The Richmond Register

Local News

July 16, 2012

White Hall filled with tales of scandals and hauntings



“Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

The quote above is from Shirley Jackson’s classic ghost tale, “The Haunting of Hill House,” but it could be easily applied to the brooding mansion known as White Hall, right here in Richmond.

Groups gathered at the old 44-room mansion this weekend to attend one of its annual “Scandals and Ghost Stories” tours.

My wife and I attended took a Saturday evening tour conducted by curator Lashe Mullins, and while the group politely listened to tales of scandal, it was the tales of haunting that seemed to pique the most interest.

Most of the scandals, and many of the ghost stories, surround Cassius Marcellus Clay, a 19th century emancipationist and White Hall’s most famous resident, dubbed “The Lion of White Hall.”

Mullins pointed out that an emancipationist was not the most popular thing to be in the Kentucky at the time, and the fiery Clay was not averse to rough physical brawling to defend himself and his ideas. Besides brawling, Clay’s scandalous behavior included rumors of peccadilloes while he served as minister to Russia and two divorces.

One of the most famous scandals involved Clay’s divorce from his first wife and, subsequent marriage, at the age of 84, to15-yer-old Dora Richardson.

Legend has it that a sheriff's posse showed up at White Hall to “rescue” the girl, but was dissuaded when she told its members she was there of her own free will. Mullins said it was lucky they left peacefully, because Clay had a cannon loaded and ready to fire on the group, had it come to that.

Perhaps “fiery” was too tame a term to describe Clay who, at 89, found himself unable to climb the stairs to his bedroom because of gout, and set up a bedroom in his library.

Probably expecting to encounter a feeble old man, three men intent on robbery, and possibly murder, broke into the library, and were met by Clay, knife at the ready. One of the men was stabbed to death on the spot, another made it to the ice house before he bled out and died, while the third fled, presumably screaming, into the night.

Mullins said tales of ghostly goings on at the mansion have included sightings of a man that many assume to be Clay, a young boy in period dress who seems to like playing hide and seek, a woman in a hoop skirt and even a baby who can sometimes be heard alternately “gurgling” happily, or crying.

“Just about everybody who has ever worked here has had something mysterious happen to them,” said Mullins, who has worked there as a tour guide, and later in her present position as curator at the mansion.

Mullins said she has smelled the waxy scent of burning candles where there are none, and a scent of rose perfume, observations that have been made by others. Like others, she has also heard sounds like moving furniture in the house when nobody else was there.

Mullins said a former curator told her of an incident when she saw a pile of papers levitate across the floor of one of the 10 bedrooms in the house. “Cold spots,” indicative of ghostly activity, have also been reported, as have partial and full materializations of ghostly figures.

While Mullins said she personally does “not have a problem” with the house, she does say that being in the master bedroom of the mansion makes her uncomfortable because, over the whirr of the fans that help cool the upper floors, it seems as though some unseen presence is trying to talk to her.

While most people associate ghostly activity with the dark hours, much of the spirit-like activity has been reported during the daytime, Mullins said. Of course, that may be because the daylight hours are when most people are around to observe the phenomena.

One cannot help wonder if, when the lights are out and the forbidding old mansion is locked up for the night, the hallways echo with the ghostly footfalls of The Lion of White Hall who still guards his home; whether an other-worldly baby cries out in the night; or whether a long-dead12-year-old boy seeks a playmate to join him in an eternal game of hide and seek.

More “Scandals and Ghost Stories” tours are slated for July 20-21, at 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m. at the mansion. Admission is $7 per person, regardless of age. You must make a reservation by calling 623-9178.

Text Only
Local News
  • 7-29 YMCA-Schools.jpg YMCA, county district to provide after-school care

    The Telford YMCA is partnering with the Madison County School District to provide after-school child care for kindergarten and elementary students.
    YMCA Executive Director Dave Wallace and Madison County School Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the partnership Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Lucille May 1.jpg Memories bloom in May’s garden

    After realizing a story was being written about 96-year-old Lucille May, tenants of Willis Manor gathered in the lobby to share stories about her.
    Affectionately called “Mamaw” by other residents and workers at the apartment building, May has spent the four years of her residence transforming an outdoor garden that was overtaken by weeds. It’s now a thriving flowerbed, complete with interesting rocks, decorations and conversation.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Construction 1.jpg Water Street storm-water digging begins

    Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
    Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Steven Coffey.jpg Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea

    Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
    Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-27 Hops 1.jpg Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society

    Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-26 Stockyards 2.jpg Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’

    Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.

    At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.

    That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-26 Fire Practice Structure 1.jpg Fire training tower going up

    A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.

    Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

     View Results