Holly Hall

Family issues and feuds seem to happen often in history. Unfortunately, most stories seem to end in tragedy and the families don’t often bury the hatchet. Sometimes they even take their problems to the grave.

Holly Hall, Elkton Maryland

Holly Hall was built in 1810 by James Sewell. Sewell was a local politician who disowned his son, Thad Sewell, after he disagreed with his political views. James daughter tried to get her brother and father to make amends but James refused to even let his son in the house, even though Thad was ill at the time. They got into a heated argument and James shoved Thad down the front steps. Before he died, Thad cursed his father and Holly Hall. After his death his sister refused to come out of her bedroom and only interacted with her dog. She slipped into a coma shortly after James died and passed away right after him. Thad was never put in the family vault with his father and sister. The night after James daughter was placed in the vault, her dog was barking and digging at the vault until his feet were bleeding. The vault was opened and her body was found out of her coffin with her fingers bleeding. There were scratches on her coffin and on the vault door. She was buried alive in the vault.

Holly Hall, Elkton Maryland

The next owners of the home were the Barrol family. The Barrols were known for not getting along with each over and often fighting. Eventually, the supposed curse caught up to the Barrols family. They lost two members of their family and all their farm animals died from an unknown disease. The home went to another family 10 years later who ended up only living in it for 5 years due to the wife having an affair. Eventually, it was bought by a man named Levit who used Holly Hall as a boarding home. The Jeffers family was the next owners after Levit. The Jeffers had the worst experience with the Holly Hall curse. First, a girl was standing on the front porch and was struck by lightning. Afterward a herd of the family’s horses was struck by lightning on a sunny day. The Jeffers was also almost killed from milk that had gone bad from their cows.

The home not only suffered from a curse but also had numerous reports of hauntings. After the Sewell daughter’s death people claimed to see her walking around with her dog. People have also seen Thad Sewell walking around the hall. Thad’s spirit also drove off servants and boarders when Levit owned the home. Boarders claimed to see a man in the house and also would hear moans and noises coming from the family vault. During a party, one of the owners fell down the steps after seeing a man in an upstairs bedroom in period clothing. The one common thing all owners agreed was to keep Thad’s portrait hung in the house out of fear of the curse becoming worse if it was removed.

Holly Hall, Elkton Maryland

Today the house is abandoned. It went through several organizations after the Jeffers family. In 1923 it was owned by the Catholic Order of the Society of the Divine Savior. The Cecil Count League of Women Voters owned it in 1972 and it went on the National Register of Historic places in 1976. The stories of the hauntings still happen today. People claim to see figures in the windows and hearing cries from the house. A more recent story is of a so-called phantom hitchhiker outside the house that would vanish before the car stops for him. Others say he will remove his head.

In 2016 Preservation Maryland started taking steps to help with renovating the property & building. It is currently owned by Big Elk Mall LLC. Big Elk Mall and the Cecil County mayor are working hard to restore the property in a project called Six to Fix.


Burgoyne, M. (2009) Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake. The History Press.

Okonowicz,E. (2010). The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA

Preservation Maryland (n.d.) Holly Hall: The Grand Dame of Elkton. Retrieved from https://www.preservationmaryland.org/programs/six-to-fix/projects/current-projects/holly-hall-the-grand-dame-of-elkton/

Sturgill, E. Q. (2014). The Hidden History of Holly Hall [Electronic Version]. Cecil Daily retrieved from https://www.cecildaily.com/our_cecil/the-hidden-history-of-holly-hall/article_d7405cf3-19cb-5bcb-acf51fa9cbf1debb.html

Sturgill, E. Q. (2015). Elkton’s Holly Hall [Electronic Version]. Cecil Daily retrieved from https://www.cecildaily.com/our_cecil/elkton-s-holly-hall/article_b333adaf-0d67-513b-ad9e-a626074af910.html