The Ghosts and History of Virginia City’s Old St. Mary Louise Hospital
September 28, 2016
By: Rebecca Genesis
Sugarloaf Mountain Motel and channeling one of their resident ghosts, I prepared to go on foot and hike around Virginia City to see what other kinds of ghostly experiences might be in store for the day. The first place on the top of my list was the notoriously haunted Mackay Mansion.After staying my first night in a haunted room at the
After the Mackay Mansion tour, the very gracious and informative tour guide suggested that I go check out the old St. Mary Louise Hospital. She told me that she had some cool paranormal experiences there and that because it’s off the main street, less people go there, or even know about it for that matter.
I didn’t quite realize how much of a journey on foot it would be to the old hospital turned art center, but I walked all the way down the hill until I arrived at “R” street. It turned out to be an amazing trek, however, because I was also able to experience my very first encounter with Virginia City’s wild horses! Five of them to be exact, including a juvenile and a pregnant mare. I was ecstatic!
As I approached the land with the old, big building I also noticed there were even more wild horses relaxing in the shade near a sign that read: “St. Mary’s Art & Retreat Center.” I made my way toward the big, four-story brick building, and past a large group of people enjoying a cookout in the front lawn of the property until I was greeted by a friendly dog at the top of the front steps.
Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters. I asked if there was a fee to tour the St. Mary’s Art Center and I was surprised to learn that there was no cost, but donations were accepted for the preservation of the building.The front door was open and as I walked in I noticed a few women in an office to the right. I told them who I was and why I was there and I was pleased to learn that two of them, Jill and Jaedene, were also paranormal investigators for the
I was more than honored to donate $10 and asked also asked the kind ladies what sort of paranormal activity people experience at the St. Mary’s Art Center and if there were any hot spots in the building. Rather than spill the beans, Jill wisely suggested I freely roam about and see what I’m able to pick up on and then we would speak again when I was done. I happily accepted the challenge.
I promised Jaedene and Jill I’d be back to speak with them before I left and made my way down the hallway. Although the first room I entered to my right was filled with modern art sculptures, the feeling of the environment was not modern at all. As with many old buildings, it also seemed to retain an energy that was filled with many different memories and emotions.
The building was mostly empty of the living as I made my way through it. I could hear voices now and again, and I ran into a couple of jovial teens during my tour, but I was there to interact with the dead. As I worked my way up and through the building, I could constantly feel some sort of unseen presence. I continued taking photos and speaking aloud to the entity, knowing it would only be a matter of time before I performed a crystal channeling session.
Once I finally made my way through most of the building and to the top floor, I decided it was time to channel. I settled down in a cozy bedroom with a long, wooden bench which was likely an old pew. I took off my backpack and retrieved my amethyst crystal pendulum from inside one of the pockets.
I connected immediately with my Spirit Guide, Michael who then introduced me to an entity who wanted to communicate. From the channeling session I was able to determine it was a female spirit who had died on the premises years ago and chose to stay to watch over those in the environment. I could tell she had a very loving and positive energy, and genuinely cared for the living. It was a very cool channeling session.
Once I completed my haunted tour of the building, I went back downstairs to pow wow with Jill and Jaedene about my findings at the St. Mary’s Art Center. I still had to review my photo and EVP evidence, which ultimately didn’t substantiate anything paranormal, but I spoke with them about my channeling session I had in one of the rooms with a friendly female spirit.
“The woman told me she died here while it was a hospital and that she likes it here, so she chooses to stay,” I informed them. “She definitely isn’t malevolent and she’s more of a protector here in spirit.”
“That sounds like our White Nun,” Jill immediately responded. I was happy to have my channeling session validated. After a bit more dialogue, I exchanged information with the ladies and thanked them for allowing me the experience to tour the building. Then I set back on foot for a very steep uphill hike back to town.
Haunted Virginia City by Janice Oberding, had some information on St. Mary’s Art Center and the White Nun Jill mentioned at the end of my tour of the old Hospital building.Later that evening, back at my haunted motel room, I noticed that a book I had picked up while in town,
sources online mention the possibility that the White Nun died at the hospital long ago under mysterious circumstances.According to Oberding, the White Nun is the most prevalent entity people have said to encounter at St. Mary’s Art Center. The story goes that when the ghostly nun was alive, she was also a nurse who took care of the patients at the St. Mary Louise Hospital years ago. It’s said the woman perished in an accidental fire while trying to save her patients. However other
Regardless of how she died, the apparition of the White Nun is seen most frequently watching from one of the third-story windows both during the day and at night and in room 11 which was the hospital’s former chapel. She has also been seen walking up and down the halls, as if she is still checking on patients. Dressed in all-white, it’s easy to see how she got her name. Similar to my experience, those who encounter the watchful spirit say she is a friendly entity.
Another ghost reported to have been seen at St. Mary’s Art Center is a heavy-set woman who smells like violets and has been seen in one of the building’s kitchens. Others also contend that they have awoken in the middle of the night to see a ghostly spectre of a woman trying to take their temperature. But it’s not just female spirits who are said to still roam the halls of the old hospital. A ghostly man in an old wheelchair has also been seen in the building and it’s said he looks confused. Perhaps he hasn’t quite figured out that he has died.
Daughters of Charity for the purpose of building the St. Mary Louise Hospital, the first medical facility in the area.Undoubtedly, there have been many souls who passed while staying in the building back when it was a hospital. The land used to belong to a man named Jacob Van Bokkelen who had a beer garden on the premises up until his accidental death by explosives that also killed ten other men. After his passing, Marie Louise, the wife of mining magnate John Mackay, purchased the land and donated it to the
The hospital first opened in 1876 and could accommodate up to 70 patients. With indoor plumbing, both hot and cold running water in all the rooms, steam heating, and gas lighting, it was a renowned medical facility in it’s heyday. It was also mostly fully self-sustained with gardens, fruit trees, and chicken coops on the grounds. However, it wouldn’t be long until the population in Virginia City began to dissipate after the mines became less productive. The Daughters of Charity left the hospital, and the town behind in 1897.
Father Paul Meinecke, along with a group of local artists, teamed up to save the derelict building and reopen it as a peaceful, yet vibrant non-profit art center where artists could create and share their works and the community could learn how to tap into their own creative potentials.Storey County took over the operation of the hospital but the population of Virginia City continued to shrink, and the St. Mary Louise Hospital closed its doors for good in the 1940s. The building sat unused and empty until 1964 when it faced the possibility of being demolished. However, a man named
According to the St. Mary’s Art Center website, the artists who both learned and practiced their art there, “emerged as an important factor in the advancement the modern cultural scene of the Northern Nevada.” It would be during the 1990s when the facility transformed once again, when it also opened its doors to the public. Today, the building maintains its dual purpose to serve as a place for artists and their creations while also lending itself to the public for hosting events and retreats.
here.The last time I visited Virginia City in late July/early August of 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting in person a paranormal investigator I had been following on Facebook, Michelle LeBaron. Michelle lives in the Reno area and also frequents nearby Virginia City every chance she gets. She is a proven ghost magnet, time and time again. Michelle has also collected some of the best paranormal evidence I’ve ever seen. You can follow Michelle’s paranormal investigations and view her evidence by liking her paranormal page on Facebook
Gold Hill Hotel. Michelle is also extremely empathic and intuitive, herself. She is a dear friend, and paranormal peer to say the least.Michelle has been a mentor for our group, the Ghost Seers, especially when it comes to using ghost communication equipment. Together, we combined her expertise in using ghost hunting equipment along with our group’s ability to use intuitive methods to communicate with spirits. We had an epic night together in Virginia City in a haunted lodge across from the historic
Michelle LeBaron isn’t part of a paranormal group, she’s more of a lone wolf in the field, preferring to network with many different figures in the ghost hunting game. However, she is also good friends with Jaedene and Jill from the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters. Together, along with some other gifted paranormal investigators, they are hosting an amazing event at the St. Mary’s Art Center, Crown Point Mill, and the Fourth Ward School on the main strip of Virginia City this October 21 – 22, 2016 called Haunted Halls 2.
The Haunted Halls 2 Meet and Greet will be held on Friday, October 21st from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm PST, followed by a surely-spooky paranormal investigation at the Crown Point Mill from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am. The main Haunted Halls 2 investigation will occur Saturday, October 22nd from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Fourth Ward School and Museum. The final investigation for Haunted Halls 2 will occur at St. Mary’s Art Center from 11:00 pm until the ghosties go to bed.
here.Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters is the only paranormal group trusted with leading ghost hunting expeditions through the historic halls of the Fourth Ward School and Museum. Unlike many other paranormal groups, NNGH does not receive any profit from their events, and all proceeds from Haunted Halls 2 go toward the historical preservation of the foundations. You can purchase tickets to the event at the NNGH website
here.You can also like the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunter Facebook page
For a sneak peek of what you might experience with members of NNGH, Michelle LeBaron, and other paranormal teams and enthusiasts during the Haunted Halls 2 event in Virginia City, be sure to check out this awesome video of a spirit face captured on camera at the St. Mary’s Art Center in early September, 2016.
(Video Courtesy of: Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters)
St. Mary’s Art Center is an amazing place for artists to create and display their works and conduct workshops to teach other aspiring artists. And, of course, it’s definitely an intriguing place to experience the paranormal whether you are an investigator or just simply interested in the spirit realm.
Since they opened their doors to the public, it is also a perfect venue for events such as weddings, reunions, company meetings, retreats, and conferences. With multiple cozy guest rooms, two full kitchens, meeting rooms, and a beautiful setting rich with history in the hills of Virginia City, you’ll be sure to enjoy every moment spent at this amazing location.
St. Mary’s Art Center is located at 55 R Street – Virginia City, NV 89440. Their phone number is 775-847-7774. The public can visit this historic and haunted building from Thursday – Sunday between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm.
here.Be sure to check out my photo gallery from my visit to St. Mary’s Art Center
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