Just imagine that you were going about your day doing your chores when you hear a sound, turn your head, and see the form of a woman in period dress standing in the hall watching you. Occoquan’s grounds and maintenance man, Bucky, had just such an experience one day a couple of months ago.
As Bucky described it to me, it went like this: He was painting in the basement at Town Hall. He heard a sound in the hall which caught his attention. As he turned he saw a very clear outline of a woman standing next to the trash can. He explains that she stood there long enough for him to be able to describe her.
She was about 5 ft. tall, just a little taller than the 4ft tall trash can she stood next to. Her dress had puffy sleeves, and her hair was either grey or a brown. He was very careful to point out that he did not see her face. Although he was a bit taken aback, he bent over to pick up a roller to continue his work. When he looked over toward her again she was gone.
Perhaps Bucky’s casual attitude was due to the fact that this was not the first time he had a paranormal experience there. Once, he had just replaced the light bulbs in the beautiful chandeliers in the main meeting room. After getting down from the ladder, some of the bulbs went out. Bucky once again climbed the ladder and discovered that some of the bulbs he had just replaced had been unscrewed. Cold spots, and had intercom calls from vacant offices are also not unusual.
Recently, he said something that our ghost clearly didn’t like, and in response, she slammed some file drawers shut. He has since learned to just work quietly, not wishing to upset her.
Occoquan’s Town Hall is located at 314 Mill Street. This quaint little building sits back from the street and has steps leading up to it. The land in front is much higher than the street level. It is obvious from the Lancet windows that the building began its life as a church. The building was erected in1926, just ten years after the massive fire of 1916 that wiped out so many buildings in town.
One of the buildings destroyed in the 1916 fire was the frame First Methodist Church that stood on Commerce Street next to what is now the Pink Bicycle Tea Room. Occoquan’s Town Hall was the replacement for that church. Also destroyed during the fire was the Underwood family home which was located on the lot where Town Hall now sits.
John Underwood was a famous abolitionist and his family had lived at that location from the late 1830s. Insurance records from 1839 describe the house as a 20 x 30 foot brick building with a slate roof. There was also a brick and wood bake house in the rear along the alley.
It might be hard to imagine what the building on the corner of Mill and Ellicott streets looked like at that time. The house’s porch fronted on Mill Street, and the two story building filled the whole lot with enough room in the rear for the bakery. For a photograph of the Underwood house you can visit the Occoquan Historical Society site at http://occoquanhistoricalsociety.org/Historic_Photographs.html#Underwood.
The rear alley bakery was operated by Mr. Underwood’s mother. The puffy sleeves Bucky described our ghostly figure as wearing could indicate a dress with Leg-O-Mutton sleeves which were popular from the mid-1890s to around 1910.
Could Mother Underwood be overseeing Bucky’s work?