Real Haunted Houses

Real Haunted House

The Governor’s Mansion

Dover, Delaware
By Shannon Reinbold-Gee

Built in the 1790s by Charles Hillyard III, Woodburn (as the Governor’s Mansion is known) once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and much more recently was purchased by the state of Delaware, serving as the official residence for Delaware’s governors since 1965. A Middle Period Georgian-style mansion, it has been home to everyone from gentleman farmers to U.S. Senators and doctors. And each owner seems to have left his own special imprint on the house.

The first ghost documented at Woodburn appeared only about 25 years after the house was constructed. The owners of the house at the time, Dr. and Mrs. Bates asked a visiting itinerant Methodist preacher to begin their shared morning meal with a prayer. The preacher suggested they wait for their other guest to join them. Puzzled, the couple stated there was no other guest in the house. The preacher then described in great detail the older gentleman he saw on the stairs. His description startled the couple even more, as it was precisely the way Mrs. Bates’ father, Charles Hillyard III had appeared-while alive.

It seems Mr. Hillyard is the most frequent spectral visitor at Woodburn. He is often seen on the steps. Having a reputation for enjoying alcohol, people have found that glasses of wine left on the stairs at night are often drained by morning.

As a stop on the Underground Railroad, slaves frequented the area. Legend has it that a slave running from a band of slave hunters hid in the hollow black walnut tree that used to stand near the home’s south porch. He was caught in his hideaway and some say his screams are still heard, most often at Halloween.

Another ghost visitors and residents have mentioned seeing is a young girl dressed in a traditional gingham dress and bonnet. She has been seen walking near the reflecting pool and carrying a candle. Although the most mysterious ghost of the group, none of the ghosts seem malicious or difficult. All seem to have become part of the rich history and local lore of Woodburn.

Tours of the mansion are available, but call ahead and stay with your guide so you don’t anger the spirits of Woodburn.

16 comments on this haunted house. Share your story »


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coreen bennett says:

September 27, 2008, 9:30 pm

One time when i was yonger i went to a trailer park with my friends and we seen this house had curtains moving. when my friends and me went to ckeck it out we seen no one there. we told my mom and she said no one has lived there for years. when we left a plate of food in the hallway so we could catch the person.when we seen someone in hallway we tried to catch him. when we did we seen that it was a ghost. we told my mom and she said that it was a dream but i know it wasn’t.

John says:

October 6, 2008, 4:31 pm

We cover everything that is not normal, a.k.a. paranormal

nicole says:

November 2, 2008, 11:26 am

this was the scariestthing ever i still picture that ghost moving its the scariest thing do not enter the houe

TAPS member in training says:

April 8, 2009, 1:54 am

i still have yet to investagate this house is there any other info you can give me on this house? me and another campanion wish to gather evadence our selves on this will it be posible? i live in bremerton my location is near 3rd street in sunset if you can give me any more information please email me at

Korrina says:

April 13, 2009, 5:41 pm

I do believe in the paranormal. I have yet to see a haunted house, but i have seen a ghost. It was my Grandma. The day after she died i was in her house upstairs. I saw her standing there. I kept walking and fell downstairs but did not get hurt. My dad said i could have died from the fall. I think my Grandma saved me that day

shanpink says:

May 4, 2009, 3:54 am

there is house that is above on a hill right next to where i live my mom told me to change it into a play house but it happened that wheni went in i had a massive scar on my arm,head,leg and hand my mom died because of it and i now live with my dad that is dying.

Isaiah says:

June 25, 2009, 5:06 pm

In my house a guy dide in my bathroom but he never bothers us i think he must be nice

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August 26, 2009, 11:36 am

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Cole Schaffner says:

October 11, 2010, 12:01 pm

I truely want to believe in ghosts. I believe its possible but do not believe in them. Could any of you give me some good places where i could go and maybe prove myself wrong?

mrs rowand says:

March 4, 2011, 4:14 pm

yes the legend is very true. the bates spirts and others spirits lurk around the houes good and bad ones. i have see the houes and have look in the windows and around the yard and know one lives in the houes.but the spirts do thir are meny stroys about the houes. when i was at the houes it was so old and run down and some of the windows are brankin. my aunt live in dover delaware. and she said she. when she was a little gril she and frieads when to the houes and looked in the window and saw a man and two women but know one liveed there. so they run and nevre bein back.

Debbie says:

March 7, 2011, 11:56 pm

HI, I doing a little ghost research thinking about writeing a book one day
but all in all enjoy researching ghosts etc.. Does anyone know of more haunted places in the state of DELAWARE? Would like to spend night in haunted hotel etc… but other places is fine. if anyone knows of any so call haunted places or ones you know about please please let me know. my email THANKS!!

Tikki says:

August 22, 2011, 6:53 am

I visited this location while still a child, back when they had haunted houses for Halloween at the Govenors mansion here. The one they don’t talk on this is about the painting over the fireplace. The word that has been said is that the painting itself comes to life at night. It might explain why the past 3 govenors have refused to live within the mansion itself.

There are other paranormal phenomenon I know of in Delaware, there are a number of buildings on the green in Dover that are haunted. My sister works at a lawyers firm at one of these locations, and one night, when we visited the building for her to pick up paperwork, we saw a vision of someone moving on the 2nd floor when the building was closed and locked. We investigated, no one was inside. So we go out, and proceed to see someone on the 3rd floor by the window, in which the 3rd floor was locked by pad lock, so there was no way to get up there without the key. So we chopped it up to a ghost.

Also, in Magnolia, there is a residence a friend of mine used to live in. The family has since moved out and another has moved in, but when I stayed the night one night, he told me to go to the bathroom on the 2nd floor and look in the mirror. I proceeded to go to the restroom, then washed my hands. I looked in the mirror, looked down in the sink, and looking back up, there was the image of a little boy in a sailors outfit standing behind me in the mirror. Turning around, no one was there. My friend later told me this little boy only shows up in the bathroom on the 2nd floor if you are alone in the bathroom. He also proceeded to tell me about how if you were home alone at nights, you could hear the sound of someone walking up and down the stairway in boots. I never saw that, but after seeing the little boy, I never stayed overnight in that house again.

Sarah says:

November 20, 2011, 2:05 am

Another great haunt in DE is in Laurel, De. Off of River Rd. (near Seaford, DE down from the Woodland Ferry) there is an old shack just touching a forest. The energy here is extremely interactive almost the moment you park your car. Expect to be fascinated.

ganz234 says:

February 20, 2012, 10:07 am

a man died in my bath tub and his blood is stiill here and wont come off

ganz234 says:

February 20, 2012, 10:10 am

theres a number on the bath-0789654231
i phoned it and somone answered only saying ur dead

Me says:

September 13, 2016, 2:16 am

I see that a lot of the commenters didn’t bother to read the request at the bottom of the page. They failed to use anything in the way of proper English, and have made this poor website look disgraceful, rather than “classy”.

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