Brick House Tavern

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Both content and restless spirits find peace here.



The Brick House Tavern is part of the Colonial Williamsburg authentic period accommodations group that offers places to stay in old Colonial houses. The Brick House Tavern was built with solid design and materials; making it last for over 200 years before it was restored again as part of the Williamsburg renewal project. It is a large rectangular brick structure, with two floors that have eight rooms on each floor. The basement; “The Great Room,” is a finished basement with tall ceiling, and a fireplace; a space that once held a tavern, and was/is a place for many social events.

On each floor there is a small foyer;located on the first floor at the entrance from the front door. The second floor has small foyer at the staircase. On each floor, there is a hallway off the foyer that runs the entire length of the floor. There are eight rooms off each hallway on both the first and second floors. All sixteen rooms have their own private bathroom. These bathrooms were added by using the closets in each of the rooms.

The rooms are smaller than modern hotels, as Colonial people didn’t need a lot of space; unlike 21st century folks. The rooms have single, twin and queen beds. All the rooms are comfortable, with heating and air conditioning, and come with all the modern bells and whistles and perks, like room service that are offered at the main lodge, at a reasonable rate for a historical place.



The property that the Brick House Tavern was eventually built on lot, listed as lot 19 and was owned by Thomas Ravenscroft. He sold this property to Cole Digges who sold it to William Withers, who sold most of it to Dr. William Carter in 1864. I think at that point Dr. Carter built The Brick House Tavern, and a few other structures.

The Brick House Tavern was built to be used as commercial enterprises. being just steps away from Duke of Gloucester Street, which is the center of all activities in Williamsburg, old City. it was sort of like a small cluster of businesses, who all paid rent to establish their businesses there.

The Brick House basement was divided and rented to two different businesses. At first various merchants opened up shop in parts of the structure, like James Patterson’s watch repair shop, perukemaker James Nichols. May Davis opened her lodge, using the first and second floors in 1770. A 1770 stay at The Brick House Tavern included a meal and lodging; meaning a place to sleep. Strangers slept in the same bed, unless they paid extra to have a bed to themselves.

Turn-over of renters seemed to happen often if compared to modern business. In March of 1977, the basement was used as a printing shop and the upstairs was a general store.

Levy Anderson acquired the whole brick house tavern building just before 1806.

Eventually, a tavern was established in the basement and the upper floors were used for lodging.
In 1814, a company of Captain Otey’s troops lodged here in the Brick House Tavern over Christmas; taking a break from battling the British.

A journal made by a Pleasants Murphy, tells what they did while staying at The Brick House Tavern. ”
“Sunday Decr. 25- being Christmas the world Resounded with the noise of guns. we made Several Egg nogs in our barracks and Drank much Liquor… in the evening our Mess held a Superb Supper at Mr. Thomas where our Rations are cooked…

“Sunday January 1, 1815–11 O’clock A. M. I am now in the back Room in our Barracks which is an old brick building situate on the south side of the main street of the City of Williamsburg which is an old town of no considerable Size

“Monday January 2, 1815–….At Night we Borrowed a fiddle and had a dance in Our Barracks….”

Thomas Sands acquired the whole building on lot #19 and insured it in 1817. He spent years paying off his mortgage.

In 1842, The Brick House was mostly destroyed by fire, but the foundation and the ruins of the building’s immense brick gable-ends, which offered a general map of how to rebuild it. Though the fire wiped out the structures on this lot 19, Thomas Sands now owned the lot outright in 1846, after paying all that he owed in his mortgage agreement. Perhaps he planned to rebuild but he never was able to do so.

Almost a hundred years later, in 1936, plans were made to reconstruct the Brick House Tavern, after doing their due diligence with research.
“When given the location of exterior windows and doors, and with a knowledge of the building height, materials of construction, and its date,—it is possible to reconstruct the exterior appearance of such a building with fair accuracy.”

Sources were used to gather the needed information about the features of this structure. Eighteenth century Records, Early newspaper ads and printings of the Virginia Gazette established that the structure was made out of brick, its height and that it had brick gable ends , and that it was used for lodgings, for shops and as a tavern. York County Deed Plan, 2/16/1764 listed the details of this structure that helped in the detailed reconstruction of this fine building.

When finished, it was used as one of the Williamsburg historic lodging opportunities; complete with huge historical decor with an event center in the basement area. Former owners and patrons and shop owners now in spectral form must be really pleased.



When spirits are attached to the land or an area, any structure that is rebuilt or restored will be a fine place for them to return to and visit or stay, especially if this structure was a reconstruction of a place they were attached to while alive.

As The Brick House Tavern’s shell was restored to what it once was, plus with modern amenities like private bathrooms, private rooms and running water, this would draw past spirits who loved this place.

Perhaps the last owner of this building, before it burnt to the ground, the spirit of Thomas Sands may visit to see his dreams being fulfilled by the living who had the good sense to rebuild his structure; something he couldn’t do in his life-time. Perhaps he stays to help, remembering his days as a successful owner.

Perhaps a former tradesman who had a business here, may try to set up his shop in his own mind’s eye in the space he once used in his business.

People who while alive loved to stay at their favorite inn or hotel, they as spirits may like to visit it and try to do the things they enjoyed or commonly did as guests. Restoring it or reconstructing it can draw them into this world. Former spectral guests may want to try this greatly new and improved Brick House Tavern. Old habits may alarm the living, though they are harmless, just startling.

Spirits have a fascination with electricity and running water in sinks, showers and bathtubs, especially if such things didn’t exist during the time they were alive. Spirits here have the same irresistible urge to try them.



Paranormal experiences are readily shared with organizations like colonial

Boatloads of people have had paranormal experiences since the Colonial village has been restored and reconstructed.

Ghost Tours through Colonial Williamsburg old city share the stories of the spirits who lived inside the various buildings.

Spirits of former guests

The spirits still seem to want to follow the normal ways they did while staying here as a lodger in 1770, and share the bed with you!

Usually it is a female spirit slipping into bed with the living on the first floor, and a male spirit may try this same action on the second floor; due to that women were on the first floor, and men stayed n the second floor.

The spirits may be confused if a woman is sleeping on the second floor, or a male is sleeping on the first floor.

Other spirits who could be the tradesmen, former owners or others who shopped here.

.Shadow figures are seen all over the building

Strong foot falls are heard on the steps when no one living was going up or down the stairs.

The sweet aroma of tobacco can drift through the building when no one living is smoking in this non-smoking building.

The sound of many keys “jangling” has been reported; leading to one think that a tradesmen, innkeeper or owner may be visiting, checking up on the living.

Encounter with an unwanted bed companion

A woman who stayed on the second floor room, was awakened by a man’s “stink”.

When she opened her eyes, she saw a solid man dressed in breeches and long, greasy hair.

The source said that at first she felt sorry for him, until he tried to kiss her!

Perhaps he thought she may make her living sleeping with men.

Playing with the UNIVERSAL TOYS of all spirits

Lights have mind of their own and turn off and on at the will of unseen spectral visitors or residents.

Equally fascinating is the fact that clean water can be gotten by just turning on the faucet or shower. Wow!




Yes Indeed! While investigators are not allowed to formally investigate the spectral population, EVPs here and there are unofficially caught by staff and visitors letting some spirits seek an audience that can hear them. Unless they can find a way to let go of what is keeping them here, the spirits who have issues may stay here forever.

Each museum and historical house or inn has been furnished the way it existed originally. The folks in charge don’t want ghost hunters tromping through their carefully restored structures. Besides, they want people to come and experience the historical, educational and hands on experiences; not bothering their resident spirits. GHOST TOURS are deemed to be ok because most of the tours are done from the outside, not inside.




The Brick House Tavern in Williamsburg
300-398 E Duke of Gloucester St,
Williamsburg, VA 23185

The Brick House Tavern is located in the heart of the Colonial Williamsburg business district, not far from the Courthouse.



Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Williamsburg Haunts in Virginia