Holly Hill House

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It is visited by former, polite Hill Family spirits,
who heartily approve of the restoration efforts!



Holly Hill House is a beautiful two story Victorian home, built in 1872. When we visited it in 2012, this property was for sale. As of 2013, it is a private residence and no longer a bed and breakfast. The rooms in its Carriage House, however, are still available for guests and visitors to rent. The Carriage House is called Holly House Guest Rooms.

Holly Hill House got its name from all the ancient holly trees that were originally planted when Robert and Elizabeth Hill lived there. Perhaps holly trees only have to be planted once. They must be pretty hardy to last so long, and/or have gotten excellent care over the 100 plus years.

Inside the ring of space made by the 20 holly trees are two ancient trees, original to the late 1880s Hill home. The ancient, upside down Camperdown elm, was grafted three times to itself and then re-rooted by the Hill’s Chinese gardener. This elm is listed on the historic tree registry. The second equally old, but smaller tree, a weeping mulberry, was also grafted to its own roots, probably by the same Chinese gardener. The hawthorn and plum trees also still alive in the garden are from the same era as well.


The Holly Hill House garden is an authentic Victorian garden, that has been well taken care of over 100 plus years, giving the visitor an idea of what a garden from that era could look like. The whole property is enclosed with a white picket fence, with 88 roses planted just inside the fence; all around the perimeter of the fenced property. This idea to plant so many rose bushes was Elizabeth Hill’s, who loved roses, and had planted the original rose bushes. Over the years, other roses were planted to replace them, as roses don’t live 100 years!


Inside Holly Hill House

While the original house that was built by the Hunts, has evolved somewhat to meet the needs and tastes of the various owners who lived here, Holly Hill House’s beauty and unique qualities were kept mostly intact.

“Distinctive features of the house include the unusual fireplaces, stippled woodwork, ornate moldings, hand-cast hinges, built-in hutches, many original light fixtures (which were changed from oil to electric), and a cozy sitting porch.”

Something about Holly Hill House inspired all who owned it to create their perfect dream home. All the wonderful upgrades made by Colonel Robert and Elizabeth Hill have been admired and kept. In the parlor, a marble fireplace was added by the Hills in 1898. Built-in hutches and cabinets were added by the Hills in the huge dining room. A second floor addition over the kitchen was built in 1900 to create a master bathroom.

Other owners also made their personal touches and changes to reflect their tastes and meet their needs. The old parlor, that was made into a bedroom in the late thirties, was also used as Lizette’s sitting room, a library, and an office.

The kitchen has been remodeled at least four times. A fireplace made from the original bricks was added in the 1970s.

When Holly Hill House was opened as a bed and breakfast, by owners Greg and Nina, there were three bedrooms with private baths located inside the house, meaning that closets and walls were moved to make space for bathrooms, sometime in the house’s history. Colonel Robert’s Suite was huge, and could sleep 10 people. The Carriage House had 2 more glorious rooms, enlarged by Greg and Nina, so they could offer their guests beautiful accommodations in this structure; giving this bed and breakfast 5 rooms to rent to guests.



The foundation of Holly Hill House was laid in 1864, by JJ Hunt, the operator of the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Water Street. JJ Hunt was later deeded the land in 1872. JJ and his wife Helen built the original house, but didn’t live there very long. In 1880, the house was passed down to Mary Hunt’s descendants, who sold this property to Col. Robert Cosby Hill and his wife, Elizabeth, in 1884.

Robert C. Hill grew up with his family in Pennsylvania. Robert Hill fought in the army during the 1800s Indian Wars, and reached the rank of Colonel. He came to Port Townsend, Washington, to join in business ventures with his brothers: Nathan and Humphrey.

Hill was a mover and a shaker. When he started The First National Bank with his associate Colonel Henry Landes, Hill became quite well-to-do. Robert was well-liked and thought of highly by the people of Port Townsend, and was elected Mayor, in 1885.

He and his wife, Elizabeth made this house their special home, adding personal touches and renovations. Lots of roses and unique trees were planted in the outside yard. Holly Hill House was their very favorite place; their dream home where they raised their three sons: Horace, William, and Harry.

As the Hill family did a lot of entertaining, they added built in cabinets and hutches in the dining room, a huge space. Around 1900, they added a second floor to the kitchen wing, as they wanted to add a bathroom to the Colonel’s bedroom suite.

Robert and Elizabeth’s son and daughter-in-law, William and his wife Lizette, moved into the family home and raised their family there as well. William’s life was cut short due to a stroke he suffered, in 1937, during a 4th of July speech he was making in front of the townspeople. Both William and Lizette lived in the house until their deaths. The Holly Hill House, however, stayed in the Hill family for ninety six years!

In 1980, the Holly Hill House was sold to people outside the family, the Slaters, who loved the house and were willing to do some restoration work on this now fixer-upper opportunity with great bones and many lovely features. In 1984, they were awarded The Mary Johnson Award for all their efforts in authentic restoration. While owning this property, they did their best to keep the gardens in great shape, and the home as well.

When Greg and Nina bought this property, Holly Hill House evolved into a bed and breakfast. They continued the tradition of taking upkeep and restoration seriously, while taking steps to renovate the structure to meet the needs of their business, like expanding and improving the rooms in the Carriage House. They were known for their hospitality and great breakfasts, which must have pleased the more socially ardent spirits.



Possible explanations as to why and who would want to visit or stay in Holly Hill House in their afterlife.

Restoration of a historic property by people not in the original family can act like an environmental trigger, drawing spirits into this world to more openly enjoy the improvements made to their cherished place. The first reported paranormal activity started when the house was sold to the Slaters.

People who love their home and/or die in their favorite place, such as a treasured mansion, like to visit or stay there in this world. Patriarch Robert Hill died in an upstairs bedroom. Perhaps his wife, Elizabeth also died in this house. Col. Robert Hill’s wife, Elizabeth, loved her home, her rose garden, and loved to host social gatherings as well, including music recitals in her home. William and Lizette, who also loved the family home also died in the house.

People who look forward to accomplishing something good or being honored in some way, can get frustrated when they suddenly die and are unable to finish the accomplishment or task or unable to enjoy the honor bestowed on them. They want to stay or visit often in this world because they want to enjoy what they had WHEN THEY WERE STILL ALIVE. William Hill suffered a stroke during a public speech on the 4th of July, 1937. He was very proud of the honor to be the main speaker. He died five months later at home.

People who were dedicated to the task of trying to help another person who was so important to them, sometimes try to continue to do so in the after-life whatever the task was, or they choose to stay with the spirit of the person who died, still trying to be near them or support them. After William suffered a stroke, his faithful wife, Lizette, who dearly loved William, turned the ladies parlor in the Holly Hill House into a bedroom, to be his convalescence room, where she took care of him, until he died 5 months later in December. She then made his old room into her sitting room.


After owners who had bought the home from the original descendants of Robert Hill, and had started to fix the structure up; restoring and renovating their newly acquired home, the mild, paranormal activity listed below became noticeable and was experienced. Other owners have also experienced the manifestations listed below.

Several paranormal investigating groups have done investigations, claiming to have some evidence of the spirits’ presence, but none of it has been published, possibly because of the fear of others stealing it, or perhaps for other reasons.

It is not quite known who or how many spirits may visit or stay in Holly Hill House. It is thought to be between two and four, as some may just visit. Here are the possibilities:

Entity of Patriarch Col. Robert Hill

In the upstairs bedroom where Robert Hill died, the smell of cigar smoke has been noticed by people still in this world.

An apparition of a gentleman, dressed in old-fashioned clothing has been seen on the staircase.

Female Entity of Elizabeth Hill

She had many fond memories of her life here.

As she raised her family in this house, and adored her garden, she may be the presence felt or noticed in the first floor rooms and kitchen, and in the large garden.

People have heard piano music being played, despite the fact that there was no piano in the home. While this may be just residual energy, this may also be a sign of Elizabeth’s presence, reliving her fond memories of all the fine music recitals, that Elizabeth had hosted.

Entity of William Hill

His spirit has been seen in the old, original ladies’ parlor, that was turned into his bedroom, where he tried to get better, but wound up dying. Perhaps he likes the library that was set up in this space.

He may also might have been seen on the central staircase.

Female Entity – William Hill’s wife, Lizette

Her presence has been felt and perhaps seen in rooms located on first floor, especially in the area where William Hill struggled to try to get better.


Perhaps so, in a mild way, though little information has been made public that would confirm the presence of spirits.

The owner at the time of the writing of Jeff Dwyer’s book, Ghost Hunter’s Guide To Seattle And Puget Sound, told him that the home wasn’t haunted by anyone, despite what others have said.

Other people and paranormal investigators have claimed to have had the personal experiences listed above, which is entirely possible, as the spirits may not want to scare the owner, and are careful not to show themselves around this owner who was taking such good care of their place! This would be very impolite!

No hard evidence has been made public by paranormal groups, such as AGHOST paranormal group, one of my favorite investigation organizations. This group was the source for Jeff Dwyer’s story on Holly Hill House, found in his book, Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound, as they had investigated Holly Hill House at some point in time. It could’ve been a private investigation, where the owners didn’t want anything specific published.

Some of the spirits may just visit from time to time, and/or by nature are very low key, benign, polite entities who don’t go out of their way to be noticed by the people who share Holly Hill House with them. The paranormal activity listed above, if it still occurring, is probably just the result of entities enjoying their home in this world, which they share with the present owners, while working on releasing their restlessness or the reason why they feel compelled to visit or stay.




611 Polk Street
Port Townsend, Washington 99368

Private residence:

The Holly Hill House can be found in uptown Port Townsend on the corner of Clay and Polk Streets.


  • Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Seattle and Puget Sound
    By Jeff Dwyer
    Gretna Publishing
  • Holly Hill House page on PTGuide.com
  • Holly Hill House page on The Innkeeper.com
  • “Haunted Washington” page on Washington State Ghost Society.com
  • “Washington Ghosts” page on Haunted Travels.com
  • Holly Hill House listing on The Bed and Breakfast Directory

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Port Townsend Haunts in Washington