Written by William Hazel (Originally Published May 2015)
The Old Coast Guard Station building is over 100 years old, a true historic treasure of Virginia Beach. It’s probably not a big surprise that it’s haunted. So when you take a Ghost Walk on the Museum’s “Shipwrecks & Ghost Lore” tour, there is a good chance that your guide will be sharing a story that’s a first hand encounter. The staff never needs to search far for real stories of the paranormal.
The ghost stories started when the building was being renovated in the 1970s to become the maritime museum it is today. Construction workers complained of their tools being moved and the never-ending sensation of being watched. Some walked off the job.
For years, museum staff members have shared similar tales of hearing footsteps, items being moved, pages being flipped in historic books on display, radios turning themselves off and on, even apparitions appearing in the galleries. When you work in an historic building, sometimes you are not alone.
A museum legend repeated through the decades is of a figure and/or light seen in the building’s old watchtower. Witnesses tell of a uniformed figure outside on the catwalk in the middle of the night. When this Life-Saving Station was in service, crewmembers, known as “Surfmen”, stood watch in the tower, searching the forbidding seas for sailing ships in distress. The observed light has been reported as moving “like a swinging lantern” or as if it is being carried.
Some say the ghost in the tower may be just one man, Surfman John Sparrow. Sparrow served at the station with honor for many years, earning a Life-Saving Medal for his heroics during a shipwreck rescue. He even continued serving in retirement, tending horses and equipment at the Station. Paranormal experts, amateur ghost hunters, and many visitors concur that John Sparrow is indeed still on watch.
You’ll get wrapped up in many more eerie tales of hauntings and the unexplained during your 90-minute stroll. Costumed storytellers lead you through an easy walk that explores the beach, boardwalk, and along several blocks of the oceanfront. Along with stories of local haunted hotels and restaurants, you’ll experience amazing shipwreck tales, discover the real “Blackbeard”, get to know the “Witch of Pungo”, and learn of the famous “Sleeping Prophet of Virginia Beach”.
Whether you see a ghost or not, you are going to have a lot of fun. The Old Coast Guard Station encourages reservations since the tours do fill up fast and cautions that the material may not be suitable for younger children. So put on some comfortable shoes and get ready to ask yourself…do you believe in ghosts?
Learn more about the Virginia Beach Ghost Walk: https://oldcgstationghostwalkvirginiabeach.wordpress.com