The Wayside Inn in Ellicott City, Maryland has been offering shelter to visitors and travelers since the times of the Revolutionary War.

And with such a rich historical background, it’s no surprise that guests and residents attest to a ghostly presence about the inn.

Read on to find out what Maryland residents already know: Ellicott City may be a small town, but it has a big appeal to spirit seekers and ghost hunters!

History of Wayside Inn

As one of the first inns in Ann Arundel County (later renamed Howard County), the Wayside Inn has seen many fascinating events and people in its life. And like so many locations repeatedly visited by spirits from the past, the Inn has a rich and deep past.

Gaze out at the 250-year old oak tree, watch the snapping turtles emerge from the pond to lay their eggs every year, or see the candles burning in each window and you can feel the quiet weight of this history.

Revolutionary War Era

Even before it was a B & B, the Wayside Inn has sheltered many guests. The Federalist-style building was originally built around 1780 as a farmhouse on a large, profitable Ellicott City tobacco plantation.

It housed the owners of the plantation, their families, servants, and house slaves. But local lore also says that the house was a harbor for famous Revolutionary fighters passing through the city at the time – including George Washington and John Quincy Adams.

Though the exact dates are unknown, the farmhouse became an inn and public house sometime in the early 1800s.

Civil War Era

The Wayside Inn may also have provided rooms for soldiers during the Civil War. Ellicott City’s railroads made the town a key location for the Union, and soldiers were stationed to protect Ellicott’s Mills for the duration of the war.

During the war, makeshift hospitals sprang up throughout the city during those turbulent times. And the plantation house which became the Wayside Inn may have sheltered the young soldiers torn apart by the violence of the conflict.

It is around this time that the accounts of candles burning in every window began to spring up.

Modern Era

The inn resumed its business of sheltering weary pilgrims after the war. However, by the early-mid 20th century the estate began to deteriorate under poor management and upkeep.

The Inn became a bed & breakfast in the 1980s, and the owners have all kept the tradition of lighting the way of travelers with candles.

Hauntings of The Wayside Inn

A Haunted City

The entirety of Ellicott City itself is said to be haunted, not just the Wayside Inn.

Due to the city’s important location along the railroad during the Civil War, the Union had a garrison stationed in the town. Myriad buildings were repurposed as wartime hospitals.

Legends and modern accounts alike assert that the tortured spirits of the soldiers never left the last place they remember from mortal life. And perhaps that is because the land itself is hospitable to spirits.

Ghost hunters and experts that visited the town point to features like the underground waterways and vast amounts of granite the city is carved from as powerful conductors of energy, electricity, and paranormal phenomenon.

Houses, schools, fire stations, bridges, and countless other locations across the city are reported to be haunted. And the Wayside Inn is no exception.

The Ghosts of the Wayside Inn

Many guests tell of encountering a female ghost inside the Inn. Footsteps can be heard in otherwise empty rooms, doors open seemingly by themselves.

And you may catch a glimpse of a white dress out of the corner of your eye, only to turn and find nothing but a waft of gentle perfume.

The welcoming candles in the windows are another source of speculation that speaks to a ghostly presence.

Some believe that the tradition was started by a widow seeing her son off to fight in the Civil War. Legend has it that she vowed to light his way home and keep the candles burning every night until his return. But he never did, so they burn still.

And others say that the owners of the Inn placed the candles as a tribute to a son that died in battle – a symbol of love and community for a town that had lost so many sons to the Civil War.

Though the flame has long since been replaced by electric lights, the tradition of keeping a lighted candle in each window has been carried on by each owner of the Inn.

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Visiting The Wayside Inn

Besides a ghostly, female presence and welcoming candles, the Wayside Inn is most well known for its breakfast par excellence and beautiful surrounding estate.

Previous guests recommend the cheese omelets, fried by the proprietor on the huge, vintage Westinghouse stove. Then, what better way to walk off that hearty breakfast than to stroll around the pond, small pine forest, and centuries old oak tree on the property?

Couples visiting the inn that want a bit of romance with their ghost hunting will find a bevy of additional amenities in the Romantic Getaways Package. Champagne, fresh roses, and more!

The Wayside Inn has rooms and suites available, as well as a lovely sun room which can be rented out for small events and parties.

And every guest has a hearty breakfast tailored to their dietary needs is included in their stay. 

Conveniently located within a short drive of both Baltimore and DC, visitors also have plenty to explore in Ellicott City and beyond.

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Wayside Inn, 4344 Columbia Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042, United States

Ellicott City’s Haunted Reputation

For a little place, Ellicott City’s experiences as one of the most haunted small cities on the entire East Coast has generated a number of ghost tours.

You can see the owner of the Wayside Inn’s city travel guide, ghost tour recommendations, and favorite haunted sites here

One of the best tours in the area is from Ellicott City History Tours, which boasts the title of Maryland’s best haunted history tours and pub crawls.

Nearby Haunted Locations