La Riviere

Posted on August 15, 2017

La Riviere

Haunted mansion, also known as Ingles’s Castle, haunted by “The Lady in the Mirror.”

La Riviere, located in Radford, Virginia is known by locals as Ingles’s Castle. It was constructed in 1892 by the great-grandson of Mary Draper Ingles. Mary Draper Ingles was briefly mentioned in our post on St. Albans Sanatorium. The asylum first operated as a Lutheran Boys School, before being transformed into a hospital for the mentally ill. The field of psychiatry was still in development at the time, so many of the procedures conducted at St. Albans Sanatorium really tortured patients rather than treated them. Some died after being put into insulin-induced comas, while others perished due to lobotomies gone wrong. In what is now known as the “Suicide Bathroom,” patients endured intense hydrotherapy sessions, during which they were mummified in icy cold towels and confined for days in tubs of water.

It is no wonder, then, that St. Albans Sanatorium is rumored to be haunted by numerous ghosts. Paranormal investigations which have been held in the asylum’s basement, for instance, have turned up both video and audio evidence of supernatural activity. In the basement’s “Bowling Alley,” people have seen the spirits of “Allie” (said to be a patient’s daughter) and Gina Renee Hall (a woman who was murdered in 1980, near the hospital.)

Before the asylum was built, the region was the home to several Native American tribes, including the Powhatan, the Shawnee and the Cherokee. In the year of 1748, a family of Irish immigrants, led by George and Eleanor Hardin Draper, moved into area and established a small outpost for pioneers along the banks of Stroubles Creek. A mix of migrants would soon call Draper’s Meadow their home.

Mary Draper married William Ingles in the summer of 1750. William Ingles was also of Irish descent. The couple had two sons, Thomas and George, in 1755. That same year, a group of Shawnee Indians raided Draper’s Meadow, and Mary Drapers Ingles was among those taken captive and held for ransom by the Indians. She and her two sons were taken to the Shawnee village of Sonnontio in Ohio. Although Mary was able to eventually escape, her forty three-day journey back home was very dangerous and filled with sorrow. She had to abandon her baby, for example, and was attacked by her fellow escapee (a crazed German woman), who attempted to eat her.

After the terrible Shawnee raid, Draper’s Meadow was abandoned. Mary was fortunately reunited with her husband, and her long, grueling journey from captivity back to Virginia has inspired several books, plays and television shows.  

 “La Riviere was built by William “Captain Billy” Ingles for his wife Minnie M. Snow, but burned down the day they were scheduled to move in.”1 It was promptly restored one year later. Minnie M. Snow was the niece of Asiel Sow, who was the founder of the small mill village known as Snowville. William, born on February 16, 1846, was a railroad engineer and local businessman. He also served as a Confederate officer during the Civil War. He reported to General William E. Jones and later Bradley T. Johnson. A shroud military leader, “Captain Billy” led several successful raids and skirmishes against the acclaimed Union general Philip Henry Sheridan. General Sheridan, also known as “Fightin’ Phil,” hailed from Albany and began his military career as a student at West Point. During the Civil War, he was first assigned to join the 13th U.S. Infantry but rose quickly in the ranks. He is probably best remembered for forcing General Robert E. Lee to surrender at Appomattox. The Battle of Appomattox Court House was one of the last engagements during the War Between the States. The Union army’s decisive victory at Appotmattox signaled that the war would finally end soon.  

The beautiful, two-storied castle of La Riviere can be found on 5 Ingles Street, right next to the New River. It operates today as an event space, playing host to galas and fundraisers. It is a fantastic example of the Queen Anne architectural style. La Riviere stands on a level terrace and is surrounded by hay fields and wood lots. Its limestone foundation is topped by beveled brownstone, and its exterior woodwork is painted a dark forest green. One of its most remarkable exterior features is a white, hip-roofed porch that leads off into an open-air vestibule.  

The beautiful La Riviere castle. Image Source: Whim Magazine. Photo taken by Austin Tuley.

Inside, La Riviere has ten rooms – all with wooden floors, some decorated with period carpeting. Let’s start with what lies on the first floor. The front hall has a magnificent Dutch door, dark oak panels, a fireplace and stained glass windows. The library, located on the southern end of the hall, has a mantel graced by a lovely silver-backed mirror. As for the parlor, it too has a fireplace and an over-mantel mirror. It retains its original burlap wallcovering. Then, there is the large dining room – ideal for hosting dinners, as its tables are arranged in buffet style. A two-way swinging door leads off into the pantry and kitchen, which has since been equipped with modern countertops and utilities.

On the second floor of the mansion, there are several impressive bedrooms and what was once William Ingles’s old office. A small flight of stairs leads up to the attic, which itself has two levels. One of the attic’s rooms is believed to have been where the servants lived, before the 1920s.

Outside La Riviere, there is a cook’s house, an ice house and the remnants of an ancient chimney. The raised drive which approaches the castle is hugged on both sides by a low stone wall. Meanwhile, the walkway which leads to La Riviere’s main entrance is flanked by limestone gate pillars.

Back in the days of the Ingles family, La Riviere “boasted silver doorknobs and cherry woodwork.”2 Thanks to his background in construction and design, William Ingles made sure that his castle was well furnished and fortified. He also became quite involved with other architectural projects around Radford, as the city was experiencing substantial growth at the time. He helped build the Presbyterian Church of Radford, for example, and sold off much of his property to the Radford Land and Improvement Company. In the year of 1890, he also helped found the Radford and Little River Railroad Company and the Radford School of Mines.

William and Minnie had no children, so invited two relatives to live with them. Anne McClanahan Bass (fondly referred to as “Aunt Nannie”) was a loving eighty-four year old woman, and Fannie Booker was a fifty-year old dressmaker. For a brief period of time, a young doctor named William Fuqua and his wife Virginia also stayed with the Ingles couple at the castle as houseguests. Otherwise, La Riviere was occupied by house servants and their children. A cook named Annie Meadow Casey was hired in the early 1900s, and she lived in the cook’s house.

When William “Capitan Billy” Ingles passed away in 1920, La Riviere was given to his wife. Upon Minne’s passing in 1926, the property was then handed down to their nephew – William Ingles Jr. Junior was the son of William “Captain Billy” Ingles’s twin brother, and also an active member of the Radford business community.

Indeed, the lavish La Riviere castle was built to accommodate many people. But behind all of its grandeur and rich history lies plenty of supernatural activity. Several visitors of La Riviere have reported of unexplainable occurrences. The castle is especially famous for being haunted by a woman referred to as “The Lady in the Mirror.” Some believe that “The Lady in the Mirror” is the ghost of Anne McClanahan Bass. According to local lore, old “Aunt Nannie” passed by the library’s mirror one day when a bolt of lightning struck outside. “Her image seared into the mirror and can still be seen today.”3

Although Anne McClanahan Bass died in Christiansburg, some say that her spirit still continues to visit La Riviere. Her presence has been felt by multiple guests. So make sure you stop by the castle and take a picture of yourself with “Aunt Nannie” in the mirror!

 

Works Cited

1. Stock, Anna. “8 Fantastically Creepy Ghost Stories in Virginia That Will Keep You Up At Night.” Only in Your State. 24 April 2015. Web. 18 September 2016. Para 4.

2. United States Department of the Interior – National Park Service. “National Register of Historic Places: La Riviere (William Ingles House.)” 16 August 1994. Web. 19 September 2016. Page 11.

3. Stock, Anna. “8 Fantastically Creepy Ghost Stories in Virginia That Will Keep You Up At Night.” Only in Your State. 24 April 2015. Web. 18 September 2016. Para 4.