By Nancy Richmond
By day, the Greenbrier Valley is a peaceful and pleasant place to visit, nestled deep within the heart of the massive Appalachian mountain range. Lewisburg, the County Seat, was voted the Coolest Small Town in America for 2011. The town boasts numerous tourist attractions, including an original Carnegie Hall, the Greenbrier Valley Theater, Lost World Caverns and the North House Museum. But as the sun sinks slowly behind the looming mountain tops, and long shadows are cast over the centuries old habitations, many people in the area believe that the other residents of the Valley begin to make their appearance. Lewisburg has rightfully earned the reputation of being one of the most haunted places on the East Coast, and many of its ghost sightings have been well documented. Scores of people have reported ghostly encounters in and around the town over the years. But only Carnegie Hall, which is located on Church Street, has ever been investigated for ghosts by an international paranormal group. Historical records show that the creation of Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg was funded by the American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie in 1902. It was one of only four Carnegie Hall’s ever built in the world. In 1983, the structure came into the hands of a nonprofit organization, Carnegie Hall, Inc., and has been used as an arts and education center since that time. In addition to its popularity as a cultural hub, Carnegie Hall is also well known for its more ethereal inhabitants. The 200 year old building has always been rumored to be haunted.
One chilling tale was reported by Melinda Ford, who was the finance officer for Carnegie Hall from 2000 until 2007. Melinda was convinced that the building was inhabited by ghosts. One of her duties at the time was to lock up each evening. She reported that one night as she made her tour of the rooms on the third floor; turning off lights, shutting doors and making sure everyone had left, she began to feel uneasy. As she headed back down the stairwell, she heard footsteps behind her. Turning around, she saw a young woman with long dark hair. The girl was wearing a floor length white dress that seemed to be from an earlier time period. Startled, Melinda looked away for a moment. When she turned back, the woman was gone.
As a result of this and other strange reports, an international paranormal investigation group was invited to Carnegie Hall in October of 2007 to research the unsettling occurrences that were taking place there. The ‘Adventure-Myths’ team consisted of five members: Jonathan Ness, Mike Gray, Victoria Rickett, Dusty Cassidy, and group President Frank Polievka. The Maryland-based operation has conducted paranormal investigations around the world and has produced six documentary films on their findings.
In reference to their investigation of Carnegie Hall, Jonathan Ness stated, “In October of 2007, Adventure-Myths had the honor of being the first team to conduct a paranormal investigation at the Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg. There are many ghost stories surrounding this site, spanning many years. The Adventure-Myths team was told of accounts of employees hearing footsteps when no one else was in the building, doors opening or closing by themselves, the feeling of being watched, and sightings of a ghostly lady in a white dress.” These reports piqued the paranormal group’s interest. Ness later told reporters, “Once the team arrived at Carnegie Hall, they had a tour of the building and conducted interviews with current and former staff members. They were advised that many of the staff believed some of the paranormal activity in the building was from the spirit of Charles Goddard. Reports had been made of seeing a man in the building that, when described, matched the description of Mr. Goddard, who had died in the early 1990’s.”
After finishing the interviews, the team began their investigation by taking baseline temperature and Electro Magnetic Field (EMF) measurements. Next, they conducted Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) sessions throughout the building. Several readings pointed to paranormal activity and the atmosphere in the building seemed to darken. During the course of the investigation, the team chose the most active area, the Old Stone Room, in which to try and make contact with any of the resident spirits. They addressed the ghosts, saying “To any spirits that may be in this room, can you give us a sign? Is the Lady in White here now?” A loud tapping was immediately heard and recorded by the audio equipment. The investigators then asked, “Are you trying to communicate – are you happy having people inside this building?” Once again, the tapping was heard. No natural explanation was ever found for the tapping noises or the reactions of the EMF and EVP sessions that were recorded that night by the Adventure-Myths team, and the reports of strange events continue to this day.