The Chimneys

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Spirits love music here!

The spirit of a little boy finds comfort and security;

The spirit of a blonde woman goes about her business.

Spirits are not shy about expressing their
opinions, and other unknown spirits visit as well.

The patient spirit of a slave on the Underground Railroad is still waiting.


This 1771, two story Georgian Mansion is named by its stone chimneys located on either side Despite being over 300 years old, this large, house that was built to showcase the owner’s wealth, remained a stellar example of a Colonial mansion’s architecture.

The basic original construction remains intact, because this structure was built to last the eras! It had no problem being added to both the Virginia Landmark Register;(1974) and the National Register of Historic Places;(1975).

The first floor has a central hallway that runs from the front to the back of the house, with a large room on either side of this hallway. The bedrooms are all on the second floor. The first floor makes a great commercial business space, which explains why a restaurant has been there since it was sold to a private citizen.

Currently as of 2017, Billiken’s Smokehouse reigns forth on the first floor spaces. While patrons enjoy barbecue cooked in the back space, they can enjoy the 1771 Colonial charm that the original owner had wanted in his forever home. “Dentil-work moldings and crystal chandeliers give a regal feel to the 1770s structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Subtle touches like books all askew, along with a black-and-white wedding picture, over one of the building’s famed fireplaces create a casual twist.”

The Chimneys still has it elemental structural beginnings. The Chimneys “is framed with heavy timber with mortise and tenon joints secured with hardwood pegs. Each timber is marked by chiseled Roman numerals. Spaces between wall studs are noggedwith brick in the interior and exterior walls. Fredericksburg was a major port city in the colonies in the mid-to-late 18th century and The Chimneys’ hipped roof framing utilizes techniques common in the construction of ships’ hulls at the time. The roof is supported by three heavy king post trusses.”



In 1772, Charles Yates was the one who built The Chimneys, and sold it shortly afterward to a successful Scottish immigrant, John Glassell, who had made his money in his own company that was in the lucrative Tobacco export business. After deciding to side with Great Britain, becoming a loyalist right before the Revolutionary War, he gave the deed to his brother and went home to Scotland;never to return.

Throughout the 18th and 19th Century, a lot of families and couples have enjoyed living in The Chimneys, and they must of done their do diligence in maintaining this fine Georgian Mansion. Because in 1966, when the president of the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation bought this property, the Chimneys was in great enough shape to rent immediately for income.

In 1975, the Historic Foundation decided to move inside themselves, opening their museum there as well as having their offices there as well.

Seven years later, the Historic Foundation sold The Chimneys to William Vakos in 1982 and renovated the Chimneys by the book, after asking permission from Fredericksburg Architectural Review Board and Zoning Board to create restaurant space, while staying within the guidelines of NRHP and VLR. All changes made were preapproved.

The Chimneys’ “weatherboarding was repainted in the original colors and porches were added at the rear of the building as well as in the front of the building where a 2-story porch was built. A veranda overlooking an English garden was added. Plumbing, electrical systems, and heating were also replaced.”

The first floor of The Chimneys was ready to have a restaurant, which would bring in funds for a string of restaurants that were located on the first floor of The Chimneys. William Vakos sold The Chimneys to Robert Mitchell III in 1985, who proboably opened a restaurant. In 2000, ownership passed to Tommy Mitchell who opened his own restaurant.

As of 2017, BILLIKEN’S SMOKEHOUSE opened its doors, serving upscale barbecue meat that is smoked on a grill in the extensive back yard; entertaining the neighborhood with a delicious aroma. Greg and Sharon Shalawylo and managed by their daughter, Ashlie Shalawylo, the business is a second restaurant of the Billiken’s BBQ Company in Mineral, 200 Lake Front Drive.

During their first year of owning this house, they enhanced the historic aura by adding items like installing chandeliers, replacing the old bar with a handmade model and adding antiques. The final result was a historic atmosphere for their upscale barbecue restaurant. After the upstairs rooms are renovated, they’ll be available for, among things, private parties.



There are quite a few spirits who like this structure, while only a few have shown themselves. Below, are some of the reasons why.

Before antibiotics, vaccines, children were at risk for falling seriously ill and passing. Accidents also took lives. Their spirits sometimes decide to stay in places that they felt love and comfort while alive.

A little spirit of a boy still finds comfort here.

Events and activities that spirits loved or had a sense of duty about while alive, can draw them back to this world when those events and activities are done by the living.

A musical performance can peek the interest of this spirit in this historic house.

People who while alive loved their forever home, sometimes choose to spend their afterlife there, or visit often, even doing their favorite activities while they are there.

A female spirit and perhaps other past owners reside or visit.

Spirits sometimes don’t like changes in their beloved forever home, and let the living know about it.

A spirit or two don’t like a restaurant in their downstairs common rooms!

When a child of any age dies, and decides to stay in the family home or business, the child’s spirit may have the company of his or her close relative or two.

The child spirit here may be connected to the female spirit.

Fredericksburg was a hot spot for the Underground Railroad, because it was beside the Rappahannock River. The Virginia Abolition Society formed in 1780; a group that started early in smuggling slaves out via the Underground Railroad. Spirits can become trapped in a place where they died, because they can’t let go for a variety of reasons.

A slave named Nicodemus had been hiding in the basement of the Chimneys for several 100 years, still waiting for a woman to bring him his false papers.



It is suspected that many more spirits visit here, but the three listed below are the ones that have been seen, though it is not known who they are; just spirits that have some connection to the structure, that is over 300 years old. One has been described as a seafarer by a medium, Julia Pellegrino.

Some of the spirits have been residing or visiting since the mid-1800s’.

Dr. Brodie Herndon, who owned The Chimneys during the mid-1800s’ reported the following activity; many of whom continue today.

General Activity

Spirits go about their business at the home.

Door knobs turn and doors open.

Light footsteps are heard when no one living is around to make them.

Electrical lights are turned on and off.

Sounds of heavy foot steps.

Rocking chair moves by itself.

Spirit of a Young Woman

Spirits who love music, are drawn when music is available or performed.

In the mid-1800s, a young spectral woman was seen playing the family harp, as she sang.

Years later, another family bought a piano for their young daughter to play. She was playing it one day and singing as well.

As she did so, she heard the front door open and close, heard footsteps coming toward her and an unseen presence sat down next to her on the bench, and placed a cold unseen hand gently on her shoulder.

Spirit of a Young Boy

When The Chimneys was still being used as a private residence, a mother felt it become very cold in the hallway right outside her sleeping son’s room during the evening.

She went and got a blanket to cover her son up in his bed. When she came into the room, much to her surprise, she saw another young boy sleeping next to her son, looking like a real boy.

She covered up both children; thinking that her husband had given the okay for this mystery child to sleep over.

In the morning, she asked her husband, who said that he didn’t do so. She went into her son’s room, and just her son was in the bed.

She asked him, and he said that he didn’t have a friend spend the night.

Spirit of Nicodemus

He was a forgotten spirit who had quietly been waiting in the basement for his papers and escort for years. He didn’t know he had passed.

He was discovered by medium Julia Pellegrino when Mark Nesbitt asked her to take a look around The Chimneys. Nicodemus told medium Julie that he couldn’t leave without his papers and had to wait for Hattie to bring them. Other travelers on there Underground Railroad had come, gotten their papers and left him. They said they would be back for him, but they never came.

Julia smelled smoke – this neighborhood had burned twice: 1799 and 1823. She felt that he had died in this cellar, perhaps of smoke inhalation.

Some EVPS were gotten by Mark Nesbitt. Julia told Mark to tell Nicodemus that he didn’t need papers and he didn’t have to wait for Hattie, he could go. He passed between Julia and Mark, touching their hands. Both felt a freezing cold spot for a minute.

Spirit of a Tall, Blonde Woman

She has been seen going about her business in the house and in the garden.

Restaurant? Not in OUR home!

Spirits make it known with loud sounds of china breaking or silverware being dropped that they are annoyed with having a restaurant in their home.

No one asked them!

They also slam doors, and when really worked up, break items.


Yes Indeed! Spirits still love this glorious Georgian Mansion, though they are annoyed with restaurants being on the first floor.

The one spirit, Nicodemus, was able to leave the basement and hopefully found his way to the light and to the other side where family and friends were waiting for him.

Past homeowners, business owners, staff, and guests have long had a boatload of paranormal experiences. A medium Julia Pellegrino bumped into some resident spirits and with investigator Mark Nesbitt found a very patient spirit of a slave waiting. Mark caught some hard evidence.



623 Caroline Street,
Fredericksburg, VA 22401




Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Fredericksburg Haunts in Virginia