“Even the dead tell stories.” — Marcus Sedgwick, Revolver
It was a great night for a ghost tour in downtown Statesville. A dark and sometimes stormy sky with no rain falling, a light breeze and chill in the air, and an exuberant group of people gathered.
The Haunted Statesville Ghost Tours are presented by the Greater Statesville Downtown Development Corporation, in partnership with the Historic Sharpe House Players. Tours have quickly sold out for October.
These tours are not a tour of fictional ghost stories. Instead they use the true history of Statesville and Iredell County, highlighting the stories found in history past. Some are mysteries, some show how culture has changed over times, and some suggest spirits just may walk around us.
The guides are knowledgeable of the city's history, and each bring their own personality and style to the tours. Our group was led by two guides who passed the baton back and forth with their unique thoughts and perspectives.
Our tour lasted almost two hours. Time will vary based on various factors, such as group participation and the guide's slant on things. It started at City Hall, walked out the back door and up to East Broad St., through downtown to Fourth Creek Cemetery, past the Lowenstein House to the Plaza Apartments, to the Vance Hotel and back to City Hall. The walk was not a difficult one, though terrain such as the unlighted cemetery may be more difficult for some people to maneuver (the guides have great flashlights, but you can also take your own.)
All along the route various stories are told. They began with the historical splitting of Iredell County from Rowan County, to the story of Tom Dula, to Sammy the Fire House Dog, to the grave of the unknown soldier, the Bostian Bridge train wreck, to the story of the last hanging in Iredell County, to the ghostly little girl of the Vance Hotel. That's just a brief sampling. There are so many others in between, not to mention all the interesting details. I won't spoil them for you.
The amount of research that has gone into preparing for the tours is remarkable. Each tour is a bit unique because of the wealth of material the guides draw from.
The tours are an entertaining way to learn local history, enjoy family, friends, and strangers, and perhaps get a bit spooked from time to time. You also get a good walk around downtown Statesville. That's always a fun thing to do.
If you didn't get a chance to take a tour yet, don't worry - you'll get another chance. Marin Tomlin, Exécutive Director of the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation, said while they are taking a break for the holidays, they plan to resume the tours on a monthly basis in 2022. Keep an eye on the Statesville Downtown Development Corporation's Events Page to find out when they start back up again.
The cost of the tours is $15 per person (plus tax). Tours are limited to 20 people.
"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…" - Fredric Brown, "Knock"
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