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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Haunted Locations: Southern Virginia's "Aunt Pratt"

Welcome to weird Wednesday where we explore the darkest corners of the globe, searching for the mysterious and unknown. Today’s haunted object is the painting known as “Aunt Pratt” from Southern Virginia.

The story starts in the 18th century with a girl named Martha who left her family to go study, commissioned a portrait of herself to leave with her family because they would miss her too much without it, and eventually married a lovely Englishman before her days were ended naturally.

Now, the painting. It has earned the name ‘Aunt Pratt’ due to unspecified origins and the weird occurrences started long after Martha’s death. One day, out of nowhere, and of its own volition, the painting started violently rocking against the wall where it was hung.

Then the owners did what all cursed object owners do, moved it to the attic. The painting didn’t like that and was rehung a bit later. That didn’t pacify it. No matter the wall it was placed Aunt Pratt would bang against the offending wall. Sometimes people would hear a woman crying coming from the painting.

Other times, consistent bell sounds were heard. At one point it even unhinged itself from the wall, damaging the frame. The portrait owners found out that if the painting was hung in Martha’s old room, it would behave itself.

In 1974, the Virginia travel counsel took the painting to a paranormal exhibit being held at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Once put on display, the painting wasted no time in putting on a show, banging and rocking in the window it had been placed in. Hundreds of people got to witness this firsthand. In fact, it became so disruptive that it was removed from the show.

You can visit the painting at the Shirley Plantation in Virginia to this day, where it peacefully hangs in Martha’s old bedroom.

Happy Haunting if you go roaming for weird residents. As always, remember the rules. Respect the owners, the property, and the residents, no matter what they may be.


*Originally posted to the House of Stitched Blog in 2022. Research assistance from Dark Rose.

You can read more about “Aunt Pratt” at the link below:

Aunt Pratt's Haunted Portrait--Shirley Plantation | Paranormal | Before It's News (

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