Story and Photos by Andrea Beam
Welcome to October, one of my favorite months of the year. I would love to tell you that my obsession is with fall foliage, cooler temperatures and pumpkin spice lattes, but that would be a lie.
For the record, I’m not a coffee drinker. I’m over here waiting on someone to come up with pumpkin spice sweet tea.
The part of October that brings me joy is Halloween. More specifically, ghost stories. Haunted Houses scare me to death, but I get giddy over ghosts. Fortunately for me (and you too), the Upstate is home to more than one paranormal presence.
Today, I thought I would share my top picks because now’s the perfect time to explore them.
Let’s jump right in. Fingers crossed you don’t get overwhelmed by all the words.
Springwood Cemetery, 410 N Main St., Greenville: Located in downtown Greenville, Springwood is listed on the Natural Register of Historic places and is “the oldest municipal cemetery in the State”. I initially fell in love with its history and all the Unknown Confederate Soldiers’ graves, but there’s nothing scary about that. After digging a little deeper, I stumbled across the story of Fannie Heldmann. Fannie’s father, George, a prominent businessman in Greenville, arranged for her to marry his business partner. Fannie is said to have “gone insane” while planning her wedding (which she was clearly not excited about). One night in 1889, she slipped out of her bedroom, walked down to what we know as Falls Park, and drowned herself in the Reedy River. Her grave is marked with an enormous concrete angel. Fannie’s unsettled spirit haunts the cemetery. I’ve yet to visit at night so if anyone would like to join me, I’ll be waiting in the car!
Gassaway Mansion, 106 Dupont Dr., Greenville: Construction on the Gassaway Mansion began in 1919 and was completed in 1925. The mansion is 22,000 square feet, the largest house in the Upstate. (How crazy is that?!) The residence was designed by Walter and Minnie Gassaway after she took a course in architecture. Minnie managed the Ottaray Hotel in downtown where Hyatt Regency now stands. Walter was a successful stock broker in Greenville. When the stock market crashed during the Great Depression, he lost everything and shot himself on the front lawn. His ghost is said to roam the grounds and haunt the mansion.
Poinsett Bridge, 580 Callahan Mountain Rd., Landrum: The historic Poinsett Bridge was built in 1820 and once connected Charleston and Columbia to the mountains of North Carolina. It is believed to have been designed by the same architect who designed the Washington Monument. I found that to be so interesting – South Carolina never ceases to amaze me. There is more than one story on the hauntings at Poinsett Bridge. (You can find at least two such stories on our website here.) I found three separate legends: 1) The bridge and surrounding wooded area is haunted by a slave, said to have been lynched. 2) It was built on top of a lost Indian burial ground, causing the spirits to come out and search for a new resting place. 3) A mason died during the bridge’s construction and is entombed inside.
There is no historical evidence to support these stories. A Paranormal Investigation team noted unexplained red and white lights flashing around the bridge. A photo revealed a figure of a man, not visible to the naked eye. It has also been reported that cars would not start when drivers returned from exploring the bridge. Visitors have heard screams and moans coming from the bridge after dark.
Herdklotz Park, 126 Beverly Rd., Greenville: Between 1930 and 1950, Greenville County’s Tuberculosis Hospital, which treated hundreds of patients, sat where Herdklotz Park sits today. The hospital was closed in 1950 and abandoned until the building caught fire in 2002. Legend has it, unsettled spirits of long ago patients haunt the park. Prior to the fire, those who were brave enough to explore the abandoned building claimed to have heard screams and loud footsteps in the hallways. Today, tales of unexplained noises, bell sounds and shadowed figures on the playground are common.
As a teen, my friends and I loved scaring each other on treks to the top of Paris Mountain and Manley Mansion, two of the “ghostliest” places in town. As I collected information for this article, I forced my mom to ride with me down memory lane, only to find they are no longer accessible to the public. Once upon a time, I might have boldly gone where no man is permitted. However, with age has come a healthy sense of safety, so I bowed down to the No Trespassing sign.
With Halloween just days away, it’s your turn to grab a friend (or a carload of friends) and make your way around to these spooky spots.
You’re never too old for a good, old-fashioned fright!