Sunday, October 26, 2008

Civil War Museum at the Exchange Hotel of Gordonsville


It has been ten days since I last posted anything. You probably thought that I was dead since I have been really good about posting daily as of late. I am still alive but I have been in New York on business and the Holiday Inn that I stayed in did not have Wi-Fi! I think it was supposed to have it but the darn thing was not working during the entire time. It was a pain in some ways but a nice vacation in others.

Tonight we went to the Civil War Museum at the Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville of Orange County. The hotel was built in 1860 and served both the Virginia Central Railroad and the Alexandria Railroad. The main purpose of the hotel was short-lived as it became the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital during the Civil War, caring for nearly 70,000 soldiers by the end of the war. Amazingly only about one percent of these soldiers died at the hospital, around 700 in all. They were originally buried on the grounds but later moved - Confederate soldiers were moved to Maplewood Cemetery and Union soldiers to the national cemetery in Culpeper.

After the war, the Exchange became a Freedman's Bureau Hospital and later returned to use as a hotel. It has now been restored as a museum and historical society of sorts. I did not get to spend much time looking at their collections but the museum seems to have a large reading room with old maps, newspapers and hospital records pertaining to the hospital, hotel, town and county. I imagine if you visited during normal hours, you would be able to view their holdings. They also had a large collection of Civil War-related books and a gift shop.

The reason we went to the Exchange tonight was for a ghost tour, in honor of Halloween. This was their eighth annual tour, taking place on October 24th and 25th. It cost $12 for myself, my wife and our two young children. They gave us free cider and coco plus cookies for the kids. The tour took us through the top two floors of the building, with reenactors in each room. They tried to reenact the death scenes of people who died in the hotel and supposedly now haunt the grounds.

Overall it was okay. I mean, they only do this two nights per year so you cannot set the bar too high.
It is probably a major fundraiser for the museum so I can definitely support that. If you are looking for a haunted house or a true ghost tour, this would not have been for you. I mean, if the place was haunted you would never know it with all of the reenactors stomping around. Again, not that anything was wrong, it just was not a ghost tour as much as a history lesson about hospital life and death during the Civil War.

In looking at the museum's website, I did notice that they have a list of the dead. I do not know how complete it is but you can view it by clicking here.

And, just in case you were wondering, I did not see any ghosts. I even got to spend a little quite time in one of the rooms...alone. I was in there for about ten minutes and even tried to provoke any spirits that might have been there. I watch Ghost Hunters on SciFi...I know the deal. I asked them to please make their presence known, to give me some small sign. Once that did not work, I tried to be a little more aggressive and tick off anything that might be there (but again to no avail). If there are any ghosts at the Exchange Hotel, they must have taken the night off.

2 comments:

Mark-Spiritsearch said...

Hi Kevin,

I was reading your blog in regards to the Gordonsville Exchange Hotel. I am a paranormal investigator and have done quite a few investigations there. The place is definately haunted and I can attest to it. Let me know if you want to learn more about what I found.

bobby said...

hi kevin i am in north carolina i am a descendant of a confederate soldier who died at the exchange hotel on nov 16th 1863 and believed he died of pneumonia and i am curious if his spirit might roam around at the hotel by any chance i hope so i would like to be able to get close enough to feel his presence