Local haunt: Protected farm has paranormal history

Mount Eagle Farm has had “many unexplainable occurrences of activity,” including cabinet doors knocking, sounds of footsteps and reported sightings of apparitions. Photo by Mina Pirasteh Mount Eagle Farm has had “many unexplainable occurrences of activity,” including cabinet doors knocking, sounds of footsteps and reported sightings of apparitions. Photo by Mina Pirasteh

A 324-acre historic farm in Albemarle County will be adopted into the county’s Acquisition of Conservation Easements program, which will permanently protect the land from any future development. But perhaps a bulldozer isn’t the only entity the property needs protection from.

The Twisted Paranormal Society, a Virginia-based ghost hunting group, took two trips to Mount Eagle Farm in 2014, at the request of a current owner, Debbie Kavanaugh. In case files on the TPS website, the group says owners of the 12-room plantation home have experienced “many unexplainable occurrences of activity,” including cabinet doors knocking in the kitchen, sounds of footsteps coming from the second floor and reported sightings of apparitions, with the most notable evidence being the report of an owner waking up to a man standing over a baby’s crib in the room. When he approached the figure, it allegedly vanished.

The main dwelling at Mount Eagle was built in 1850, according to the National Register of Historic Places, and though many families have come and gone, it was once inhabited by Charles L. Lewis and his wife, Lucy Jefferson—Thomas Jefferson’s sister. The house has been vacant for several years.

Lyle Lotts, a TPS member who edits the footage captured by the team, says Mount Eagle Farm will be featured on episode four of “The Twisted Realm,” a DVD series that will debut in the next couple of weeks.

On the first trip to Mount Eagle, investigators heard a loud moan coming from somewhere inside the house, and during the second investigation, “a lot of stuff happened on the second floor and the basement,” Lotts says. Aside from that, he’s not giving away any spoilers.

Carol Sweeney, a current owner of the property, says she’s felt the presence of a spirit in her home.

“I always just feel something,” she says.

Sweeney says she’s “very, very pleased” with the way ACE coordinator Ches Goodall handled the acquisition. “Not that I’m against development,” she says. “I just feel like once a farm is gone, it’s gone forever.”

Goodall says Mount Eagle is one of the best easement acquisitions the county has ever made—and that paranormal history is not considered when selecting a property to enroll in the ACE program.

“I guess I heard Mrs. Sweeney joke about the ghost in the old house,” says Goodall. “But having ghosts in haunted houses is not one of the criteria we use to rank and score a property for conservation value.”

The property at Mount Eagle Farm was the second-highest scoring applicant in the program’s history with 72 points. Any property that scores at least 20 points is eligible for consideration.

Mount Eagle was particularly attractive to the ACE program because 6,900 feet of the property lines the Rivanna River, 9,000 feet adjoins other easements, 1,000 feet fronts Route 53, which is a major entrance corridor, and it has about 250 acres of fertile bottomland, according to a county release.

The Board of Supervisors established the ACE program in 2000 in response to growth and urbanization. With the addition of Mount Eagle Farm, the program has protected almost 9,000 acres of land.

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