Thursday, December 7, 2017

HGB Ep. 235 - Manresa Castle

 
Moment in Oddity - The Skadegamutc

A Skadegamutc (skuh-deh-guh-mooch), is known as a ghost-witch. In the lore of the Micmac, the Passamaquoddy and Abenaki tribes, the Skadegamutc is an undead monster that is created out of the dead body of an evil magician who refuses to stay dead. This undead creature comes to life at night and lurks about seeking humans to throw curses at and humans to kill and eat. The only way to stop a ghost witch is to burn it by fire. The following story was told by Beulah Tahamont, a sixteen-year-old Abenaki from Lake George, New York: "An old shaman was dead, and his people buried him in a tree, up among the branches, in a grove that they used for a burial-place. Some time after this, in the winter, a Native American and his wife came along, looking for a good place to spend the night. They saw the grove, went in, and built their cooking fire. When their supper was over, the woman, looking up, saw long dark things hanging among the tree branches. 'What are they?' she asked. 'They are only the dead of long ago,' said her husband, 'I want to sleep.' 'I don't like it at all. I think we had better sit up all night,' replied his wife. The man would not listen to her, but went to sleep. Soon the fire went out, and then she began to hear a gnawing sound, like an animal with a bone. She sat still, very much scared, all night long. About dawn she could stand it no longer, and reaching out, tried to wake her husband, but could not. She thought him sound asleep. The gnawing had stopped. When daylight came she went to her husband and found him dead, with his left side gnawed away, and his heart gone. She turned and ran. At last she came to a lodge where there were some people. Here she told her story, but they would not believe it, thinking that she had killed the man herself. They went with her to the place, however. There they found the man, with his heart gone, lying under the burial tree, with the dead 'witch' right overhead. They took the body down and unwrapped it. The mouth and face were covered with fresh blood. The legend of the Skadegamutc certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Lady Nancy Astor Becomes the First Woman in the British House of Commons

In the month of December, on the 1st, in 1919, Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons. She was born as Nancy Lanhorne in Virginia. She married her first husband in 1897 at the age of 18. The marriage was an unhappy one due to her husband's alcoholism and she divorced him after four years. She went on a tour of England and fell in love with the country and so she decided to move to England. Nancy was 26 at the time. She met Waldorf Astor there and the two married. They were very similar people and even shared the exact same birth day.including the year. And both were expatriates. Waldorf succeeded to the peerage and became a part of the House of Lords. Nancy became interested in politics at this time and in 1919 she won his former seat in Plymouth as a member of the Conservative Party. She then became the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. She served until 1945, when she was persuaded to step down.

Manresa Castle (Suggested by listener Jen Morgan)

Port Townsend claims to be one of the coolest small towns in America. The city had its heyday during the Victorian era and several of the historic buildings here are Victorian in design. Many of the earlier settlers envisioned the seaport becoming the largest harbor on the west coast. One of the prominent families in Port Townsend were the Eisenbeis and they built their home in 1892 in the style of a castle that is today known as Manresa Castle. This is a hotel, restaurant and lounge that not only provides accommodations for the living, but a couple of ghosts as well. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Manresa Castle!

In 1791, British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver led an expedition from England with two ships, the Discovery and Chatham. The plan was to explore the Northwest Coast of North America. By May 1792, Vancouver's expedition had entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca and was exploring the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula. Captain Vancouver made it a practice to name the points that they mapped out on their journey for his friends, patrons and crewmembers. One of the places he named was Port Townsend, which was named for the Marquis of Townshend. The name was originally spelled ending with -shend, but today, the h has been dropped. Before the Europeans arrived, several tribes lived here: the Chimakum (or Chemakum), Hoh (a group of the Quileute), Klallam (or Clallam), Quinault, and Twana (the Kilcid band — Anglicized: Quilcene).

Port Townsend was called the "City of Dreams" because it was considered a safe harbor with the promise of being the largest harbor on the west coast of the United States. It did become a very active seaport. Port Townsend was founded as a city in the 1850s. Four men, Alfred A. Plummer, Loren B. Hastings, Charles Bachelder and Francis W. Pettygrove, met in a cabin that two of them had built on the beach below Point Hudson and they agreed to establish the town together and named it for Port Townsend. Soon thereafter, the town became the site of the U.S. Customs port of entry and the county seat of Jefferson County. Many homes were erected at this time as the population grew and railroads decided to add an extension of rail lines to the seaport. Those plans fell through though when the Depression hit and the rail lines stopped on the east side of the Puget Sound. The decline for Port Townsend was rapid as people moved away.

Other economies developed in the future with the installation of a paper mill and the Naval Magazine Indian Island, which is the US Navy's primary munitions-handling dock on the Pacific coast. More people started moving here in the 1970s and Port Townsend has developed into a tourist destination. They host blues and jazz festivals and in 1999 they launched an annual international film festival. Many people come to the town to see all of the Victorian architecture. Because so much of the town was abandoned and the economy was dying, no one tore down any of the buildings and built over the sites. So in essence, the Victorian buildings were preserved because of a lack of growth. Today, many have been restored as their value is appreciated.

One of these grand structures is the Manresa Castle. The castle was built in 1892 by Charles and Kate Eisenbeis. Charles Eisenbeis was a German emigrant who arrived in Rochester, New York in 1856. He learned baking from his family and worked doing that for a while. The Gold Rush was reaching its peak on the west coast and Charles decided to head west. He boarded a ship that sailed around Cape Horn, heading for Puget Sound. The weather was rough when they arrived at the Sound and the ship decides to dock at Port Townsend. The year is 1858 and this is where Charles decides to stay. His brother was traveling with him and the two men do odd jobs saving up money to open up their own bakery. They called it the Pioneer Bakery and they specialized in making bread for ships. the business was very successful and he became a very prominent man. So prominent that he became a part of the Big Five Syndicate, which was five men that control the entire economy of Port Townsend. When Charles first arrived in Port Townsend, he was married to a woman from Prussia named Elizabeth. She died in 1882 and he remarried a woman named Kate.

Twenty years after arriving in the town, Charles was elected the town's first mayor. He built several properties in Port Townshend: the Mount Baker Block, the Eisenbeis Building, a hotel, a brickyard, lumberyard, a brewery and the Eisenbeis Castle that was his home. The hotel was a grand structure with 120 rooms, but it never opened as the promise of the coming railroad was never realized. It burned down in a fire of mysterious origin. The Eisenbeis Castle was the largest residence in Port Townsend at the time and had 30 rooms. The home was constructed from brick and had a slate roof. The inside was designed and built by German artisans and featured finely crafted woodwork and tiled fireplaces. He didn't get to enjoy his home for long. Charles died in 1902. He was buried in nearby Laurel Grove Cemetery. The whole town turned out to see his burial. His casket is within a subterranean vault and was placed next to the Victorian glass-top coffin of his first wife, Elisabeth.

There is an interesting story connected to the burial. The vault was sealed for many years. The sandstone slab cracked and fell into the vault many years later and it was opened for repairs. Unfortunately, the slab fell in on Elisabeth's coffin and broke the glass. Another coffin was damaged as well.This one was a child's coffin that was on top of Charles' casket. The managers of the graveyard were befuddled. There should be no other coffin in the vault because there was no record of it. The great-grandchildren of Charles, Ann and Mayor Mark Welch, were called. "None of us knew anything about it," Ann Welch said. "The child's casket was a complete surprise." Plaques with the names of other family members are embedded in the solid cement around the white Victorian cenotaph and indicate where the ashes of Eisenbeis descendants were buried around the perimeter. Some other descendants were buried in the upper part of the cemetery. So who is this child? The child is buried in a coffin with a glass lid as well, which seems to indicate that she does belong in this vault. But why no indication as to who she was? Was she illegitimate? It remains a mystery.

Kate remarried in 1905 and she abandoned the castle to a caretaker, who was the only one to live there for twenty years. In 1925, a Seattle attorney bought the Castle and turned it over to nuns teaching in Seattle schools to use as a vacation home. The nuns didn't use it much and so Jesuit priests moved in in 1927 and used it as a training college. The priests spent their sixteenth and final year of training here studying ascetic theology. The Jesuits added a large wing housing a chapel and more rooms in 1928 and installed an Otis elevator. The outer bricks were stuccoed over to give the building a uniform look and they called the building Manresa Hall, after a town in Spain where Ignatius Loyola had founded the Jesuit order.

The Jesuits left in 1968 and the building became a hotel with the new name changing to Manresa Castle taking inspiration from the original home and the name the Jesuits used. Three other owners have held the building since 1968. Each has done renovations and brought the hotel up to modern standards. The Victorian elegance has been kept though. Some of those modern amenities include more bathrooms. There were only three during the Jesuits time and there are now 43. The Castle Key Seafood Restaurant has been added and offers the best in Northwest recipes and is open Tuesday to Sunday. There is a banquet room, several suites and romantic gardens making it the perfect setting for weddings. Another unique feature of Manresa Castle is, of course, the ghosts.

There seem to be three rooms that are haunted and they are all on the third floor. Rooms 302, 304 & 306 are reported to be home to two ghosts. One is a young lady thought to be named Kate, who is waiting for her beloved to come back to her after fighting in a war. He was killed in the war, so he could not come back to her and when she heard about that, she threw herself out the window. The other ghost belongs to a Jesuit monk who hung himself in the attic. Haunting events feature footsteps walking across the attic when no one is up there, drinking glasses in the chapel/cafe explode both when just sitting on the bar and also in people's hands and empty glasses are turned upside-down on their own. People claim to see writing on the mirrors with messages like, "Get out." And the full-bodied apparition of the female ghost has been seen many times. There are room journals where guests record their experiences.

One of the entries in the journal related, "At midnight, we heard singing coming from the bathroom. It was a woman's voice singing a ghostly tune. Well, needless to say, we all woke up. If we had known she was coming at midnight, we would have stayed up and waited on her. I got up to go to the bathroom and see who was in there and then the door eerily came open. There was a swish of cold air and a glowing light and then all the lights came on. After that we saw nothing else. We didn't get much sleep the rest of the night."

One family shared the following experience that they had, "The next morning James, 13, went down to use the restroom down the hall (Room 303 bathroom) and came back concerned that he heard a woman crying mournfully in the 305 bathroom, but the lights were out in that room. He brought his dad down the hall to show him and he heard it also. I, Lori, then went down there, but by the time I got there, she was no longer crying. I did; however, hear movement coming from inside the room. When I knocked on the door and asked if someone needed help, the response was two knocks back from whoever was in there. At that point we decided to call the front desk to tell them what was going on. They sent up four maids to check the situation out. When they opened the door it was dark inside and no one was in there. But the maid commented that 'someone had sure been into the Kleenex.' It had been strewn about. [The door was never left unattended the whole time of our experience.]"

Another family wrote, "Finally around 11:30pm, we started hearing things! Earlier we were looking forward to hearing things, but when we actually did hear things, we were huddled with the blankets to our noses! There wasn't really anything in the room. It was in the hallway! Definite dragging and walking sounds. They would stop right at the door. It was so scary. Then scratching and scraping sounds at the door. It was like someone was right on the other side and would open or come through the door. This all went on for about an hour and a half!"

Ghost Adventures visited the hotel during their eleventh season. Jody Reuther is the Front Desk Manager and she claims to have been a nonbeliever when she first started working there, but she has had enough experiences that she believes there are ghosts there. One day she was making up the bed in Room 310 with a housekeeper and she noticed that the maid went white looking at something behind Jody. Jody spun around and saw a woman pass the door to the room and Jody ran out to the hallway to confront her because nobody should have been in the hotel. She saw that the woman was wearing period clothing and then see noticed she could see the fire escape through the woman. And then she disappeared. The Breakfast Room has many strange occurrences and one of these was a door opening on its own while Zac interviewed Jody about the building. Mardella is a housekeeper who had a violent experience in the laundry room. She was left with a small handprint bruise on her leg, but she did not feel anything touch her. When she told the ghost out loud that she wanted to be left alone, something unseen punched her very hard in the face.

There seems to be unexplained activity in this hotel. While there are claims that there are only two ghosts, is it possible that there might be more? And are these ghosts or just the products of overactive imaginations? Is Manresa Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!

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