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Is the Martindale House haunted?

Ben Steelman
StarNews
The Martindale-McGinnnis House was built in the early 1800s by Henry Martindale, a farmer. Photo courtesy of the New Hanover County Public Library

The Martindale-McGinnnis House was built in the early 1800s by Henry Martindale, a farmer. Photo courtesy of the New Hanover County Public Library

Not according to LuAnn M. Mims, a librarian and independent scholar who wrote a history of the Martindale House — or, more properly, the Martindale-McGinnnis House — as a 2003 master’s thesis at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Mims interviewed a number of members of the McGinnis family, neighbors and area farmers for her research. None of them mentioned any ghost stories, she said.

Located at 629 McGinnis Lane, between Carolina Beach Road and South College Road about two miles north of Monkey Junction, the house is certainly old enough to have ghosts. The house was originally a farmstead for a plantation called Belmeade or Belle Meade Woods, which once amounted to 975 acres. (The house now lies at the center of the Belle Meade subdivision.) Excavations by UNCW archaeologists in the early 2000s found considerable evidence for cultivation by the mid-1700s. Revolutionary War-era coins and the remains of an earlier house were found on the site.

The current Martindale-McGinnis House dates from between 1823 and 1840 in what was known as the “Tidewater” style. In 1823, the property was acquired by Henry Martindale, and it remained in the hands of his descendants for 150 years. He seems to be responsible for the present hand-built structure.

Although Belmeade (from the Old French for “beautiful meadow”) was classed as a plantation in period records, Mims said that Martindale was more of a yeoman farmer; he owned no more than five slaves, and he worked in his fields beside them. Martindale steadily bought more land in the decades before the Civil War, and he added a parlor and an extra bedroom to the house between 1850 and 1870.

According to Mims, the home and farm were a stop on the Federal Point Road (later Confederate Point Road); bullet holes in the building, according to family lore, came from Union raiders marching toward Wilmington in early 1865. Throughout their ownership, the Martindales raised produce on their land, which they marketed in Wilmington. The farm participated in the New Hanover County “lettuce boom” of 1895-1915 and was reportedly one of the first county farms to raise lettuce, producing a crop in 1892. By the mid-1900s, like many New Hanover farms, it was selling bulb plants and cut flowers, and for a time, some descendants made money selling Venus’ flytraps and pitcher plants.

In 1969, the house was acquired by J.P. and Geraldine McGinnis, friends of the family. As of early January 2015, the property was being listed for sale by Century 21.

RELATED LINKS:

LuAnn M. Mims masters thesis on the Martindale-McGinnis House

What is the history of Echo Farms?

Who are some local ghosts?

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