A 1930 Washington Star newspaper account of Rippon Lodge states “The house is said to be haunted in such a ghostly and sinister fashion that no one will occupy it.” Rumor also has it that the course of U.S. 1 was once altered to avoid contact with the ghosts who lived there.
While ghost stories are notoriously hard to prove, the house, which was built circa 1747, certainly has had the opportunity to see events that might well generate fodder for tales of modern day hauntings. A duelist who was shot in Dumfries in 1765 died of his wounds at the lodge. Confederate Troops occupied the home and surrounding area during the Blockade of the Potomac; and there are maybe a dozen graves on the grounds of the property.
Rippon Lodge Historic Interpreter Karen Fossum said noises in the old house could be a little spooky. The floorboards often pop back into place behind someone walking through the house and leave the impression that one is being followed. “You can walk through the house and hear your footsteps behind you because the floors are so creaky,” she said.
Fossum also tells of a grounds worker who swears he saw the specter of the Grim Reaper at the house, but she hasn’t felt any malevolent presences herself. “I like to think that the ghosts who haunt this place, whoever they may be, like us because we’re taking care of their house.”
In keeping with the spirit of the season, the public is invited to “Sprits of Rippon Lodge” at 15520 Blackburn Road, between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26 for candlelight walking tours of the grounds where they will “meet several historical characters along the way and hear their tales of sadness and triumph.”
Visitors to the candlelight tours, who should be over the age of 12, will be witness to a reenactment of the duel that left the man dead at Rippon Lodge, and might see a few other lost souls along the way. Admission is $10 per person. Reservations are recommended.
The “All Hallows’ Eve” program between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, with games and traditional treats, will give younger children the chance to learn about the origins of pumpkin carving, Trick-or-Treating and Halloween itself. Scarecrows will be on display site wide. Admission is $5 per child. Visit Here