Thursday, March 3, 2011

King's Daughters Court

King's Daughters Court was originally established in 1797, as a second prison for the Martinsburg area.   In 1890, a group of women from the Sisters of the Holy Spirit banded together to bring an order of nurses to the area.  During this time period, nursing was primarily taken care of in the home by family
members, which left the sisters, who named themselves King's Daughters, to nurse primarily to the inmates at the prison.

Soon after the formation of King's Daughters, with the help of a Dr. McSherry, the nurses got a chance at their own hospital.  The prison was becoming overcrowded, and by 1893, the order had purchased the building for a grand total of $2,610.  After extensive remodeling, the new hospital, King's Daughters' Court, opened on May 15, 1896.

In 1913, the nurses applied for, and were granted a charter to open up a training school for nurses on the site.  Classes officially began on September 14, 1914 under the direction of Miss Mary M. Hudson, with Mrs. Florence Knapp acting as Superintendent of Nurses.

Fifteen women were originally enrolled in the program, but due to a nasty rumor that the school was not chartered, and thus the students would not be allowed to take their state board exams, all but one of the first class of students left the program.  The remaining student, Ms. Margaret Beard, was the first graduate of the school, and went on to nurse the wounded in WWI.  Ms. Beard was killed in service in Europe in 1918.

Over the years, the hospital graduated 444 students before shutting down in 1973.  The hospital later became office space, among other things, before being abandoned for many years after the three stories of flooring deteriorated.

Due to its long history, there are a number of ghost stories connected with the building.   Several witnesses have reported picking up a young girl, around 8 years old, on a nearby road.  The little girl is clearly distressed, and begs the driver to take her to the hospital to see her mother.  When the driver lets the little girl out, she runs up to the door of the hospital, where she is greeted by a nurse in period clothing.  The next time the good Samaritan drives by the hospital, it is obviously abandoned.

Other witnesses have reported hearing the scream and the thud of a woman jumping out of a third story window.  Two people driving by actually saw the apparition of a woman in a red cape jumping out the window and landing on the ground.  The story behind the legend is that an African American nurse had fallen in love with a white patient.  The lovers knew their relationship would never be accepted, so the nurse killed herself in her grief by flinging herself from the top of the building.

Interestingly, the building is constructed of limestone blocks.  A popular belief among students of the paranormal is that limestone acts almost as a battery cell and conductor for residual energies.  There are many hauntings associated with limestone structures throughout the world. 

Historical Info


  1. I was sa ursing student at KD from 1966-1968.
    Never saw a ghost but heard one walking the fourth floor nightly. When I looked out of my door, no one wa there. Happened many times - especially when I was alone in the residence.

    1. Neat! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. Where at in Martinsburg is this located?

    1. 116 E King Street. Access to this site may be limited, because it appears that it is currently being used as senior and/or Section 8 housing.

    2. I was born in this hospital in 1973 and it is actually abandoned now. The senior housing is across the street.

  3. I was born in 1963 in Kings Daughters Hospital. The hospital has always operated on 116. E. King St., and my entire family was employed there. I can't ever remember it being abandoned at this location. They worked in the same building through the late 70's. I don't ever recall it being abandoned, and I was also a patient in the same hospital in 1976.

  4. The hospital could not have closed in 1973. I was born there in 1976 and my brother in 1978. As of the late 1980's it was a nursing home.
    I enjoy the stories and history info.

  5. That building was closed. The hospital remained open in the brick building next door to it (across the street) which is now used for housing after Kings Daughters Hospital merged with City Hospital.


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