Wayside Inn’s spirits are friendly

Wayside Inn

  • Location: 7783 Main St., Middletown, Va.
  • Phone: 877-869-1797 | 540-869-1797
  • Website: http://www.alongthewayside.com
  • E-mail: info@alongthewayside.com
  • Visit: You can stay the night in one of Wayside Inn’s 22 guest rooms/suites or if you’d like to just drop by, the inn’s bar is open each evening. The inn is open for lunch and dinner (try the peanut soup and other Colonial fare), and it can accommodate weddings, meetings and banquets.
  • History: Travelers have been stopping at the inn on U.S. Route 11 in Middletown for rest, food and drink for more than 200 years. The first inn/stagecoach stop there was Wilkerson’s Tavern, which opened in 1797. During the Civil War, the inn – known as Larrick’s Hotel – housed soldiers from the North and the South, depending upon who controlled the area at the time. The hotel was purchased in the early 1900s by Samual Rhodes. He named it Wayside Inn and added a third floor and two wings. In the 1960s Leo M. Bernstein bought and redecorated the inn, and then the inn was sold in 2009 to Jacob and Lois Charon.

“This place is haunted. I know it,”
– Innkeeper Lois Charon

Full bodied apparations have been observed at the inn

By Linda O’Dell Ash – lash@nvdaily.com

There’s a cold spot in the lobby of Wayside Inn in Middletown, right next to a fireplace and small statue of a dog on the floor.

Step out of the cold spot and then back in – and the difference in temperature is quite obvious – though it’s not there all of the time. Innkeeper Lois Charon says she doesn’t know why it appears to be colder there to some people.


Photo: Some visitors to Wayside Inn feel a cold spot in the lobby, next to the fireplace near a statue of a dog.  This is also the spot where an employee there saw the apparation of a woman in a long dress. Linda O’Dell Ash/Daily


“We don’t know whether it’s because there is a fireplace there. It could be coming from the fireplace, but we really don’t know.”

Or it could be that you’re walking right through an area inhabited by a spirit.

“One of our servers saw a woman in the lobby. She was wearing a blue dress with a high collar,” Charon said, explaining the woman wasn’t a real person – and that she was hovering in the area of where people have reported the cold spot.

Touted as the country’s oldest continuously operated inn, Wayside Inn in Middletown has seen its share of history, tragedy and jubilation. Many people have stayed, dined and even died there over the past 200 years – from early 1797 when it was Wilkerson’s Tavern to the mid-1800s when it was Larrick’s Hotel – through the 1900s when it became the Wayside Inn – and on into the present.

The inn, just a few miles from Cedar Creek Battlefield where a fierce battle was fought, survived the Civil War and housed both Union and Confederate soldiers.

“It’s always been an inn,” Lois Charon said. “Rumors that it was a hospital are not true. During the Civil War both Confederate and Union soldiers stayed there, depending upon who had control of it that day.”

Lois and her husband Jacob Charon’ bought the inn in 2007 and they’ve experienced paranormal events there first-hand.

“This place is haunted. I know it,” Lois Charon said.

“We have all different kinds of things (happening),” Lois Charon said. “Just the other night we had a guest say, ‘Are there children staying at the inn?’ because they heard what sounded like a child running up and down the hall.

“We’ve had guests that pile coins on the nightstand and in the morning they are in the arrangement of a letter…A letter ‘L’,” she said.

“We have voices all over. I know that if there’s nobody here and I am in the middle area of the inn that I will hear people talking…You hear people walking all of the time. Things move. I had one incident with one of the vendors. She came in and she had a metal clipboard and she set it down in the kitchen. Then she came and she was asking me ‘Where is it? Where is it?’ and she said ‘Did you see my clipboard?’ And I said ‘No, I didn’t touch it. I never touch your clipboard, what do I want it for?’ … and we found it downstairs and she hadn’t been downstairs, and we have no idea how it got there.”

She said paranormal activity is high in the kitchen and the old slave kitchen, which is now a dining room.


Photo: The old slave kitchen at Wayside Inn. Linda O’Dell Ash/Daily

“We’ve had things fly off the shelf. In the kitchen one of the little dishes…it didn’t just fall, it went ‘whish’ – down into the middle of the aisle.”

She said one of her employees has had a close encounter with a playful spirit.

“One of our dishwashers, she wears an apron and ties it in the back and somebody always keeps untying it!”

The former slave kitchen is a fairly small, windowless room, very dark when the lights are turned off. Cameras and audio recorders have been known to stop working in there.

“If you go into the slave kitchen and try to take photos, most of the time the cameras don’t work. The batteries die out. It’s just this weird thing in the slave kitchen,” Charon said.

When asked if she thought having a haunted inn might scare guests away, she said no.

“(We) have had people who want to stay here because it is haunted,” she said, noting that Room 14 is one that is often requested.


Photo: Some Wayside Inn guests specifically ask for Room 14 because of its paranormal activity. Linda O’Dell Ash/Daily

“I don’t know what is going on in Room 14…We have been here a little over two years and when we got here there was a housekeeper who hated to go into Room 14. I don’t really know why,” Charon said.

But despite the strange noises, cold spots and other ghostly encounters, Charon is happy with her ghosts.

“All the spirits here are good. There are no evil spirits here. They’re all good. They’re all friendly.”

Paranormal Investigations:

Several paranormal groups have visited Wayside Inn since the Charon’s purchased the inn. Spirit Watch, a Winchester-area group, is now conducting investigations at Wayside Inn.

Some of the Paranormal Events Experienced/Recorded:

  • Guests have reported hearing children playing in the hallways
  • Whispers and voices have been heard
  • Cold spot reported in lobby, next to fireplace
  • Room 14 makes some people very uneasy
  • Dishwasher’s apron untied
  • A server reports that every time he goes down the stairway something brushes his arm
  • Objects disappear and then turn up later in a different place
  • Camera batteries die in the slave kitchen
  • Guests have piled their coins on a nightstand and the next morning the coins are in the arrangment of a letter L
  • One employee has reported seeing an apparition of a woman floating in the lobby
  • EVP recordings of whispers and voices

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