Historic Jordan Springs

Posted on August 15, 2017

#5 Historic Jordan Springs, Stephenson

Paranormal specialists confirm estate to be undoubtedly haunted.

The "third hotel" portion of present-day Jordan Springs.
The “third hotel” portion of present-day Jordan Springs.

Image Source: Historic Jordan Springs

There are many estates in Virginia rumored to be haunted, but only one can claim to be an “authenticated paranormal site“1: Historic Jordan Springs. This distinction is well earned. Various paranormal teams, such as Shenandoah Shadows and Twisted Paranormal Society, have gathered plenty of evidence that proves the complex is indeed haunted. Historic Jordan Springs has also been featured in several television shows, including The Discovery Channel’s When Ghosts Attack and SyFy’s Haunted Collector Series and Ghost Hunters.

So what makes the estate so appealing to paranormal researchers? What’s allowed it to be “the most EVP-active location”2 John Rossi of Shenandoah Shadows has had the pleasure of visiting?

First off, there is plenty to explore besides what lies within the three-story, 48,000 square foot building. The complex is surrounded by over 237 acres of secluded woods, through which several idyllic streams carve. For tourists and the just-engaged, this picturesque setting is the perfect place to enjoy a vacation or throw a wedding; for ghost hunters, it’s where forgotten burial grounds have yet to be discovered.

The estate's lawns are certainly well maintained.
The estate’s lawns are certainly well maintained.

Image Source: Mosthauntedvirginia.blogspot.com

Next, according to its Web site3, Historic Jordan Springs has a history that dates back to 1549. The older a site, the higher the odds it’s experienced some pain and misery.

The first to come across the area on which the estate falls were the Catawba Indians. They are known for being fierce warriors. Though the tribe initially inhabited just the Carolinas, they were drawn to the rumored healing powers of two of Stephenson’s springs, the White Sulphur Spring and the Calibeate Spring. At the base of a hill known as the Devil’s Backbone, the springs formed a natural mineral bath. The tribe found the grotto perfect for holding important meetings and performing rituals.

The Catawba tribe.
The Catawba tribe.

Image Source: WFAE.org

For almost two hundred years, the Catawba tribe would enjoy this peaceful sanctuary undisturbed. But by the 1700s, word of the springs’ magical abilities had reached the colonists. Rather than make pilgrimages to the quiet retreat, the Europeans decided to just set up permanent tenancies. One of the earliest cottages they built still exists today and is used as a spa.

As the years went on, more private colonial residences and farms were constructed at Jordan Springs. Thus, in 1832, Branch M. Jordan saw a huge business opportunity. Three of Jordan Springs’ earliest hotels were part of the resort chain operated by him. The first and third to be constructed are still in use today; the second one fell victim to an unexplainable fire around 1920. The story behind each contributes to the estate’s haunted legacy.

The first hotel, known as the White Sulphur Springs Resort Hotel, was constructed in 1832. Within this complex of hand-cut limestone, colonial vacationers could book a cottage and enjoy a relaxing soak at its bathhouse. In 1855, a second hotel was added by Branch Jordan’s nephew, Edwin Clarendon Jordan, who opted for wood instead of limestone. He also made this hotel lie closer to the capitol. It thus became a favorite destination for government officials… that is, until the Civil War. When conflict reached Stephenson, the hotel was forced to transform into a temporary hospital. Here, both Union and Confederate soldiers sought treatment and refuge. Of course, many would not leave alive. “Soldiers who died while at Jordan Springs were buried on the grounds until 1866, when their remains were re-interred at the Stonewall Cemetery in Winchester.”4

The White Sulphur Resort, the first of the three hotels to be constructed.
The White Sulphur Resort, the first of the three hotels to be constructed.

Image Source: Historic Jordan Springs

Before the third hotel (made of limestone and brick) was constructed in 1893, its sisters enjoyed a period of heightened popularity after the Civil War finally ended. Notable guests5 include Robert E. Lee, General Stonewall Jackson, and President Theodore Roosevelt. But by the 1900s, The Jordan Family Resort Hotels began to decline, with functions ultimately ceasing in 1916. It wasn’t until 1942 that the property functioned profitably again as a hotel. W.H.M. Stover managed to draw in some tourists by offering them more recreational activities, such as camping, baseball, and swimming.

John Rossi says: “Over the years, we have had contact with dozens of spirits ranging from Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, Civil War nurses, various adult male, female and children spirits, of different time periods.”6 So far, you’ve read about the pieces of Jordan Springs’ history that explain the continued presence of the first few categories – but what about the other “adult male, female” ghosts? Perhaps they are the monks and nuns of the Catholic Monastery and Seminary which operated at Historic Jordan Springs from 1953 to 1972. The “children spirits” are most likely the teens that were treated at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that opened there afterwards.

Today, Historic Jordan Springs is overseen by D.W. Aitken and Tonie M. Wallace Aitken, who purchased the property in 2001. They have been keen to preserve pieces from each period of the estate’s long history.

Celebrating the Springs

The Aitkens of course cherish Historic Jordan Springs’ mystical past. At the center’s museum, located on the lower level, various artifacts remind visitors of the springs’ magical healing powers.

A bottle of mineral water from White Sulphur Spring, displayed in the estate’s museum.
A bottle of mineral water from White Sulphur Spring, displayed in the estate’s museum.

Image Source: Historic Jordan Springs

Jordan’s Leftovers

The first and third hotel structures, a 48,000 square foot facility is used today as a technology conference and training centre […] as well as an all-inclusive event and culture center.”7 Indeed, just as the Catawba Indians found Jordan Springs to be an ideal meeting place, so do modern tourists.

Catholicism Continues

Tonie Wallace-Aitken, who’s especially protective of the estate, has kept a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the grotto.

Embracing Ghosts

The estate has been a pet project of John Rossi’s since 2008; he has made it his mission to convince others that the place is truly haunted. Besides conducting numerous investigations there himself, Rossi has also invited other paranormal teams to join him. The TAPS team from Ghost Hunters, for instance, visited the property for the show’s Season 9, Episode 21, titled Dead Presidents:

The gang is able to confirm some of John’s suspicions, but was even better able to debunk claims.  They experience growling, scratching and whispering noises, but realize the door opening and closing is actually from a draft.   The audio clips of voices and unusual noises are compelling, but Jason stuns them all with footage of a shadow figure in the hallway that cannot be disputed!”8

D.C. Metro Area Ghostwatchers (DCMAG), which used to be associated with TAPS, has also stopped by Historic Jordan Springs several times. Rossi himself was a former leader. The organization looks into haunts reported in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland, but Jordan Springs has always stood out among all of its cases. John Warfield, a military man who joined the team back in 2006, “considered Historic Jordan Springs and the Christmas Attic shop to be particularly haunted places.”9  During a visit with Rossi, for instance, Warfield “heard a conversation between two people on the second floor”10, though no one else was in the building.

In 2008, DCMAG kicked off their nine month analysis of Historic Jordan Springs with an extensive two day investigation. Like other ghost hunters, they were eager to explain the estate’s unexplainable occurrences: books and Christmas ornaments moving on their own, apparitions frightening guests, strange noises disturbing sleepers, and so on. Among their “impressive findings”11 were tons of EVP recordings and being touched by spirits themselves. And so in 2009, when the team was asked by a film studio to help train cast and crew for the psychological thriller Ghosts Don’t Exist, they knew just where to have “a full day (and night) of Ghosthunting 101”12: Historic Jordan Springs.

Even those less trained in the art of ghost hunting have added to the growing wealth of evidence that the ghosts of Historic Jordan Springs are indeed real. On August 28, 2013, one visitor, Angel Haines, was able to capture some impressive shots of a Civil War soldier13.

One of Angel Haines' impressive shots of the Civil War ghost.
One of Angel Haines’ impressive shots of the Civil War ghost.

Image Source: Haunted Jordan Springs

Ghostly voices have been heard as well. On one Friday night, Shenandoah Shadowsfound the card room in particular to be paranormally busy. “We had an ovilus device set up to spit out words created by electro-magnetic frequencies. Among the words were ‘officer,’ ‘outside,’ ‘holiday,’ ‘Emma’ and what we thought sounded like ‘John Brown.’”14

But it was the attic that was the most active when Twisted Paranormal Society took a second trip to Historic Jordan Springs on November 10, 2012. They were chased away from the room by the ghost of an old man, as well as the disturbing sounds of angry “growls, heavy breathing”15. The attic area is also known to be haunted by a little girl – her playful spirit has always been more than eager for a game of hide-and-go-seek. Inthis EVP recording16, you can hear her reply to a ghost hunter’s invite.

Another comprehensive investigation of Historic Jordan Springs was done by Adventure Myths, a filmmaking studio with a particular interest in shooting at haunted locations. They share their two year, ghost hunting efforts at the estate in an impressive thirty minute documentary, appropriately titled The Haunts of Historic Jordan Springs.

Finally, in August 2013, the Discovery Channel’s When Ghosts Attack was invited to Historic Jordan Springs17 by the Aitkens, who were finally fed up with the estate’s spirits disrupting all of its tranquility. After interviewing the owners, the crew got busy with their ghost busting – they experienced, just as the Aitkens had, plenty of unexplainable occurrences.

A ghost peeps in from the window during one of Shenandoah Shadows' investigations.
A ghost peeps in from the window during one of Shenandoah Shadows’ investigations.

Image Source: Haunted Jordan Springs

Works Cited

  1. “Authenticated Paranormal Site.” About Us. Haunted Jordan Springs, n.d. Web. 3 September 2015.
  2. “2008, Authenticated Paranormal Site.” History. Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  3. “History.” Estate. Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015.
  4. “During the Civil War.” Estate – History. Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  5. “Post Civil War.” Estate – History. Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015.
  6. “2008, Authenticated Paranormal Site.” History. Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  7. “About Historic Jordan Springs.” Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre. Historic Jordan Springs, 2013. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 3.
  8. “Historic Jordan Springs Event & Cultural Centre.” Brochure.
  9. Garbitelli, Elizabeth. “The Real Ghostbusters of DC.” NBC Washington. NBCUniversal Media, LLC. 19 October 2011. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 12.
  10. Cummings, Angela. “Looking for a ghostly encounter?” The Journal. Journal News. 12 March 2009. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 9.
  11. “Historic Jordan Springs.” Hauntings in the D.C. and Northern Virginia area. DC Metro Area Ghost Watchers, n.d. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  12. “Ghost Hunt at Historic Jordan Springs!” The Blog. Ghosts Don’t Exist. 28 April 2009. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  13. “Picture of a Civil War Soldier Apparition.” Sightings. Haunted Jordan Springs. 28 August 2013. Web. 3 September 2015.
  14. “Friday night at Jordan Springs.” Haunts. Haunted Jordan Springs, n.d. Web. 3 September 2015.
  15. “Jordan Springs Resort.” Case Files. Twisted Paranormal Society, 2015. Web. 3 September 2015. Para. 2.
  16. “Little Girl EVP.” Uploaded by Sharon Grossman. Youtube. 26 May 2010. Web. 3 September 2015.
  17. “When Ghosts Attack.” Featured. Haunted Jordan Springs, n.d. Web. 3 September 2015.