Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peterkin Retreat

 The Peterkin Camp and Conference center is a religious retreat located near the town of Romney, in Hampshire County.  Dedicated in 1947, it has continually offered summer camps and retreats for religious and non-profit groups.

A popular legend states that in the early 1970s, a preacher and his wife were staying in the main lodge, Gravatt Hall.  The preacher got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and had died of a heart attack in his room.  His wife did not discover his body until the next day.

Since then, it is reported that disembodied voices are prevalent, and the preacher can be heard walking up and down the staircase, greeting visitors.  Cold spots have been confirmed, and doors tend to open and close by themselves.  Many visitors actually claim they can feel his presence, watching them.  However, he will leave you alone if you ask him nicely.

Interestingly, the Peterkin website DOES acknowledge the presence of a ghost they call "Mr. Turley".  However, the site claims that Mr. Turley has been around since the beginning of the camp, well over 20 years before the preacher allegedly passed away.

Here's a brief history of the retreat as found on the website:


"For many years the bishops of WV had encouraged a program of summer conferences with an emphasis on Christian Education.   Many sites were explored before the property near Romney was considered.  The trustees purchased outright 50 acres and leased approximately one thousand acres of adjoining farm and timberland to be used for the new Camp and Conference Center.  There were abundant possibilities for nature trails, hiking routes, camping sites, and the erection of cottages.

In 1944, the Rev. Frank Rowley, rector of Grace Church, Elkins, took the first party of young people to the center.  He wrote, “We started out in two cars in a blinding snowstorm, but the day cleared up and we enjoyed it very much.  We hiked for over an hour up the trout stream and never did find the end of the property.  We all felt quite pleased with the place and also with being the first Episcopal youth group to visit the new conference center.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch in front of the fireplace in the main building.”

After much discussion with the Peterkin and Gravatt families, it was decided to name the center in honor of Bishop Peterkin and the main building after Bishop Gravatt.  A group from the Southern Convocation came and slept in tents and cooked over an open fire while they built a foot bridge over the stream, replaced missing steps to the boathouse, and cleared 500 yards of trail.  Between work sessions, they swam, played ball, fished, and hiked – truly the first ‘Friends of Peterkin’.

The first laymen’s conference was held in September 1945, with the Rev. W. C. Campbell as speaker.  After he became bishop, Bishop Campbell became Peterkin’s chief supporter.  Most of the buildings we enjoy today were remodeled or built under his leadership.  He and his wife spent the entire summer there every year with the campers.  The bishop’s cottage is named Campbell Cottage in his honor.

The first schedule of camps and conferences was held in the summer of 1946.  Mrs. Mamie Kenny, for whom the camp and conference coordinator’s house is named today, was the new housekeeper.
Dedication Day for the camp was June 26, 1947.  Over 400 people gathered as Bishop Strider led hymn singing and a procession all over the grounds.  Sermons were preached and a blessing given to each building.  Many of the plaques you still see at Peterkin were dedicated that day."

Photo property of the Brothers and Sisters of the Way


4 comments:

  1. ummm...... i have been going to this camp since i was years old and obviously you haven't, because that preach does not haunt gravett at all.And not only that he died after mr.turly, the preacher did die in his room though. I have sleep in the room almost every year that i have gone to family camp and nothing has ever happened. spirit you hear walking in the hall is mr.turly,he had a stiff leg and arm when he was alive, and he was the camps up keep till he died and checked on the campers every night.so next time do a lil more research

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    1. There's no need to be so rude, Skylyn Beers. The object of this website is to combine the fact with the folklore. I have combined the historical events with the popular legends that have been passed around for years on various websites and let readers come to their own conclusions. I did not claim that ANYTHING haunts this location...just shared information with what I thought was a clear preface of LEGEND. Thank you for visiting this website, but when commenting on my work in the future, please be reminded of the Christian attitude and mindset that I presume was encouraged during your years at this location.

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  2. Im glad I didnt know this story when I went to camp there for 15 years. I definitely laughed reading this. I think if there were a ghost, we would of found him. We would have called to him, anything to get a ghost at camp!! That sounds GREAT. But sadly, I was never haunted staying in Gravett Hall. I stayed there several years, in the old part too. Sadly, we were never haunted. Booooo. Great camp. Some of the best, most memorable times of my entire life. GREAT TIMES, MUCH LOVE!!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear you have fond memories of the camp...even if you didn't experience any ghosts there, lol.

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