The Top Abandoned Places In Virginia (& Where to Find Them!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Virginia is one of those states that people often assume is a quiet, friendly place to raise kids. The truth is that it can be. There are plenty of Virginia neighborhoods that are okay and have decent schools. This is true, but there’s another side to the state that people don’t see. There’s the side of danger and chaos. That’s why there are tons of abandoned areas in the state, each with its own tale of tragedy.

If you are in the mood for a crazy trip, Virginia has you covered. Going to any of these locations could pique your interest:

  • The Wise County Orphanage
  • Virginia Rennaissance Faire
  • Selma Plantation
  • Swannanoa Palace
  • Professor Cline’s Haunted Monster Museum
  • Lorton Reformatory
  • Main Street
  • Presidents Park
  • Paxton Manor

If you want to go to Virginia and go urban exploring, you have a fair number of options. Our guide will give you the stories behind some of the most unique.

The Most Interesting Abandoned Places In Virginia

Virginia is a state that is full of interesting and absolutely horrifying things that you can experience. These below are a great example of why people go here for urban exploration. Compare the top abandoned locations in Virginia to the Top 6 Abandoned Places In Raleigh North Carolina.

1. The Wise County Orphanage – Wise

Most people don’t realize this, but orphanages no longer exist in America. They are actually now part of the foster system. The story behind the Wise County Orphanage illustrates why well. There are no written records of what went on, but the overall system involved many stories of baby theft from happy families. The kids were later adopted out to the wealthy in exchange for cash.

The area around the orphanage is pretty eerie, and once in a while, you might find a toy on the ground. People claim that they still can hear the voices of children in the distance. The area is purportedly haunted, often by lost souls who just wish they had a family of their own.

2. The Rennaissance Fair – Fredricksburg

Anyone who has ever seen the geeky conventions that Virginia holds will tell you that the people in this state love reinfests. In fact, it wouldn’t be that wrong to assume that most people in Virginia really like their sci-fi and fantasy stuff. During the 90s, Fredricksburg had an entire, fully-decked-out city that was devoted to being a Rennaissance village. It was called the Virginia Rennaissance Faire.

The Rennaissance Fair was a great idea that started up to great fanfare. Unfortunately, people forgot that Virginia is hot and humid, which meant that a bunch of people wearing leather in the dead of summer wasn’t a good idea. After lackluster sales, the fairgrounds closed in 1999, leaving the area abandoned.

Some of the decorations were shipped to other locations. Meanwhile, the structures stayed put and rotted, exactly as they are wont to do. The area is not safe for visitors, and it’s monitored by the Sherriff’s department. Check out these 8 abandoned places in Dallas.

3. Selma Plantation – Leesburg

Virginia is a state that’s south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and that means that you are going to run into at least one story involving people from the days of plantation. One of the more famous plantations in the state is Selma Plantation. Prior to the abandonment, the plantation was home to major names of Southern aristocracy like Armistead Thomas Mason and E.B. White. Unfortunately, it had its tolls taken.

The Civil War chased the Mason family out and the palatial property changed hands between the top men of the time. Eventually, the property fell into disrepair. As the bills began to mount for repairs and maintenance, people stopped wanting to live in the house. More alarmingly, rumors swirled regarding it being haunted by the former residents.

Sadly, the plantation languished for dozens of years before anyone decided to do anything about it. As of right now, someone bought the plantation in hopes of restoring it. However, there’s a lot of rumors swirling about the project being abandoned.

4. Swannanoa Palace – Afton

There are so many places in Virginia that were built up by the Southern gentry, but then left to rot. This Italian-style mansion was commissioned by philanthropists James and Sally Dooley. The 52-room stone mansion was meant to be the place where everyone wanted to go. After all, they were debutantes and that was just the way the aristocracy of the time behaved.

From 1912 to 1922, the house was a popular place to go. James died in 1922, leaving the home to Sally. She died three years later. After she died, the mansion was given to their four children, who decided to sell it off. Unfortunately, no one ever lived in it again. It became a small country club that entertained the country’s finest from 1928 to 1932.

When the Great Depression hit, the club was shuttered and there was no more work to be done. The castle-like structure was left alone ever since.

5. Professor Cline’s Haunted Monster Museum – New Bridge

No, Mark Cline wasn’t a real “professor,” nor was he the owner of a real museum. Professor Cline’s was a haunted house attraction that was meant to be more of a tourist trap than anything. With that said, people who visited did say it was scary. What is a little scarier is the fact that Cline used a real abandoned home as the setting to his museum…and well, you know.

The fires.

Within a matter of months of opening up the attraction, Professor Cline had a massive fire rip through the place. Insurance was able to cover it, but barely. Then, just as business was picking up again, another mysterious fire ripped through the area. This time, Cline’s was closed for good. Many people believe that this was a case of insurance fraud gone awry.

6. Lorton Reformatory – Lorton

Lorton Reformatory was part of the District of Columbia’s Department of Corrections since the earlier part of last century. Started up in 1910, it went under a wide range of names. Before it was Lorton, it was the Occuquan Workhouse. In the earlier part of the last century, Lorton became notorious for being the place where 168 women’s suffragists were interned and tortured for asking for the right to vote.

Though the people sentenced to go here were usually people who did smaller crimes, Lorton was a tough place to be. Bedbugs, beatings, and more were the norm. It was closed down in 2001, though the area was reopened later on. In order to conserve space in the area, Lorton decided to zone this area as a residential area.

Oddly enough, not all of the prison area is fully renovated nor is it fully inhabited. It’s also purportedly haunted by the former residents, which we can totally see happening. It’s strange, to say the least.

7. Main Street – Pamplin City

Pamplin City, as a whole, is an amazing allegory for Wall Street versus Main Street. Wall Street and the investment world as a whole has been thriving. Main Street? Not so much. For the past couple of decades, the small town known as Pamplin City has been suffering at the hands of industrialization. The job market died here, and people began to move out in spades.

The city isn’t really so much of a city anymore. While it used to hold thousands of people, the town’s population now dwindled down to a couple hundred. Real estate here has a low price, but it’s not looking rosy. As bad as the residential area is, what’s truly abandoned and eerie to look at is the town’s Main Street.

Though you can walk through this street, there’s usually no reason to. All the stores in this once-proud neighborhood are gone, or dying. The buildings are damaged by a fire that happened a long time ago. No one comes here, and the population is continuing to shrink. Short of a miracle investor, this will be a ghost town in no time.

8. Presidents Park – Williamsburg

Founded in 2004, Presidents Park is a now defunct was a ten-acre sculpture park and open-air museum. The park consisted of 43 18-to-20-foot high busts of United States presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. The busts were created by Houston-based sculptor David Adickes and local landowner, Everette Newman, provided the location for the exhibition.

From the day that it opened, Presidents Park created dispute. Many local leaders feared that the park would draw tourists away from the other nearby attractions, like those in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. Others simply called the display a tasteless eyesore. Unfortunately, the park closed inn 2010, just six years after it opened.

After the land went into foreclosure the busts were relocated to a nearby farm, many of which were damaged in the process. Now, these crumbling effigies stand in a field just outside of Williamsburg, Virginia where they have continued to crack, crumble, peel, and decay.

9. Paxton Manor – Lessburg

Charles Paxton passed away in 1899, leaving behind his daughter who passed away the following the year, and his wife Rachel. In 1921, the property was converted into an orphanage and the mansion and grounds are now home to The Arc of Loudon, an education and therapy organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities and their families. Paxton Manor also hosts Shocktober, a month-long annual event in October that has been ranked one of the scariest haunted attractions in the country.

Related Questions

Is the Virginia Rennaissance Faire going to reopen?

In recent years, a private buyer purchased the fairgrounds and announced that he would be revamping the area. Though there were plans to make the renfaire region come back to life, the actual work behind it hasn’t happened yet. Plans fall through all the time, but the area is still regularly patrolled by police. No one really knows the outcome of the area, but it does have a lot of promise.

Why are abandoned places guarded?

There are lots of reasons. The owners of the abandoned places (or the towns) guard them because of the worry about injury to people who want to explore them. At times, the areas that are abandoned may also be guarded because of the concerns that come with vandalism. Areas that are known for gang activity might also hire people to guard abandoned places due to the risk of having gangs encroach in the area.The bottom line is that they are guarded because people don’t want you going in there for one reason or another. It’s not a good idea to go in if it’s guarded. If you decide to go in, you might get arrested.

Are there any abandoned towns in Virginia?

Aside from the lost city of Roanoke (which has never been found), there are several ghost towns that are in Virginia. The most notorious one that can be visited was once known as Wash Woods. The town once held dozens of people, but everyone left. The unincorporated town is now a part of First Woods State Park. The ghost town is approximately 400 years old, making the ruins some of the oldest in the state.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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