Sunday, September 2, 2012
Hereford House, St. Albans
Today, Aaron and I, along with my sister and Luke, attended a wedding reception/celebration for some mutual friends. The event was held in the historic Beeches homestead. The Beeches, built around 1874 by Collis P. Huntington for his nephew Henry during the construction of the C & O line through the area, is now home to the St. Albans Women's Club. I was pleasantly surprised, as I had no idea where this event was taking place. After a delicious meal, Aaron and I took Luke to explore the house a little bit, and I even had the foresight to put fresh batteries in my EMF meter!
I knew I had seen this house mentioned before, so when we got home, I pulled out my St. Albans Walking Tour pamphlet, which is put out by the local historical society, and found some information on the house. However, what I would go on to read further down in the pamphlet was even a bigger surprise!
The tour pamphlet contains information on 26 different places in St. Albans of historical significance. I have several copies of the pamphlet that I've picked up at History Days at the state capitol, and other history functions and tourist stops. I've skimmed through it plenty of times, but realized I had never taken the time to really READ it. I took that time today, and I'm so glad I did, because I stumbled upon the entry for the Hereford/Burdette House!
The Hereford/Burdette House was built around 1918 by a man named C.D. Hereford and his wife, Annie May. C.D. was originally from Putnam County, in an area that was known as Red House Shoals, which is right where the town of Eleanor is located. In fact, according to another publication by the St. Albans Historical Society, C.D. grew up on the Ruffner property, and was the son of Dr. Syenham and Laminia S. Hereford.
C.D. and his wife, who was originally from Missouri, came to St. Albans in 1872 aboard the steamer Victor. Shortly thereafter, C.D. opened up a general merchandise store on Main Street. The store miraculously survived two major fires that wiped out most of the downtown district in 1909, and today, his building, located at 68 Old Main Plaza, is home to Chandler Floor and Wall Coverings.
In 1918, C.D. Hereford built his palatial, Italianate home on the corner of what is now 3rd St. and Kanawha Terrace. Unfortunately, C.D. was never really destined to enjoy this home, as he died November 18, 1918 from Bright's Disease. He was 72 years old. His widow, Annie May, lived in the home until her own death on June 3, 1937. From her death certificate, it appears as if she died in the home from peritonitis caused by a gall bladder infection. She was 81 at the time of her death, and many believe she never left her beautiful home.
According to the pamphlet itself, strange noises heard at night in the Hereford/Burdette House are attributed to Mrs. Hereford's ghost. No other information on these hauntings is available at this time, so I'd LOVE if you have any stories about this ghost or the paranormal goings-on at this historic home!
The Infamous St. Albans Walking Tour Pamphlet
Photo courtesy of Google Streetview, which apparently had a smeary lens when this shot was taken...or perhaps its simply the ghost of Mrs. Hereford trying to find out who is taking pictures of her lovely home!