The (Adam) Thoroughgood House has a lot of mystery surrounding it. At one time it was believed to be the oldest brick house in America, perhaps built by Adam Thoroughgood himself. Later work on the house put the house’s construction to 1719, almost 80 years after Thoroughgood died in 1640.
Other mysteries surround the famous Virginia Beach dwelling, such as whether or not the house is haunted. Many say no. Those who disagree on the otherhand tell rather compelling stories about eerie encounters.
Famed Virginia Ghost Storyteller paid the Thoroughgood House a visit in order to record some of those frightening stories for his book The Ghosts of Tidewater.
Shirley Plantation is the oldest James River Plantation, as well as North America’s longest continually running business. Having been founded in 1613, Shirley Plantation has been a part of Virginia’s history from Thomas Dale’s administration to the present, as the Hill-Carter Family treasure on the James River can attest. It is fitting, therefore, that one of the most famous Virginia ghost stories comes from her historic location.
Martha Hill, known better as Aunt Pratt, “Pratt” being a family pet name, was the daughter of Edward Hill III. She didn’t spend much time at Shirley, but she was part of the Hill family, which entitled her to have a portrait painted and added to the family collection.
Aunt Pratt moved to England after she finished her schooling, married one Hugh Griffin (Griffith and Gifford in some sources), before she passed away, never having returned to Shirley in her lifetime. But many believe that she returned after her death, as can be evidenced by the utterly bizarre happening centered upon that now famous family portrait.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Aunt Pratt’s famous portrait. All subsequent images are from my visits to Shirley Plantation.