Content starts here
AARP AARP States Virginia Events

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Real Stories Behind the Ghost Legend

Credit: Gadsby's Tavern Museum

It’s a dark, cold stormy night and the lights just went out. Suddenly there is a thump in the hallway…did you hear that? Thus begins the telling of the ghost stories 230 years in the making at Gadby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, Va.

Gadby's Tavern Museum is not just a place of history, but also a spot where history intertwines with the supernatural. The two buildings that house the museum have witnessed centuries of intrigue, hosting notable politicians and figures such as George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

The tavern, built in 1785, and the City Tavern and Hotel, constructed in 1792, have been at the center of many a historic moment. But it is the ghostly tales that truly captivate visitors.

The Haunting Legends

Anne Brunton Merry Wignell Warren: A celebrated actress, Anne Brunton met a tragic fate at Gadsby's Tavern. She not only lost her infant son within these walls but also her own life. Her presence is said to linger, and her story echoes through time.

The Female Stranger: In 1816, a mysterious couple arrived at the tavern. The young woman, aged 23 years and eight months, was gravely ill. Desperate for help, they sought the city's best doctor, but her condition only worsened. On Oct. 14, she drew her last breath, making the people surrounding her swear an oath never to reveal her or her husband's identity. They kept their promise, and her grave in St. Paul’s cemetery remains marked only with the words 'To the memory of the Female Stranger.' Her ghost is believed to haunt both the cemetery and Room 8 at Gadsby’s Tavern, where she drew her final breath.

Even today, the staff and visitors to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum report unsettling experiences. In the historic ballroom and the infamous East bedroom, also known as Room 8, where both the Female Stranger and Anne Brunton met their fates, there are tales of unexplainable phenomena. From pale apparitions peering from the windows to unexplained candles flickering in empty rooms, the echoes of the past are never far away.

Hosted by Kristy Huettner, guide and narrator of the tour, these experiences set a ghostly tone. Kristy shared tales of the unexplained, making virtual attendees shiver with stories of pale specters, mysterious candles, and apparitions making a ghostly presence at annual balls.

The program delivered 60 minutes of nail-biting fun and speculation. For those brave enough to delve into such eerie history, Gadsby’s Tavern and Museum was the first of three Thrilling Thursdays virtual tours presented by AARP Virginia.

So, if you're ready to explore the supernatural side of history, Thrilling Thursdays awaits your virtual presence, where the past and the paranormal come together in spine-tingling adventure.

About AARP Virginia
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.