Dark Shadows: The tale of the North Room

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse stands watch in the heart of Corolla, North Carolina. For over a century the lighthouse has guided mariners across the sea to safety.  U.S. Coast Guard Composite Photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse stands watch in the heart of Corolla, North Carolina. For over a century the lighthouse has guided mariners across the sea to safety. U.S. Coast Guard Composite Photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.

In the darkest of nights, the men and women of the U.S. Lighthouse Service kept a taut watch over their lighthouses. Formed in 1789, members of the service worked to tirelessly tend the flame. Successfully doing so meant a ship safely reached shore; failure meant lives dashed upon rocks or shoals, lost to the depths of the sea. The lighthouse was a beacon of hope to mariners, an escape from the perils of the sea. But in 1939, the keeper’s way of life changed. As lighthouses became automatic, many keepers left the service. Some believe when the keepers of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and their families left, they left something chilling behind.

Located in the keeper’s home at Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, North Carolina, the North Room hosted several lighthouse keepers and their families but also had its fair amount of death. According to Nancy Roberts’ book Ghosts of the Coast, not a single person has been able to stay overnight in the North Room because it is believed a ghostly presence lives there. Tourists believe they have felt a chill hanging in the air and felt an icy breath on their necks.

When first restored from its dilapidated state in the 1980’s, Lloyd Childers became the brand-new caretaker of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and the renovated keepers’ home. Childers gave tours of the keepers’ home prior to it closing to the public. During these tours some people mentioned how eerie the North Room felt. One tourist was unable to enter the room, commenting there was something mysterious about the room. According to Childers, it could be due to the deaths connected to the North Room, the first being that of Sadie Johnson.

Some tourists believe a cold breath would cross their neck in the North Room. According to caretaker Lloyd Childers, not a single person has been able to stay a night in the North Room since being rebuilt. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup

Some tourists believe a cold breath would cross their neck in the North Room. According to caretaker Lloyd Childers, not a single person has been able to stay a night in the North Room since being rebuilt. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup

After the death of her parents Sadie Johnson came to live with her uncle and adoptive father George Garner Johnson during his service at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from 1916 to 1920. While living with the Johnsons, it was believed her bedroom was the North Room. That is, until she drowned. According to Childers, Sadie was often told not to play by the shore but would not listen. Then in 1927, Sadie drowned while swimming with her friends in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Since then it has been thought her spirit returned to her old bedroom.

According to Childers, more deaths occurred in the room as time went on. “I understand there was a woman who was a visitor at the lighthouse and died there,” said Childers. “I’m not sure who it was but I do know it was in that North Bedroom, which a lot of people feel is kind of haunted.”

Then there is the death of an unidentified keeper’s wife. According to Childers, the keeper’s wife laid in the North Room suffering from tuberculosis. When she passed away, all of her clothing and sheets were put into a barrel and kept in the room for fear of the disease spreading. After the automation of the lighthouse in 1939, the home fell into disrepair but the barrel remained in the North Room. Children in the village of Corolla were told not to go to the North Room for fear of catching the disease. But when their curiosity got the better of them, the children went into the North Room and opened the barrel. The villagers found their children playing a macabre game and immediately burned the clothing and sheets.

According to Childers, some of those who slept in the home said they experienced the supernatural. One of Childer’s friends spoke of the night she experienced something strange.

“During the night, she kept feeling like someone was tugging at her sheets, like they were saying, ‘Come play with me,’ or something like that,” said Childers. “Another friend of mine saw some visions of some keeper or something in the house.”

The current Currituck Beach Lighthouse caretaker, Meghan Agresto, has heard the legends regarding the room and even allowed a paranormal team to investigate the claims at one point. To Agresto, however, the supernatural myths surrounding the North Room are just myths.

“The North Room has no windows and also carries a draft,” said Agresto. “Because of this, the room is naturally colder than the rest of the house. Not only that, but people would feel the draft across their skin and think that it was a ghost touching them. I think people find that atmosphere to be spooky.”

Inside the old home the windows creak, the floorboards groan. There was even a light that would turn on all by its own, as if flicked on by a ghostly hand. “Turned out to be faulty wiring,” said Agresto. “We had an electrician take a look, and it was fixed right away.”

Whether ghosts actually haunt the North Room is uncertain. For over a century, the room has seen past keepers mourn the loss of loved ones time and time again, but their presence may remain, keeping watch over the North Room.

 

The keepers' home stands aloneon the lighthouse grounds. Now a private residence, legends still tell of ghostly sightings. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.

The keepers’ home stands alone on the lighthouse grounds. Now a private residence, local legends still tell of ghostly sightings. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.