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Ghost Walk featuring old family haunts

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Characters in this year's Historic Ghost Walk pose for a photo on the lawn of the Robinson house in downtown Elizabeth City. From left, the actors are Judi Stuart, as Mary Blades Foreman; Frank Elfring as Oliver "Big Red" McPherson; Tom Campbell, as Wilson Eves; Doug Gardner, as Dr. Isaiah Fearing and Greg Duncan, as Charles O. Robinson.

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By Kesha Williams
Correspondent

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Take a stroll down Main Street with a 2018 Ghost Walk brochure in hand to begin an annual adventure steeped in history.

This year’s ghostly tour is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, rain or shine.

Home tours and ghostly accounts from Elizabeth City’s influential families are thrilling events long associated with October. They are the signature marks of Ghost Walk, a local series of tours coordinated by the Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association. During this tour, along with interesting tales from the past, the details surrounding the architecture of of these sites will be revealed. Marjorie Berry, a researcher and writer for the event declares it’s a fine way to promote the city’s history.

“We’ve been doing it for 22 years. It’s a combination home tour, history lesson and live theater. Most of all, we want people to know it’s not scary. When people hear the word “ghost” they think it is scary or has to do with Halloween, but the ghosts of Ghost Walk simply involves an actor portraying a person from Elizabeth City’s past,” Berry said.

This year’s site roster includes seven homes, many of which have been designated as historic. Four are located on Main Street: the Charles O. Robinson House, the Dr. Isaiah Fearing House, the Mary Blades Foreman House, and the W.E. Pappendick House. Guests will be allowed to tour three of those homes. Tourists will be limited to the perimeter property and the porch of the Robinson home. The Blades home, now known as Elizabeth City Bed and Breakfast, is located nearby on Fearing Street. The two remaining sites are located just a few miles from Main Street, on Riverside Avenue.

This year’s cast of actor-ghosts include, C. O. Robinson, portrayed by Greg Duncan; Eliza Blades, portrayed by Christina Sheppard; Dr. Isaiah Fearing, portrayed by Doug Gardner; Maria Foreman, portrayed by Judi Stuart; Sophie Pappendick, portrayed by Robyn Eure; Wilson Eves, portrayed by Tom Campbell; and Red McPherson, portrayed by Frank Elfring.

On Thursday, enjoy a sneak preview of the event at the live stage show at Arts of the Albemarle. It begins at 7 p.m. in the Maguire Theater. 

“The show this year is reminiscent of the Cramer family’s Alkrama Theater which was in operation from 1912 until 1940. That theater started out showing silent movies, and they did live acts such as singing cowboys and Vaudeville shows. The theme this year is blue bloods and carpetbaggers,” Berry said.

“We’re highlighting the most prominent and influential families in Elizabeth City— the Foremans, the Blades, the Robinsons, the McPhersons, the Fearings and the Pappendicks. School teachers should encourage their students to come because this is a great way for them to learn about these historic figures. Whether you come as a school group, civic group, individual or family you will meet interesting characters from our past in full costume.”

According to Berry, three generations of Robinsons have lived in the Neo-Classical Revival style home home which was built in 1914. The Robinson house was a wedding gift to Ivy Blades, who married Charles O. Robinson, co-founder of the Elizabeth City Cotton Mill.

Participants can walk to the downtown sites or take advantage of a trolley, complimentary to ticket holders. Otherwise, motorists are welcome to move from site to site at the corresponding tour times.

“We’re really excited about the Messenger-Fearing Morrisette House. We’ve never featured it in ghost walk before. It’s an imposing plantation style home at 911 Riverside Avenue. I think a lot of people will enjoy seeing the interior of this house. It’s a Greek revival style house, the kind of house people ride by and say ‘I wish I could go in.’

During the two-day event, live stage shows will be performed at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. at AOA’s Maguire Theatre. Cost is $5. Also, tour-goers can pick up complimentary trolley tickets for transportation to the sites on the Ghost Walk at AOA. 

Those sites are:

Charles O. Robinson House, 201 E. Main Street; Dr. Isaiah Fearing House, 203 W. Main Street; L. S. Blades, Jr. House, 108 Fearing Street; Mary Blades Foreman House, 309 W. Main Street; W.E. Pappendick House, 601 W. Main Street; Sanders House, 737 Riverside Avenue; Messenger-Fearing-Morrisette House, 911 Riverside Avenue.

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If you want to go ... 

What: Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association’s Ghost Walk

When: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 12-13, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Elizabeth City/trolley tour rides begin at Arts of the Albemarle 

Tickets: General admission, $15; Children under 12 and those holding a military identification card, $12. Tickets are available at AOA, Muddy Waters, Page after Page and the Shoppes at Kenyon Bailey.  

 

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