We get a lot of questions from visitors at Villa Finale, and one of the most asked is: is Villa Finale haunted? I can’t say that our entire staff believes in ghosts – I, personally, am on the fence – but all of us have experienced things that can sometimes be a little difficult to explain. Since we have three historic buildings at Villa Finale, I will make sure to cover our experiences at all three.
Villa Finale: The Main House
The Norton-Polk-Mathis House – now known by the name “Villa Finale” – was built in 1876. It had a total of 12 different owners before being owned as a historic house museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, so its walls have seen a lot of people come and go! Perhaps its old walls have recorded events of times past, but some of us have heard voices coming from the basement, footsteps coming from the main and rear staircase, and footsteps in the Green Rooms. Here is a video taken by John Brannon, a contractor who was working on a rewiring project in the house in 2017. John was making this video to show his son, who shares his love for historic houses, when he caught an extra set of footsteps in the Green Rooms. (This happens around :50 in the video. Sound up!)
I’ve also heard the sounds of what could be labeled as “footsteps” coming from behind me in the Green Bedroom. I was standing at the doorway with my back to the room as I was speaking to my colleague, Buildings & Grounds Manager Orlando Cortinas, who was across the hall in the Blue Room. As I stood there, I clearly heard someone walking behind me toward the door of the room, they suddenly stopped when I looked back. Were these really footsteps or just a figment of our imagination? As far we know, at least one person has died inside Villa Finale – this was back in the 1940s.
Listen to our staff share their “haunting” experiences in this video.
The Carriage House
The Carriage House dates back to the early 20th century (we don’t have an exact date). Walter Mathis used it as a guest house, and prior to that, other owners used it as a rental property so again, many people have been through this building. Today, we use it as a reception area for visitors and our staff offices. Almost all of us have heard sounds in the Carriage House including voices and footsteps coming from upstairs.
I should note, I have had my desk stationed in almost all the rooms in the Carriage House, including upstairs, but I never had anything considered “strange” happen to me while I was on the second floor. During our first-ever ghost hunt at Villa Finale last year (due to COVID concerns, we will not be hosting one this year), participants recorded some strange sounds in the Carriage House during the event. Were these ghostly? If you’re wondering if anyone has died in the building, we know of at least one young woman who died in that location in 1931.
Want to hear more about the happenings at the Carriage House? Watch this video.
The Meusebach House
Let me begin by saying, I honestly do not know what to say about this house as far as the “activity.” Built in 1886 by Smith and Josie Ellis, the house was sold to Otto and Martha Meusebach in 1889 and this family occupied the home for several years. Several people lived in the house after the Meusebachs, including Walter Nold Mathis’ sister, Agnes.
Today, the house is owned by the National Trust as part of the Villa Finale “complex.” It houses the museum’s research library and it is used for small meetings and programs, as well as storage for a variety of Villa Finale’s supplies. Museum staff is regularly in the building – some staff have even lived there – needless to stay, all of us have spent plenty of time in the house. As I said at the start, I really don’t know what to make about what happens in the building other than, it is something else! Like in the Carriage House, we’ve heard footsteps as well as movement of objects when no other person is in the building. Staff have also reported lights turning on and off.
All of us independently agreed, we are all quite a bit “unsettled” with one particular area of the house: the staircase and adjoining hallway. I’ve had an “experience” there and, after some casual conversation, two of our staff discovered they saw what seemed to be a “man’s figure” at the top of the stairs on separate occasions. Although going to the Meusebach House is needed throughout the week, none of us are “dying” to go over there alone!
So, has anyone died in the house? I learned an older man may have died there post Meusebach era, but I do have documented proof a teenage girl, Anita Meusebach, died in the house in 1900. In fact, as was the custom back then, her wake was in the home. Is the Meusebach House haunted? We can’t say for sure as we don’t have any recorded proof. Maybe everything we’ve seen and heard could be reasonably explained. But until we know for sure, those of us who work at Villa Finale will make sure we spend as little time over there as needed!
In this video, our staff shares some their odd experiences with you!
Care to find out if Villa Finale is truly “haunted”? Join our staff online for a fun and, hopefully not-too-scary, Facebook LIVE virtual ghost hunt on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 7:00pm! Click on the link below for event information … BOO! Happy Halloween!