Friday, April 28, 2023

HGB Ep. 484 - Hill View Manor

Moment in Oddity - Underwater World Record

Most of our listeners know that we were recently married and that we honeymooned in the Florida Keys. Apparently while we were visiting Key Largo, there was an unusual world record attempting to be broken. Joseph Dituri has been living 30 feet below the surface of the Florida Keys since March 1st, and he plans to stay there for 100 days. Joe is a South Florida University professor who was a former US navy diver and expert in biomedical engineering. If he is able to accomplish this goal, he will break the current record for most time spent in a habitat beneath the surface of the ocean. On March 15th, Mr. Dituri spoke with USA TODAY during a Zoom call. Although he is set to break the world record if he stays submerged for 100 days, the professor stated that his purpose is to study how the human body responds to long term exposure to extreme pressure. Before beginning the endeavor in his 100 square foot habitat, Joseph underwent various psychological and medical tests and he will continue to do so while submerged. These tests will continue once he emerges topside. The study is costing $250,000 to fund and the research is to study the psychological effects of living in an isolated, confined environment for months, and to explore whether living under pressure can increase life spans and prevent certain aging diseases, according to a news release about the project. "We haven't done this level of research on people while they were underwater," Dituri told reporters last week. "No humans ever stayed past 73 days. We're going to go all the way to 100." Diane and I love snorkeling and the ocean, but living isolated and under the oceans surface for 100 days, regardless of the purpose, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Dorothea Dix 

In the month of April, on the 4th, in 1802, Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine. She was an early 19th century activist who changed the medical field by challenging various practices regarding the care of both the mentally ill and indigenous populations. In addition, she helped recruit nurses for the Union army during the Civil War. At a young age Dorothea moved to Boston to live with her grandmother. She attended school while there and also tutored children. While doing so she fell ill several times and had to stop teaching. At this time, Dorothea's doctors suggested that she spend some time in Europe. While overseas, she met different groups of reformers who were pursuing changes in the ways in which the mentally ill were cared for. Once back in the states, Dorothea began touring mental hospitals around the country. She reported back to many politicians in efforts to look at new care alternatives for asylums. Eventually she established asylums in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Illinois. Once the Civil War began, Dorothea dedicated herself to the Union cause, although she was known for treating both the Union and Confederate soldiers which gained her respect from both sides. Dix held high standards for her nurse recruits after being designated the Superintendent of Army Nurses. These high expectations lent to extreme success and was pivotal in the advancement of nurses in the war and medical field. 

Hill View Manor (Suggested by: Steffanie Kolodziej)

Hill View Manor is located in New Castle, Pennsylvania. This started as The Lawrence Home for the Aged, a poor farm to take the place of a previous poor farm in the town. It was open until 2004 and saw hundreds of people come through the doors. This location hosts an annual paranormal convention called Hill-Con, an annual Psychic Fair and a haunted house attraction called Scare Manor at Halloween. So clearly, this location has some unexplained things going on and they embrace that fact. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Hill View Manor!

New Castle sits near the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio, about 50 miles from Pittsburgh. This was an area first inhabited by the Mingoes, Lenape and Seneca who set up little towns along the Beaver River called Kuskuskie Towns. A civil engineer named John Carlysle Stewart arrived in 1798 and noticed that a 50 acre plot at the confluence of the Neshannock Creek and Shenango River had not been part of a survey done to incorporate land in grants for Revolutionary War veterans. He claimed it for himself and platted out a small town that became a borough in 1825 and by 1869 it was a city. European immigrants came from all over and one of the largest Amish communities sprung up nearby. Canal systems built in the early 19th century caused New Castle to flourish. And this put the city in the crosshairs of the Black Hand society who set up their headquarters nearby. This group extorted money from the blue color workers of New Castle. The town eventually came to be known by two other monikers: "hot dog capital of the world" and the "fireworks capital of America." 

In the 1920s, Lawrence County needed a new poor house and it chose New Castle as the location. We've featured a few poor houses on the podcast through the years. Early on, these were places that became a catch-all for the impoverished, sick, elderly or mentally ill. Communities needed a way to care for people who had no one to look after them. Perhaps their family members had all passed or they had no friends to turn to or they just couldn't afford to pay someone to care for them. Poor houses seemed like a good alternative, giving women a building to care for and men a place to get job training. These were actual farms, so the impoverished could have some pride in working a farm. But as is the case with good intentions many times, things don't always work out well. Overcrowding and sickness made many of these houses bad places to live. 

This new Lawrence County poorhouse would take the place of the original poorhouse built in 1867. That one burned down on October 14, 1897 and fortunately, none of the inmates living there died. The property was expanded and rebuilt with an infectious disease hospital added, housing around twenty inmates. Some of them were serving court-imposed sentences and others were just poor. The farm closed when the city of New Castle and Lawrence County joined forces to open a new poor house. The old poor house eventually became the Sylvan Heights Golf Course. The new poor farm would be located on 23 acres the county purchased near Ellwood Road. The government then set to building The Lawrence County Home for the Aged. This was designed by Architect A. L. Thayer and opened on October 19, 1926. 

The first managers of the home were Perry and Mary Snyder who were coming over from the original poor farm. They also brought their two children with them and they were joined by twelve staff members. The twenty inmates at the old city poor farm were brought here as well, one of whom was a young boy. Although the Snyder's clearly had experience - they had been doing this since 1913 - the care of the residents faltered enough that by 1944, the Snyder's were accused of incompetency. They were in their late seventies though, so we blame the county as well for not replacing them earlier. A court hearing was held in June and it was ruled that the Snyders would be retired and then paid pensions. They were told they could stay at the home, but by August they were being ordered to vacate. The longtime director of the Welfare Department, Mantz B. Hogue, took over management.

The home would take on the role of being a skilled nursing center in the 1960s and was remodeled under a new director, Clarence E Covert. In 1973, with funds from the county becoming scarce and a horrible overcrowding issue, Director Covert resigned. The county decided they needed to add more space and built a new larger section with three more levels of space that could house 30 residents and a new dining room and kitchen were included. Most of the rest of the building was remodeled as well. This opened in 1977 and with that came a name change to what the property is known now, Hill View Manor. The building covers 85,000 square feet. This was a perfect name as the building sat on top of a grassy hill. Hill View Manor ran as a nursing home until it finally closed its doors in 2004. And it sat for a bit unused until the paranormal world breathed new life into the building that has been deteriorating with peeling paint, leaky roof and crumbling floors. Triko Enterprises, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based development firm, bought Hill View from the county in 2004. In 2009, Candy Braniff leased the building from Triko Enterprises and began hosting tours and paranormal investigations, while also gathering volunteers to help maintain the building. Since May of 2013, Haunted Hill View Manor Inc. has run the location. Different paranormal ventures and day tours fund the refurbishment of the building.

Hill View Manor is considered one of the most haunted locations in western Pennsylvania. There are websites that claim 10,000 people died here, but that is impossible. There were probably a couple hundred people who died here, but the facility never had that many people staying there. We have heard that this might have been used as the county morgue, so perhaps that is where people are getting the idea that 10,000 dead people came through here. Regardless of how many people died here, the number that matters to us is how many of those souls remain and the answer is quite a few. Steffanie who suggested this location wrote us, "I've just found out that I'm empathic, I feel energies. I've been to Hill View Manor a few times this year. I felt a little girl hold my hand. She likes to hang out on the top floor. On that same floor there seems to be a negative energy and we believe this because while using a spirit box up there, I was told to go f myself and the thing challenged me. On the 3rd floor, we smelled cigars and last year that place was so negative I didn't stay the whole night. One hallway makes me feel overcome with sadness and I started to cry there this year. On the first floor, I caught video of a necklace swinging in the room of a patient named Mary Virginia." 

Mary Virginia is one of the most prominent spirits at Hill View. Her room reminds us of Sarah's room at Malvern Manor where there are many dolls, costumes and items to play with on the bed and dressers and several necklaces that belonged to Mary Virginia hang on the wall. Mary Virginia had Cerebral Palsy and spent her entire life at Hill View. She loved to play dress-up and listen to music, so she enjoys it when investigators try on some dress-up clothes and people claim to hear the humming of music that Mary Virginia enjoyed. Occasionally her favorite music will be caught on EVP. She is a friendly spirit who likes to move the dolls and cause the necklaces above her bed to swing. 

The spirit of a former maintenance man at the manor, George, is said to hang out in the basement. He loved football and was a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, specifically of the Terry Bradshaw era. He smacks people on the back of the head if they mention being fans of another sports team. Another spirit residing in the basement, and specifically the boiler room, is thought to be Eli Saurri. Eli was at the poor farm because he was a recovering alcoholic. The poor house was a dry place and eventually Eli's craving for alcohol became too much for him and he snuck out to go drinking. The following day, some of the residents found Eli passed out near the front door, so they dragged him inside and thought that laying him down in the boiler room would help him sober up. But Eli had ingested far too much alcohol and he passed away in the boiler room from alcohol poisoning. Now his spirit is said to haunt the boiler room area and he likes to target women for pranks and such. Women get grabbed, poked and pinched.

The spirit of a child named Jeffery is said to be here. He was nine and he and his eleven-year-old brother were orphaned and brought here. The brother was adopted, but there is no record as to what happened to Jeffery and since he is a child spirit, we're left to think he passed away as a child at Hill View. He gave his name as Jeffery when asked by some paranormal investigators. He likes to hang out on the second floor, so there are child toys scattered throughout one of the rooms up there for him to play with. It is in Jeffery's room that investigators claim a dark entity named The Creeper likes to hide. This thing crawls on the floors and across the ceiling. People claim to hear its nails clicking on the floor and walls. Some guides claim to have caught it once on video, but when Kelly and i watched, we were unconvinced. And in the Critical Care area was a man named Bill Boots who died at Hill View from what one guide believes was a heart attack because when he asked Bill what he died from, he felt a sharp pain in his chest. They do have paperwork with a William Boots who died in the 1990s.

These are just a few of the named ghosts, but there are many more spirits here. All of them seem to be friendly, except one darker entity that hangs in the basement. One of the tour guides was closing down things one night and saw this dark shadowy thing on the stairs in the basement. A manager at Hill View named Rachelle Rozzo said, “We always try to be skeptical about things, we try to find logical explanations before jumping to conclusions… But sometimes there are just some things you cannot account for logically, like watching doors open and close when there is no draft and no one else in the whole building.” Another building manager claimed that she often saw full-bodied apparitions and communicated with spirits. Visitors and staff claim to hear banging, moving objects, scratching on the floor, slamming doors, disembodied voices and footsteps and pipes rattling. And this is in a building that has little electricity and no HVAC or plumbing. 

The grandsons of a woman who once lived here came to do some investigating and the group they were with captured an EVP that gave a family nickname that no one else would know. And speaking of grandmothers, another woman who visited Hill View said that her grandmother used to play the piano every day and there are people who claim to hear the sounds of a piano even though there is no piano in the building. A former employee said, “As a nurse, I had numerous experiences while working. On one occasion, while walking from the east wing to the west wing, a very cold and cloudy form passed through me. It did not frighten me, only gave me an incredible chill. On other occasions, when on the second floor near the break room it would not be uncommon for me to see what appeared to be someone walking down the hall but upon checking things out, nobody was ever there.”

Members of Lakeview Paranormal shared with Philly Ghosts some of their experiences. Liz said her most notable experience occurred in the men’s cafeteria where she sensed a lot of tension and she captured temperature fluctuations. Senior Investigators John and Greg felt like something followed them throughout Hill View and Greg smelled perfume and cigar smoke emanating from the rooms on the third floor. Changes in air pressure caused some of the investigators ears to pop. Ghost Lab investigated here in 2010. Ghost Hunters investigated in 2011 and the Tennessee Wraith Chasers were there for their Ghost Asylum show in 2015. TWC attempted to trap the spirits of two suicidal people. One of them supposedly stabbed himself 30 times? The guys also blasted off a bunch of fireworks to distract some kind of gargoyle entity they kept talking about. They did seem to prove a theory that there were a couple murders here that were covered up as suicides.

Portals to Hell visited during Season 3 and they were greeted by Carrie Triko of Triko Enterprises. She told them that her mother had bought the property with the hope of turning them into condominiums. Carrie has had a few of her own experiences and she always gets a feeling that there is something watching her in the front entrance area. She will not go down the Timeclock Hallway because there is something dark in it. There is a stairway behind the hallway that leads down to the basement and the guides here claim that there is a portal under that stairway. A black mass goes back and forth like it is pacing. Psychic Michele Belanger went through with a blindfold and she got dizzy in the Timeclock stairwell and in Jeffery's room she picked up on the entity and said it was something that could shapeshift into whatever it wants and that sometimes that could be a child. Michelle didn't believe a child was in the room. Katrina and Jack focused on this second floor area probably because there are really no negative experiences anywhere else in the building. They heard disembodied footsteps and rattling and knocking. The knocking was in response to a request to make a noise. The first time was light, but then Jack knocked and asked for the spirit to knock again and it knocked really loud.

Ghost Adventures visited in Season 4 on Episode 6. They captured EVPs saying, "I'm Jim", "Get Out Of This Room", "Get That Guy", "Blue", "Did She?", "Hurt Your Back", "Yeah It Is", "Hi Zak", "Maybe", "Hockey", "Pittsburgh", "I Can't", "Go Check", "Do The Math", "I Plan On Fixin' Them", "Split", "I Got A Question", "Let Us Hear", "Alicia." A door opened on its own and Zak claimed to have his shirt tugged real hard and something grabbed his arm. Nick saw a shadow figure in a hallway. They also heard pipes rattling, scratching and banging.

Hill View Manor was home for many people who had nowhere else to go and no one to care for them. It makes sense that some of them would want to stay in the afterlife. Is Hill View Manor haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

HGB Ep. 483 - Haunted Occoquan

Moment in Oddity - 3D Printed Food

Well Diane, I don't know about our listeners, but I KNOW you love a good cheesecake, as do I. And although we eat pretty healthy in general, this is a whole new culinary delight that we may want to partake in. Now it may look a little strange, but hey, we're all about the strange and weird here at History Goes Bump, right? Well, a group of mechanical engineers at Columbia University have been able to 3D print an edible cheesecake! Can you imagine being able to create such a gratifying dessert such as this at home, because that 3D printing ability is coming soon. The slice in 'question' (and I use that descriptive word intentionally), was a cheesecake slice consisting of banana puree, strawberry jam, cherry drizzle, peanut butter, graham cracker and frosting. So of course the graham cracker was serving as the crust, then pool-like layers of peanut butter secure the softer ingredients like the banana puree or jam in place. The structures within the architectural space of the cake support each other, not unlike the architectural support of any tall corporate building. The time it takes one of the foodie 3D printers to create this delectable dish is approximately 30 minutes from start to finish for a single slice. The taste? Well, it was likened to Willy Wonka's three course dinner chewing gum from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. Different flavors of the cheesecake would hit the palate at different times. The 3D food printing industry has proposed the needed development of creating 'food cartridges' for the printers. All I know is we like natural and fresh food so we will not be experimenting with such a device. But one thing is for sure, a 3D printer that can create edible meals, certainly is odd. 

This Month in History - Artist Raffaello Santi

In the month of April, on the 6th, in 1483, artist Raffaello Santi was born in Duchy of Urbino, Italy (Duh-chee Ur-Bee-No). Raphael was well known for his numerous Madonna paintings. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a court painter and is believed to have begun Raffaello's training before his death when Raffaello was only 11 years old. He was a painter and architect of the High Renaissance. Raffaello was also one of the traditional trinity of masters which included Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. His work was admired for his clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. After additional training in Perugino, Raffaello attained the title of "master" by 1500. In 1508 he moved to Rome at the invite of the pope to begin work on the Vatican Palace. While in Rome, Raffaello was given a variety of important commissions and then he began to work as an architect. He was still a highly sought after artist at the time of his death, on his birthday, April 6th, 1520.

Haunted Occoquan (Suggested by: Cecil H) 

The town of Occoquan in Virginia is a suburb of Washington, D.C. and was established over 250 years ago. This is a town full of historic and colorful buildings that started as a trading post. The mill town has today become an artist enclave that hosts two large annual arts and crafts festivals and a few ghosts. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Occoquan!

Prince William County in Virginia has its share of haunted locations. This encompassed a large tract of Northern Virginia and was named for the son of King George II. The county would have two large town areas: Manassas and Occoquan. We're focusing on Occoquan on this episode. (Dumfries is part of this county as well - where the Weems-Botts House is located that we covered on Ep. 441.) The name means "at the end of the water" and comes from the Algonquin Doeg Indians who were early inhabitants here. They were eventually replaced by the Dogues tribe. Their main village was at the mouth of the Occoquan River. The first Europeans explored the area in the early 1600s, but wouldn't establish a trading post here until the early 1700s with a tobacco warehouse being set up on the south bank of the river. The town soon expanded from there with iron furnaces built by Charles Ewell and John Ballendine in 1755, a grist mill in 1757, Merchant's Mill with a second grist mill in 1759 and the first cotton mill in Virginia would eventually be here in 1828. The town thrived as a port until river silting shut down the river traffic. Occoquan was chartered as a town in 1804. The mills eventually closed and industrial operations shut down. The town reinvigorated with small businesses and is today a tourist center with lots of great shops and restaurants and several of these places are reputedly haunted.

The Occoquan Historic District consists of sixty structures. Many of these are frame, two-story structures that had once been private homes. They have German siding and decorative porches. They are all very cute. Mill Street was clearly the main hub of this town and still is today with lots of shops. An arson fire destroyed many buildings in 1980, but everything was rebuilt and restored. During some excavations along the Occoquan River, a tombstone was unearthed dating back to 1893. This was a spot behind Madigan's Waterfront Restaurant. The tombstone is on display at the Mill Street Museum and is said to be unnaturally cold to the touch. The corner of Commerce and Union Streets was the scene of a Civil War skirmish and people still claim to hear the moaning there.                 

Madigan's Waterfront Restaurant

Madigan's Waterfront Restaurant is located at 201 Mill Street. The restaurant is family owned and opened in 2005. Occoquan Spirits has conducted dowsing sessions inside Madigan's and they believed they were talking to two little girls that like to hang out on the second floor of the restaurant. They also has sensory experiences that included one woman feeling a hand on her leg and another was bumped into by something she couldn't see when they were going up the stairs. 

It's Your Day Shop

It's Your Day Shop is located at 206 Mill Street. The website describes this as a self-photo studio and a party room rental. This is a wood frame two-story building with a gable roof that was built in the late 18th century. At least seven families had lived in the house before it was renovated in the 1970s to serve as a retail shop. The original porch was replaced with Williamsburg-type steps. The renovations also revealed the original material used to build the house which included huge timbers, brick ballast and oyster shell mortar and the wall was left open so people could see this material. The spirit here is named Charlotte and she likes to rearrange things. People have seen her apparition and felt cold spots. There is also that feeling of being watched by someone who isn't there.

302 Mill Street

The original part of this building was built in 1860 and was added onto throughout the years. This started as W.R. Selecman Dry Goods, Groceries, Liquors & General Merchandise. Later it became Leary Lumber & Hardware for many years and in 1971 it became Blackbeard’s restaurant serving up seafood. The building was gutted by a fire in the mid-1980s and reopened as a quilt shop. Then is was the Golden Goose, which was a shop specializing in Christmas decor and novelties. The most recent iteration was the Urban Posh Boutique, but that seems to have moved to a location on Washington Street, so we're not sure what is here now. When it was the Golden Goose, staff claimed that the place had a poltergeist who enjoyed moving stuff around and liked to hang out at the old sales counter after hours. The original 1860 tin ceiling has managed to survive through all the years.

Artists' Undertaking Gallery

The Artists' Undertaking Gallery is located at 309 Mill Street and was established in 1977. The name may sound unusual until you learn that this had once been a funeral home. It was built in the 1930s by R.S. Hall. This funeral home went out of business in 1972 after Hurricane Agnes blew through and took out the additions to the building. The main building survived, but was flooded by the Occoquan River. When the artists decided to make this building their studio, they had to clean mud out of the basement left over from the flooding. The old funeral director haunts the store. He was seen by his grandson in the place after he died. Annette Ka lei Pua worked there and one night she was alone in the building and someone walked past her out of the corner of her eye. She saw the figure pass again. The third time the figure passed her, she said, "Ok, you can have the store. I'm going home." One day after a snow day had shut everything down, Annette came into the store and opened the cash register. She was shocked to see all the coins neatly stacked on top of each other. She closed the drawer and opened it again and the coins were still stacked so she called a couple of other employees over and they were shocked to see them that way too. Annette took pictures, but the pictures came out blank.

Before Hall built his undertaking business there was Slack Funeral Home. It had been located at 210-214 Commerce Street, but no longer stands. Undertaker Slack had a two-horse carriage with black windows on both sides and was open from the back. Carl Eike, Jr., born in Occoquan/Woodbridge area, was quoted in 1979 describing his memories of Undertaker Slack “He had two old boney horses and a rickety old hearse, but I guess it made no difference to the dead person.”

13 Magickal Moons 

13 Magickal Moons is located at 440 Mill Street and had three resident cats that would often appear to see something that nobody else could see. An employee named Amanda said that cats often seemed to be looking at something behind her. And she said that she would often get that feeling like something was behind her. She was there alone one evening close to closing time when she heard a banging in the other room. She ignored it, but later when she went into the back something started rattling the doorknob back there. And then she saw what she described as a shadow that crossed the room very quickly. So then she left pretty quickly because it scared her.

Gift & Gather Shop

The Gift & Gather Shop is located at 307 Mill Street and opened in 2017. This is a place that showcases small independent creators and sells Pure palette soy candles. The building was built in the early 1900’s and served as a general store from the 1940’s until 1972 where fishing licenses and tackle were
available, as well as boat rentals. The rear had an attachment that featured 5 rooms for rent, but this washed away during Hurricane Agnes in 1972. People have reported seeing a flickering light in the windows in the early morning hours and sometimes they even see a woman holding a candle moving through the shop when it is closed.

Labella Bridal Boutique

Labella Bridal Boutique is located at 313 Mill Street. The building dates back to 1888 and was formed from ground oyster shell mortar and English bricks that came over on ships as ballast. Lynn's General Store used to be here on the ground floor and Lynn and his family lived on the upper level. The unexplained activity here are dark footprints appearing inside the building and disembodied whispering voices. Merchandise gets moved about in the middle of the night. 

The Spot on Mill Street

The Spot on Mill Street is located at 406 Mill Street. This is the oldest building in Occoquan and is believed to have been built in 1750. Massive logs were uncovered in a 1970 renovation that had been hand dressed for what was originally a residence. The stones for the foundation are the same type used for the Rockledge property. The fireplace here is original and the stairway is built from chestnut. Legend claims that British spies were kept in the basement dungeon during the Revolutionary War. Today, this is a pub on the Occoquan Pub Crawl. 

204 Washington Street 

The building at 204 Washington Street was originally a corner grocery store. This is a two-story wood frame house with a one-story porch and was built at the turn of the century. Ogle Harris, who was the son of a slave, opened the store in 1914 as an ice cream business that expanded into a grocery store. The store would sell as much as 25 gallons of hand-cranked ice cream on a weekend. The store sold bushels of fresh vegetables from local farms and Harris cut the sides of beef and lamb he sold himself. Harris ran it for 35 years until he passed away in 1949. Then his sons took over and ran it until 1974. A business named Yarn Cloud was here for 10 years, but has relocated. There are thought to be several ghosts in the shop. They move things, create disembodied footsteps and have revealed themselves as full-bodied apparitions.

The Well in the Courtyard

The Well in the Courtyard had been located at 201 Union Street. This location is also home to Poplar Alley. The alley was named for a stand of poplar trees that were once growing here. They were destroyed in a fire in 1916. Alleys like this were to provide access to the rear of buildings. The well was here for everyone's use and is said to be haunted by a ghost that likes it quiet. And the reason people figured this out is because any major sources of noise get silenced. There had been some storage units here for an electric company and they were renovated into shops.

The Occoquan Inn/D'Rocco's Italian Restaurant

The Occoquan Inn was located at 301 Mill Street. The inn is today D'Rocco's Italian Restaurant and The Tap Room. The house was built by Lucien Clark and then a Tyson Janney moved into it with his new bride in the last quarter of the 1800s. The Janneys were a prominent Quaker family in the town and they eventually took over the Mill complex and the Rockledge Mansion and they continued to operate the mill into the 1920s. The house passed to a Samuel Davis, then to Robert Hall, and then to the Dawson family in the 1970s. At that time it was vacant. The Lynn family leased the property and established the Occoquan Inn in the 1970s. They opened a little bar in the basement called the Wade Hampton Lounge. Jim Novak was twenty-three when he took over at the inn in the 1980s. He renamed the little bar the Down Under Tavern. During Novaks tenure, the Occoquan Inn was run as a romantic, white tablecloth restaurant. There was a banquet room upstairs. Gary Savage took over in 1997 and ran it until 2020. Then Jim Novak came back and opened D'Rocco's Italian Joint. He changed the bar downstairs into The Tap Room.

In the 1800s, a Native American lost his life at the foot of the stairway because he seemed to have been embroiled in a love triangle. The innkeeper shot him with a shotgun because the woman in the middle was his wife. The ladies room on the second floor was haunted. A server came up one time and tried to go in the bathroom and the door wouldn't budge. When she stepped away, the door blew open. There is a large old mirror in the bathroom that is original to the building and the manager said people sometimes claimed they saw a spirit in the mirror. This is a tall, handsome Native American male with long black hair. There is a fireplace in the Tea Room and the spirit sometimes appears in the fireplace. There was a large wedding at the inn and the manager was closing everything down around midnight and he went back downstairs and every single place setting had been reversed. He initially thought that a busboy was playing a trick, so the next day he asked the busboy if he had moved the place settings. The busboy said he didn't do it.

Occoquan Spirits was told by Jim from D' Rocco's that after their tour group left one night, an antique clock fell off the wall in the bar and broke, documenting the time the group left. Argos Paranormal investigated the Inn and they used a Phasmabox to communicate, as well as set up two flashlights. The one flashlight turned on and then off. They asked if it was a woman they were speaking with and the flashlight turned on again. Then the Phasmabox said, "Hey" and one of the investigators said, "You're moving around aren't you?" and the Phasmabox replied, "Please look here" and "Investigation." The group asked if the spirits remembered them and the Phasmabox said, "You." Then they got "Scarlett" and "Bring her." One of the guys is sensitive and he got to feeling like there was a child there and when they asked if a child was there, the word "mine" came through.

Rockledge Mansion

Rockledge Mansion is the historic anchor of the town and was built by the founder of Occoquan, John Ballendine, in 1758. Ballendine also built a sawmill, a grist mill, bake houses, an iron foundry and other businesses. He lost everything to foreclosure in 1765. So he was a great visionary, but not so good about paying his debts. Some of his visionary work was with George Washington and Ballendine helped expand Virginia's economy. Nathaniel Ellicott was the next owner of the eleven room Rockledge and he added a kitchen. His family had founded Ellicott City in Maryland. Wood siding was very popular in the late 1700s and so Ellicott put that over the stone that Rockledge had been built from. Ellicott was also a founder of Occoquan. He laid out streets and built a bridge over the Occoquan River that helped bring a stagecoach line to the town. Ellicott left in 1816 and then as mentioned before, the Janney family bought Rockledge and they owned it through 1929.

During the Civil War, Rockledge was turned into a hospital and they drilled holes in the floor to help drain the blood off the floor. The house suffered damage after the Consolidated Stone Quarry started blasting in 1902 and sent rocks flying at the house and damaged the foundation. As business in town went down, so did Rockledge. Fred Almon Barnes bought Rockledge in 1929 and he renovated it, leaving it to his son, Laurence Barnes. He and his wife eventually abandoned it in 1960 and it sat vacant for ten years. A man named Donald Sonner bought it and spent over a million renovating it for his wife as a Christmas present, but that dream would die when the house was burglarized and set on fire. Rockledge was severely damaged. Unable to afford to repair it, the Sonners sold it to Joy and Ronald Houghton who opened it as a bed and breakfast. Their son Lance Houghton was the most recent owner and he was leasing the ballroom to a catering company. It is now for sale for $1.5 million.

Gloria Rouse was the owner Georgetown Caterers and she shared with Hilltop Productions, some of the experiences she and her staff have had. The day she signed the lease, they were offered a room to overnight in and in the middle of the night, about eleven o'clock, they heard footsteps on the stairs and she assumed it was the owner returning to the property. The next morning she said to him, we heard you all come in last night and the owner said, "We didn't come in." This unnerved her, particularly since she was planning on staying a second night. The bartender is set up in the Summer Kitchen and they had a candelabra on the bar and the flames started going around in a circle. All of them doing the same circle. Gloria was called over and she couldn't believe what she was seeing. There is no forced air in that room, so they couldn't understand what was making the flames do that. Here's a really crazy thing. There were investigators there that had a camera on a room and they caught what looked like a bunch of orbs moving sideways through the shot. Gloria watched it and said it looked like snow. Then she left the room and this snow-like stuff changed direction and started coming up from the floor. This was the room that had the drilled floors that have now been sealed. Gloria never felt frightened though. People have reported seeing the spirit of a Confederate Soldier.

The town of Occoquan is more than fun and colorful shops to peruse. It clearly has an haunting air about it. Is Occoquan haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:


Thursday, April 13, 2023

HGB Ep. 482 - Heathman Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Longest Running Hotel

The hotel industry goes back way further than you might think. Sure, there are classic properties in historic cities such as Paris and Rome, but there's a hotel in Japan that has those places beat by centuries. The hotel is known as The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, and has been in business for over 1,300 years. It’s even been run by 52 generations of the same family until 2017. This Japanese resort is located near Mount Fuji and has been in business since 705 A.D.. The inn was founded by Fujiwara Mahito and its lasting appeal is attributed to the hot spring that has been free flowing without interruption since the hotels inception. In 2011, Guinness World Records officially certified the Keiunkan as the world's most historical and longest-standing inn. Although Mount Fuji is not viewable from the resort, it is located in the same region. Obviously, over its millennium of existence, the inn has continually been updated from the initial rudimentary pools in caves being replaced with more finished baths in wood huts, and so on. The Keiunkan is a beautiful resort boasting 37 rooms, a restaurant and moon-viewing platform. Since 2019, they have even had WiFi and the hot baths' machinery pumps 1,000 liters of naturally heated water per minute. The photographs are certainly stunning and it is obvious why this hotel has remained popular throughout the centuries, but a hotel run by the same family with a longevity of over 1,000 years, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - National Mint

In the month of April, on the 2nd, in 1792 Congress passed the Coinage Act, establishing the first national mint in the United States. During the colonial period, any monetary purchases were done with foreign currency, colonial currency, livestock, produce or other goods. After the Revolutionary War, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation which gave authority to individual states to mint their own coins. After the ratification of the Constitution it was determined that a National Mint was needed. At the time, Philadelphia was the nation's capital and thus was chosen for the mints' location. A scientist appointed by President George Washington purchased two lots at Arch and 7th Streets. On these lots a three story building was erected which made it the tallest building in the area and the first federal building constructed under the Constitution. Coins began production immediately and in 1795, the National Mint became the first federal agency to employ women which were hired to the position of adjusters. In 1835, after the initial gold rushes in the Americas, Congress passed legislation to build three new branch Mints to be located in North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. Later, in 1849 an additional Mint was established in San Francisco to accommodate for the California Gold Rush. Other locations were established as the nation continued its growth. Today, the Mint maintains production facilities in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, and West Point, and a bullion depository in Fort Knox.

Heathman Hotel 

The Heathman Hotel is one of the few remaining historic hotels in Portland, Oregon. It beckons to passerbys with its red and white neon sign on the front of the entrance awning. The brick edifice signals that this is an old building, a historic building. Like so many historic hotels, this one hosted the rich and famous and has stories of tragedies and hauntings. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of the Heathman Hotel.

The Portland area was inhabited by the Upper Chinook Indians and the Multnomah People and they found the area to be rich in fish, berries and root vegetables. This was also prime hunting ground in the Tualatin Plains. These plains inspired the nickname used by early settlers, traders and trappers, The Clearing. Tennessee pioneer William Overton and Boston lawyer Asa Lovejoy bought  640 acres that included The Clearing and the waterfront that proved to be deep enough to allow this to become a port town. This was in 1843. By 1845, Overton was done with trying to tame this land and he sold his share to Francis Pettygrove who hailed from Portland, Maine. And that fact probably informs you where the name Portland came from. Portland was the largest settlement in the Pacific Northwest by 1850 and was the major port in the area for much of the 19th century. Today, Portland is known as being a center of counterculture, underground music like punk and home to so many microbreweries that some people call this Beertown. At the heart of the downtown is an entertainment district located along Portland's Great White Way. The Heathman Hotel was built here.

The Heathman Hotel is located at 1001 SW Broadway in Portland, Oregon and was originally known as New Heathman Hotel. This name was because there was already another Heathman Hotel in Portland. Today, that location is known as Park Heathman Hotel and its a residential building for low income seniors and disabled people. Both of these hotels were built by hotelier George Heathman, the original Heathman in 1926 and the new one in 1927. Heathman was born in Iowa, but his family relocated to Washington state when he was very young. Heathman moved to Portland in 1921 and found work as a general building contractor. His first major project was building the Red Men Hall in 1922. This group was formally known as the Improved Order of Red Men, which was a secret society that formed from multiple Revolutionary War-era secret societies. Heathman went on to build several other buildings in Portland and then he set his sights on hotels with the Roosevelt Hotel being the first in 1924. He then became a hotel executive and formed a partnership with a man named Virgil Crum and they would build the Heathman Hotels. Then Heathman died shortly thereafter in 1930 from a stroke at the age of 49. 

The New Heathman Hotel was constructed from concrete and covered over with brick, parts of which are dark and light colored brick that make a decorative diamond design. Architectural firm DeYoung and Roald designed the hotel in the Jacobean Revival style and it rose to ten stories. Heathman's vision for this hotel would be something that would cater to the upper crust like wealthy lumber barons, railroad magnates, investors and politicians. The lobby had dark-hued paneling that extended to the mezzanine and tall, arched windows allowed light to flood inside. A restaurant and cocktail lounge and commercial shops rounded out the first level. Meeting and banquet rooms were on the second floor. The rest of the floors had guest rooms, around 224 of them. There were 1,200 workers who constructed the New Heathman and they were all invited to a pre-opening party. This was followed by the formal grand opening on December 17, 1927.

The grand opening was a huge affair for Portland. Dedication speeches were made by both the mayor of Portland and the Governor of Oregon. Business leaders and all the city commissioners came out for the event and local radio station KOIN brought out a live band and orchestral pieces. And that wasn't just because the radio station wanted to be part of the festivities, the radio station would be calling the Heathman home. The station acquired sister station KALE and both used the mezzanine of the hotel for the stations. These were constantly upgraded and by 1940, this was called "the finest broadcast facility in the country." By 1955, both stations had moved out of the hotel. The Oregon Journal described the Heathman as "Portland's newest and most modern hotel" and "Its planning, construction and general appointments are as modern as human ingenuity and talent could possibly make it." The Heathman was in a perfect spot in the center of all the theaters with their bright marquees. Coffee and Portland seem to go hand and hand and the coffee culture started here in 1900. The Heathman contributed to this by putting in the largest coffee shop in the Pacific Northwest at that time. 

Rabbit Hole: One of the city's oldest coffeehouses is Rimsky-Korsakoffee House. This location was originally a private home built in 1902 in the Craftsman style. The coffeehouse was opened in 1980 by Goody Cable and she named it for Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The interior was themed on classical music. It's a quirky little place, but also a haunted one. Apparently the former owners, a couple of writers who had witnessed the Russian Revolution, are hanging around in the afterlife. Some of the haunting activity is actually rigged like rotating, vibrating and elevating tables.

Despite George's death, the Heathman family held onto the New Heathman until the early 1960s. At this time in Portland, much of the downtown had left for the suburbs and business slowed down. City leaders knew they needed to do something to reinvigorate the downtown area, so a performing arts center was planned. The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was opened in the old Paramount Theater. The Heathman was nearly unoccupied. The hotel underwent a major renovation in 1983 that finished in 1984 and cost $16 million. The main entrance was moved to a spot that once housed a gift shop and drug store. That drug store was Portland's first 24-hour pharmacy. Portland architect Carter Case and interior designer Andrew Delfino designed the interior to have new natural materials like marble and teak. The Tea Court was restored and a century old crystal chandelier that was once used in the U.S. Embassy in Czechoslovakia was placed above that Tea Court. All the guest rooms were renovated and furnished in various pieces representing 18th–20th-century styles of Biedermeier, Ming, Empire, and Regency.

The hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 1984. Through the years there have been multiple owners. There was the Stevenson family, the Rim Corporation of Modesto, California, the McCormick & Schmick Restaurants, the LaSalle Hotel Properties and then finally the Pebblebrook Hotel Trust who spent another $20 million in renovations to create a semi-formal and luxurious hotel. As a part of this image, doormen are dressed as English Beefeaters. And the Beefeater costume thing continues inside in regards to a bronze sculpture of an English bulldog dressed in a Beefeater costume that is named Zelda. There is a dog bowl filled with water that is part of the sculpture. Zelda is apparently Zelda Wisdom, the star of a line of greeting cards. The sculpture was donated by Banfield Pet Hospital. The Heathman has always been known for its fine dining and the restaurant here has undergone many variations as well. The Heathman Restaurant & Bar was one of Portland's top restaurants and earned four stars from the Forbes Travel Guide in 2014. And all-offal menu was created in honor of Anthony Bourdain. Offal is awful, it's innards! The restaurant underwent a major renovation and reopened in 2016 as Headwaters that specialized in seafood. Today, the restaurant is apparently under renovation again with plans to open here in Spring 2023.

In 2011, Food & Wine listed the Heathman as one of the 21 most haunted restaurants and hotels in America. The paranormal activity at the Heathman seems to be centered on a column of rooms, running from Room 303 to Room 1003. An employee named Fidel Semper told CBS News in 1999 that a guest in Room 703 killed himself in 1975 because he couldn't deal with being blind or perhaps he fell out of the window. Semper was the one who found the body. He believes that this person may be one of the spirits haunting the hotel. People hear the screams of someone falling past these rooms and then the sound of breaking glass. The guest started from 703 and ended by crashing through the glass window of the library. The most haunted room of this bunch ending with 03 is that room, number 703. A woman who was staying in Room 703 came down to the front desk in 2008 and said she was very irritated that her towels had been thrown on the floor. She blamed an incompetent maid. The staff replaced the towels. Later that night, the woman found the towels on the ground again and she knew no one had been in the room.

Another interesting story told about Room 703 involved the TV in the room. A guest was unwinding and jumped in the shower. After clearing the suds from their ears, they heard a familiar sound. The television was on. But the guest hadn't turned the TV on. The guest got out of the shower, made sure the room was empty and then got back in the shower. A minute later, the TV was back on again. After showering, the guest went to the front desk and reported that something was wrong with the TV. A staff member accompanied the guest back to Room 703 and checked out the TV. Everything seemed to be working fine, so the staff member headed for the door. Before the staff member could leave, the TV roared back to life and the sound was all the way up. The hotel moved the guest.

In Room 503, guests have complained of being awakened from sleep by the sound of someone crying. When they look around the room, they see a figure that vanishes once seen. Things move on their own around the room as well. A guest was once again complaining at the front desk about her suitcase and clothing being moved when she had a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. She thought someone had entered her room without permission. The manager did a key audit, so that they could identify who had entered the room. The audit revealed that the only person who had entered the room that day was the guest. The manager gave the woman a new key, but the next day, the woman reported that her clothes had been moved again. A staff member entered Room 503 and saw a giant ball of energy zipping about the room. One day, a housekeeper was actually able to catch a similar ball of energy in a picture and that photo hangs in housekeeping’s breakroom.

There are other hauntings going on in the hotel as well. Guests and staff report hearing strange noises and guests sometimes find that things have moved around in their rooms while they were gone, in ways that a maid wouldn't move things. Like whole pieces of furniture. Male apparitions have been seen by numerous guests, either standing at the foot of beds or sitting on beds. These spirits are not always seen, but sometimes felt as though they are sitting next to somebody. One guest claimed that a man had run out of the closet and then suddenly vanished. The hotel's library is also said to be a hotspot for activity. Room 510 reputedly has a crying woman in a chair. A longtime night auditor named Rob St. Helen collected stories in a packet that staff members and guests shared with him. One of the stories shared the tale of a shadow figure stepping off the elevator on the 8th floor. There used to be a grand piano in the hotel that people would hear playing when nobody was sitting at it.  

Tom Ogden writes in his 2010 book "Haunted Hotels" about a man named Max who stayed in Room 703. Max had gone out to take in some air and enjoy the city and when he returned to the room, he saw that the maid had not been in to clean. However, it DID seem that someone had been in his room. The chair at the table was pushed out and sitting to the side as though someone had sat at the table. And two of the water glasses from the bathroom were sitting on the table. Perhaps he forgot moving this stuff around? He went into the bathroom and was very puzzled to find two towels on the floor where he had only left one. Max phoned the front desk to verify that housekeeping had not come to his room and he was told that indeed, the maid was running behind. The desk offered to send her immediately, but Max said there was no need. He then explained that someone had entered his room while he was away. The person on the other end paused for a bit and then said they would send someone up.

As Max waited, he hoped he wasn't overreacting. Maybe he had forgotten moving things and using a second towel. He checked his suitcase as he waited and nothing was missing. The hotel manager and security arrived and checked the room and reviewed the electronic records for the lock. Max was the only one who had entered his room all day. The manager then cleared his voice, took a deep breath and explained that the hotel was haunted and that this room had an unusual amount of unexplainable activity. They offered Max another room, but he opted to stay put, although there was no further weirdness.

The Heathman Hotel has stood for nearly 100 years. In that time it has collected many ghost stories. Are these just legends or are there really spirits here? Is the Heathman Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

HGB Ep. 481 - Haunted Inns of Cape May

Moment in Oddity - Poop Eating Pitcher Plants

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals or protozoans, typically insects and other arthropods. These plants can be found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica and some can even be seen in movies like the cult classic 'Little Shop of Horrors', ala the killer Venus Flytrap who lusts for human blood. These interesting plants secure their meals through various methods. Some utilize sticky, almost flypaper type mucus lining to trap their meals, others employ a snap trap method for survival and still others have hair like appendages which point inward to force their prey to move towards the plants' digestive organ. These plants all rely on their meal coming to them and they require a diet rich in nitrogen to survive. But what if their usual meal isn't so readily available? In higher altitudes where insect prey is not so plentiful, a type of pitcher plant has taken to eating poop. Yes, you heard correctly, I said poop. This is the Nepenthes hemsleyana (nah-pen-thees hem-slee-awnna) pitcher plant found in the forests of Borneo. These plants can grow very large, some as tall as 10 feet in height and they have developed a symbiotic relationship with the Kerivoula hardwickii (Carry-voo-la Hard-wicky-eye) bats. The bats have found the large pitcher plants a convenient and safe place to roost during the day. They then utilize the bowl, although not a porcelain one, to make their guano deposits. This keeps the plants thriving with rich nourishment. Carnivorous plants are certainly interesting and unique, but plants feasting on a fare of feces, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Falkland Island War

In the month of April, on the 2nd, in 1982, the Falkland Islands War began. This was an undeclared war between Argentina and the United Kingdom. This conflict was over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and its territorial dependency, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The latter being a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean near the tip of South America. Argentinian troops invaded and occupied the British colony. On April 5th, the British dispatched their naval task force and Air Force to engage the Argentinian forces before launching an amphibious attack. This ultimately ended the conflict in 74 days with an Argentine surrender on June 14th, returning the islands to British control. During the 10 week conflict, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders were killed. This major dispute surrounding the territories' sovereignty stemmed from Argentine's assertion that the islands belonged to them and that the military action was justified to reclaim the islands. The British government regarded the action as an invasion of a territory that had been a Crown colony since 1841. Falkland Islanders who have been the primary inhabitants of the islands since the early 19th century, are primarily descendants of British settlers. They also strongly favor British sovereignty. Neither state officially declared war, although both governments declared the islands a war zone.

Haunted Inns of Cape May (Suggested by: Becki Fleming)

Cape May in New Jersey is one of the oldest seaside resort towns in America and has one of the largest collections of 19th century buildings in the country. Three hundred and eighty acres of the town are part of a historic district. Many of these historic locations are now inns that are reputedly haunted. They all are unique with their own character and charm and at least one should be on your bucket list for a stay. Join us as we share the history and haunts of nearly a dozen haunted inns in Cape May!

Cape May is nestled on the southern tip of New Jersey and was home for a time to the Kechemeche Indians of the Lenni-Lenape tribe. This tribe believed that the shiny quartz pebbles that washed up on the beaches held some kind of power that would bring good fortune and wellbeing. Early settlers and traders started to refer to these as Cape May Diamonds. The largest of these is on display at the Cape May County Museum and weighs in at 1,800 carets. The numbers of the Kechemeche dwindled drastically due to illness and disease and by 1735, were almost nonexistent. Those that were left were reloacted to Oklahoma with other Lenape tribes. The first explorer to discover the island was Sir Henry Hudson and he did this in 1609. It was later explored by Cornelius Jacobsen Mey in 1621 and that is where it gets its name, although initially it was just called Cape Island. English colonists settled and built the island into a prosperous fishing and whaling colony and by the mid 1700s, people started using it as a vacation destination. Visitors were brought in from Philadelphia by sloops, schooners, horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches. There were no official inns at the time, so guests were housed in residential homes and taverns. Eventually there would be boarding houses and hotels added to the town. Cape May has a very haunting air about it. Every street seems to be oozing with spiritual activity, which is why so many places here are said to be haunted.

Hotel Macomber

The Hotel Macomber sits at 727 Beach Avenue and when it was built in 1916, it was the largest frame structure east of the Mississippi River. The hotel was built in the late Victorian Provincial Shingle Style which is American in origin and pushed back on the fancy ornamental patterns of the Victorian Queen Anne styling with plain, shingled surfaces and re-embraced Colonial American architecture. At the time, this was being used in many seaside cottages. The architect and builder are unknown, but the first owner was Sarah Davis and its original name was New Stockton Villa. The hotel had three-and-one-half stories above a raised basement, a two-story porch and a gable roof on the front with shed dormers along the sides. The first floor opened up into a lobby with a living room to the left. That room led out onto a glass-enclosed porch. Past the lobby and living room was a large dining room serviced by a large kitchen. The second and third floor had the exact same design with two suites at the forefront that featured their own large bathrooms, several smaller rooms with private baths and then a couple of joined rooms that shared a bathroom. 

Today, the Hotel Macomber is a family-run boutique hotel with the award winning Union Park Restaurant. The hotel sits right across from the beach and has spectacular views. Despite its height, the hotel isn't equipped with an elevator, so you do need to be able to climb stairs to stay there. The suites are called Captain Mey's and come with a porch. The Cornelius Rooms are oceanfront suites without porches. The Berths IIs are rooms with two beds that offer both ocean views and non-ocean views. The Jacobsens are standard rooms with lacy canopy beds. And finally there is the Osprey's Nests, which is the biggest ocean front room with the most expansive views. The hotel offers the perfect setting for weddings. And even better for us, reportedly the hotel has several ghosts.

The original owner, Sarah Davis, had a hard life. She had a daughter named Cannell who died of encephalitis in the 1920s. Sarah couldn't get past her grief and eventually took her own life at the hotel in 1934. She loved the hotel and is said to have remained to make sure that things run smoothly. She turns on cheery music and does chores around the hotel like unpacking for people and ironing clothes. Guests claim to see her coming down the stairs and standing by the check-in desk. And she may have been joined by her daughter Cannell. People have seen the spirit of a little girl in the hotel and psychics claim that she is Cannell. Sarah isn't the only owner haunting the place. Another couple that ran the place are said to have returned to the hotel after death as well.

Room 10 is thought to be the most haunted room in the hotel. The main ghost that haunts this room has been nicknamed "The Trunk Lady." The spirit is believed to belong to a Hotel Macomber regular named Irene Wright whom everyone called "Miss Wright." She started coming to the hotel in the 1930s and always arrived at the hotel alone with a large trunk. She never married and had no children. Miss Wright always stayed in Room 10, wore lots of perfume and talked everyone's ear off. It is thought that she died sometime in the 1970s and has returned in the afterlife to one of her favorite spots. Of course, she brings with her the phantom scent of perfume. Guests and employees have reported hearing the sound of a trunk dragging down the hall. Her apparition has been seen rocking in one of the rocking chairs on the porch. And banging on doorways is attributed to her too. Craig McManus is a well known psychic in Cape May who has penned several books on the subject of haunted Cape May. He told that he sensed five ghosts during a seance at the Hotel Macomber. "He said one was a woman, Irene Wright, a widow from Reading, Pennsylvania, affectionately known as the 'trunk lady' who always stayed in room 10 with her steamer trunk. This room was active mostly during the months of June and November. McManus said that one night while staying in room 10, he was awoken twice by loud banging on the door. He jumped up, opened the door, only to find that no one was there. He was later told that he was the only visitor staying in the hotel that night. Eventually he digitally recorded a woman’s voice saying 'I'm still here.'"

A hardworking waitress who dates back to the Great Depression is another one of the ghosts here. The story here is that she was poor and would occasionally steal food and one day she choked to death on a chicken bone. Her spirit has stayed here and she is angry, so she likes to move silverware and glasses around, she flickers the chandelier lights in the dining room, pushes people into the walk-in refrigerator and her full-bodied apparition has been seen floating in the kitchen in a ragged dress.

The basement harbors the spirit of a grumpy old man. People call him the "Growler" and that is because he likes to growl and groan. He likes to knock things over too. There are possibly other children ghosts here to that play with Cannel. During the summer, there are sounds of children talking and laughing when there are no children around. And a spirit known as the friendly farmer hangs out in the lobby and greets guests sometimes. And one room has an arguing couple that no one sees when they open the door. There definitely seems to be a large number of spirits hanging around Hotel Macomber.

Inn at 22 Jackson

The Inn at 22 Jackson is located on one of the busiest streets in Cape May and is, of course, a restored Queen Anne Victorian. The inn is navy blue, purple, white and outlined with lights. The inn is three stories and has a veranda on the first and second floors. The house has been through several owners and each one has had their own haunting experiences. One of the owners named Maria McFadden would often feel as though someone were walking by her in the kitchen when she was the only person in the kitchen. Legends have claimed that the spirit here had been a nanny named Esmerelda who lived on the third floor turret and she had supposedly died tragically in the house. But there are no records to back that up. However, there was a family who lived here in the 1950s named the Wolfes and the children had an imaginary playmate named Esmerelda. A psychic who walked the property believes that the spirit here is named Anne and she does seem to like the third floor.

Windward House Inn (Now Closed)

Windward House Inn Bed and Breakfast is also located on Jackson Street at 24 Jackson Street. This bed and breakfast boasted over 30 years of hospitality, but appears to be closed today. This house was built in 1905 in the Edwardian Victorian style with three porches. The family that built it lived in it until the 1940s. After it was sold, it was opened as guest cottages and then in 1977 it was bought by Owen and Sandy Miller and they opened this as the Windward House Inn. They filled the bed and breakfast with Victorian furniture. Some of the doors have stained glass door and others have beveled glass. Sandy Miller said that they had experienced some unexplainable things. Once they had a guest come to them and say that they thought a guest had been locked in the bathroom for a really long time and that perhaps something had happened to that person. The bathroom locked via a hook and eye system. She and her husband broke through an outside window and found that the bathroom was completely empty. It happened again two weeks later, but this time they just pushed hard on the door and broke the lock. Again, the bathroom was empty. 

A psychic believes that the restroom had once been a storage closet that previous owners had kept valuables inside, so perhaps that is why the door keeps getting locked. She also believed there are two spirits in the house that mostly hang out on the first floor. A woman from a much earlier time and a man from the 20th century. There is also a ghost on the third floor. A guest awakened one night and heard the clicking of shoes across the floor like heels on wood, only the floor in this room was carpeted. The woman heard the footsteps go into the bathroom and she panicked that someone had gotten in the room, so she ran into the bathroom and found no one. This room has been called the Wicker Room and is said to be the most active. One guest saw the full-bodied apparition of a hazy woman sitting on the edge of the bed. The South Jersey Ghost Research Team got evidence that led to believe that an Irish maid is the spirit.

Angel of the Sea Bed and Breakfast

The Angel of the Sea is truly glorious with a wraparound porch and intricate gingerbread details! This is a large bed and breakfast located at 5 Trenton Avenue that has 27 rooms spread out through two buildings and has been open since 1989. The rooms are Victorian themed and full of charm. This was built in 1850 as a summer cottage for Philadelphia chemist William Weightman. Weightman had introduced quinine to the United States for a malaria treatment. The house is not standing on its original site. In 1881, Weightman decided he would prefer an ocean view and he hired a bunch of farmers to move the house, but the house was too big for this to be accomplished. So, the farmers decided to cut the house in half. They would move each section separately and then reconnect the house. They accomplished this by rolling the sections on tree trunks using mules and horses for power. Now, anybody who sees the inn today can see that this is not two halves of a house pushed together perfectly. The farmers weren't able to do that, so they improvised by enclosing the sides of the house that weren't together, so now it looked more like two buildings. When Mr. Weightman died in 1905, the house was sold and it served a number of purposes from a hotel to a guest house to a restaurant.

The house would move again after suffering significant damage during a 1962 Nor'easter. It was going to be demolished, but Reverend Carl McIntire bought the house and had both sections moved by flatbed truck to its current spot on Trenton. From 1962 to 1981, the Angel became a dormitory. By 1982, the place was uninhabitable and left abandoned until 1988. Developer John Girton bought it with his wife Barbara and crews up to 75 people worked round the clock to get the Angel back to restored, following original designs. The Angel opened a year later after $3.5 million and over 103,000 man hours of labor. John and Barbara sold the bed and breakfast to their daughter Lorie Whissell in 1995, who ran it for the next 20 years. In 2015, Theresa and Ron Stanton bought the Angel of the Sea. Somewhere along all the moves, the Angel seems to have picked up some spirits. People who have stayed here have experienced their beds vibrating, televisions turning off and on of their own accord and strange photos.

The Victorian Lace Inn

The Victorian Lace Inn converted to condos in 2018, but before that, it was a bed and breakfast located at 901 Stockton Avenue. This had been built in the Colonial Revival style with cedar siding in 1869. Things that happen her include objects disappearing and reappearing, disembodied footsteps and furniture moving on its own. Paranormal investigator Cindy Starr-Whitman stayed here with her husband and they heard the footsteps and heard the sound of things moving around even when nothing was moving. She also said that when things were cleaned up and put away, they would reappear again.

Cape May Puffin Suites

And the haunts just continue on Jackson St at 32 Jackson Street. This is home to the Cape May Puffin Suites, which are four individually owned and operated vacation rental condominiums. This location was designed in the Dutch Colonial architectural style and features a large wraparound front porch. Investigators that have stayed at the inn have captured EVPs and gotten EMF spikes. Orbs are a common occurrence in pictures too.

Peter Shields Inn

The Peter Shields Inn is the former summer cottage of wealthy businessman Peter Shields. Shields hailed from Pittsburgh and he joined a group of entrepreneurs that wanted to reclaim Cape May’s former glory, so they set up the Cape May Real Estate Company in 1903. Shields was the President. Philadelphia architect Lloyd Titus designed the cottage in the Georgian-Revival architectural style and it was completed in 1907. The Shields didn't stay long following two devastating things. The Cape May Real Estate Company went bankrupt and the Shields 15-year old son Earl was killed in a boating accident. The family returned to Pittsburgh and sold the cottage. It eventually served as a private residence, an exclusive club for boat-owners, the Tuna & Marlin Club and as the Peter Shields Inn. There are nine rooms and a restaurant. The spirit that haunts this inn is thought to be Earl, the Shields' son. Travel Channels Ghost Stories featured the haunting here in 2010. 

Psychic Craig McManus told, "I can remember a few years ago getting a call from a woman who was staying at the Peter Shields Inn.  She had asked if I would do a channeling session with her, which I agreed to do.  It would be held in her room on the third floor of the house...As I walked into the expansive house and mounted the grand staircase, I could sense the ghost of a young man.  The woman working there at the time told me it was the ghost of Peter Shields.  I would later research him to learn what I have just related in the above paragraphs.  He was indeed a torn and defeated man, finally resigning his post as president and leaving town in 1912. As I conducted the channeling for my client, the large bedroom door, which was closed, kept opening slowly—very slowly.  The windows were closed and there was no noticeable draft, yet something was opening the door—three times in a row.  I invited whoever wanted to come in to join us, as long as they did not interrupt my channeling session. There was a definite presence in the room. It was not trying to communicate. It just watched us from the sidelines. I felt nothing but the feeling of being watched. Sometimes ghosts are inquisitive instead of being talkative. This ghost was giving me the silent treatment, and it eventually left the room." 

McManus returned to the inn the next Spring and heard from staff that they thought they had a ghost named “Ernest” and that many of them had seen him. McManus then said, "After dinner, I made a trip to the restroom, which is located on the lower level in what used to be the home’s cellar. This area was also an after-hours bar called the Tuna & Marlin Club in the 1940s and 50s.  As I moved past a large bust of Shakespeare standing in the corner of the basement, I was overwhelmed with a dreadful feeling of remorse.  Not panic or anxiety,  just sadness and despair.  I had just walked into something or someone that I was not about to take lightly.  It was not a malevolent energy at all, just a strong one.  Had I found Ernest, or did Ernest find me? I raced upstairs to let a friend, who was dining with us,  know what just happened. 'Someone either died down there, or was murdered,' I told her. My friend and her husband went downstairs next to check out the energy.  On their return, they confirmed the strong feelings that they too could sense.  Both friends were energy workers and I felt they may be able to offer a solid second opinion when it came to sensing ghostly energies." 

The Southern Mansion Bed and Breakfast

The Southern Mansion is located at 720 Washington Street and was built in 1863 for Philadelphia industrialist George Allen. Architect Samuel Sloan designed the mansion in the Italianate villa style and the construction was completed by Henri Phillipi. The Victorian home is three stories and crowned by a cupola. It is framed by clapboard and has a front porch the surrounds three sides. George Allen and his descendants owned the house for 83 years. The last Allen to live here was Ester Mercur and when she died in 1946, her husband sold the whole house including the furniture for $8,000. The mansion was converted into a boarding house and this caused structural weakness. The house was also painted a stark white. The mansion was poorly maintained and by the 1980s the license for the boarding house was revoked. In 1994, a family named Bray/Wildes were vacationing in Cape May when they saw the horrible condition of the mansion. They purchased the house and went through all the furniture and artwork, salvaging what they could and filled 25 dumpsters with garbage. 

Then they began the massive renovation placing new I-beams for support and replacing all the electrical and plumbing. Five chimneys were rebuilt with the original bricks, the house was returned to its earth tone color and the slate and tin roofs, copper gutters, brackets, porches, soffits, trims, moldings and fascia boards were replaced. The property had gardens at one time and these were replanted. The Southern Mansion was reopened in the Spring of 1996 with further renovation to a new South Wing being completed in 1997. This inn claims to have the biggest suites of any of the bed and breakfasts on Cape May. They host weddings here as well. And the mansion also hosts a couple of ghosts. The last descendant in the house, Ester, had been an alcoholic and she finally died from that in the house. She likes to explode glasses, particularly during toasts at weddings. One of the strangest stories about Ester comes out of the kitchen. The chef was mixing some batter when all of a sudden the colors green and purple bubbled up in the batter. And that bubbling up eventually exploded up onto the ceiling. 

Owner Barbara Wilde said of Ester, "It's just like she's saying, 'Look at me.' I lived here during the whole renovation and nothing ever bothered me. I'd feel it, but it wasn't scary." The South Jersey Ghost Research Group investigated in 2004 and several members were touched and cold spots were felt. Psychic Craig McManus claims that Ester is joined by another ghost who might be the real culprit behind the smashed glasses. This was Daniel Crilly who had been one of the owners of the boarding house. Apparently he would smash wine battles in the house. Other unexplained things that happen in the inn include doors locking by themselves, eerie feelings especially in lower meeting rooms and the strong smell of roses.

The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast

The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast is located at 102 Ocean Street and is made up of three buildings: Prince Albert Hall, The House of Royals and The Queen Victoria. Before any of these houses were built, the Columbia Hotel was here. The massive fire that destroyed much of Cape May in 1878, destroyed this hotel. The Queen Victoria building was built using several styles: Italianate Villa (the twin turret windows), Edwardian (the front porch), and a French-inspired mansard roof. The land here was purchased from Charles W. Potts by Douglas Gregory who was a Delaware River pilot and he had the home built for his family in 1881. The property has exchanged hands through the years and served as a community service center for the Navy, a medical practice, a summer boarding house, apartments and now the inn, which was opened in 1981 by Dane and Joan Wells. They sold to Doug and Anna Marie McMain in 2004. There are nine guest rooms in this building.

Prince Albert Hall was built in 1882 by Douglas Gregory as an investment property and it was operated as a boarding house. Subsequent owners also ran it as a boarding house. In 1989, the house was renovated into the hotel it is today. There are six rooms in this building and there is a large porch, third floor roof deck and English gardens. The House of Royals was built in 1876 by Charles Shaw, who also built the Chalfonte Hotel and the Emlen Physick Estate. The first floor was a general store offering stationery, sundries, and patent medicines. The second floor was a gentleman’s gambling club. This club had both private rooms and a large community room. The third floor was more than likely a brothel. This building survived the fire. It's the most beautifully decorated of the three buildings and has ten rooms. 

One of the most well known ghost stories connected to this property entails a woman descending from the third floor on the stairway and making her way to the front desk. She then disappeared. This is in the House of Royals and many people believe that this is a young woman who worked in the brothel and that she probably died there. She brings with her the strong scent of perfume, cold spots, and she likes to bump into beds and people. Rooms end up in a disarray sometimes and sometimes the electricity goes out completely on the third floor. And there is a story that a toilet exploded on the third floor and the ghost was blamed for that.

Chalfonte Hotel

The Chalfonte Hotel sits at 301 Howard Street and is one of the oldest original hotels here. It rises three stories with a belvedere and a two-story porch. This was built as a private home for Henry W. Sawyer in 1875. Sawyer also designed the house and it was built by William Moore and Brothers. The house is covered in gingerbread accents. Additions were made in 1879. Sawyer sold the hotel in 1888. The Richmond Satterfield family bought the place in 1911 and ran the establishment for 50 years. Anne LuDoc and Judy Bartella bought the hotel in 1978. The current owners, Robert and Linda Mullock, bought the Chalfonte in 2008. There are several rooms and suites and two cottages for rent. The Magnolia Room hosts breakfast and dinner and the King Edward Bar serves up drinks. This hotel has no elevator and just recently got heat and air in the rooms, as in just in 2021. There are no phones, no clocks and no televisions in the rooms. 

According to psychic Craig McManus, one of the main spirits here belongs to a young woman who is often seen holding a baby up in the cupola and looking towards the ocean. It is thought that she lost her husband at sea and she is watching and waiting for him. The haunting is most probably residual. Another spirit who is here seems to be a grumpy man. McManus was investigating one night and he caught an EVP of a male yelling, "McManus, F*ck you!" The Mullock family owns the hotel and Dillon Mullock was outside the hotel when he looked up and saw a figure walking in the hallway. There should have been no one in the hotel as Dillon was the only one there. He ran inside to catch the intruder and found that the hotel was indeed empty.

Elaine's Cape May

Elaine’s Cape May is located at 513 Lafayette Street. This is a true destination location and incorporates a boutique hotel, restaurant, Phinney's Pub and Patio Bar. And this place sits right next to the Washington Street Shopping Mall. The building was constructed in 1864 and was purchased by the Read family in 1899 who made this a large plantation home for their family. The Reads had one daughter who was named Emily and she was a sickly child who eventually died in the house. This became The Winchester, a large tavern inn. Elaine's used to host a dinner theater and ghost tours. There are many ghost stories connected to this location. Emily's spirit is thought to still be here. She is either a prankster ghost or there is another spirit here that likes to play tricks. These include covering a room in feathers and hiding tools. Emily is heard calling out for her mother and crying. A bartender has had several experiences with Emily and he claims that he usually sees light rather than a full-bodied apparition. It's like a spectrum of light through a prism with all different colors like a rainbow.  Guests have seen the spirit of a young lady wearing Victorian clothing. Even delivery people have seen the ghost. A man on a tour took a video of a cloud of light disappearing into the building. Other things experienced include disembodied laughter of children, batteries draining and floral smells. The most haunted room is believed to be Room 6.

Cape May is a quaint seaside getaway with plenty of Victorian architecture to enjoy. A step into this village is like stepping back in time. Which is something any of us can use. A chance to step away from the chaos of the real world. Perhaps that is why so many spirits are attracted to this area. We only covered the inns, but there are ghosts haunting so many other buildings and even the very streets. Maybe. Are these Cape May Inn haunted? That is for you to decide!