Having devoted two posts to Annington, it is only fair to turn my attention to the Annington Guest House, the plantation house’s smaller, less distinguished outbuilding with much less illustrious, though no less important, ghosts. As the only slave quarters in ISOMG:MC, it was hard not to focus on the history of the place. Paring the story down for the book was difficult, so please excuse me if I indulge in a little historical exploration here. Yes this building is haunted, but by whom or how many? Because of its original use and subsequent life as housing for farm workers following emancipation, we may never know the answer.
The Annington Guest House is not the only extant slave quarters in Montgomery County (though there aren’t many), but it is certainly one of the nicest. It is visibly more desirable than what Josiah Henson (on whom the character Uncle Tom is based from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin) described at the Riley plantation in Bethesda:
We lodged in log huts, and on the bare ground. Wooden floors were an unknown luxury. In a single room were huddled, like cattle, ten or a dozen persons, men, women and children. All ideas of refinement and decency were, of course, out of the question. We had neither bedsteads nor furniture of any description. Our beds were collections of straw and old rags thrown down in the corners and boxed in with boards; a single blanket the only covering. Our favourite way of sleeping was on a plank, our heads raised on an old jacket and our feet toasting before the smouldering fire. The wind whistled and the rain and snow blew in through the cracks, and the damp earth soaked in the moisture till the floor was miry as a pigsty. Such were our cabins.
Originally built as what would today be called a semi-detached house, the Annington Guest House had two, one-and-half story dwellings (no attic), attached on one side, with one room up and one down. Each was probably home to an enslaved family and, later, similarly with farm workers. The 1870 census lists two families besides the Smoots (Annington’s owners at the time) living on the farm, the Peters and Grandison families. Both of these had multiple members listed in the 1867 slave census as belonging to Annington. Tracing the occupants of these buildings has been difficult and more research is needed. We know who lived at Annington, but the enslaved and the farm workers who lived at the Guest House until it received its own mailing address are hard to identify. At some point in its life, the two sides were connected and an addition for a kitchen and bathroom was attached to the back of the building.
The current occupant, and the one previous, have had many paranormal experiences in this unique home. Most have been mischievous, some disturbing, but only one seemed dangerous. Who these spirits are, the tragedies in their lives and the nature of their deaths may never be known to us. But all the spectral activity doesn’t matter to the current tenant, she says she “wouldn’t live anywhere else.”