Harper House Museum

More From Harpers Ferry More From West Virginia

Money has caused restlessness.

Resident spirits are enjoying a life dream!



The two story with perhaps a lean-to in the back, Colonial style Harper House is the grandest structure that was finished in 1782 in Harpers Ferry.

This dream home of Robert and Rachel Harper sits high on a hill, and has a fantastic view from the House’s upper deck of St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Harpers Ferry lower town, the two rivers; the Potomac and the Shannondoah, the point and MD Heights, where soldiers encamped throughout the history of Harpers Ferry.

house-museum-paranormalThe Harper House had two bedrooms on the second floor with access to the balcony and perhaps one or two other rooms on the other side of the second floor. There is an inner staircase that goes down to the first floor.

The first floor has the customary hallway that runs to the back with two rooms in their front and perhaps two in the back off the hallway. Period furniture, dinner table and dishes have been added to the dining room. The parlor has some furniture as well.

Three bedrooms are furnished from the 1850s’ time period, depicting life as a tenant. The lower floor has a one room apartment, while the second floor is a two room apartment.

The view from the upper-story deck is very nice. It has a stairway down to the first floor porch.



Robert and Rachel Harper had made a boatload of money from the Ferry business. The next step was to build their dream home, to take advantage of their wealth. So the Harpers started to build their dream home in 1775, but the Revolutionary War extended the construction time. When they died before getting to actually moving into this jewel of Harpers Ferry, their dream home became the property of Harper’s niece, Sarah Harper Wagoner, of the Wagner family clan in 1782. She and her family enjoyed living in this brand new home.

The grand house was the private residence for Sarah Harper Wagoner and her family. In 1832, Sarah Harper Wagoner’s granddaughter, Sarah Anne, married Noah H Swayne and they moved into this grand home. The Swayne Family owned this Harper House for 89 years until 1921. They must of built onto the house, expanding it to meet their needs of themselves and their renters over the years. There are some structures that were built that were not part of the original structure.

While the Swaynes owned the house, they didn’t always live there. Noah H Swayne worked his way up from lawyer to judge, meaning that they probably had to move around. They may have turned the house into a rental around 1850, while they lived closer to Noah’s law firm. In 1860, President Lincoln chose him to be on the Supreme Court, meaning that his family had to move again to Washington D.C.

Harper House became a two unit apartment in 1850, with a two room apt that opened out to the deck, and a one room apartment downstairs that could also use the 2nd floor deck by going up the outside stairs located on the front porch.

The Harper House has the distinction of being one of the few homes not destroyed by the Civil War, despite the fourteen battles. It’s location seemed to help keep it out of the way of cannon balls.

Perhaps sometime in the early 20th Century, The Harper House became a local watering hole; a bar. Perhaps the upstairs wasn’t rentable or needed updating or the upstairs was used for the bar’s manager or employees. The town’s population may have shrunk a bit and it wasn’t profitable to rent the Harper House as apartments.

Throughout the following eras of time, people left Harpers Ferry. As the population shrank in the 20th century, the weathered Harper House stood empty for awhile with no one interested in renovating it for either a business opportunity or as a residence.

Time also took its toll and the once grand house in Harpers Ferry became a funky, fixer-upper opportunity, passing from the state of needing renovation to update and maintain the structure to being an inhabitable wreck with good bones. The Harpers must of been rolling in their graves.

The Harper House’s future changed for the better after Harpers Ferry became a Federal Monument. It was at least stabilized. When Harpers Ferry became a Historical National Park, The Harper House was restored by Federal Government specialists to offer exhibits setting up the dining area, parlor on the first floor, 1 bedroom, and the apt on the second floor.



Concerns about money can cause spirits to be restless.

In 1775, Robert and Rachel were being heavily taxed by the British who were trying to get funds to help pay for the expensive French and Indian War they fought in defense of the Colonists. Businesses were an easy target to tax. The tax on tea merchants who passed the cost onto their customers started the Revolutionary War.

Robert and Rachel had gotten in the habit of burying their money to be able to deny tax money to the British. Five years into the construction of their new home, Rachel began to bury the money in the soon-to-be new home’s garden in 1780. As they were preparing to move into their new home, Rachel at the age of 60, fell off a ladder and died the next day. Widower Robert Harper died two years later in 1782, leaving no children and never moving into their new dream home, or finding his wife’s hiding place for the money.

People who die unexpectedly while living in their forever home for a short time, sometimes decide to spend their after-life in their cherished home. Sometimes they die before even being able to move in!

Rachel Harper was cleaning the house in preparation for their big move into their forever home due to be finished in 1882, when she fell off the ladder and died the next day.

When the house was finished in 1782, Robert Harper died before moving into the finished dream home.

When a structure is historically restored, it may act like an environmental trigger.

After being allowed to deteriorate, The Harper House was restored.

Spectral Family Members of the the spirit who stays in this world sometimes have been known to stay or visit too.




Spirit of Rachel Harper

Seen dressed in 1780 era clothing.

She likes to stand looking out the window, getting a great, clear view of the garden, keeping an eye on the buried money.

Spirit of Robert Harper

May be keeping her company, though it is hard to tell because no evidence has been reported of his presence.

A second presence is sometimes felt by sensitive people.


Most Probably so. The safety of money is a powerful force to keep a spirit in this world, the being able to retire to their forever home must be fulfilling. Boatloads of witnesses have seen or felt these two, but no hard evidence has been caught or shared with the public.




107 Public Way,
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

The Harper House Museum is located half-way up the hill on the street of Public Way. At the top of Public Way turn right and St. Peters’ Roman Catholic Church can be found in the same area of this hill top.


  • www.tripadvisor.com
  • www.nps.gov/

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr


Haunts in Harpers Ferry Haunts in West Virginia