The time for ghosts, goblins, and haunted houses is upon us! And Little Rock, Arkansas, is no stranger to hauntings and ghost stories. There are some rather eerie stories about some very well-known real estate in town. Discover your inner ghostbuster and visit some of these haunted places in Arkansas’s Capital City...
Mount Holly Cemetery
Referred to as “The Westminster Abbey of Arkansas,” Mount Holly Cemetery was founded in 1843. Pioneers, politicians, black artisans, a Cherokee princess, and many citizens rest in peace at Mount Holly. It is a haven for history buffs and historians alike, as well as artists interested in the various art and designs adorning the cemetery. The cemetery is also known for its paranormal activity.
According to Arkansas Parks and Tourism, Mount Holly has all sorts of odd happenings: “There have been reports of visitors discovering people dressed in period clothing and bright lights or mists in photographs they have taken. Some startled visitors claim statues have moved, mysteriously appearing on the lawns of nearby houses. The sounds of a flute echo from nowhere and trinkets appear or disappear on the graves.”
Home of the Little Rock Visitor Center and Quapaw Quarter Association, the Walters-Curran-Bell House is one of the oldest homes in Little Rock. The house was built by Colonel Ebenezer Walters for his young bride, Mary Eliza Starbuck Walters. Sadly, Mary Walters died in childbirth before the completion of the estate, and the Colonel sold it shortly thereafter. Since then, the home has had many owners, including a Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and a Secretary of State. In 1996, the Walters-Curran-Bell House was sold to the city and became the Visitor Center. However, it appears some of the owners may have stayed behind:
“The house has a rich history of hauntings, beginning with the death of Mary Walters in 1843. Several people who lived in the house over the years have experienced her presence. One resident painted the interior black in hopes of communicating with the “ghost.” Visitor Center staff has experienced unusual happenings such as a picture coming off the wall and a coffee machine that made coffee although it was not on at the time and there were no grounds or water in the reservoir. Cold spots, unexplained noises, shadow figures, and fragrances have been noticed.”
Old Arsenal Tower Building
Something might be lurking around The Old Arsenal in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park, also known as the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. After Arkansas joined the Union in 1836, the Little Rock Arsenal was built for munition storage and the like. However, the 1840 Tower building is the only structure left from the original facility.
The Tower wasn’t the only thing left behind, though. “Disembodied voices, talking, and music have been heard by the living who work in the building and who visit the displays,” according to Arkansas Parks and Tourism. Accounts of apparitions, shadow people, floating objects, and much more have been attributed to ghosts from the past still hanging around the Old Arsenal. Even psychic research has been done to figure out who or what is haunting the 1840 Tower.
P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm
Allen Smith is Arkansas’ resident designer, gardener, lifestyle expert, and television host. The setting for much of his work is his beautiful estate known as Moss Mountain Farm. This magnificent farm is famous for its landscape and architecture, but it’s also known for yearly visits by the resident haunts. Smith recounts a brief history of Moss Mountain Farm’s ghoulish past on his website:
“Legend has it that in 1819 Thomas Nuttall, the English Naturalist, came to Moss Mountain just west of Little Rock by three flatboats moving west on the Arkansas River. His party and the crew, made camp on Beaver Island, the large island in the middle of the river, visible from my Garden Home. Perhaps lulled into a sense of security because they were on an island, the night watchmen fell into a deep slumber.
During the wee hours of October 31, 1819, all were murdered except for Nuttall and four of his crew. It seems that the others were massacred by wild animals; however Nuttall swore that he himself saw actual human forms…
Each year the ghouls come up from the river; presumably the spirits of those who met their end on that isle. Now long gone, these ghosts return for their anniversary walk among my guests during Halloween festivities.”
The Empress of Little Rock Bed and Breakfast
Like a side of paranormal with your eggs and bacon? You might be able to find what you seek at the Empress of Little Rock Bed and Breakfast. Formerly the Hornibrook House, the Empress’ construction was finished in 1888 and made exclusively from materials found in Arkansas. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and described “as the best example of ornate Victorian architecture in Arkansas and as the most important existing example of Gothic Queen Anne style in the region.” The history of The Empress is just as fantastic as its design. The original owner, a saloonkeeper by the name of James H. Hornibrook, built the mansion in 1888 to rival the extravagance of the Villa Marie, owned by a competitor saloonkeeper. Legend has it Hornibrook always had a card game going in the tower room so he could watch for raids on his business. He died shortly after the home’s completion. Almost a decade later, the Hornibrook Mansion became the state’s first Arkansas Women’s College in 1897 until the Great Depression. The mansion stood vacant after the Depression until 1948 when it became a nursing home. It then became a private residence and apartments until 1994 when it became The Empress and was restored to its original glory.
Aside from being a gem in the heart of Little Rock, The Empress has a history of unexplained occurrences and paranormal encounters by owners and guests, including voices, apparitions, and unexplained sights and sounds. Bob and Sharon Welch-Blair, and guests have described these unsettling experiences here on their website.
If you’re looking for a hair-raising experience, put these places on your list of ‘Must-See!’ Whether you walk amongst the tombstones at Mount Holly Cemetery, stop in for a visit at the Walters-Curran-Bell House, take a shot at history in the Old Arsenal Tower Building, attend the festivities at Moss Mountain Farm, or stay the night at The Empress of Little Rock, you might get more than you were bargaining for. But don’t be scared! After all, they’re just stories…right?Posted by Brock Whisenhunt on