Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Old House Woods

Road leading down to Haven Beach, April 2008
One of the most rewarding aspects of writing this little blog is the e-mail I receive.  Sometimes people are searching for this or that and have a question or two relating to Mathews.  I try to point them in the right direction. Other times the writer simply wants to share memories and experiences, and on such occasions I often feel as though I've won the lottery.

Aside from New Point Light, the battle of Cricket Hill, and Tompkins Cottage, Mathews is world- renowned for a few things, one of which is Old House Woods.

Saturday I won the lottery when I heard from someone whose family owned the house of Old House Woods (Haunted Woods) fame in the 1960s.

Don Winant e-mailed some of his memories from Old House Woods, most of which do not involve ghosts but do, of course, involve mosquitoes.

He gave me permission to share some excerpts from our correspondence:

"My father, Barent Winant, purchased 'Old House Woods' in 1960 and sold the home and land in 1969. The ghosts never bothered me but the humidity and mosquitoes sure did. We lived in Virginia Beach (my Dad was in the Navy) and frequented the plantation on weekends and holidays. I bet the property is worth much more than $7000 purchase price in 1960!"

"...As a child it was always fun to spend time at "The Farm", as we called it. Driving past the General Store (actually the only store) in Diggs, take a left onto some road I have forgotten, then a right and then a left onto the long driveway leading to the old 1774 Colonial plantation. It was marshy property, so, yes, the mosquitoes were horrendous!  We smothered ourselves in "Off" bug spray during the summer months. Late Fall, Winter and early Spring were pleasant since the sparrow-size mosquitoes had not yet risen from the marshes. During the summer months we heated the old homestead with oil and the only one of six fireplaces not sealed off...”

CBW would just like to add here that, much like our ants and other insects, the geese mosquitoes in Mathews are abnormally large, aggressive and sometimes mistaken for ghosts predatory birds.
Let’s return now to his e-mail--already in progress--which references at least one ghostly encounter in those haunted woods.

"...The home, at the time, had around 6 rooms, plus a library intact with very old books; the bookshelves were stacked to the ceiling with 19th and early 20th century novels! Now that I'm an antique book collector, I wish I had held onto some of those classics. 

During the summer months my brother and I slept on the porch since it was cooler there. One night we heard a noise and this ghost popped up outside the porch! The ghost's face was lit up and he was covered in a white sheet!

I grabbed my BB gun and shot the ghost in the chest---"Ouch!" it said.

Well, turns out it was my dad trying to scare my brother Brent and I.

A paranormal outfit did visit "Old House Farm" (the haunted woods) and set up their eavesdropping equipment, but I don't recall if they ever picked up energy from Blackbeard the Pirate or the generations of plantation owners and slaves who inhabited the home and property.  There is, however, a burial ground on the land for slaves and Native Americans. Except for my dad scaring the wits out of his children, we never felt threatened by paranormal activity. One could; however, if you closed your eyes and quieted your mind, you could feel the presence and energy of past generations (the Native Americans, the Colonists, and  the Slaves)  who traversed the land and the bay of the Tidewater.  ”

April 2008
I can't thank Don enough for sharing his story (and his father's incredible sense of humor) with us. Thank you.

For the sake of posterity, I'd like to include the names of his parents, Navy Commander Barent Parlee Winant III and Laurencia "Toy" Winant.  They lived in Virginia Beach from 1960 until '67; Subic Bay, Philippines from '67 - '69; then Williamsburg from 1969 to 1970 before moving to Seattle.

Click here  for a previous post referencing Old House Woods.


  1. Wow, I love this post. Very interesting. I always grew up hearing stories about the house that is actually on the lane to the beach. It was something like a boy going out in the water, a storm coming up, his mother wandering trying to find him, but he was lost to the Bay, and before a storm she can be seen/heard calling for him. Any info on that?

    I love those old stories just as much as I love that beach. I have had the best times of my life there.. including my marriage.

  2. Love this post. I found your blog by searching for information about Old House Woods. Done many investgations there and it's probably one of the creepiest places I've investigated... and I've been to some pretty creepy places.

  3. LOL...I bet that's the last time Dad donned a sheet! Great post, my friend!

  4. So interesting and rewarding for you receiving so much information! Maybe your next book can be ghost stories? Take care, my friend, its bitter cold here, hope it is milder there..

    wv prenipe its prenipe out there

  5. Very interesting....does the plantation house still exist? I always think of the little wooden house on the right on the way to the beach road, also....but was there something on the left? Can you get pictures?

    Word verification: well, I can't see it....it's mysteriously not there!

    Middle Sis

  6. What a fabulous post ..

    wellha ... hey I didnt say it WV did

  7. "Kid, you'll shoot your eye out..." applies; only, kid, you could have shot your Dad's eye out with that Daisy Air Rifle.

    Setracs? In the sand at "Old House Woods?" (wv)


  8. I've been down that road many times, there are no homes until you reach the end. What house is this referring too? I agree, it is a spooky place

  9. The house was on the left. There is a cottage there now. It is down a lane on the marsh.The treasure is still down there!!!! On a cold misty night the pirate ship rise's from the Bay to check on it's prise. One day I will let the world know were it is hidden!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous.. you are so wrong.. the house was on the RIGHT. There was a house on the left but that was not THE house. sorry you are just wrong.

    wv binesses... I don't know how to mind my own binesses.

  11. Everything I've read mentions that the original Old House Woods house was through the woods on the left, but it did burn down at some point. The home on the right is not the original old house woods house. The legend has it that the old one caught on fire, put itself out and then finally burned down to the ground. It is on the left on the "cow pond" side. There is a lot of information on Old House Woods on the internet.

  12. If you drive down Old House Woods Road, near the end on the left is a chained off area with No Trespassing signs prominently displayed. There are a few artifacts that suggest this was at one time a home site (old out building, clothes line pole, etc). There is NOTHING else along the road until you reach the very end, where there are several homes both left and right. BEEN THERE :-)

  13. If you drive down Old House Woods Road, near the end on the left is a chained off area with No Trespassing signs prominently displayed. There are a few artifacts that suggest this was at one time a home site (old out building, clothes line pole, etc). There is NOTHING else along the road until you reach the very end, where there are several homes both left and right. BEEN THERE :-)

  14. Ok Anonymous since you want to argue with me.. great.. fine it is on the LEFT if you are on the main road going down it is on the RIGHT if you are on the dirt drive way headed there and no it is no longer there I dont' think anyone said it is any longer there..

    and I am not an idiot.. the house on the right was Capt Mac's house.. it in no way is the "old house woods" house.. however if you listen close enough at night you just might hear Capt Mac exclaim...

    "I would holler but the town ain't big enough"

  15. I love Old House Woods stories!
    But I especially loved the picture of the road leading down to the beach. As a kid Daddy would take us for Saturday or Sunday afternoon rides and that was one of the places we sometimes rode down too. Once in a while we went to beach there but mostly New Point Beach sometimes down Onemo. Anyway, that picture brought back so many memories!!! Thank you!!!

  16. "Been-There,Done-That! The 200-yard narrow lane leading to "Haunted Woods" or "Old House Woods" takes you to the Colonial Homestead, which was on the left; a 2-story structure. There was a barn or storage structure just to the left of the home that was in disrepair, and the outhouse was to the right of the home. Continuing SE past the home you entered a trail that took you to the bay and the best raw oysters on the planet! Swamp gas was sort of spooky, but we, as children, we were not raised to fear ghosts, i.e. "I ain't afraid of no ghost!"
    Don Winant
    Spokane, WA
    Old House Woods Occupant (1960-1969)

  17. Interesting. I grew up in Mathews and visited the woods very often. Had a friend that lived in the vicinity of the area, too, but we have never heard of a planation home on the grounds. Just a small house that burned once, then caught fire again.

    Is the planatation story real?

  18. Yes there is haunting. Husband friends and mother in-law decided to investigate. What ever it was did not want them there. It said some harsh words and began shaking/ rocking the car. Also drivers seat belt kept getting pulled tight. The seat belt and noises followed them the whole ride home.

  19. I grew up in Diggs and tromped thru Old house woods or hung out on Haven beach all the time. The only spooky thing that happened to me was the time I went raccoon hunting and could not find my way out. A fog moved in and I saw strange lights, When I finaly made my way out I realized that I had been in the woods for over six hours. I still go to the beach but I don't go in the woods anymore !

  20. Does anyone know the address of the house ??

  21. Just spent a nice few hours at Haven Beach. Had a swim, found some nice beach glass, but no gold. No supernatural activity to report, sorry.

  22. Oh man! I am NEVER EVER going there EVER again. Holy **** i peed my pants! I ran like a cheetah as fast as I could! This place is HAUNTED I tell you HAUNTED! How the *** can dogs bark without heads?

  23. My investigative partner and I clocked in well over 2500 hours in Old House Woods. Too many too count in hours of research. We debunked many of the stories and legends however, we did get proof in photos and EVPs of unexplainable events. Many of the spooky stories you hear are nothing more than scary stories to keep people away from there due to illegal hunting. They dont want to be caught. Most of the stories from the last 50 or so years are because of just that. The evidence we did get were either well documented from hundreds of years ago or bearing an attachment of sorts to those experiences. With that being said, ALL of the evidence we collected came from simply walking the road. There is no need to leave the road and enter the woods. Probably the oddest thing we come across down there are ...people...living breathing very strange people. All in various forms of intoxication or can you say mental maladies each with their own incredible "experiences". Old House Woods Rd and Haven beach Rd are great to do what the old folks did back in the day of taking your date somewhere to spook them in hopes of a tighter hug. But if your going down there for some sort of John Carpenter movie experience..you will be disappointed. Things do go bump in the night...and it just might be me with a flashlight and camera! Happy Spookin yall!

  24. The "beach" is known as "Festival Beach."

  25. It was Haven Beach when I lived there.

  26. Me and a couple of friends went to the road last night. We went down it TWICE in the dark and we didn’t hear anything except frogs and all we saw was mosquitos flying around, not ghosts. Kinda sad we didn’t see any pirates and their ships.

  27. The Old House Woods are legitimately haunted. I went twice in June '19 on consecutive nights. The first night was relatively uneventful, with the exception of waves of disorientation. The second night, around 12:30-1:30 a.m.was different. My adult son and I had heard a few strange noises/voices, but nothing all that extraordinary. We were actually on our way out, when a strange white figure about 4 feet high appeared at the driver side of my car when I was stopped at a stop sign. We watched in disbelief for about 20 -30 seconds. It then darted behind the vehicle and appeared at the front of the passenger side. It then disappeared from sight, but we felt it was very close by, like perhaps under, or in the car. The feeling became overwhelming, and I sped off for about a quarter mile. My advice is that you pack your patience and realize that it may take a while or even a couple visits, but you are quite likely to experience a supernatural event in this haunted place.


Thanks for reading and thanks for leaving a comment. I thoroughly enjoy hearing what you have to say even if I don't always have a chance to respond personally.