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The Frightening Frankenberger Mansion of Charleston

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Frankenberger Mansion
Photo from WOWK 13 News

On November 1, 2016, the local 13News posted an article about a spooky, haunted mansion located right in the heart of Charleston, West Virginia! Located at 1111 Virginia Street East, the former Frankenberger Mansion is now home to the West Virginia Radio Group. Noel Richardson, who at the time of the article had been working in the building for 20 years, explains some of the ghostly goings-on.

According to Richardson, the ghost of the Frankenberger Mansion enjoys communicating through small, unexplainable acts, such as strange, unaccounted for noises, and messing with the lights. During one such event, Richardson had set out to work on a rooftop satellite dish around 2am. He turned the light switch on, then went down the steps, only to have the light go right back out. After turning it back on, Richardson noticed the light actually click itself off a second time, leading him to believe that the resident spirit enjoys the dark! But who is the lost soul that haunts the building? Richardson believes it is a former servant of the Frankenbergers who, after a brief affair in a second floor room with Mr. Frankenberger, found herself pregnant. Legend states that the unwanted baby was buried in the basement, possibly behind a hidden wall, and that the wronged mother comes back to search for her child and trying to make amends with the Frankenberger family. Let’s explore that theory a little further…

Frankenberger Mansion Today
Photo by Theresa

The Frankenberger Mansion was built at the turn of the last century (I’ve seen ‘official’ listings as being either 1893 or 1900) by Philip Frankenberger. Philip was born in Wertheim, Germany on October 20, 1843. As a teenager, he immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Charleston in 1860. He and his brother, Moses, opened up a men’s clothing store that would remain a staple of downtown shopping for the next 100 years. 

Philip married Jennie Moss, and together, they had five children. In the 1900 census, the family is living in their palatial Virginia Street home with Herbert (23 years old), Max (21 years old), Hortense (17 years old), Rena (14 years old), and little Walter (5 years old). They were also living with a servant named Elizabeth Saxton. 

Unfortunately, Mrs. Frankenberger passed away on April 2, 1904. Philip followed her in death on November 13, 1908. On October 30th, he had come home from work and went to bed. He took violently ill during the night and would undergo surgery for appendicitis. It was hoped that he would recover from his illness, but he took a turn for the worse, and died on a Friday afternoon at 3:30pm, surrounded by family and friends at home. Funeral services were held in the house by the Masonic Lodge No. 20, of which Frankenberger was an active member. He was buried in the B’Nai Israel Cemetery in Charleston, located within the Spring Hill Cemetery grounds. 

Map Card for 1111 Virginia St. E

By the next census in 1910, Max is living in the Virginia Street home as head of the household. He lives with younger siblings Rena (24 years old) and 15 year old Walter. They also live with a servant named Allie Lively. 

By the following census of 1920, the family is no longer associated with the property, and its rooms are being offered in the local newspaper for rent. In 1954, WCHS-TV came on the air, moving its offices from the Middleburg Auditorium on Lee Street to the newly renovated mansion, complete with studio space. After the station moved to new facilities in 1988, the Charleston Radio Group took over, and today the space is home to several radio and television stations. Oh, and its home to the ghost, too. 

Household help comes and goes, and since census records are only taken every 10 years, its unlikely that either Ms. Saxton or Ms. Lively is our ghost in question…if that story is even factual. As with many hauntings said to stem from not-so-nice circumstances, information usually isn’t easily verified. I mean, an affair with a prominent businessman and a potentially murdered baby aren’t necessarily things that would have been publicized back then, especially if a family had the wealth and prestige to cover things up. But, as I often tell my clients: Just because I can’t find historical documentation to back up the story, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I haven’t found anything that refutes the claims either! Hopefully, Spectral Research and Investigation will be allowed in one day to thoroughly investigate and help find some answers. If there truly is the spirit of a long-deceased maid searching for her baby, we’d love to share her story. 

If you have any information on this location, please comment below or reach out to me at Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook. Stay spooky, my friends! 

Below is Philip’s lengthy obituary, published in The Advocate, 19 November 1908. 


Source: http://theresashauntedhistoryofthetri-state.blogspot.com/2022/01/the-frightening-frankenberger-mansion.html


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