|Photograph ©Bed and Breakfast Inns Online
400 Hermitage Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28207
Built in 1915, this beautiful Colonial mansion was first home to James Buchanan Duke, a very successful tobacco tycoon. James Duke is also remembered for the origination of Duke University, Duke Energy and the Duke Endowment.
In 1929, the home was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Martin L. Cannon, who renamed the mansion “White Oaks.” One interesting fact about this couple is that they produced a daughter who later went on to date John F. Kennedy many years prior to Kennedy’s marriage to Jackie. The Cannon family lived on in the mansion until 1957 when it was purchased by Henry and Clayton Lineberger. The Linebergers restored the mansion, however, in 1966 there was a fire that gutted out the third floor and they had to spend money on restoration costs again.
In 1976, with the death of Mr. Lineberger, the mansion was left to the Duke Endowment. One year later it was placed on the local, state and national registries of historic places. The mansion was then used briefly as a small meeting center but then was sold again.
In 1978 the home was turned into condominiums. In 1989, owners of a sports media company, Rick and Dee Ray, bought the home and restored it to its former, single home, beauty. The Rays and the Duke Power Company united with the Lynwood Foundation, a non profit organization, to preserve the Duke Mansion and today the mansion is used as a bed and breakfast.
The hauntings at the Duke Mansion are said to be blamed on a man named Jon Avery. Mr. Avery was apparently a former owner of Duke Mansion, although I was not able to pinpoint the year of his residence in the home.
The story of Mr. Avery is a sad one. Jon’s wife was apparently committed to a mental hospital for reasons that are unknown. Jon stayed on at the Duke Mansion with his mother and sisters.
One day a female writer stopped by to do a historical piece on the mansion and Jon quickly befriended the woman. This friendship turned into the beginning of a new romance, however, when the woman found out that Jon was unwilling to divorce his sick wife, she ended the relationship.
Jon was devastated by this breakup and in an attempt to keep the woman in his life, he asked her to meet him one year later, dead or alive, at midnight in the circular garden located near the fountains.
One year later the woman arrived, as promised, to meet Jon. And again, he asked her to meet him, dead or alive, the following year at midnight. During the year that followed, the woman became engaged to another man. When the meeting time finally arrived, she took a friend with her because she felt it would’ve been improper to meet him alone after promising her hand to another man.
At midnight on the night of their meeting, the woman and her friend stood in the garden awaiting Jon. The woman and her friend heard the soft footsteps of Jon’s approach and when he came into view, he nearly walked right past her. She reached out to grab him by the arm but her hand went right through him. Jon turned to her and mouthed the words “Dead or Alive” before he vanished before her eyes. The shocked woman and her friend later learned that Jon had died just a few days prior to the meeting date due to a bought with polio.
It seems that this final meeting was what Jon needed to rest in peace; no other reports of Jon’s apparition have been made since.