Thursday, September 28, 2023

HGB Ep. 506 - Haunted Portugal

Moment in Oddity - Radioactive Boars

If you are a fan of truffles, you are likely aware that humans would use pigs to find the delicacy. Today, truffle hunters employ trained dogs to locate the tasty fungi. The affects of the 1986, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster have recently been identified as the cause behind radioactive boars in Germany. Bavaria was affected by the nuclear fallout some 40 years ago. While many species of plant and animal life have shown a gradual decrease of radioactive contaminants, the wild boars cesium, or radioactive isotope levels, have maintained high levels all these years later. Scientists determined that the cause of this phenomenon are deer truffles and have even given the impact still affecting the boars a name: The wild boar paradox. Deer truffles are not a true truffle at all, but they grow similarly to their namesake. Deer truffles are a favorite food of wild boars. Because the fungi grow underground they absorb toxic chemicals from the fallout of Chernobyl as well as nuclear weapons testing. Wild boar meat was considered a delicacy in Bavaria but has had a marked decrease in consumption in recent decades. The landscapes of Bavaria are beautiful, but the thought of radioactive piggies pilfering polluted fungi, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - First Passenger Locomotive

In the month of September, on the 27th, in 1825, the Locomotion No.1 became the world's first passenger steam engine to carry passengers on a public line. (Everybody sing- "Come on Baby, Do the loco-motion with me" I'm chair dancing). The Locomotion No. 1 was built by George Stephenson and his son Robert at Robert Stephanson & Co. George Stephenson himself drove the train with the engine that was originally named 'Active'. The first trip consisted of the engine, 11 wagons of coal and 20 cars of passengers, dubbed 'Experiment' with 450 passengers and workmen. It was the first train to traverse the Stockton and Darlington Railway and traveled at a top speed of  12mph. At the time, locomotives were being updated quickly which determined the retirement of Locomotion No.1 in 1841. As of today, the original engine is on display in Shildon, Durham County at the Locomotion museum.

Haunted Portugal

Portugal sits right along the coast of Spain and while Spain overshadows it in size, the history of Portugal is vast. A mix of cultures have lived and ruled here for centuries. The country became a leader in exploration of the world and thus a principal entity for world trade. Today, the Republic of Portugal is a respected country that heralds peace and has a population of 11 million people. There are quite a few ghosts among that population and on this episode, we are going to feature several locations in the country that are reputedly haunted.

Portugal's history is a mix of Iberian tribes, Celtic people, the Roman Empire, Germanic kingdoms, Muslims and Christians. The Celts and Iberians mixed with each other in the early first millennium BC, creating a group known as the Celtiberians who spread across what would become Portugal. The Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula around 218 BC and remained there for 200 years, establishing Lusitania and Gallaecia. The Roman-Celtic name for the country at that time was Portus Cale, which eventually morphed into Portugal. The Romans left behind bridges, baths, roads and theaters. Germanic tribes moved in through the Barbarian Invasion after Rome fell and stayed from the 5th to 8th centuries until the Islamic invasion in 711. This eventually became part of the Kingdom of Galicia, which Portugal broke away from in 1095. The son of Count Henry of Burgundy declared himself king of Portugal in 1139 with his son, Afonso Henriques, becoming the first official King of Portugal. Lisbon became the capital of Portugal in 1255, which was also when the official borders of Portugal were set and they have remained the same throughout history. This became a country of discovery with its sailors finding the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde and the country set up trading posts along the coast of Africa. 

It established the colony of Brazil, which is why Portuguese is still the official language of that country to this day. Portugal grew to a great power and then went into decline, losing Brazil and eventually the capital was destroyed by a great earthquake in 1755. During the Napoleonic Wars, it was occupied. Throughout this time, the country was ruled by a monarchy, but in 1910 it became a Republic. A military coup ended that in 1926 and a military dictatorship took over and the country suffered under a fascist rule. The Carnation Revolution in 1974 ended that rule and Portugal became a founding member of NATO and features a country with a good economy and living conditions. People refer to the country as a "garden by the sea planted." Clearly the country has a rich history and that has lead to legends and ghost stories.

Portugal has some similar superstitions as other countries and a few that are slightly different. For example, the Portuguese also believe that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck and that walking under a ladder is bad luck. Also, if your ears burn, someone is talking about you and if it is the right ear, they are speaking badly of you. If the left ear is burning, they are saying nice things about you. You can remedy the bad talk by twisting your ear and the speaker will bite their tongue. Crossing knives is bad luck and placing a broom upside-down behind the door will make an annoying visitor leave. Having thirteen people seated at the table is bad luck and also means that the youngest at the table is going to die. Good luck is brought on by entering a building with the right foot first. If someone's feet get swept by a broom, they will never marry. And tapping or knocking on wood three times will drive away evil spirits.

Almourol Castle

The Castle of Almoural is a medieval castle located at the Tagus River about an hour north of Lisbon with connections to the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar have a mixed history with some believing they were a religious order that were helpful and protected the Holy Land while developing early forms of banking, while others believe this was a secret society that developed into the more modern day societies that run a secret evil cabal. The historical facts are, that they were founded in 1119 and were endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. They wore white mantles with a red cross emblazoned upon them and they were headquartered at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They also fell out of favor with the church and the Pope and in October of 1307, on Friday the 13th, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and several other French Templars were ordered arrested by King Philip IV. The men were all tortured. The Pope disbanded the rest of the Templars in 1312 after they were accused of various heresies. Today, the Catholic Church has absolved the Templars and said they did nothing inherently wrong. It would seem the King was just very in debt to the group. Rumors of them building a treasure that they eventually hid have fueled treasure hunters for years like the Lagina Brothers of Travel Channel's The Curse of Oak Island.

No one is quite sure when the castle was completed. It was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and remodeled by various cultures that moved through it in subsequent years like the Visigoths, Andalusian Berbers and Alans. The Knights Templar moved into the castle in 1129 AD when their Portuguese Master, Gualdim Pais, had the castle placed in his trust. The castle is beautiful and said to be the best representation of the influence of the Templars in Portugal. They called it Almorolan. Eventually, the castle was abandoned and fell into ruin. In the 1940s, it was recreated as a headquarters for the Portuguese Republic. The castle was restored and bartizans, which are wall-mounted turrets that project out, and crenellations or battlements were added. Electricity was added in 1955. Major repairs were finished on the keep and the interior pavement by 1996. The castle became a National Monument and tourists can visit the castle.

There are a couple spirits haunting the place, one of whom is a princess who was the daughter of an emir named Almorolon who ruled the castle in the 10th century. She fell in love with a Knights Templar and she would sneak him into the castle at night through secret passages. This Knight had only been using the woman to gain that knowledge of the secret pathways and one night, he and a group of knights snuck into the castle. The emir and his daughter jumped to their deaths and the betrayed woman is said to haunt the castle for that reason. haunting here is connected to a legend about a princess who lost her love. 

Dom Ramiro was the last commander of the castle. He could be a violent man and he once killed a Moorish woman and her daughter over a cup of water. The woman's son became a page at the castle with revenge on his mind. In the course of time, he fell in love with Dom Ramiro's daughter Beatriz and she with him. But he was still set on revenge, so he poisoned Ramiro's wife. Ramiro left shortly after that to fight a war and while he was gone, the Moorish man and his daughter eloped. Ramiro wasn't happy to find this out when he returned home with a knight he wanted his daughter to marry. Shortly thereafter, the man and Beatriz disappeared and no one knows if they were killed or just ran away. Now the spirits of Beatriz, the page and Dom Ramiro are all seen as full-bodied apparitions and it usually appears that Ramiro is kneeling in front of Beatrice and the young man as though begging for forgiveness.

Valongo Sanatorium

Construction started on the Valongo Sanatorium in 1932, but it wouldn't open until 1958. Building was halted for a while when a dispute with the local coal company started. They didn't want a sanatorium nearby. The sanatorium sits on top of Mont'Alto in the Monte de Santa Justa and provided treatment for people who had tuberculosis. There were several buildings that were part of the property with a main hospital, a chapel, a laundry and a school for children of the patients. The sanatorium was only meant to care for 50 patients, but there were usually around 350 people at any given time. Conditions were deplorable. The building closed in 1975 and has stood abandoned since then, suffering vandalism, theft and fires. Hundreds of people died from tuberculosis at the hospital and now people claim it is haunted. Paintballers love to use the space and many of them report hearing doors opening and closing on their own. Hollow cries of pain are heard, shadow figures have been seen and cold spots have been felt.

Castle of São João in Estoril

Estoril Castle is named for the coastal town in which it sits and is unique in that it is a fairly small castle. Perhaps one of the smallest castles we have ever seen. The town of Estoril is close to Lisbon and is a fishing port with a beach named Tamariz Beach. Overlooking this beach is the castle. The castle was built in 1917 by Jorge O'Neil. The castle passed through many hands after him with most people not staying long because of scary things they had experienced or misfortune that had befallen them. In 1942, the castle was bought by Mantero Belard who turned the property into a museum called Verdades Faria Museum and opened it for artists and musical art. Later, the castle was donated to the Board of Cascais and the museum became a regional history museum. In 1983, José Castelo Branco, who was a reality star in Portugal, had put forward an offer for the castle, but he retracted it after he claimed to see a little girl wandering on the cliff. Then the mother of actress Lili Caneças was going to buy the house, but when she heard that a little ghost was wandering the property, she changed her mind. A doctor and his family were living in the castle in 2015. They restored the property and claimed that they experienced nothing paranormal.

This is thought to be one of the most haunted properties in Portugal and the legend behind the little girl ghost is that she was a blind girl who lived in a house next to the castle and she accidentally fell from a cliff to her death. People claim to see the little girl holding a doll and walking around the property. 

Quinta das Conchas e dos Lilases

The word quinta basically means country estate and there were two of them on this property that has now been turned into a park in northern Lisbon. Both homes remain on the property and were built in the 16th century by prosperous Portuguese families that traded in coffee. The city of Lisbon has manged the quintas since the 1960s, but only just recently opened them and the park to the public in 2005. The legend here is that one of the wealthy businessmen had a slave woman that he tortured and eventually killed. Now her wailing is heard by people who visit.  

Lethes Theater

The theater is located in the city of Faro and dates back to 1605 when the building was originally built and used as a Jesuit college. This was founded by the Bishop of the Algarve, Fernando Martins Mascarenhas. The Jesuits used it for nearly 150 years, but had to leave when the Jesuits were banished from the country in 1759. The college was turned into the Royal Treasury at that time. When France invaded Portugal in 1807, French soldiers used the building as a barracks and the property was desecrated. The skeleton of a Napoleonic soldier would later be found buried in one of the walls. The Order of Carmelites later moved in and stayed until 1834. An Italian doctor bought the property at auction in 1843 and converted it into the theater it is today. Teatro Lethes opened on April 4, 1845. The name Lethe comes from one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades. The theater fell out of popularity during the early 20th century, but today has been reinvigorated. There is a story that a young ballerina became severely depressed over unrequited love and hanged herself on the stage. This has resulted in stories of a ghost being at the theater. Staff at the theater claim to hear disembodied footsteps on the empty stage and a shadow figure is seen moving on the stage sometime. People believe this is the ballerina still performing in the afterlife.

Termas de Água Radium

We've talked about the Radium Girls on the podcast before. These were young women who worked painting radium on watches in the the 1920s. They ended up with radiation poisoning that eventually killed them. That was bad enough, but imagine a spa with radium water! Hotel Serra de Pena was originally known as Termas de Aqua Radium or Radium Water Hotel. The hotel was built from granite and resembles a castle. It stands in ruins today, but was once a popular resort, boasting about its healing waters. A Spanish count named Don Rodrigo came to the region of Guarda in the early 20th century and found that the waters cured his daughter of a serious skin disorder. He decided to build a hotel, so that others could come as well. At the time, Radium was being sold as a cure all throughout Europe. As World War II raged, people started realizing that radioactivity was dangerous, so people stopped coming to the hotel and the hotel fell into ruins. Locals claim that the abandoned property harbors the souls of those who died from radium poisoning. These are mostly seen in the form of shadow figures.

Pousada Serra da Estrela

The Pousada Serra da Estrela features 90 rooms and has a spa with a sauna, Turkish bath and indoor swimming pool. The hotel caters to bicyclists and refers to itself as a bike hotel with a bike station for parking and washing bikes. There are plenty of trails nearby to ride and the hotel gives breathtaking views of the mountains. This location offers crisp, clean air and that was attractive at the beginning of the 20th century when tuberculosis was raging in Portugal. This site was originally home to a sanatorium for those suffering from TB. Legend claims that many railway workers died from TB at the sanitorium and they now haunt the hotel that was built in the footprint of the hospital. 

Casa Amarela

Casa Amarela translates to Yellow House and is an abandoned house in the town of Ovar. The legend behind the house claims that a father became angry with his daughter and he threw her into the house's well where she was imprisoned until she died. Out of remorse, he hanged himself. People claim that their ghosts haunt the property. There was an attempt to demolish the house, but the equipment stopped working. Then the house was put up for sale at a low price and someone bought it, but they left soon after. And that happened repeatedly. No one stayed long in the house. Disembodied screams are heard in the house although the house has been bricked up.

Bussaco Palace Hotel

The Bussaco Palace Hotel is located in the Bussaco National Forest and was commissioned to be built in 1888 by King Charles I of Portugal as a royal retreat. This was in the center of 250 acres of woodland that had been planted by Carmelite monks that had a convent here that they established in 1628. Italian architect Luigi Manini designed this as a Romantic Neo-Manueline palace and parts of the convent with Baroque altarpieces are still a part of the palace. Several other architects contributed to the design and construction that took twenty years to build. The Palace’s interior reflects the history of the building and the area and features antiques and fine paintings. The hotel has been upgraded with modern conveniences and features 60 rooms and 4 suites decorated in different early 20th century styles. Guests and staff claim that the hotel is haunted by the ghost of a headless friar who was murdered there in the 19th century. The haunting features strange noises and the feeling of a cold presence in the hotel's hallways.

Phantom Ship

The Bay of Angra is near the Portuguese island of Terceira and was an important port-of-call for merchant ships coming from the East Indies and Brazil. The ships were usually loaded with gold, silver, spices, rare woods and porcelain. Occasionally storms would bring in bad winds and a few ships made the bay their final resting place. One of these ships is now said to be the Phantom Ship of Baía de Angra. This ship was full of treasures and sank in the bay with its full crew. Now that ship and its ghostly crew is occasionally seen sailing through the bay late at night. 

Quinta da Pauliceia

The Quinta da Pauliceia is a nondescript looking building that is surrounded by barbed wire in the town of Águeda, which is said to be one of the most colorful towns in Portugal. The home was built by the Águedense family who were from Brazil. When the 1918 Influenza Pandemic raged across the world, many people in Portugal died. This included the entire family save for one member, Neca Carneiro. No one knows how he came to his end, but when he died, the house was left abandoned. Neighbors claim to hear shotgun blasts from the empty property and sometimes the neighing of unseen horses. People passing by claim to hear cries from the house. A gardener who came to work on the property one day, experienced a headache so bad that he had to leave and he never returned.

Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

The Bela Vista Hotel is one of the city of Algarve’s most beautiful five-star hotels. This is located near Portimão’s Praia da Rocha and the property was once a 38-room mansion. This mansion was built by the Magalhães Barros family in the early 1900s. The last family member to live here was their eldest daughter who died in the mansion. The property then went to a cousin named Henry Bivar de Vasconcelos and he converted it into the hotel it is today in the 1930s. The daughter who died in the mansion is said to be the ghost that is experienced here by guests. Her disembodied footsteps are heard in the hallways as well as her cries.

Quinta da Juncosa

The Quinta da Juncosa is located near Porto and is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the country. This was a farmhouse that belonged to the Baron of Lages and his wife Maria Julia. He was a jealous man and he began to believe that his wife was cheating on him. He decided to tie her to the back of a horse and dragged her until she was dead. The Baron later discovered that he had been wrong and out of remorse he killed himself, but not before he killed all of their children as well. The truth behind this story is quite different. The Baron died in 1933 and his wife died twenty years later in 1953. Whatever the truth is, urban explorers who visit the crumbling property claim to hear weird sounds, cries and have seen shadow figures.

The Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon 

The Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon sits on the site of a former convent named the Monastery of Saint Francis of Chiado. That monastery was founded in 1217 and remained open until 1834. The Fine Arts Academy opened there in 1836. The fine arts campus provides space for residences lasting from two weeks to two months. Staff and students all have reported strange happenings. The elevators are said to run on their own, especially at night when no one is in them. Mysterious writing has been found on the floor, doors slam shut on their own and strange shadows are seen. There were rumors that human bones were found in the college, which could possibly have been burials that have now been disturbed.

Chalet Biester

Sintra is a charming little town an hour from Lisbon on the hills of Serra de Sintra. This is a place where a mysterious fog envelopes the hill on occasion. It is here where one finds the Chalet Biester, which has the nickname "Witch House" because of its dark conic roof and neo-gothic windows. This is a manor which was built for merchant and playwright Ernesto Biester in 1880 and designed by architect Jose Luiz Monteiro in the neoclassical style. Gardens surround the palace and were designed by French landscaper Francois Nogre. The interior is breathtaking with carved woodwork on the walls and ceilings, colorful frescoes and amazing stuccos. A unique feature at the time was the inclusion of an elevator made of wood and created by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard. The manor became a National Monument in 1910 and was opened to the public in 2022 after a major renovation. The mansion served as a set for Roman Polanski’s thriller ‘Ninth Gate’ starring Johnny Depp. Urban legends claim that a secret society had once gathered in the underground floors, where a book written by the devil himself was said to be hidden. The house is full of Knights Templar motifs and there is reputedly a real Masonic Initiation Chamber in the basement.

The architecture in Portugal alone demands a visit. So many wonderful and historic properties. Several of them have inspired legends and seem to harbor spirits. Are these location in Portugal haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

HGB Ep. 505 - Haunted Lincoln, Nebraska

Moment in Oddity - Cookiecutter Shark (suggested by: Jannae McCabe)

When most people visualize a shark in their mind, the picture imagined is typically a large toothy fish that many of us would not like to encounter while swimming in the ocean. With over 500 species of sharks in the world there are quite a few variations ranging from dwarf lantern sharks measuring at around 7 inches to the whale shark which can be 60 feet in length. Although the whale shark feeds on plankton, its mouth can measure up to four feet wide. One species of shark is rather unique in its feeding habits. This is the cookiecutter shark. Now, this guy isn't blue in color, nor does he say om-nom-nom-nom while he eats cookies, but the size and shape of his meals ARE reminiscent of the treats many of us keep hidden in the pantry (I'm looking at you Diane). The creature typically measures between 1 1/2 to 2 feet in length and can be found in warm ocean waters usually around islands. They are long and cylindrical with a blunt nose and large eyes. What is most unique about them however is their mouth. They utilize their suction type lips to attach themselves to the bodies of their meal tickets and then use their lower teeth to extract a circular shaped chunk of flesh. Kind of like those protein cookies, right Diane? The cookiecutter sharks are known to sometimes travel in schools and although there have been recorded bites on humans they are not considered a threat to us. There has even been recorded evidence of the species leaving its cookiecutter calling card on submarines and undersea cables. There are many mysterious creatures in the oceans depths, but a shark that creates cookie carved craters in its meals of choice, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Chia Pets Creation

In the month of September, on the 8th, in 1977, the first Chia Pet was created. Today, most of us are familiar with the quirky gift's commercial jingle Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia. Joseph Podett came upon the unusual items at a Chicago housewares tradeshow. They were imported by Walter Houston from Oaxaca, Mexico and they sprouted the marketing ideas of Podett. Once the rights were negotiated from Houston and trademarked in October, 1977, Podett's San Francisco company, Joseph Enterprises Inc., began production. Chia Pets' popularity rose through the 1980s and by the year 2000, there was even one placed inside the New York Times time capsule which is set to be opened in the year 3000. Over the years there have been many variations of the original Chia Pet with different animals, cartoon characters and even some modeled after real people like painter Bob Ross. The original type of seeds used on the Chia head back in 1977 are still the ones being marketed with the product today. The microgreens are edible and provide nutrients and antioxidants when added to salads or sandwiches. The Chia greens are said to have a nutty, somewhat spicy flavor. There are many fad gifts that come and go, but the Chia Pet is one that has continued on for 46 years. 

Lincoln, Nebraska (Suggested by: Dan)

Lincoln, Nebraska is the home of the Cornhuskers and its also the state's capitol city. The Sower stands atop the tower of the Capitol Building, preparing to toss some seeds to businesses and neighborhoods below. Some refer to the area as fly over country and describe the landscape as boring. But for us, if you throw ghosts in the mix, a city becomes suddenly exciting. And a quick drive through the nearby rural areas certainly inspires visions of Children of the Corn. Join us as we share the history and hauntings of Lincoln, Nebraska.

The 1984 film "Children of the Corn" was set in a fictitious town in Nebraska. Nebraska and corn fields are synonymous. Agriculture always has been a key part of the state. Indigenous people had been here since at least 8,000 BC. In the 19th century, the Plains Indians lived near and hunted around Salt Creek, which is near the modern day city of Lincoln. The salt here was very important to them and to future settlers who eventually came to extract salt from the wild salt flats of the creek. Westward expansion brought more pioneers to live. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Nebraska-Kansas Act that was signed into law by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. A village was founded in 1856 and named Lancaster and when Nebraska was granted statehood in 1867, Lancaster became the capital of Nebraska. The village of Lancaster would become Lincoln, named after Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was incorporated in 1869 with a capitol building being built a year previously. And that is our first haunted location in the Star City, the Capitol Building.

Capitol Building 

Nebraska has had three capitol buildings. The first was designed by Chicago architect John Morris in 1867, but the limestone used to construct the building started deteriorating almost immediately. The second capitol was completed in 1888 and was designed by William H. Willcox and was done in the Renaissance Revival style. After a couple of decades, this building began to suffer structural issues. The current Capitol is hard to miss with its gold capped domed central tower that rises 400 feet high above the other buildings around it. There is actually a rule that no building can be built in Lincoln that is taller than the Capitol. This is the second highest capitol in America with Louisiana's capitol beating it out by 50 feet. The Capitol is located on the southern edge of downtown Lincoln at the intersections of 15th and K Street. The Nebraska legislature is unique in that it is unicameral, which means there is only one house or assembly that votes as one. It is the only one like that in the United States. The offices for the legislature are housed in the square base of the tower. The design of the building reflects three styles: Art Deco, Neo-Byzantine and Gothic Revival. The building is a work of art like most state capitols with vaulted polychrome tile ceilings, marble mosaic floors, murals, stone carvings and a 19-foot bronze figure atop the dome called "The Sower."

New Yorker Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue was a classically trained architect who began his career in 1884. He specialized in Gothic styling imbued with modern iconography. He entered the competition for the designing of the third Nebraska State Capitol and he won. This would be the pinnacle of his career. Construction began in 1922 and was finished in 1932 and Indiana limestone was the material used. Professor of Philosophy Hartley Burr Alexander came up with the inscriptions for the interior and exterior of the building. The inscription over the main entrance was inspired by his father and reads, "The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen." Other inscriptions were drawn from philosophers, Plain Indian lore from the Navaho, Pawnee and Sioux and his life experiences. Tiles and mosaics on the floors and ceilings of the Capitol were done by artist Hildreth Meiere. This artwork tells the story of Nebraska's place in civilization and Hildreth proclaimed them her crowning achievement. Architectural sculptor Lee Lawrie designed the exterior sculptures of the building, which showcased his unique style. Lawrie liked to make his figures part of the building, rather than separate and free standing.

The haunting here is connected to someone falling and who that person is, depends on who is telling the story. Some claim a workman was changing a light bulb when he fell to his death, others claim a workman had a heart attack and fell while putting up Christmas lights on the dome and others say that a visitor to the building fell over the dome's spiral staircase railing. Whatever is the cause, the apparition of a person falling and screaming has been seen many times. The basement may be haunted as well. It's a dark and dank place where few venture. This sits in the footprint of the former capitol building, but even before that, the Native Americans considered this a sacred center. Some of their spirits are thought to lurk here.

C.C. White Building

Probably the most well known ghost story in Lincoln is connected to the C.C. White Building that was part of the Wesleyan University campus. That building was demolished in 1973. It was built in 1906 and was named for a leading Methodist in the city. This held the Conservatory of Music and the rest of the Music Department. The ghost story here is connected to a woman who worked in the music department at the school. Her name was Urania Clara Mills and she taught piano and ear training, which is a music theory where musicians learn to identify chords, rhythms, pitches and other elements of music just by listening. Mills taught at the university for 28 years, working her way up to head of the Department of Music Theory. Tragically, her life came to an end in 1940. She was found dead in her office on April 12, 1940 of an apparent heart attack. Some claimed she died of fright. Whatever caused her death, her spirit remains at the school and was first reported in October of 1963. 

Professor Dr. Sam Dahl's secretary, Coleen Buterbaugh, was sent to find a guest lecturer who had wandered off. She was on the second floor of the C.C. White Building and had entered an office suite that once belonged to Clara Mills at the north end when she detected a strong musty odor. The air was stale and she felt as though she wasn't alone. The noisy hall outside had gotten strangely quiet. This all struck her as weird since all the windows in the room were open. She recalled what happened next saying, "I looked up and just for what must have been a few seconds, I saw the figure of a woman standing with her back to me at a cabinet in an inner office. She was reaching up into one of the drawers. I felt the presence of a man sitting at the desk to my left, but as I turned around, there was no one there." The apparition of the woman was tall and had black hair up in a bun. She was wearing a brown skirt. Even stranger than that, Buterbaugh noticed that the view outside the windows of the office was quite different, as though it were from a different time era. Willard Sorority, which was right across campus, wasn't there. There were no streets. Buterbaugh ran from the room, quite disturbed. 

She told her boss, Dr. Dahl, about the experience and she was so shaken that he believed her and took her to other staff members to tell the story. One of the other professors had an old yearbook that they pulled out and Buterbaugh identified Miss Mills as the spirit. Buterbaugh eventually quit and even moved from Lincoln. But that isn't where this strange story ends. The visiting lecturer was a man named Thomas McCourt who had come over from Scotland. He had heard Buterbaugh's story and told her that he was very familkiar with ghosts since Scotland had so many stories about them. He returned home and the following April, on the 12th, he was found dead in his office in Scotland. Just like Clara Mills, same circumstances and same date. Psychics have claimed that Mills is indeed in the building and while many of them also feel the strong presence of a male ghost, none of them have been able to identify him and he has never been seen visually.

There were many paranormal incidents in the building. Music students had trouble with amplifiers and broadcast equipment, mainly with volume control. One student decided to catch the culprit by spreading baby powder around the equipment. When he returned, he found that the sound equipment had been turned down, but there were no footprints in the powder. Lights turned themselves on in the middle of the night and disembodied footsteps were heard in the hallway, especially on the second floor. Piano music was heard coming from a small theater in the basement and it stopped abruptly when someone entered. Faint disembodied laughter was heard and cold spots were felt. 

The administration building that was built to replace the C.C. White Building hasn't reported any activity, but Miss Mills still seems to be on the campus and has even been spotted outside her former apartment. That happened on an April evening in 1985 when a tall woman in a brown skirt with her black hair in a bun was seen walking past the front of the building. A young girl saw what she described as a woman in an "old-fashioned" dress standing outside of the Vance Rodgers Art Center on campus. She actually tried to talk to the woman who didn't respond to her and when the young girl brought her mother to see the woman, she was gone. The young girl seemed quite scared of the area and wouldn't return to the area unless accompanied by someone.

Antelope Park

Antelope Park covers 92 acres and features a Strolling Garden, the Sunken Gardens, Veterans Memorial Garden, Hamann Rose Garden, Elks Baseball Field, Ager Golf Course, the Rock Island Trail, Billy Wolff Trail and rental facilities. The park was founded in 1905 on 31 acres, but grew through the years due to land donations from residents, one of whom was William Jennings Bryan. Lincoln banker W.T. Auld gave 15 acres and in thanks, the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department created a stone gateway to Antelope Park and the Auld Pavilion in the 1920s. Auld's Pavilion remains a premiere ballroom dance hall. The field behind the caretaker's house at Antelope Park is said to harbor spirits that walk across the field and disappear into the woods on the other side. Two teenagers were walking through the park one chilly evening when they saw the figure of a woman. She was running, but her feet weren't on the ground. She was about 20 yards away from them, but they could see her because she gave off a faint glow. Then she just disappeared.

Robber's Cave 

Robber's Cave is Lincoln's oldest tourist attraction. This is a 5,000 square foot cavern formed out of the Dakota brown sandstone by groundwater. There are many stories and uses connected to the cave. A brewery operated in the cave starting in 1869, but folded four years later. Some claim that this was a place of refuge for Jesse James in 1874, although no evidence of that has ever been found. It is the tales of criminals hiding out here that inspired the name. A structure that once existed above the cave was thought to be a brothel. Excavations were done in order to build a mushroom garden in the cave in 1906. Today, Blue Blood Brewing sits atop the cave and offers tours of the cave. There are also several spaces here for events like weddings.

People who tour the cave find many names and designs carved into the walls. There is Fat Man's Misery, which is a narrow opening between walls, so people have to turn sideways and scrape through to get to the next room. A small crevice that twists and widens back on itself is called the Question Mark. There is also the chamber dubbed Robber's Roost, which is a square shaped room with a thick blanket of powdery red sand on the floor. This was where people claim the bad guys would hide out. There are those who think this might have been a spot on the Underground Railroad too. The sounds of Native American drums and chants have been heard in the cave. Disembodied voices and whispers are common. And there are even sometimes screams.

Lake Street Lake

Lake Street Lake is located in Rudge Memorial Park, a neighborhood park next to Bryan West Hospital. This was named for former prominent Lincoln residents Charles and Caroline Rudge. They had co-owned the Rudge & Guenzel Department Store. The park was originally named Harrison Street Lake & Park, but even before that, this was a farmstead where dairy cows were raised. Towns folks would ice skate on the lake here at that time too. One day, a group of boys ganged up on another boy and started bullying him. He fought back and ended up stabbed and bleeding on the icy pond. That lake was eventually drained and all that remains of the former farm is a tree. That tree gives people a creepy feeling. On cold winter nights the ghostly form of a boy is seen skating where the lake had once been. And when fog covers the area, dark shapes are seen.

Pen Field 

Pen Field is located just south of the Nebraska State Penitentiary, which is the oldest state correctional facility in Nebraska, having opened in 1869. The field is located on the north side of a road that leads to Wilderness Park. In 1888, a terrible blizzard hit Lincoln, dropping the temperature to forty below zero. This was known as the Schoolhouse Blizzard and hit the entire Great Plains, leaving 235 people dead. This would be the 10th deadliest winter storm on record. There is even a reminder of an event that took place in Nebraska during the storm that is portrayed in the Nebraska State Capitol. This is a Venetian glass mural that portrays school teacher Minnie Freeman leading her 13 students from the schoolhouse to her home - a distance of one and a half miles. In Lincoln, the children were all kept at the school, but one little girl's father didn't know that and he was worried when she didn't come home. He went out into the storm to find her. The next morning, the father's unattended horse returned to the homestead after the young girl got home. They found his body five months later. He was in the fetal position in Pen Field.

In the 1940s, a cruel guard who mistreated the prisoners at the penitentiary was universally hated and one night, he was murdered. His body was torn apart and some of it was never found. In the 1950s, a pale white UFO was seen hovering over Pen Field. Most people claim to get a bad feeling from the field. A high school couple parked at the field in the mid-1960s for a little make-out session. Suddenly, the girl got nervous and felt as though they weren't alone. Then there was a strong sulfur smell. A silver-blue light cut through the darkness before them and traveled past their car and through the field and then disappeared. Southwest High school now sits near the field and many students through the years have claimed to see strange shadows cross the field. 

Temple Theater

Ground was broken for the Temple Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1904 at the corner of 12th and R Streets with the help of funds from John Rockefeller. The Theater was designed in the Franco-Italian style with a rectangular shape and was made from brick with a red tile roof. The entrance has 4 Italian marble pillars across it. On top of the pillars sits a rectangular slab of marble, which is engraved with the name "Temple" and is the foundation for the little patio which is attached to the fourth floor. The original purpose was to serve as a theater and activity center for students at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Apparently, building a theater as part of a university at that time was controversial. Rockefeller had stipulated when gifting his money that the building had to contain a theater. People looked down on theater arts at the time and a fight ensued. The compromise that came after 2 years of fighting was to locate the Temple building just off campus. Alice Howell was the first theater director and the first production was George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell." This made UNL the fourth university in the country to have a functioning theater program.

The Temple underwent a major renovation in 1954. The theater now houses all theatre classes as well as the administrative offices and performance spaces of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film and the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. University Theatre produces four major events and four Theatrix productions each year in the facility’s three theatres, Howell, Studio, and Lab Theatres. The Howell Theatre is on the first floor and has been recently renovated with 317 seats and is named for UNL theatre founder H. Alice Howell. The Studio Theatre is also on the first floor and is a new, state-of-the-art 160-200-seat flexible black box theatre and the Lab Theatre is a 120-200-seat black box theatre located on the third floor.

Hauntings date back to the construction of the theater. People claimed to see dancing lights and they heard weird noises. The lights in the theater are the most common occurrence reported. Possibilities for spirits here in the theater include a student who lost his life in the 1940’s when he fell from the overhead in the main theatre and succumbed to his injuries. He was performing in the Shakespeare play MacBeth and so, reputedly, his spirit shows up during Shakespeare productions. Dallas Williams was a flamboyant professor and served as Theatre Department Chairman from 1944-1971 and was known to throw chairs and such at sleeping students. His spirit is said to still chuck chairs about. There was also a construction worker who had an accident that killed him that dates back to 1906 when the theater was being built. He had been working on the theater with his father and brothers and they watched him fall from the rafters. Shortly after that, his brothers thought they heard him calling out to them. Tools would go missing or get moved. In the 1970s, an entity was noticed in the east basement studios of KUON-TV, located in The Temple Building.

Julie Hagemeier, theater department general manager, said in a 2000 Daily Nebraskan article that a girl haunts the prop attic. When a show crew took apart various dolls in the prop shop to make the type of prop they needed, they left the attic messy. "When the crew returned to the locked attic … someone had aligned the dolls' parts and placed the matching heads with the bodies." An investigator for the Nebraska Paranormal Society named Laura reported, "During our investigation of the Temple Building, I had the following personal experiences.  Upon walking into the main theater, I noticed a change in the atmosphere.  The air seemed heavier with a kind of charged energy to it.  When we set up our equipment in the attic, where all of the props are stored, things seemed very different.  Almost immediately I began to hear voices.  There were no windows in the attic except the small 6"x6" glass blocks in the roof. The team members in the theater below us were men.  The voices I heard were that of a female although I could not understand what she was saying.  Some were louder than others.  The voices were also heard on the audio recorder.  The temperature in the attic was 85 degrees and very humid.  Circulating air would have been welcomed but was not the case.  I had many experiences of feeling cold chills and would get goose bumps for no apparent reason.  There was severe thunderstorms while we were in the attic.  Rain and thunder were very strong at one point.  I cannot justify the voices I heard as being someone outside, 4 stories down while sounds of the rain and thunder and hail was muffled." 

An interesting story is related in the book "A Guide to the Ghosts of Lincoln" by Alan Boye. The experience was told by Tom Bell and it happened to him in 1987. It was night and he was all alone in the theater. Or at least he thought so. He was practicing his tap dancing for a final. He really needed a perfect routine to pass the class. Tom finished his final step and heard a clap come from the balcony. He squinted and looked up at the balcony. The clapping continued, but he couldn't see anybody. He called out, "Hey, what's happening?" Hopping down from the stage, Tom made his way to the back of the theater. Surely, someone was playing with him. He saw no one and when he got to the back of the theater, the clapping stopped. Then he heard tap dancing coming from the stage. He spun around and saw that the stage was empty. He ran towards the stage and when he reached it, the tap dancing stopped. Tom never did figure out what happened that night. 

A student was in the attic and he was painting chairs, a dozen of them. He had finished the first chair and walked across the attic to retrieve another chair. When he turned around, he saw that the first chair had been moved. The student hadn't heard any sounds and even more strange was that the wet paint was unblemished. It scared him so bad that he ran from the room, from the theater and never returned.

Nebraska may be thought of as a place full of corn, but clearly, there are some spirits there too. Is the city of Lincoln in Nebraska haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

HGB Ep. 504 - Legends of Dartmoor

Moment in Oddity - Longaberger Basket Building (Suggested by Karen Miller)

There is a corporate building located in Newark, Ohio along State Route 16 that may give out-of-towners pause. Those who are familiar with the name will immediately associate it with the well made, somewhat pricey woven baskets that were all the craze in the 1980s and 90s reaching their highest grossing year in 2000 reaching $1 billion in sales. In 1997, the Longaberger company was doing so well that the founder, Dave Longaberger decided that he wanted to create a corporate headquarter building of an unusual sort. His desire was that the building be made to look like his company's medium sized market basket which was Dave's personal favorite of all the woven baskets his company created. By the end of 1997, the new building was completed and 500 employees moved into their new $30 million headquarters. It was an exact replica, even including the basket handles. Dave Longaberger passed away in 1999, after retiring in 1998 at the age of 65. By 2015, sales of the well known baskets had severely declined and it was that year that the company put its 'market basket' corporate building on the market. It was finally purchased in December, 2017, by a developer for $800,000 which was much lower than the original $7.5 million asking price. Although it has been marketed by the developer as an ideal location for a variety of different businesses, the pandemic halted that. At this time it has been pulled from the market, however the developer who purchased the basket building told 'Columbus Business First' that he is weighing other options for his building. The developer recently received the Heritage Ohio's Preservation Hero Award, so we can hope that this usual building will continue to stand proudly. Regardless of what the building houses in the future, a seven story building resembling an iconic basket, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Barney Flaherty the First Newsie

‌In the month of September, on the 4th, in 1833, Barney Flaherty was hired by the publisher of the New York Sun to become the first Newsboy. Barney was a mere ten years old when Benjamin Day, the newspaper publisher offered him the position. Flaherty was an Irish immigrant who answered an advertisement posted in the New York Sun. His test to secure the position was simply throwing newspapers into some bushes. Newsboys were actually entrepreneurs as they were not employees of the papers, but instead, purchased the papers at a reduced rate and then sold them to the public for a mark-up. Unfortunately if newsboys did not sell all of their papers, the New York Sun would not buy them back. For many Irish American children, having the position of a newsie was their only means of monetary support. Many of the newspaper boys would sleep on the streets even if they still had parents due to overcrowding or abuse at home. By 1870, living situations had somewhat improved with the establishment of Newsboy's Lodging Houses which gave the boys a place to live as well as meals for a set price. Barney Flaherty was a pioneer in the newspaper business bringing the daily paper to the common man.

Legends of Dartmoor

Dartmoor is located in an upland area of southern Devon, England. Much of the area is protected by a National Park and it has the largest concentration of Bronze Age ruins in the United Kingdom. This land has been an inspiration to many writers. The landscape is full of standing stones, tombs, legends and spirits. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Dartmoor!

Dartmoor started as a wooded landscape that has transformed through the years into a rugged moorland with open fields. The ruins of several Bronze Age settlements can be found here as well as kistvaens, which are Neolithic stone box-like tombs. People have lived here for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the Medieval Period that more settlers came and they used the natural granite to build their homes. Many of these were longhouses and a few have managed to survive up until today. Tin mining became a major industry. Over half of the National Park land is actually privately owned by the Duke of Cornwall. The northern moors play host to military exercises. This is a land of myth and legend with stories of pixies, black shucks, headless horsemen and ghosts. And for those of you who are keen Harry Potter fans, this is the location of the 1994 Quidditch World Cup final between Ireland and Bulgaria in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey started off as a Cisterian abbey that was founded in 1278. The monks there managed several farmsteads. A Tithe Barn was added to the abbey in the 15th century. Starting in 1536, King Henry VIII started the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the abbey was shut down. Sir Richard Grenville bought the abbey in 1541 and converted it into a residence that he called Buckland Grenville. His family owned it for 40 years and then Sir Francis Drake bought it. He lived here for fifteen years and it was passed down through his descendants until 1946. Captain Arthur Rodd bought it then and presented it to the National Trust in 1947. It was restored and opened as a museum. Rumors claim that undiscovered tunnels run from the abbey to the village. There are stories of ghosts being sighted in and around the Abbey with the most prominent spirit belonging to Sir Francis Drake. Legends claim he was in league with the Devil. Now he is seen riding in a black coach that is drawn by headless horses and usually being pursued by hounds.

Calling Stones

The River Dart rises high on Dartmoor and flows to the sea at Dartmouth where the Dartmouth Harbour is located with a long history of maritime usage. The former home of Agatha Christie, Greenway Estate, has views of the river. The River Dart is much feared, not only because it can rise without notice after a heavy rainfall on the moors, but because it is said to take one life a year. Legends claim there are calling stones along the river and they call out a victim's name, luring them to the river where they fall in and drown.

Scorhill Circle 

This stone circle is the largest in Dartmoor and stands near the confluence of the North Teign River and the Wallabrook. Women who were "sinful" could come to the stones and pray for forgiveness at the foot of a stone. If God didn't forgive them, a stone would fall on them. There are twenty-three stones still standing with eleven fallen, so there could be eleven very unlucky women under them.

Shaugh Bridge (shaw)

This is the home of a Pixie. He stands 17 inches and wears red and blue clothing. When spotted, he quickly vanishes. Legends also claim that the area near the bridge is where the Devil and his hellhounds hunt.

Tunhill Kistvaen (kistvin)

It is said that on this spot in October of 1631, a man named Jan Reynolds was approached by a cloaked stranger. This cloaked stranger told Jan that he would give him seven years of good luck in exchange for his soul. Jan agreed and seven years later, the Stranger appeared again, showing himself to be the Devil and he collected Jan's soul while he was sitting in Widecombe Church. So much for sanctuary in a sanctuary.

Bowerman's Nose

Bowerman's Nose is a stack of granite stones that stands over 21 feet high. A legend claims that Bowerman was a hunter and one day while he was hunting a rabbit, he happened upon a coven of witches who were conducting a ritual. He ran right through the middle of it and made them very angry. So the next time Bowerman went out hunting, one of the witches turned herself into a rabbit and she lead him all over Dartmoor until he was exhausted and the coven turned him into the pile of rocks. His dogs became the rocks at Hound Tor.

Branscombe's Loaf and Cheese

Walter Branscombe was the bishop of Exeter in the 13th century. He and his servant were traveling across the Corn Ridge when they were stopped by a stranger. This man offered them bread and cheese and Walter took some of the food, but before he could eat any of it, his servant knocked it from his hands. He them pointed at the stranger and said, "This is the Devil! Look at his cloven hoof!" The bread and cheese tumbled through the air until they landed on top of the Corn Ridge. The Devil disappeared. This is now a tor, or outcrop of rocks, that can be visited.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the creator of Sherlock Holmes and one of the most popular stories featuring Holmes was The Hound of the Baskervilles. Doyle stayed at the Duchy Hotel in Princetown and heard the stories about Dartmoor and he was inspired by them. The story he latched onto was about Squire Richard Cabell who was said to be Devon's most notorious squire. Richard Cabell was the squire at Buckfastleigh on the edge of Dartmoor, in the 17th century. Rumors about the squire claimed he had murdered his wife and that he would hunt after the young maidens in the village. When he died, the townspeople had to figure out a safe way to bury him because they believed he had sold his soul to the Devil. They decided to bury his body in the graveyard at Holy Trinity Church in an altar tomb outside the south door of the church. This is today known as the sepulchre and looks like a jail with a wide iron grill and a strong wooden door with a locked keyhole. Black Shucks have become connected to him. One bit of lore claimed that Cabell was chased across the moor by some black dogs that accompanied the Wild Hunt. He eventually dropped dead. Another story claims that as he lay dying, the black hounds bayed outside, which was a death warning that has become ingrained with black shucks. There were stories that the black dogs would visit his burial regularly and howl. There are people who claimed that a red light was seen behind the bars in the sepulchre. Young men used to challenge each other at the tomb. They had to walk clockwise around the building thirteen times and then stick a finger into the keyhole and see if the squire gnawed on their fingertips like some weird version of Bloody Mary or Black Aggie. People watch for demons when they visit as it is thought they still have yet to claim the soul of the Squire.

Coffin Stone

There was another evil man who had died and was being carried in a coffin for burial at the Widecombe Churchyard. The pallbearers became tired and set the coffin down for a moment to rest. It was at this moment that God sent a lightning bolt down as a sign of His displeasure that the man was going to be buried in a churchyard. The coffin was split in two, as was the stone it sat upon. This stone can still be seen today near Yar Tor on Dartmeet Hill.

Crazywell Pool

On a gloomy day. Crazywell Pool can look every bit the bottomless and malevolent swimming hole it is reputed to be in lore. The pool sits high up on the moors of Dartmoor and was more than likely formed by miners who were excavating for tin. In 1998, a sixteen-year-old recruit in the Royal Marines named Nathaniel Burton, drowned in the pond. The pool is about sixteen feet deep, but legend claims that it is bottomless. A story goes that if a person gazes into the waters on Midsummer’s Eve they will see a likeness of the next person who is going to die. The pool is said to call out the name of that person to attract them to drown. The Witch of Sheepstor is said to haunt the pool. Men would come to her for advice, but it generally was bad advice. She told Piers Gaveston, who owned the Forest of Dartmoor from 1308, that he should come out of hiding and return to the king's court with his head held high even though he had been banished. So he did just that and ended up beheaded with his head on a pike up on high battlements. And in more recent times, a couple of young men went up to the pool on a dare at midnight and ended up crashing their motorcycle. Were they called to the pool as the next to die?

Kitty Jay's Grave

Years ago, people who committed suicide weren't allowed to be buried in consecrated ground. This meant that many times, these people were buried at crossroads so their spirits would be confused and unable to find their way back to town to haunt the living. At Dartmoor National Park there is a grave called Kitty Jay's Grave. A legend claims that Kitty Jay was a 19th century farm worker who became pregnant and then was rejected by the father of the child. She hanged herself in despair and was buried at a crossroads. A man named James Bryan dug up the body and re-interred it and set up the stones that now mark the spot. But something weird happened after that. Fresh flowers began appearing on the grave every morning. No one knows who was leaving the flowers. Some people thought perhaps pixies were doing it. Novelist John Galsworthy wrote the novel "The Apple Tree," which is based on Kitty Jay’s tale.

The Dewerstone

The Dewerstone is a large granite outcrop over 328 feet high that is named for "Old Dewer," which was an ancient Celtic term for the Devil. This is the site of an Iron Age hill fort. Apparently, the cloven-hooved one liked to come out here riding on a large black horse with his black shucks running nearby and drive poor travelers to their deaths off the top of the Dewerstone.

Ghostly Legions Hunters Tor​

Hunters Tor plays host to a ghostly regiment of Roman legionnaires on nights of the full moon. This is above Lustleigh Cleave where they probably died. Another story claims that a ghostly Tudor hunting party has been seen in this area too.

Cutty Dyer

An evil sprite who lives at King’s Bridge in Ashburton is named Cutty Dyer. There was a story told to children as a warning to not go out after dark. Cutty Dyer was said to kill drunks that came by him on the road by slitting their throats, drinking their blood and throwing the bodies into the river. The following account was published in the “Devonshire Association of Science, Literature, and Art" in 1879, "Old Townspeople of Ashburton recollect well the dread of their lives when children, was a mysterious being supposed to inhabit the river Yeo, with whose displeasure and its undefined consequences they were threatened by parents and nurses as a punishment for disobedience and childish frolics. To the generation before, namely, to our great grandparents, 'Cutty Dyer' was the dread of their more matured years, and was supposed to inflict summary punishment on topers as they reeled with difficulty by night through the dark streets to their houses. He was described by persons who saw him as being very tall, standing in the water to his waist, with red eyes as large as saucers, endeavoring to pull them into the water. When the stream was bridged he remained only a scare to children, and on the streets being lighted disappeared altogether."

Fitz's Well

Dartmoor has a couple of holy wells and Fitz’s Well can be found near both Okehampton and Princetown and a similar tale is told about both. There is a very worn cross, surrounded by a ring of stones that stands nearly three feet tall next to a well surrounded by concrete and capped by a metal lid. This is called Fitz's Well and was named for Sir John Fitz who was a lawyer at Tavistock in the 16th century. Supposedly, he and his wife were led into the moors by a pixie and they became hopelessly lost. They stumbled across this well and were able to get a drink and this broke the spell they were under and the fog dissipated. They were able to find their way home. Fitz then erected the cross near the well so others could find it. The Okehampton well is known for its eye cures and for many years was visited on Easter morning by young people.

Okehampton Castle

And speaking of Okehampton, there is a castle there. This is a motte and bailey castle built between 1068 and 1086 that guarded a crossing point across the West Okement River. The castle eventually became a hunting lodge. It fell into decay and the ruins were renovated in the 20th century and today runs as a tourist attraction. The castle is said to be haunted by Lady Howard who was quite the character. There are claims that she murdered three of her husbands and two of her children in the 17th century. She rides in a coach made of the bones of her victims and is cursed with the job of collecting blades of grass found in the castle ruins until the end of time. A one-eyed hound occasionally joins her.

Childe's Tomb

Childe’s Tomb is another stone cross on the moor, which is a reconstruction of the original. The original was destroyed when someone carried the granite stones off to build a house. This cross marks the site of a legendary tragedy. Childe was a wealthy hunter and Lord of the Manor of Plymstock and his real name was probably Ordulf. Childe was derived from a term that was more like a title. He was caught in a blizzard on Dartmoor and hopelessly lost. He decided the only way to save himself would be to kill his horse and climb inside the animal's body for warmth. Childe froze to death anyway. He wrote his will on a nearby granite stone before he died. It said that whoever found his body and buried him would inherit his estate. The monks of Tavistock Abbey recovered his body and claimed the land. This tomb lies on the line of several cairns that had once marked the Monk's Path between Tavistock Abbey and Buckfast Abbey.

Spinster's Rock

Spinster's Rock is a Neolithic Dolmen or burial chamber and the only one left in Devon. There are three upright stones, with one large capstone. When found, there were several stone circles nearby, leading archaeologists to believe this was a bigger burial complex. A story claims that it was erected by three maidens, or spinsters, one morning before breakfast. That is where the name comes from. (Spinsters spun wool.) Another story claims that a man and his two sons were turned to stone while raising the capstone. The reason this happened is because it was the Sabbath when they weren't supposed to be working.

Newhouse Inn

East Dartmoor has an area called Foale's Arrishes. Foale was a Dartmoor resident and an arrish is a stubble field. The fields once fed his horses, but eventually a public house was built here called the Newhouse Inn. It unfortunately burned down in 1876, but there still are some ruins left. Perhaps someone died in the fire because the ruins are rumored to be haunted by a figure wearing a grey greatcoat riding a horse.

Beetor Cross 

Beetor Cross sits high on the wall of what is called the "Watching Place." It is named for a nearby farm. A newspaper article in the Western Morning News on August 28, 1900 describes it thus, "An interesting relic from the past has been rescued from oblivion and restored to its original position. This is the cross which formerly stood at ‘Watching Place,’ in the parish of North Bovey, at the point of junction of the lane leading from that village with the Moretonhamstead and Princetown road. It is known as Beetor Cross, and tradition says it marked the spot where a battle was fought between the Christian British of the Moor and the Pagan Saxon invaders. Be that as it may, the generally accepted opinion now is that this and many other wayside crosses were erected to serve as landmarks to guide travelers and were fashioned in the form of the symbol of Christianity to save them from mutilation or destruction in an age when such symbols were religiously respected." There is said to be a highwayman who came to his end here and that his spirit still remains. He appears as a full-bodied apparition that watches the road and if one looks close enough, they will see that he has empty eye sockets.

Hairy Hands Bridge​

There is a bridge on the B3212 between Postbridge and Two Bridges that has a weird haunting. When people try to cross the bridge, either on a bike or by car, these gross hairy hands appear on the steering wheel or handlebars and try to drive the vehicle or bike off the road. The patch of road is notorious for wrecks, many of them fatal. In 1921, a medical officer from Dartmoor Prison died after his motorbike went out of control. Many people try to avoid this area.

Dartmoor Prison

And speaking of Dartmoor Prison, that is our last location and the inspiration behind this episode. We love our jails! Construction began in March of 1806 on land that was owned by the Prince of Wales in Dartmoor. The Napoleonic Wars were in full swing having started in 1793 and there was a need for more space to put prisoners of war. Estimates are that there were 100,000 prisoners, mainly naval, during this war. The prison was designed by Daniel Asher Alexander and took three years to complete. This was a large prison with several buildings, built in a circular layout. There was a cooking house where prisoners would receive their allowance. There was a bath and a hospital with the Matron’s house and dispensary facing it. There was a separate building known as the Petty-officers’ prison. The prison yard had five cell blocks radiating around it. The aqueduct fed a pond and drainage ditches ran along the privies, making for unsanitary conditions and one can only imagine the smell. There were also a North and South Guard room.

Despite being fairly new, when the prisoners were here during the War of 1812, the roofs leaked. Food was bad and conditions were very poor. They did try to maintain some hygiene by having the bedding exposed to the air every morning and rooms were ventilated. However, there were outbreaks of smallpox, pneumonia and typhoid. Prisoners wore yellow uniforms with blue stripes. Prisoners were allowed to make things from wood and such and sell them to the public for money. They could then buy additional food or other things considered "luxuries" in the prison. About 6500 American prisoners stayed here between 1813 and 1815. Not many officers were among the prisoners as they were thought to have honor and given immediately parole and they were sent to parole towns in the area. Escape was nearly impossible as the prison was surrounded by the high stone wall and there were many guards here. There was also an ingenious alarm system that was basically a rope that ringed the walls that had lots of bells on it, so if someone tried to get out, the bells would sound. If a prisoner did get out, he found that the prison was quite isolated in the moors. He would have to traverse a difficult land for at least 10 miles and even then, townspeople were happy to bring them back to the prison because they were rewarded with a guinea.

As we mentioned on our previous episode, Captain James Fairfield of Kennebunkport, Maine spent time here during the War of 1812 because of privateering. While he was here, the Dartmoor Massacre occurred. The Treaty of Ghent had been signed between the Americans and British in December of 1814, so American prisoners like James Fairfield assumed they would be released immediately. However, the British government waited until the treaty was ratified by the Senate on February 17, 1815. And then they still waited to release prisoners because transport ships took awhile to get together, so there was finally a riot on April 16, 1815. The final straw was actually the kitchen trying to serve old tack rather than fresh bread. The riot wasn't really what we would call violent as only a few prisoners threw some rocks. No fire order was given, but after an initial volley fired over the prisoners' heads, the guards then fired directly into the prisoners. Sixty prisoners were injured and seven killed. The families of those killed and survivors were later granted pensions. 

The last Frenchman left the prison in early 1816. The jail was unused until 1850. It reopened to civilian convicts the following year after renovations. Conscientious objectors were kept here during World War I. Starting in 1920, some of the worst of the worst in Britain were housed here. The Mad Axeman, Frank Mitchell, was one such criminal. A mutiny broke out in 1932 due to poor conditions. The property was heavily damaged and a prisoner was shot, but none of the staff was hurt. Well armed guards were brought in after two hours of the prisoners terrorizing the staff and the rebellion was put down. The prison remains open today and holds mainly non-violent and white-collar criminals. Much of the original part of the prison was demolished to add modern cell blocks, but the original main entrance, the line of the wall and circular shape, Barrack Road and aqueduct outlet all remain. The entrance gate still reads "Spare the vanquished." Conditions have improved in recent years, but for most of its existence, the prison hasn't done the best job.

Part of the prison maintains a museum. The prison is said to be haunted. One of the spirits here is thought to belong to David Davies who tended the prison sheep from 1869 to 1929. Shortly after being released, he passed away. His spirit returned to the jail and has been seen walking the prison grounds on misty nights. French POWs are also said to haunt the prison after being brought here and dying during the Napoleonic Wars. Inmates believed that jackdaws that flew around the prison were souls of dead staff. Jackdaws are a type of black bird.

Dartmoor is clearly a land of mysticism and legend. Walking along the moors reveals many remnants of the past that were erected as reflections of some of the superstitions from years ago. There seems to spirits wandering in various places as well. Are these legends true and is Dartmoor haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

HGB Ep. 503 - Maine's Kennebunkport

Moment in Oddity -  Underwater Music Festival

Diane and I love the ocean along with the creatures who live there. Here in Florida, there has been an Underwater Music Festival held for nearly 40 years. The festival takes place yearly in the lower keys near Big Pine Key and this year it attracted hundreds of divers and snorkelers. The purpose of the festival is to bring awareness to the protection of 3,800 square miles of ocean which includes the only living coral reef in the continental United States. The location of the music festival is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and spotlights the importance of reef conservation to the attendees. The underwater ecosystem here is magnificent and of course the ultimate message of all the musical harmonies enjoyed is how to appreciate, protect and reduce underwater footprints, I mean fin-prints, to ensure the health of our reefs and oceans. Now, the entertainment at the festival includes divers mimicking musical performances underwater according to videos posted. There are mermaids, guitar players and even some on brass. However, the actual musical festival is held on a sandy area removed from the reef because one would not want to cause underwater reverberations of music to disturb the creatures which are the focus of the protection. Some of the music performed this year were the theme song from The Little Mermaid, Yellow Submarine and many more. The videos we have seen of divers mimicking bands performing ocean themed hits were entertaining but the thought of musical performances underwater certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Peter the Great's Beard Tax

In the month of September, on the 5th, in 1698, Russian Czar Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards. Prior to this tax being created, the Czar traveled through Europe in disguise as 'Sergeant Pyotr Mikhaylov'. His purpose was to study the innovations employed by Great Britain and the Dutch which had made the countries so powerful for the time. Peter the Great spent time working at a shipyard for the Dutch East India Company where he studied their shipbuilding innovations. He also worked in the Royal Navy's dockyard in Deptford. His fact finding mission also led him to exploring factories, arsenals, schools and museums. At one point he was even able to attend a session of Parliament. Once he returned to Russia, he began working on modernizing his country to try and compete with the other European superpowers. He put into effect many reforms regarding the economy, government and religious matters. One of those reforms was for his military to go beardless as he had viewed on many of the Western Europeans he had encountered while traveling. At one point he was said to have brandished a large barber's razor at a reception he was being honored at. He then proceeded to shave the beards of many of the guests. He then announced that all Russian men had to remove their beards which resulted in massive pushback. This rejection included the Russian Orthodox church who declared the shaving of beards, blasphemous. From there, the Czar determined he could use the idea as a policy to make money for the state. Peter the Great imposed a tax for those men wishing to keep their beards. It is recorded that nobility and merchants had to pay a tax as high as 100 rubles per year and commoners as little as 1 kopek. Those who paid the tax received a token as proof of their payment. Suffice it to say, of all the reforms established by Peter the Great, his beard tax is certainly one of the more unusual ones.

Maine's Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is a Maine town that goes back hundreds of years. This coastal resort town plays host to several haunted inns. The Kennebunkport Captains Collection in Maine are four historic homes that had belonged to the Captain Daniel Walker family. Two of them are reputedly haunted. There is also the Nonantum Resort, which is the oldest inn in town. And the Kennebunk Inn hosts a well known spirit in the town. Join us for the history and hauntings of Maine's Kennebunkport.

Kennebunkport was originally known as Cape Porpoise and was first incorporated in 1653. The early white settlers began to leave shortly thereafter as local indigineous tribes raided them regularly. Eventually, settlers returned and they formed a new community that they called Arundel in 1718. In 1821, Arundel became Kennebunk Port with Kennebunk meaning "long cut bank." The earlier town names can still be found in the city in smaller village areas. The main economies in the area were shipbuilding and river trade. By the 1870s, people started looking to this area of Maine as a summer destination. Hotels and homes were built all along the coast. Today, this is still a popular place for tourists, which has included the Bush family. The Bush family owns the Walker's Point Estate in Kennebunkport and it served as the Summer White House for President George H.W. Bush.

The Walker family has deep roots here. Gideon Walker was one of the first settlers to come to the mouth of the Kennebunk River in the mid-1700s. He was born in October of 1719, in Kittery, York, Maine. He married Hannah Palmer in 1741 and they settled on a large swath of land that Gideon had inherited. Much of this land would become Kennebunkport. The couple had seven sons and three daughters. One of those sons was Captain Daniel Walker and he inherited much of his father's land when Gideon passed away in 1805 at the age of eighty-five. Daniel Walker married a woman named Lois and they had five children and after each child married, Daniel deeded them some land upon which they could build their own homes. These homes were all close to each other as the men of the family all became captains and were often out to sea and their families liked to be close to each other for support. Four of these homes still stand and passed through generations of seafaring families before becoming small boutique inns. 

They got a big upgrade in 2021 when New England's Lark Hotels bought the houses and unified them under what they describe as a single village resort with 45 rooms for rent. This village is known as the Kennebunkport Captains Collection and each property has its own distinct character as designed by Massachusetts-based interior designers Rob Blood and Megan Kennedy of Elder & Ash. The resort’s shared amenities include a grand drawing room, library, dining room, gardens, lounges and a Butler’s Pantry bar. There are also complimentary bicycles and a courtesy car for guests wanting to explore beyond downtown. What we really love about the collection is that there seems to be ghosts here.

The William Jefferds House

The Captain William Jefferds house is at 5 Pearl Street. Sarah Walker was born in 1783 and she married William Jefferds, Jr. in 1802. Both of them had been born in Kennebunkport. Sarah's father, Daniel, gifted the couple “80 square rods of land, with love and affection” the following year. This was on a lane leading to Walker’s Wharf and they built a two-story, hipped roof Federal-style house on the land. The couple had eleven children and were fairly well off with Kennebunkport considering them one of the most aristocratic families in the town. Captain Jefferds made his money as a ship owner and by conducting trade in the West Indies. He later became a merchant and died in 1851. Sarah continued to live in the house until her death in 1871 at the age of eighty-eight. The furniture in the house was auctioned off and the house sold. The Agnew Family owned the house in the 1880s and they remodeled the home, adding Colonial Revival touches like a large central dormer and portico. The house passed through other families until it was purchased in 1996 by the Bartholomew family and they converted it into a bed and breakfast that they ran for nine years. The next owners were Erik and Sarah Lindblom and they completely renovated the inn and continued to run it as a commercial enterprise. Lark Hotels gave the house a new design that features sixteen rooms with mostly white furnishings that gives the whole house a light and airy feeling. The inn retains the original moldings and wood beams. Six of the rooms are located in a carriage house on the property that is attached to the house. 

The Acton Patterson House 

The Acton Patterson House is located at 35 Maine Street and was built in 1807 by Captain Daniel Walker and is also a two-story Federal styled home with two brick chimneys. The house had four bedrooms. Captain Nathaniel Lord purchased the house to live in while his mansion was being built nearby and after he passed, the house was passed down through the family until Captain Acton Patterson bought the home. His daughter ended up marrying Nathaniel Lord's son and so the house ended up back in the lord family. The house was inherited by their daughter and eventually became an annex for the Nathaniel Lord Mansion. After Lark Hotels purchased the property, it was renovated with a country gentleman style that included plaids and distressed leather furniture. The house is available for an entire rent-out.

The Captain Nathaniel Lord Mansion

The Captain Nathaniel Lord Mansion is located at 6 Pleasant Street and is the centerpiece of the resort. Captain Nathaniel Lord was born in 1776 and he married Phoebe Walker in 1797. The couple had the home built in 1812 on a corner lot. Nathaniel had made his money running a shipyard and so when the British created a blockade of Kennebunkport during the War of 1812, he had his shipbuilding staff build his home. Lord hired architect Thomas Eaton to design the Federal-styled house and spared no expense.
Captain Lord and Phoebe Walker had eight children together and "adopted" a ninth child that was the result of an extramarital affair Nathaniel had with the maid. Phoebe agreed to raise the child as one of her own. The Captain didn't get to enjoy his big beautiful home for long. He died from influenza at the age of 38 in 1815. 

Charles Clark was Lord's grandson and when he inherited the home in 1898, he decided to give it a makeover and added a three-story addition that was designed by architect William Ralph Emerson. Emerson was known for his work with "Shingle-style" homes. He added hallway arches, hand-grained doors, the elliptical staircase in the front, high-Victorian wainscoting, beamed ceiling, and a bay window with a curved window seat. The home would stay in the Lord family until 1972, so they had a long run with it. What caused the family to lose the house were tax issues for Captain Lord's great-great granddaughter Julia Buckland Fuller. She had to liquidate the estate, including the furniture. The property sat neglected for awhile and then Bev Davis and Rick Litchfield purchased it in 1978 and they restored the mansion using old photos as a guide, so they could replicate the 19th century wall coverings and the paint used on walls. The wood floors were stripped and refinished and the twenty-two fireplaces were converted to gas. They brought in antiques that matched the aesthetic as well like a late 1800’s Chippendale dining table with matching chairs and 19th century four-poster beds, and other 19th century antiques. Lark Hotels kept most of the antiques that were in the mansion. They stripped back the carpeting to reveal pine floors and added velvet drapes, enhanced the crown moldings and updated the bathrooms.

It is believed that a member of the Lord family has stayed on in the house after death. This is believed to be Phoebe. She raised nine children in this home almost by herself since Nathaniel had died young, so its not hard to believe she would be attached to the dwelling. Phoebe's spirit became most active when the mansion opened up for the first time as a bed and breakfast. She seemed pleased with the restoration. Her former room was named Wisteria, meaning "remembrance of the dead," and this is where she is most active. The apparition has been seen wearing a long, flowing white nightgown or dressing robe and walking or floating through the room. She once startled a newlywed couple who were lying in bed and watched as Phoebe floated through the room and disappeared into a wall. Often the spirit is standing on the spiral staircase leading up to the cupola. Other times she is floating up and down that staircase. This had been a favorite spot as it was with most captain's wives who liked to watch their husbands come in from being out at sea. People claim to see her looking out of the cupola.

The Captain James Fairfield House

The Captain James Fairfield House is located at 8 Pleasant Street and was built in 1813, designed as a two-story Federal-style mansion. James Fairfield was born in Arundel, Maine in 1784. His father was a ship captain and he followed in his footsteps, becoming a captain as well. He was a short guy at five and a half feet tall, but he was self-assured and described as quite handsome. Daniel Walker's daughter Lois married James Fairfield in 1807. James went in with his brother-in-law, Captain Joseph Lord, and bought a six acre lot across the street from Captain Nathaniel Lord’s mansion. They planned to build two homes connected to each other, so their wives could keep each other company while their husbands were away at sea, but the homes would have to wait for a bit. Fairfield was the captain of the MacDonough during the War of 1812 when he was 31-years-old. He wasn't fighting in the war, but rather, running a privateering venture with three other Captains. The MacDonough was captured by the British and he was sent to Dartmoor Prison in England where he was a prisoner of war for five months. This was a horrible place to be a prisoner. They were all issued a hammock, bedding and blanket. A bloody massacre took place in the prison on April 6, 1815 with eight prisoners killed and forty-five wounded. James tried to get himself released with the first group of prisoners sent back to America by buying another man's place on the ship, but when the authorities called out names, the man he had paid went forward and took his own turn leaving Fairfield to wait for his. He wrote this letter to his wife after his capture:

"Onboard his Majesty frigate Bacchante Hallifax

November 12th 1814

Dear Wife

It is with regret that I have to inform you of our misfortune of being captured 30 hours after leaving you by the above frigate. By carrying away our aft and main topmasts in the chase we are all onboard this ship at present but expect to be sent onboard some other ship to be sent to England in about eight days where I expect we shall have to remain until peace which God send may be soon, I cannot get on shore nor hear any thing from Oliver but we are all well and in good spirits considering our situation[.] My dear I wish you to make your self as happy as you possibly can and I would advise you to sell your horse at any price you can get as the expense of him is considerable and sell any thing you have rather than suffer. I don’t know what part of England we shall go to but shall write every opportunity. Could you find out where I am[.] Nothing but my liberty would give me more pleasure than a line from you, or any of my friends my dear I hope this will find you in good health as it leaves me. Asa is well and contented and Capt. Lord likewise. With love and respect I remain your loving and affectionate husband until death."

James and his brother-in-law Joseph Lord began their homes in 1813 and finished them in 1815. They were two Federal-style mansions connected to each other. James and Lois were gifted the money for their house by her father Daniel. Joseph Lord would unfortunately die in 1817 when the ship he was sailing to Europe to trade cotton, sunk killing him and his entire crew. His wife Polly remarried and remained in the double house. James died from pneumonia in 1820 and Lois sold their mansion to Abner Stone. She then moved in with Polly and her new husband. She would only live two more years herself. The houses eventually just became one and went through six or seven families and then in the early 1980s, the mansion was turned into an inn. In the early 1990s, Chef Dennis and his wife Bonnie bought the inn and restored it and several years later they sold it to Rick Wolf. He converted it into more of a bed and breakfast and owned it until Lark Hotels bought it. Today, the James Fairfield house is described as "artful and eclectic" and features nine rooms with working fireplaces and abstract art on the walls.

The first stories about paranormal activity came when the first renovations were started. The spirit of James Fairfield has been seen in the basement, usually hanging out in a dark corner. One person who reported seeing this was Chef Dennis Tellagnon. The ghost seems friendly and is clearly attached to a copy of a portrait he had painted of himself that hangs in the inn. The original is at the Brick Store Museum on Main Street. The crazy story connected to this painting is that James had it done while he was on a voyage. He had it sent back on a ship that sank. Fortunately, the painting was rolled up in a metal cylinder that floated to the surface of the water and was picked up by a Swedish ship two years after James died. Lois had already died by then too, but her sister Polly accepted the portrait and had it framed.

Kennebunk Inn 

The Kennebunk Inn sits in the center of the town and was built in 1799. This started as a private residence for a man named Phineas Cole. Benjamin Smith bought the house from Cole and his family owned it until 1875. In 1876, Dr. Orrin Ross bought the home and gave it to his son, Dr. Frank Ross, in 1880 as a wedding present. Right across the street Frank built what came to be known as the Ross Block. The doctor built a two-story wooden building in 1881 and it housed his office and a pharmacy. This burned to the ground and he rebuilt it in 1895 only to have that burn down too. He got smart the third time around and made the third version out of brick. This one still stands today and is three stories tall and has hosted a variety of businesses through the years. Dr. Ross specialized in obstetrics and never lost a mother, having helped with over 1,000 deliveries. The doctor died in 1926 and Mr. and Mrs. George Baitler bought the house in 1928 and converted the private home into a hotel called “The Tavern.” They added a two-and-a-half story wing and rented out 50 rooms. The inn was named the Kennebunk Inn in the late 1930s and has changed hands several times. Today, this is a very charming inn with verandas on the first and second floors.

There is a very well known spirit here that is believed to have belonged to a former nightwatchman and auditor named Silas Perkins. He was the son of Captain Fordyce Perkins and fancied himself a poet. He was born in 1880 and died of a heart attack at the age of 72 in 1952 at the Inn.  He is said to be a mischievous spectre. Former owners Arthur and Angels LeBlanc told the Bangor Daily News in 1991 about their experiences with Silas' ghost. A waitress told the couple she was psychic and refused to go down into the basement, claiming there was a strong presence down there that she thought was named Cyrus. Angela said, "We pooh-poohed it and laughed." That was until Silas lifted three mugs off of a shelf and smacked the bartender in the back of the head with them. Silas apparently didn't like the guy. Angela said, "This kind of made a believer out of me. I was seated at the bar when it happened." A line from one of Silas' poems goes like this, "I want to laugh with the common man Wherever he chance to be, I want to aid him when I can Whenever there’s need of me." Perhaps his ghostly pranks are just him trying to help out.

Locked hotel doors will unlock themselves and even swing open in the middle of the night. This may happen over and over in one night. Boxes in the basement tumble over by themselves. Glasses sitting on trays fly through the air and smash into walls. The most active room on the property is Room 17. A housekeeper had unplugged the TV so she could move it to clean and the TV turned itself on without power. Owners Brian and Shanna O’Hea hosted a meet and greet session with psychic Vicki Monroe in 2012 at the inn. Monroe claimed there was a female spirit at the inn as well who went by the name Sara Emily. This ghost likes to stand on the main stairwell and greet visitors when they enter. No one knows where she came from. 

Nonantum Resort

The Nonantum Resort is located at 95 Ocean Avenue. This area had once been the site of a trading center between Native Americans and early settlers. Nonantum is Algonquin for "blessing" or "pray." Captain Henry Heckman built the Nonantum  and opened it on July 4, 1884 with 28 rooms. It was built in a late Italianate style. The waterfront area was expanded in 1887 and a small addition was constructed in 1891. At this same time, alterations were made to the inn, adding a Georgian Revival facade that included pilasters capped with Corinthian capitals and cartouches and a wide front Piazza. The new elements were designed by architect Henry Paston Clark. Heckman died in 1920 and the inn was sold to Felix Bridger and he did extensive renovations, which included an elevator and forty additional rooms. A steam heating system was also added. Felix passed away at 79 in 1953 and his daughter Phyllis Bridger Leathers took over and ran the Nonantum until her death in 1970. In her time, an outdoor swimming pool was added that was filled with salt water.

Phyllis' son, William Bridger Leathers, and his wife, Margaret, were the next proprietors and they added a three-story annex. The inn passed out of the hands of the Leathers family in 1987. The Portside Lodge was added to the property in 1987 and increased the number of rooms available for guests. The original part of the inn is now called the Carriage House Inn. Lots of renovations have been made through the years. There are 110 guest rooms and this is a popular wedding venue. Jean Ginn Marvin is the current innkeeper and she has been with the establishment for over 24 years.

The resort gets most active right before it closes to guests for the winter. Staff claim that the 27 spirits who haunt the place are friendly. Lights turn on and off by themselves and the doors open and close on their own. Plates on tables spin around on their own. Staff have been unsettled when vacuuming in hallways because when they turn and look to the end of the hallway, they find that furniture has been turned as if to seat someone unseen who wants to watch them work. And people often feel that they are being watched by someone that they can't see.

One of the spirits is said to be a former guest named Sadie. This apparition has been seen wandering the hallways. A ghost named Julia likes to warm her hands by the lobby fireplace. The kitchen is haunted by a spirit named Ursula. Tim Ames was the sales director back in 2007 and he told the Seacoastonline, "Four ladies from New York were sharing a room when one of the beds began to shake violently. Another time, when he was working the front desk late at night, he got a call from another woman on the third floor. She said, 'Should we evacuate?' And I said, 'Why?' While all was quiet and calm in the lobby, it appears this woman's room was rocking as if an earthquake was occurring. Ames raced upstairs, but as soon as he arrived, the woman said, the shaking stopped."

Psychic Vickie Monroe also visited this establishment and she told the hotel that it had 27 spirits and most enjoyed looking out the windows. A very old piano had been removed from the lobby and Monroe reported that a very large male ghost named Will or Bill wasn't happy about that and that he wanted the piano put back. She had no idea that there had been a piano in the lobby. Turns out that a man named Will had once been an owner. He weighed in at 600 pounds and had a wife who had owned that very piano. Monroe also said that there were several child ghosts in the inn and that they especially liked playing pranks in the bathrooms. The spirit of a small, balding man also made himself known to the psychic.

Kennebunkport is a beautiful coastal community with quite a few charming and historic inns. They make a great place to get away in New England, especially if one is interested in interacting with a few ghosts. Are these inns in Kennebunkport haunted? That is for you to decide!