On a modern 5 lane highway heading into a town that has become heavily developed with modern conveniences you may miss it. Offset about 200 feet on the left side is history, a step back in time. Nestled close to the Swift Creek, the Swift Creek Mill Playhouse is practically the only remaining historic setting left throughout the town. Sitting on its massive stone foundation, it main structure still has most of the original material used when it was constructed in the mid 1600’s. Keeping this connection to the past may be why some consider the Swift Creek Mill Playhouse haunted.
The building was originally a gristmill. A gristmill is a building that grinds grain into flour. Henry Randolph l built the gristmill adjacent to his plantation in 1663 and operated it as a plantation mill as well as a merchant mill. It remained Randolph’s Mill until 1804.
William Rowlett bought the mill then changing its name to Rowlett’s Mill and operated in until 1852 when the Swift Creek Mill Manufacturing Company bought the property. It was during this time the over 200 year old property went through a lot of restructuring. Today the brick portion of the building, windows, and doors can all be dated to this time frame. The stone ground floor as well as the limestone basement can be dated back to the original building.
In May 10th 1864, the mill was the center of a Civil War battle. The Union troops were trying to cross the Swift Creek in an attempt to disrupt Confederate supply lines. The Union army repelled the Confederates back across the creek and burnt railroad ties across the tracks to ruin the rails. The Confederates however pushed back the Union troops the next day and repaired the lines.
After the war until 1872, the mill was known as Schmidt’s Distillery. The mill was used as a gristmill and a distillery for corn whiskey. After several more owners the mill was acquired by Amanda Percival and the mill continued to operate until 1959.
In 1965 three local families purchased the now vacant and rundown property in hopes to bringing live professional theatre to the area. Keeping as much of the building as it was they transformed the old mill into a dinner theatre. Now they have been operating just shy of 50 years offering great live theatre performances and dinner in an awesome historical atmosphere. With all this history and the limestone basement and water so close, which both are theorized to help increase energy, it is no surprise that some claim Swift Creek Mill Playhouse haunted.
There was a man that hanged himself from the rafters when the building was still a mill. This incident is found in the old records at the courthouse, this main is also claimed to still be wandering the building. There are claims of seeing a young female child apparition in various parts of the building. Shadow figures have been seen as well as voices, especially from the basement.
The Ghost Eyes Paranormal team was invited in to investigate recently overnight. One of our investigators did see an unexplained shadow cross the door way of the basement while we were setting up. We tried multiple times to recreate the shadow and could not. Though we did not get any unexplained pictures or video, we did get some interesting EVP’s that may coincide with some of the claims above. You can hear some of these on or team page: Swift Creek Mill Playhouse EVP’s
Interestingly enough the next play coming up is Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward June 14 – July 21, 2012. It is about a novelist Charles Condomine being haunted by the ghost of his late first wife, Elvira, conjured up by the eccentric medium, Madame Arcati. When his current wife dies accidentally, she joins Elvira on “the other side” and they haunt Charles in perpetuity. Is the Swift Creek Mill Playhouse haunted? All we can say for sure is it will be June 14 – July 21.