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“Entertaining and spooky”

Soldiers Orphanage Tour
Ranked #28 of 28 Tours in Gettysburg
Attraction details
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

Enjoyed very much the drama and the haunted aspect of this old orphanage. Cheryl did a great job acting the part of Rosa the evil head midtress that tortured poor children. The second part of the tour was spooky, getting to crawl into the "dungeon".

Thank Dan A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 June 2018 via mobile

This is the story of Rosa Carmichael who became mistress of this orphanage after the war. The orphanage was for children of deceased soldiers. Rosa was a bad girl who, according to history, abused the children chaining them in the basement and the “dungeon” for days. She was charged and convicted of her crimes.

Our tour guide’s name was Cheryl and for part of the tour, she very artfully played the part of Rosa Carmichael, the mistress of the orphanage. Cheryl was awesome and had a way of drawing you into her story.

I’ve been on several ghost walks and this was one of the best I’ve been on.

When you take it, ask for Cheryl.

1  Thank Keith R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2017

Thanks for stopping by to check out my review, I hope it helps you make a decision in your travels. We visited this location during the 154th anniversary of The Civil War between the 1st and 4th of July and did other tours that day. We went home talking about this one!

Historical background and relevance first - The historical account and legal documents surround around a lady who called herself Rosa Carmichael. She became the operator of the facility that housed over 130 boys and girls whose home lives were shattered due to the Civil War. Many men and women were unable to take care of their children during this time for reason of death, insanity, illness, or just general separation or decision of the town. Rosa Carmichael was charged with child abuse crimes once it had been found she had been torturing them in various ways that you will learn about, many children went missing (presumed she murdered them or older teens she had working for her did it) Not much is known about the townswoman and it is said there is a possibility that was never even really her name at all. She was banished from the town many say she did not travel far. We may never know. The building is operated as an orphanage until the 1870's and was once a Union spot where General Howard was. Some surrounding structures and streets around the home would not have been there at the time.

tour - Can purchase tickets on site or at Jennie Wade gift shop. Can do day or night. Cash or card under $15.00 a person and worth the money. We had Sheryl/Cheryl as a tour guide and she rocked us to the core. Believable, in touch with the mood, tone, and period of the subject and character and she also discussed how she and the tour company knows the seriousness of child abuse and is not making light of it at all. They use this as a teaching opportunity, reflection, historical, and paranormal experience. We were able to first look around gift shop, saw cool photos of when Zak Bagans and The Ghost Adventures crew came to to tape. We purchased an Abe Lincoln ghost and legends book by a well known Chicago tour guide and author from our town who is often on tv, very entertaining and creditable, Adam Selzer. Tour begins outside behind the building at picnic benches near a motel. We gather in eye before the storm sort of speak waiting for "Rosa" to appear. She takes you around the grounds educating you and stepping back in time as if you were there when it all took place as a by standard of course. We had a sensitive 9 year old girl with us and she was laughing and having fun so she was not scared and knew it was just pretend. No one touches you, etc. I wish I could add my video to show but I can only add pics.
You enter the home to a somewhat cheesy but cool Svengoolie like set where it is the dinning room, out house, and grave yard. You are "inside the orphanage" in the middle of the night and over hearing conversations and treatment of starving children who want attention. Next, you go down stairs to the cellar and dungeon, most famous part of the story and home, where Rosa left children for days and tons of paranormal activity is said to take place. Group is split in two so they are able to interact with the two rooms comfortably, fairly and safely. Can be locked in pitch black darkness on dirt floor where children were kept if desired but no one will force you. Able to take photos in the dark, also have meters if you are into those type of ghost tools. No pressure. Can be leisurely or serious, the experience and belief is left up to you and you alone.

Ask to see broken doll kept in a case behind register. She has been seen on tv and broke when given as gift to "ghost children". Was cool to see in person. Lots of things for sale in gift shop, will meet lots of people to exchange stories with.

Would I go back again? Absolutely.
Parking - street, metered or parking lot across the way by Jennie Wade in gray area non hotel spots only.
Has stairs, not familiar if an elevator is avail. but highly doubt it because of how old the building it.
Time - takes about 1-1.5 hours
Has air conditioning

Thank Amy Ryann R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2017

This tour will only work for a very specific demographic and even then it can be iffy. I think it will be best for tweens.

I took this tour expecting it to be about the history of the Orphanage with some detailed ghostly anecdotes.

What happened:
Bought this ghost tour at the tour center for Battlefield bus tours. We entered a gift shop in the Orphanage building at the appointed time and were directed to go wait behind the Subway's restaurant building. You wait in a small open bench seating area in an active parking lot next to an inn.

Guide comes on time. Her name is Terrel*. She begins by telling you a brief history of the Orphanage for about 30 minutes. She clearly has practiced the art of oral story telling. She made frequent dramatic...pauses...in her speech. So that took a lot of time. Then she leads the group to the back of the parking lot (like 20 steps) and begins to tell a completely off tangent story about the restaurant (Dobbin House) across the street which took 20 minutes...remember dramatic...pauses. Then you walk another few steps to a fake outhouse so she can pull one over you (again, aimed at small kids really). 10 minutes. Then she leads you to back of orphanage and talks about how the buildings were moved several feet from their original location. Another 20 minutes about something. FINALLY, you go inside to some campy area in the dark that was once the dining area. She tells you her experiences. Then you go to the tiny basement with your group of twenty people. More general prior experience stories. Then, she breaks the group in half so you take turns to go into the "pit." She encourages you to take pictures and talk to "entities." Then she calls it a night and suggests tips for her performance.

The stories:
The orphanage was opened after the Civil War for kids that lost their folks to war. Once housed 200 kids. First matron was nice and did her job. Then she left because she got married. Second matron was named Rosa Carmichael and was apparently very cruel to children. Said to punish them by chaining them up in the basement and beating them. She kept them in the "pit" which was probably an area originally used to store food (back then,no fridges so it was nice and cool down there). Finally a child died, suspicion was raised and she eventually was chased out of town. Guide focused on one specific child that died so I don't know how many more actually died. The matron is said to still haunt the place. So she was chased out of town alive but came back when she died to haunt the orphanage? Then you go to the parking lot and Guide says: One time she led a tour group to the Dobbin House who experienced the dining tables moving in the tavern with some whispering here and there. Tour group got scared and didn't want to go back. Then told a story about a kid who saw a ghostly black slave boy trying to pull splinter out of foot in middle of room. Then guide tells you ghosts are attracted to kids who are "open." Then she points to the soldiers' cemetery which is behind the parking lot and tells how a person once saw the ghost of Nixon visiting his great great grandfather's grave which is there. She then encourages you to take pictures to see if you capture orbs. This was early evening tour in the middle of July so it's nice and bright outside. Then she tells you about the "haunted outhouse" to scare the little kids. Tells you to take pictures of the outhouse and then shows you there is a mannequin in there with recorded spiel. Then you go to the back of the orphanage which is still the parking lot. Talks about the buildings' original location. Tells you to take more pictures. Go inside and tells you stories of how people capture voices sometimes, see things being turned on, this moving, that moving, and shows you her picture of a "bite mark" from the paranormal. Tells you to take pictures.

I don't think this tour worked for me because I feel like it was marketed towards the much younger demographic for a Halloween night. I'm not saying I disbelieve the paranormal. I just think it is hard to experience them in daylight with all this day time activity. You have a large group of people talking amongst themselves of varying ages although my group had a lot of giggling teens. When you finally go inside the building, you get to sit in the dark for about 10 minutes in 450 sq feet unfinished basement (very low ceiling with pipes running overhead and random props of dirty dolls and chains here and there) with people talking, giggling, with cell phones flashing, and you can hear the tenants and workers who live and work upstairs stomping about. Most of your time is spent outside in the parking lot where she talks about other experiences, not orphanage related.

But to each his own.

1  Thank Peter K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 June 2017 via mobile

Having seen a segment on a tv show, this was on our to-do list for Gettysburg. Our guide brought us to the fence outside the national cemetery and told us about the cemetery, encouraging us to take photos. We spent a lot of time in parking lots. We finally got inside a room in the orphanage and listened to him for about 20 minutes (he kept asking if anyone got anything on photos, no one did, he seemed shocked...hmm). We finally made it down to the basement. The guide made a big thing out of a chain vibrating ( maybe from cars going by). We went in the "dungeon" for about 20 minutes in the dark I experienced nothing. I had expected more, I think there are better tours and would not recommend spending money on this one.

Thank Brian B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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