200-year-old mansion used as Civil War hospital
At first glance, the Elmwood 1820 seems like a classic bed & breakfast in a historic mansion. However, the 200-year-old manor holds many secrets inside its walls.
The first two floors of Elmwood 1820 offer spiral staircases and antique hardwood, with grand guest rooms and a southern-style wrap-around porch. The third floor, however, still bears markings from the 1860s, when it was used as a makeshift hospital for soldiers during the Civil War. Some reports tell stories of injured Union soldiers – hospitalized in a strange land and uncertain of whether they would ever return home – carving their names in the wall, a final marking in eternity to remind history of their brief existence.
The walls hold other mysteries as well: A small hole cut in the drywall revealed a secret tunnel system that stretched across the length of the third-floor before dropping to the first floor.
Richard Smoot and John Butler, the owners of Elmwood 1820 Bed & Breakfast, say the mansion has many unusual spaces that can be seen from the outside of the house, but have no accessible entry from the inside.
With over 200 years of history, including a transition from a plantation manor to a Union hospital and fort, it’s not surprising the structure would hold many secrets. In honor of its 200th anniversary this year, the owners are working with local historians, including Leesa Jones, Director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum, and Stephen Farrell, archivist with the George H. and Laura E. Brown Library, to uncover the historic mysteries of the house.
Elmwood Plantation becomes Fort Ceres, with a Civil War hospital on the third floor
During the 1800s, Elmwood was the largest plantation in Beaufort County, spanning over 280 acres and holding 89 enslaved individuals. It was owned by the Grist family.
Elmwood was located in Washington, NC, which served as a major hub for the shipping industry due to its proximity to the Pamlico River. This river is historically known as a “Freedom Road,” where enslaved people from all over the state would travel to escape plantations even as far west as Raleigh. Because of the number of ships traveling north – to freedom – Washington became a focal point for the Underground Railroad.
Even prior to its capture by Union troops, “it would likely have been visited by many abolitionists seeking to aid enslaved men and women,” according to Jones.
During the Civil War, Elmwood Plantation was captured by Union troops – barely escaping being burned down during the siege like many other homes in Washington – and took on a new identity: Fort Ceres.
“Mothers and grandmothers who were domestics here, and they’d talk about the scratches on the walls from Civil War soldiers,” said Jones. “And there’s a narrative in the 44th Massachusets where the soldiers talked about inscribing love notes in the walls.”
Historic narratives point to about 14 different regiments who spent time at Fort Ceres. Hospitalized soldiers would have been set up in beds on the second and, in particular, the third floor of the Elmwood home.
“They are a little piece of immortality, in case they never make it back home. Hundreds of years later, those scratches could exist and prove they were actually here,” said Jones.
Soldiers might also have scratched in drawings or even played games on the walls. “I imagine something like tic-tac-toe or whatever the game would have been during that time.”
These historic sketches were traced in with smaller points, like a pinhead, not carved with a knife. Historians and owners have been scouring the walls, searching for clues of these remaining glyphs. Several portions of the wall have new plaster splattered overtop, meaning it’s possible the scratchings were found there and covered up by previous owners. However, there’s still plenty of third-floor wall space to investigate.
The first movement to begin employing African American men, free and not free, as Union soldiers
Reports show Union Colonel Lee specifically was at Elmwood – or Fort Ceres – from about 1863. A historic sketch shows the layout and appearance of Elmwood during its time as Fort Ceres.
In taking over the house as his headquarters, Fort Ceres became a refuge for enslaved people who had escaped and were seeking freedom.
“Enslaved people from all the places in the county started coming here for protection,” said Jones. Under protection of the Union army, their old owners could not come take them away.
Once the largest plantation in the county, Elmwood became the safe-zone for men and women escaping slavery.
However, once enslaved people became free, they often had nowhere to go, no way to eat, and no method of making money or procuring a home. So many freed people would also live at Fort Ceres and get jobs with the Union army, helping build forts or dig ditches. In return, they’d be given food, clothing and shelter.
The famous 1989 movie Glory tells the story which had its genesis at Fort Ceres, where Colonel Lee was the first person to employ African American soldiers – some free and some not free – into the service of the Union army.
Flyers from the era specifically seek “Men of African Descent” for the 35th and 36th regiments of “The United States Colored Troops.” They offer payment of $10 per month in addition to a $100 bounty. The recruiting offices were located at Fort Ceres in Washington, NC.
While Elmwood served as Fort Ceres, the Grist family left their home behind.
“There was some question about whether he was a traitor because the Union Army had taken over his house and some consternation about whether he had invited them to do it,” said Jones.
Hidden spaces inside Elmwood’s walls
Just as historians are searching for the elusive scratches from hospitalized Union soldiers, the owners are trying to figure out the purpose of strange passageways and mysterious spaces in the centuries-old mansion.
The third floor space has been relatively untouched for decades and still holds dozens of antique trunks. Very little investigation has been done regarding the historic trunks and their content; however, one trunk revealed 1800s gowns – torn and tattered a bit, but in decent condition – that very well may have belonged to Mrs. Grist, the original owner. The third floor is truly a trove of lost history.
According to the owners, there’s a large gap visible from outside the home above the tower window. However, they have not been able to figure out where that large space is located from inside the home.
They also discovered a passageway hidden behind the drywall on the third floor – like something out of the Narnia series. Cutting a small square into the drywall reveals a tunnel with antique wooden beams and historic flathead nails that date back to the 1800s. The ‘roof’ of the tunnel is more than 10 feet high, and the internal wall is made of layered wood and concrete, while the external wall is made of old wooden panels.
One architect suggested the internal wall’s make-up of concrete and wood could indicate its use in preventing bullets or cannons from penetrating the home.
Another historian questioned whether the historic tunnel could have been a secret storage space. In the 1800s, it was common for abolitionists to utilize ‘false walls’ to hide men and women escaping slavery when hunters would come looking for them.
The passage spans the entire front portion of the mansion’s third floor, then drops all the way to the first floor.
No one is certain what this hidden passageway was used for – or whether it was simply part of the multiple expansions added to the house over 200 years of existence.
“Elmwood began as a more modest structure, a two-story Federal style house,” said Smoot. “Very plain, very symmetrical, with one-story wings.”
In 1860, the Grist family ordered a major renovation. “It was just before the Victorian trend, in the midst of the Italianate style’s popularity,” said Smoot. “Big heavy brackets, columns and railings.”
That Italianate renovation gave the mansion the appearance is still carries today – a bold and classic style perfect for a charming historic bed & breakfast.
Elmwood also went through a renovation in 1910, when the mansion was moved down the road from its original site.
During any of these major updates to the home’s architecture, false walls or secret tunnels could have been created – and notes etched in the walls by Civil Wars soldiers could have been lost. The variety of renovations to the mansion adds more complexity to the mysteries hidden within.
Elmwood 1820 celebrates two centuries of history
Today, guests can experience Elmwood 1820’s history for themselves, staying the night in their choice of themed rooms. Breakfast on the southern-style porch, overlooking the lawn with grand trees and fountains, is like a trip back in time.
Little Washington is full of historic homes and a charming historic district, offering tours and museums dedicated to the town’s role in the Underground Railroad. Some of the town was destroyed in a fire during a siege in the Civil War, making the surviving structures all-the-more important.
Its proximity to the river creates a focus on boating and kayaking – even yoga classes take place on paddle boards.
Smoot and Butler are working to preserve their little slice of history. For those looking to explore this history for themselves, the Elmwood 1820’s Facebook and website provide a glimpse into 200 years of stories, central to Washington and North Carolina itself.
Exploring inside the secret passageway live
Rumors Surface of Secret Tunnels in What may be West Orange’s Oldest Home
The home at 29 Old Indian Road is believed to be the oldest home in West Orange. Photo courtesy of Weichert.
It’s not unusual for a realtor to learn some history about a home during an open house, which is what happened last week in West Orange. Only the story she heard has local historians scratching their heads.
“An 80-year-old woman told me there were tunnels that ran under the house,” Rehana Deshpande told Jersey Digs. “When they were kids, they used to play in them.”
The two-story cottage at 29 Old Indian Road is believed to be the oldest house in West Orange. A sign hammered to the dormer reads — BUILT 1740 — which, if true, predates any other home or church in the historic St. Cloud neighborhood by a century. The house — which is deceptively spacious with five bedrooms and three full baths — has gone through many renovations over the years. However, rustic touches like the half-timbered walls and a central stone fireplace are believed to be original.
The house has undergone several renovations, but the fireplace was part of the original design. Photo courtesy of Weichert.
What other artifacts could be hiding behind the stone wall in the cellar, where the entrance to the tunnel purportedly used to be? It is easy to get lost in speculation about what purpose a tunnel could serve under an 18th-century home. A secret passageway could have provided a quick retreat from British soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
After all, West Orange is steeped in Revolutionary War stories. Along Main Street is a stone slab memorializing Tory Corner, where loyalists to the crown used to congregate. Perhaps the most interesting character in that story is Mary Williams, the wife of a Tory, who has become a local feminist icon for betraying her husband and choosing to support the revolution.
A memorial on Main Street in West Orange commemorates the meeting place of loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Photo by Darren Tobia/Jersey Digs.
As for Revolutionary War-era tunnels in New Jersey, stories of underground passageways have been passed down about a nearby church. The Belleville Reformed Church was built over a copper mine that some say was converted into getaway tunnels during the war with the British. Others say the tunnels were a secret entryway into the mines, which the British kept surveillance over to prevent colonists from using the metal to make bullets, according to Michael Perrone, Belleville town historian.
“It’s a legend that’s been passed on forever,” Perrone said. “I’ve heard those stories since I was a kid and I have no reason to doubt them.”
However, Joe Fagan, the West Orange town historian, remains skeptical about the claims of tunnels in St. Cloud. “It would be great history. But in my opinion, a story of this magnitude can’t be built upon just hearsay,” Fagan said.
If you were the owner, would you break open the stone wall in the cellar? Or are some things better left unknown?
The owner of a 500-year-old house discovered mysterious tunnels under it
The owner of a 500-year-old house discovered mysterious tunnels under it
Owner 50 0 year old house found underneath mysterious tunnels – RIA Novosti, 09/17/2021
The owner of a 500-year-old house discovered mysterious tunnels under it RIA Novosti, 17.09UK
MOSCOW, September 17 – RIA Novosti. A resident of the UK discovered secret tunnels with ancient artifacts in his 500-year-old house, reports The Sun. Freddie Gooddoll from Sussex, studying old photographs of his home, noticed a picture with a library and a door that was now missing. Having dismantled the bookcase, he discovered a hidden room, from where access was opened to a secret passage leading to various underground corridors and rooms. So, a 23-year-old man found a staircase that led to a hidden room on one of the floors, as well as several passages that, in his opinion, they were used by servants to make rounds without the owner of the house noticing. While exploring hidden rooms, Gooddoll discovered a brick wall with cryptic names and dates written in chalk, as well as an old safe. Opening it, the man found several letters and books dated 1848, which contained information about the house. In addition, Gooddoll came across old school books and desks that were used at the beginning of the last century. “I left the rooms the way they were, I love that they have been this way for hundreds of years, in every room a lot of history,” said the Briton. The video on social networks, in which Gooddoll takes apart a bookcase and finds a hidden room, has already gained more than 4.5 million views.
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7 495 645-6601 Moscow, 1 September 7 – RIA Novosti. A resident of the UK discovered secret tunnels with ancient artifacts in his 500-year-old house, reports The Sun.
Freddie Gooddoll from Sussex, while looking through old photographs of his home, noticed a picture of the library and the now missing door. After dismantling the bookcase, he discovered a hidden room, from where access was opened to a secret passage leading to various underground corridors and rooms.
Thus, a 23-year-old man found a staircase that led to a hidden room on one of the floors, as well as several passages, which, in his opinion, were used by servants to make their rounds without the owner of the house noticing.
While exploring the hidden rooms, Gooddoll discovered a brick wall with cryptic names and dates written in chalk, and an old safe. Opening it, the man found several letters and books dated 1848, which contained information about the house. In addition, Gooddoll came across old school books and desks that were used at the beginning of the last century.
“I left the rooms the way they were, I love that they’ve been that way for hundreds of years, there’s so much history in every room,” said the Briton.
A social media video of Gooddoll dismantling a bookcase and finding a hidden room has already received over 4.5 million views.
Workers accidentally discover a 900-year-old “secret” tunnel
March 10, 2021, 07:03
Sasapost (Egypt): secret tunnels and nuclear weapons. What does Trump have at his disposal in case of an attack?
InoSMI materials contain only assessments of foreign media and do not reflect the position of the editors of InoSMI
The construction of the bunkers and tunnels was part of a secret plan to protect the president and other US dignitaries in case the horror of the apocalypse became a reality. Trump and his family were hiding in one of these shelters when an angry mob approached the White House. What else is in the arsenal of the American leader – in the article.
Over the past few days, a wave of protests has continued in the United States of America, which began over the killing (on the basis of racism) of African American George Floyd by a police officer. The protests were followed by a series of controversial statements by US President Donald Trump. In particular, he threatened to use more powers associated with the police and the military to counter the unrest.
Does the Constitution give much power to the President of the United States? Can he make decisions about nuclear weapons? What procedures have been developed in the White House to protect the president? We will discuss all this below.
Secret hideouts and tunnels inside and outside the White House
US President Donald Trump, his wife and son were transferred to a secret hideout in the White House last Friday, The Guardian reported. This is just one of several such shelters and tunnels that officials say have been set up to keep the president safe in the event of terrorist attacks.
The president went into hiding after a protest movement over the killing of George Floyd reached checkpoints near the White House and demonstrators began throwing rocks and bottles at the president’s residence. As noted by representatives of the White House, such a precautionary measure was taken in accordance with the instructions of the secret services. This is a rather controversial decision, since, according to them, there was no real danger to the American president and his family.
The construction of the bunkers and tunnels was part of a secret plan by the US government to protect the President and other senior government officials in case the horror of the apocalypse became a reality and a nuclear war broke out. During the Cold War era, such bunkers were built throughout the country.
Bunkers: Nuclear War Scenario
Under the east wing of the White House is the President’s Emergency Operations Center. It is a secret bunker with the most advanced communications equipment and a coordination center with the government and security services in the event of a war or terrorist attacks. During the events of 9/11, aides to former US President George W. Bush were here working to resolve the crisis. The first lady of the country, Laura Bush, said that she was escorted to the bunker on the same day: going down the stairs, she saw how the steel doors closed tightly behind her.
This secret hideout was built during World War II for then-President Franklin Roosevelt as an emergency operations headquarters. It has been repeatedly improved, and the last time it was done after the events of September 11th. The security officials realized they needed to build a bunker that could withstand any nuclear, biological, or radiological attack, and then they came up with the current system, a separate safe zone located on the north side of the White House. This bunker is located on five underground floors, which have autonomous access to the air supply. Food supplies are designed to last for several months, and concrete walls are able to withstand a direct nuclear strike.
In addition, there is another bunker at the disposal of the President of the United States in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, designed to shelter American officials, including the President, ministers and high-ranking members of the Senate. This bunker contains several tunnels leading to a real underground city, fully equipped for emergency management. President Donald Trump also owns three private bunkers at his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, in West Palm Beach.
Tunnels: Escape Scenario
Secret bunkers are not limited. Also, under the White House building there is a network of tunnels through which you can leave its territory. Such tunnels are scattered throughout the United States. One of them is 3,100 feet long and is located inside a military facility known as Area R in the Raven Rock mountain complex near Pennsylvania. It was opened in 1953.
Can the president launch a nuclear weapon whenever he wants?
The United States has 1,365 nuclear weapons ready to launch at any moment, as well as 4,000 backup weapons, including 650 B83 bombs, which are the most powerful nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. One such bomb is 80 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima.
In this regard, analyst Eren McDonald, a member of the Scientists for a Safer World (a non-profit association), notes that Donald Trump has the exclusive authority to launch any nuclear weapons group at any time he wishes. Thus, an American president could launch a nuclear war that would change the face of the world.
According to Macdonald, the mechanism for launching nuclear weapons is the president’s nuclear briefcase, with which he can send signals to the command center at the Pentagon. In addition, the American president always carries an envelope with him containing a secret code that is constantly changed by the national security service. With the help of a code, the leader of the state confirms his identity in order to choose one of the options for launching missiles, all in just a few minutes.
Presidential powers regarding nuclear weapons date back to 39th President of the United States Jimmy Carter and the Cold War period. The launch mechanisms were based on the idea of ”certain damage” to deter the Soviet Union, which could attack the United States, fearing a pre-emptive strike from the Americans. This is a rather delicate process, where it is important to maintain a balance in intimidating the enemy side. The mechanism for launching nuclear weapons was fast and reliable, and, according to MacDonald, could end human civilization.
At the same time, the expert notes that the president’s “absolute powers” regarding the launch of nuclear weapons do not necessarily imply the execution of his orders. So, at each stage of the launch, different groups and officials work, who are obliged to take a responsible approach to the issue and vote on the implementation of the presidential order to launch, having the right to completely refuse it.
What powers does the President of the United States have over the military?
Last February, the US Senate decided to limit the president’s powers to conduct new military operations in Iran. The corresponding document was submitted for consideration by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine to reduce military operations against Iran. According to the document, the President of the United States must first obtain the approval of Congress before taking any military action against this country. The impetus for this was the order of President Trump to strike at the commander of the Iranian al-Quds unit, Qassem Soleimani.
So what powers does the president of the United States have in the event of war and emergencies?
In fact, under the US constitution, the power to declare war is the prerogative of the Senate, not the president, including declaring a state of emergency and mobilizing the army. At the same time, the only constitutional exception is that the president has the right to order the army to self-defense in the event of an immediate threat to the national security of the country, which was not the case during the assassination of Soleimani. This was the main reason for limiting the president’s powers in relation to military operations in Iran.
If the President of the United States wishes to declare war, he must discuss the matter with the Senate and decide what threats the nation faces. Nevertheless, a number of American presidents have repeatedly used this authority to “prevent surprise attacks.” This is exactly what Trump did when he attacked the commander of the Quds Force, arguing that it was necessary to prevent imminent threats, he said, to the American military and diplomats.
At the same time, the President of the United States has another privilege that allows him to use direct force – a law passed in 2001 to combat al-Qaeda (the organization is banned in the Russian Federation – ed. note) and the Taliban. The United States was guided by the same law for several years during the fight against the “Islamic State” (the organization is banned in the Russian Federation – ed.) .
Insurrection Act of 1807
As protests and riots escalated following the killing of African-American George Floyd while being arrested by police, the US president threatened to use a law aimed at suppressing insurrections dating back to 1807. This document allows the use of the army for internal security. Donald Trump stated: “If any city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to protect the lives and property of its residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve this problem for them.”
The Insurrection Act was used in the 1950s to enforce desegregation decisions and also in the 1960s in the face of the Detroit riots. It allows the American president to use military force to suppress uprisings and restore order. The last time the law was applied was in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of four police officers accused of excessive violence against Rodney King. This is one of the most high-profile cases initiated on the basis of racism.
How Trump provokes police forces to use violence
Under the US constitution, the president can issue binding directives to government officials. At that time, these orders may be objected to by the Senate, which passed special laws to limit these powers. Although the phenomenon of police violence in the United States has been known for many decades, the current President of America has helped perpetuate it in recent years through a series of laws and policy statements.
In 2017, President Trump signed three public safety executive orders that gave law enforcement more power to fight crime, terrorism, and drugs. These documents provide for the expansion of the list of federal crimes and the list of punishments in order to reduce cases of violence against local and federal police authorities. However, according to a publication in The Independent, at the same time, the problem of law enforcement violence, which affects hundreds of American citizens every year, is ignored.
Prior to these laws, Trump criticized the administration of US President Barack Obama for banning the sale of military equipment to the police, and then gave law enforcement the appropriate authority to obtain surplus military equipment. This had a huge impact on the situation, exacerbating the problem of police brutality.