enjoyed. Gabreael

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Posted by Gabreael on 10/28/2006 at 3:38 PM

Buildings cannot be exorcised -- only people can. Buildings, rather, are "cleansed."

report 5 likes, 4 dislikes   
Posted by Bill on 10/31/2006 at 10:41 AM

I was excited to see Stephanie's book about Charlotte ghosts when I first moved here and even went on my own excursions to find the places she has written about in her book. The stories seem to be well researched and are enjoyable to read!

report 5 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by Jeff on 07/23/2007 at 9:46 AM

DDDDDAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNGGGG!!! I Live in Elizabeth...Im packin my bags n movin n gitn 'r' done right now....

report 10 likes, 3 dislikes   
Posted by Billy on 10/07/2007 at 2:53 PM

Queen City Ghost Tours

Prepare for a scare as we work real hard to scare the living daylights out of you and your guests. Hear stories of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins who have decided to hang around to finish unfinished business. Reserve your seat(s) now and get an early bird discount!

report 6 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by 89821 on 09/12/2010 at 12:42 PM

i need help to find the most haunted places in NC charlotte.
i mean like demons and stuff haunting the place

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Posted by Jade Byse on 03/15/2012 at 3:36 PM

I lived in Elizabeth on Clement Ave. The old building was DEFINITELY HAUNTED! Too many times I heard the rocks in the driveway grind as if a wheels were coming down it to the parking area of the back,only to look out the back door and seeing nothing , The restaurant mentioned here is Kennedys now. The owner ,at the time ,told me she was having an exorcism performed in the place,,Walking across the street to a relatively new two story commercial building,telling my friend about the upcoming event told me everyone that had ever worked there in her place saw "children playing in the break area"..The house had belonged to a old spinster type,male voice instructor we called "Mr. Brown" growing up next door at my grandmothers home..Mr. Brown had no children,none we know of anyway??Maybe something happened to children in that place we never knew about! YES ELIZABETH IS DEFINITELY AS HAUNTED AS IT IS CHARMING!

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Posted by Larry Lazarides on 09/24/2012 at 12:49 PM

This building is no longer Antique Kingdom, its an office now. You really need to update your page.

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Posted by Renee on 04/11/2013 at 3:21 PM

Antique Kingdom is not an office, they tore it down. My father is Steve Highsmith, that was a sad day for our family and for Charlotte history.

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Posted by IHighsmith on 05/20/2013 at 1:24 AM
Showing 1-9 of 9

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