There are just some things a reasonable mind can’t explain.
Barrington Hall, a Greek revival mansion built in 1842 in Roswell, Georgia, offers a sense of mystery. Its tall columns, lovely gardens and pre-Civil War décor takes one back to a time that battles and bloodshed nearly eliminated.
There is a reason why historic Barrington Hall is featured on the annual Roswell Ghost Tour, sponsored by Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations. The reason became abundantly clear while taking the 2015 tour.
Tour guides encouraged the group to take multiple pictures while walking around the grounds and listening to various family stories of the home’s history. So, I clicked away on my cell phone. Around the side, my husband wanted to look in the dining room window. The antiques and overall beauty of the room were overwhelming. I clicked some more. At one point, I thought I saw a green-blue mist drifting down the visible staircase. I didn’t mention it, thinking it was merely my imagination.
My husband and I took a gander at the pictures sitting in a nearby parking lot once the tour was over. What we saw made my eyes bug out of my head. Clearly on two pictures, someone was sitting at the front door and a woman was coming down the stairs, as if checking to see who was looking in the window.
Robert Winebarger, Barrington Hall historic site coordinator, said his volunteers haven’t heard stories of ghostly experiences at the place. However, he knows stories exist and has heard them from others, namely self-professing psychics who claim to connect with someone named Catherine.
“We always ask how to spell it because we have several Catherines connected with the home,” he said, adding that several are spelled differently.
Winebarger said a resident living across the street from the pre-Civil War home reported a couple of incidents looking over at the Barrington mansion.
“Right across from Barrington Drive, there’s a row of houses built around 1940,” Winebarger explained. “A lady used to say she would see a woman walking with a baby like she was trying to calm it down.”
“When windows are open in the spring and fall, she would hear wagons rolling by her window. The thing that is interesting is that home is right where the barn used to be.”
Some visitors reported to the paranormal group they encountered a woman gardener on the grounds, who offered good advice on flowers. There is no gardener at the home.
The home has an interesting history even without any spirits. Barrington King, the primary owner of the area textile mill, built the home on land estimated to be between 1,200 to 1,500 acres. King’s father was Roswell King, the founder of the city of Roswell.
“They were very connected here,” Winebarger said.
The property was not a plantation because they only grew items used by the family, rather than for public sale. The King family did own slaves to manage the property.
One of those slaves made it into a family story, the historian said. Roswell King, who lived in nearby Primrose Cottage, died at Barrington Hall. He was put on a cool board for viewing on the second floor, according to the story.
“A male slave was assigned to look after the body. Supposedly, (King) let out a bellow, which was air escaping out of his lungs, and the slave was frightened so badly, he jumped out the window and broke his neck,” Winebarger said.
The historian is skeptical of the story because there are no records of the incident. He questions why King was placed on the second floor when tradition holds a body be put on the first floor for better access to guests.
The home survived the War Between the States because Union General Kennar Gerrard, who was in charge of the march through Roswell, was given orders not to destroy private property, Winebarger said. He and Union troops occupied the home for a short period. The King family left before the troops moved in and returned when the war ended.
The family soon saw tragedy in 1866 when Barrington King died after being kicked by a horse. Their daughter Eva and her husband, Presbyterian minister Rev. William Baker, moved back to Georgia in 1883 to care for her widowed mother, Catherine. Catherine King died in 1888.
A granddaughter, Evelyn Simpson, raised money to purchase her aunt and uncles shares of the estate in hopes of restoring it and keeping it in the family. Her sister, Katharine Simpson, became the owner after Evelyn’s death in 1960. Katharine willed it to a woman she adopted, who then gave it to a friend before her own death. The friend, Sarah Winner, began restoration in 2002, Winebarger said..
Barrington Hall is now owned by the City of Roswell and operates as a historic museum. For more information about the home, tours, or to see pictures, please visit www.friendsofbh.org.