Thursday, June 27, 2024

HGB Ep. 544 - Haunted Old Sacramento

Moment in Oddity - FLIP Research Vessel (Suggested by: Duey Oxberger)

There was a most unique research vessel invented in 1962 called FLIP, which stood for 'Floating Instrument Platform'. FLIP was designed by The Gunderson Brothers Engineering Company in Portland, Oregon. Technically it was not a ship at all, but a 355 foot oceanographic research vessel. FLIP was operated by Scripps Oceanography of San Diego, CA for the U.S. Navy. The reason why this vessel was named FLIP was because it could be towed out to sea in a horizontal position and then flipped 90 degrees with 300 feet submerged underwater. To accomplish this flipping process, the research vessel's operators would direct water into several ballast tanks. The transition from the horizontal to the vertical positions would take almost 30 minutes to complete. Flip was originally built to study long-range sound propagation for submarine warfare, however, the research platform was also used to gather information on geophysics, meteorology, physical oceanography, marine mammal research and for gathering other scientific data. FLIP was exceptionally impervious to waves. A 30 foot wave would only make the vessel rise a mere three feet in the water column and it could even withstand swells of up to 80 feet. Most rooms in the buoyant end of FLIP were designed with specifications to operate in both the horizontal and vertical positions. Things like bunk beds, toilets and stoves were built on swivels, while sinks and doors were built both in the horizontal and vertical positions. FLIP gathered valuable data for nearly 60 years before being retired in August 2023. FLIP’s unique design made it the only vessel in the world capable of operating both horizontally and vertically and that fact alone, certainly makes it odd.

This Month in History - Cuyohoga River Fire

In the month of June, on the 22nd, in 1969, the Cuyahoga (Kieya HOEGA)river in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire. The fire was blamed upon the extensive pollution of the Cuyahoga River and witnesses stated that the inferno reached heights of five stories high. It called to light the city's ineffective pollution abatement program. The blaze was recorded beginning around noon and took approximately 20 minutes to get under control. A fireboat and three fire battalions battled the fire eventually containing it to a railroad trestle owned by Norfolk & Western Railway Co. with an estimated damage of $45,000, causing the company to close the area to rail usage. A secondary trestle owned by Newburgh & South Shore Railroad Company sustained $5,000 in damages, however that trestle remained open. It was documented that the fire was caused by a buildup of oily waste and trash that accumulated on the river under the two trestles. Cleveland's Bureau of Industrial Wastes investigated, and it was surmised that the blaze was caused by a discharge of highly volatile petroleum derivatives that had a low flash point but still ignited,possibly due to a flare, at the sight of the railroad bridges. At the time of the fire there was national concern over pollution in Lake Erie and the rivers that flowed into it. This occurrence negatively reflected upon Cleveland's reputation precisely due to the Cuyahoga River's documentation of being the most polluted river in the nation. Over the years, the Cuyahoga river has caught fire 14 times, with the most recent blaze having occurred in August of 2020 after a reprieve of 51 years. 

Haunted Old Sacramento (Suggested by: Brian Pertl)

Old Sacramento is known as Sacramento's "Front Porch." The entire sector is protected as a National Landmark and for good reason. Much of California's early history is seated here. The town saw immense growth during the California Gold Rush and with that came death as well. Cholera epidemics swept through and fire and floods destroyed the place more than once. Old Sacramento had to be raised eighteen feet to prevent flooding, leaving behind underground tunnels. These tunnels are said to be filled with spirits and several of the historic buildings that still remain have unexplained activity. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of Old Sacramento.

The city of Sacramento is the capital of California. The Sacramento Valley was inhabited by the Miwok, Maidu, Nisenan and Patwin people before trappers, traders and settlers moved into the territory. There were several villages with a few hundred members from each tribe. Spanish cavalryman Gabriel Moraga came in 1808 to survey the Sacramento River, which he actually named. Swiss-born Mexican John Augustus Sutter was assigned the duty of colonizing the area and he built Sutter's Fort and eventually Sutter's Mill. One of his employees discovered gold and Sacramento was off and running during the California Gold Rush. While Sutter definitely is credited with starting a colony here, it would be his son John Sutter, Jr. that would be the more successful and he actually founded and platted out the city of Sacramento. This city would become the commercial center of the California Gold Rush since it was built right along the river. And while being close to the river was great for business, it was bad when it came to flooding, which the city did regularly until levies were built and the city rose considerably above the river with thousands of cubic yards of earth being brought in on wagons in 1853. This was a massive endeavor, especially for business owners. What happened is that the city built these eighteen-foot tall brick walls along the streets and filled in the center with the dirt. Now business owners either had to deal with having this wall in front of their property or they could bring in construction companies to jack up their buildings to what was now the new street level. So now there is an underground tunnel system.

Local merchant Sam Brannan opened a store near the Sacramento River once the Gold Rush got started. He and several businessmen eventually bought the Sutter family's property, but not by honest means. Sutter Jr. had been very ill and desperate to move south to Mexico. He didn't like the terms of the contract to buy the property, but somehow the businessmen convinced him to do it. He moved and was never paid. Sutter Jr. returned back to Sacramento and Brannan promised to pay him $40,000, which wasn't paid either. Lawsuits ensued and the California Supreme Court got involved and Sutter Jr. would eventually get about $3,500. People, especially miners, flocked to Sacramento and many of the early structures were simply canvas tents on poles. These would be replaced by wood and brick structures and Old Sacramento came together. Many early structures still remain, there are 53 historic buildings, and the Old Sacramento Waterfront is a thriving retail and commercial district.

Old Sacramento Underground Tunnels

There are claims that Old Sacramento is one of the most haunted areas in the world. And the most haunted place in Old Sacramento has to be the underground tunnel system. This area was notorious for crime and murder and all kinds of nefarious activity. Investigators claim that there are spirits of victims of disease, floods and fires in the tunnels. People have claimed to hear disembodied crying and laughing and shadow figures have been seen. One apparition people have see is a woman in Victorian dress. There is also the spirit of a young man who may have been murdered in the tunnels. Ghost Adventures investigated the underground. They captured disembodied footsteps and on a full-spectrum video camera they caught what looked like a large black mass move away from them behind a wall. It definitely was weird. Aaron heard a man say "F you" audibly behind him. The Spirit Box also said, "F you." Zak asked, "Out of Nick, Zak and Aaron, who don't you like?" and "Aaron" clearly came over the box. They also got the name "Laura" and "Help" over the box

Sacramento History Museum

The Old Sacramento area is anchored by a reproduction of the 1854 City Hall and Waterworks Building that now houses the Sacramento History Museum. The original building was the city's first municipal building and not only included the Mayor's office, but the fire department, police department and city jail. The city's water supply was kept in tanks up on the roof. The building later became strictly just the city prison. The building was sold and demolished in 1913 due to damage from the weight of the water and the railroad tracks that curved around the building. Parts of the jail weren't demolished and still exist today. The museum hosts ghost tours annually in October. 

The museum has the trunk of May Hollister Woolsey who died at the age of twelve in Sacramento after getting a mosquito bite. May died in a house in Sacramento that eventually became a derelict boardinghouse that was bought by a man named Ed Duffy in 1979. He started refurbishing the house and when he knocked out a stairwell, he discovered a small steamer trunk. Inside the trunk were a satin wedding hat, petticoats, marbles, buttons, spools of thread, Christmas tree ornaments, rubber baby galoshes, sewing kit, ostrich feather, doll-size slippers, a diary and a lock of her hair. Mae's mother was devastated at her loss and contacted a medium to try to talk to her daughter and this medium channeled a letter from Mae that is also at the history museum, although it isn't on display. Mae just basically said she wasn't dead, only gone and for her mother not to be sad and that her mission on earth isn't done yet. Her spirit is said to hang out by her burial in the cemetery and also possibly here with her belongings.

And there is also the spirit of George Nicholas Simmons. He was the last man hanged at the jail. He was a highwayman and when the authorities caught up with him, the blood from a victim he had killed was still wet on his horse's bridle. He was tried at the court, found guilty and hanged December 4, 1863. A tour guide said that guests on his tour captured a few pictures of him telling the story of George outside the museum and there were orbs that seemed to be moving all around his body.

Lady Adams Building

This is the oldest remaining structure in the district. It dates to 1852. This was a wholesale and import house that was started by four German immigrants who arrived in town aboard the Lady Adams. They named their store Lady Adams Mercantile Company because the initial goods sold came in off the Lady Adams. The mercantile went bankrupt in 1861 and was replaced by the Fogus & Coghill Grocery. The building was raised fifteen feet in 1865 and became the Mebius & Company Wholesale Grocers. It was vacant in the 1950s as the area became Skid Row. Old Sacramento was redeveloped in the 1960s and the Lady Adams Building and its next door neighbor Howard House were renovated. When reconstruction was done, the ground floor opened as Evangeline's gift shop and the upper two floors featured a bank-themed restaurant and bar. Today, this is the Evangeline's Costume Mansion, which opened in 2000. The mansion features eight themed rooms and visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt through the two buildings. Names for the rooms include the Gothic Chamber, Renaissance Room, The Saloon, The Lab, The Jungle, The Disco, Storybook Land and The Circus.

There are many reports, especially from employees, about haunting activity. They have been touched and watched items move around. The basement seems to be the most active area. News10 ABC participated in an investigation at the mansion in 2015. Reporter Jeff Maher had a device he called a PX Device that says words that started going off and said "highway." A psychic with the group said that there was a man on the second floor who was throwing around F bombs and saying he wanted some whiskey. A Spirit Box in the basement sounded like it responded "Robert" when asked for a name. It also answered "basement" when asked where they were right now. When the investigators asked for knockings, they got them. A viewer told Maher that she had her hair pulled when she was shopping there once. They used dowsing rods to identify that they were talking to a spirit named Penelope - a psychic said she had a dream about a Penelope - and she had come to Sacramento from Colorado. 

The Vernon-Brannan House

The Vernon-Brannan House was built on the site of Sacramento's first post office after it burned down in 1852. Samuel Brannan owned the plot and he sold it to Henry E. Robinson who built a three-story hotel he named the Jones Hotel. This opened in 1854, but was closed within a year. A woman named O.J. Clark took over the building and reopened it as a boarding house she called the Vernon House. Ten years later, Samuel Brannan bought back the property and restored it back to the hotel and opened it as Brannan House. Brannan sold it to Peter Bryding in 1875. Today, the building is a Colderbank office. There is a spirit of a woman in the building. Some think she died in a fire, perhaps before the hotel had been there. People claim to hear her spirit whispering in their ears. One time it was "excuse me." She likes to turn on  the upper balcony lights if someone is out on the patio.

Dingley Spice Mill Building

Nathaniel Dingley was born in Maine in 1824 and left for the California gold mines in 1849. He was married four times and had four daughters. He was divorced twice and his fourth wife was in the process of divorcing him when he died in 1897. Dingley was a pioneer coffee merchant who amassed a great fortune from his coffee business and he owned a lot of property in San Francisco and Sacramento. Dingley built the two-story building in 1853 and he lived on the second floor while running the coffee business on the first floor. Dingley got busted in 1854 for having four kegs of blasting powder in the building and went to jail for awhile. The City Recorder decided that a merchant's license did not give Dingley the ability to deal in gunpowder. A special license was needed for that and no amount over fifty pounds was allowed. And this was for good reason since there was such a danger from fire. As a matter of fact, fire did break out in 1867 and the paper reported, "Dingley's spice and coffee mill, on the north side of I street, was considerably damaged... [Dingley's] exertions to save the last mentioned building is worthy of remark. He had but a small quantity of water in the house, but he made every drop of it tell against the encroaching flames. In his efforts to save his house his face got considerably scorched, which will require several days to regenerate the blistered surface; however, he feels satisfied that it is no worse, and thinks his injuries but slight to what his loss would have been in case the house had met the fate of others near him." Dingley was cruel to a daughter he had with mental disabilities. He threw her down the stairs once. The strange happenings in the building are caused by the ghost of Nathaniel Dingley, people say. Since he wasn't a nice guy, the haunting isn't very nice either. Items are thrown off shelves, the lights upstairs turn themselves on and off on their own and there are strange sounds. The feeling in the building can be oppressive.

River City Saloon

The River City Saloon had been located on the Waterfront, but it is permanently closed now. It had touted itself as the last Old West saloon left in Sacramento and the building dates back to the 1800s. The first building was wood and this was replaced by a brick building in 1857. This saloon not only served drinks, but there was a brothel here run by Johanna Heigle. Sacramento newspaper man Parker French bought the saloon and reopened it as Parker French's Saloon. Men had to be careful not to get too drunk or they might get Shanghaied. When Prohibition shut down alcohol, the bar switched to Sasparilla. By the 1960s, the building was part of Skid Row. The River City Saloon moved in in 2008 after a remodel to its original grandeur. The interior featured a 1905 Triple Arch Brunswick back bar from a New York hotel and a pressed tin ceiling. The bar seems to have three ghosts that haunt the place. There is a prankster male ghost who sometimes steals from customers. Another is a child ghost and the third is a mysterious one that entails a hand print that shows up on the mirror behind the bar. Employees claimed that after closing time, things would move around behind the bar. Light fixtures hanging from the ceiling would swing on their own. Reporter Jeff Maher investigated here for News10 ABC in 2015. The PX Device that he used at the costume shop was used here as well and said "story" and "10" which fits with the fact that he was doing a story for Channel 10, so sounded like an intelligent haunting. The dowsing rod indicated that there is a spirit there that died under the age of twenty. Maher caught what he thought was an apparition in a picture that looked like a woman in a dress. He explained that they had earlier contacted a woman who had worked at the brothel and she said her last name was Murphy. 

The Eagle Theater

The Eagle Theater was California’s first theater. The original building was just canvas and wood with a tin roof. The flood of 1850 wiped out the theater. The Eagle Theater that is in the district is a reconstruction. The original went through several owners and bankruptcies in a short period of time. All members of the town would come out for plays. Tickets were sold at the saloon in front of the theater. The parks department put together several accounts and put together this history of the theater, "Seats were rough boards, apparently without seat-backs and possibly sitting atop tree stumps or packing crates. General lighting was provided by three multi-candle chandeliers, while stage lighting most likely was achieved with oil lamps placed directly in front of the stage. Entrance was through the saloon although visiting ladies and genteel men could be spared the indignity of passing through this rowdy space by sitting in the "boxtier" gallery (loosely akin to a balcony), accessed via an outdoor ladder staircase next to the main entrance." Today, the theater offers docent and video programs on the history of Old Sacramento. 

Many people believe that the former director at the theater from the 1970s is the spirit here. Items get moved around, as do chairs. Ghost Adventures investigated here and interviewed a woman named Sue. She said that a person on a tour had seen an actor on the stage and he looked away  and didn't see the man, so he asked Sue where the man had gone and Sue was like, what man? Later, Zak asked the spirits if they knew Sue whom he talked to earlier and the Ovilus answered "Possibly." Zak saw a shadow move in a corner. When Zak asked if the spirit could show that he was there, a rocking chair started rocking on its own.

The Delta King

The Delta King is a paddlewheel riverboat located on the Old Sacramento Waterfront near downtown and the Golden 1 Center. The riverboat was built in 1925 in Glasgow, Scotland and Stockton, California. It ran between San Francisco and Sacramento for 14 years from 1927 to 1940. The Delta King made these trips with its sister ship, the Delta Queen (which is also haunted). These were some party boats featuring live jazz, gambling, drinking even though Prohibition was on and there was fine dining. A famous suicide took place on the steamship in 1932. If you've listened to our recent Phantasmal Crime about the death of Paul Bern, you heard that Bern was common law married to a woman named Dorothy Millette. As a brief recap, Bern had left Millette and moved on to movie star Jean Harlow and married her. Bern ended up dead, some say by suicide, some say murder. Millette could've possibly been the murderer. Whatever the case, she had mental health issues and ended up on the Delta King on September 6th, 1932. She jumped overboard and her body was found washed up in Walnut Grove a week later. Millette wasn't the only suicide though. A month before, a man wearing a blue suit and a black necktie, with a key to Room 104 in his pocket, jumped off the steamship and drowned. He was never identified. Other deaths on board include a dairyman named Leroy Deskin who jumped overboard in 1933. His body was never found. Another man hanged himself in his cabin in 1934. There was also poison and heart stimulants in his cabin. The man had registered under a pseudonym, so he was never identified. 

Once the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge were completed in 1937 and 1938, the need for the riverboats disappeared. Both of the Deltas were basically out of business. The U.S. Navy drafted both riverboats, painted them gray, and used them during World War II as troop transports. After some time, they became naval barracks and towards the end of the war, they served as hospital ships. The Delta Queen was purchased by the Green Line Steamers of Cincinnati and run along the Mississippi River. She was fitted with her twins steam engines meaning the Delta King had to be towed anytime it was moved. Many plans for the steamship fell through. There was an idea to create a floating Chinese restaurant. Another idea put forward the idea to turn it into a floating Ghirardelli Square. So the Delta King was shuttled around between California and Canada. In Canada, it served as a rooming house for workers at an aluminum manufacturing plant. 

The Delta King was partially submerged in San Francisco Bay by 1984. Brothers Ed and Charlie Coyne bought the neglected steamship and towed it to the Pacific Drydock Co. in Oakland. The original steel hull was stripped and completely restored and then it was towed to Old Sacramento Waterfront and given a complete historical renovation under architect Walter Harvey. The whole process of getting the Delta King back to its former glory took five years. Much of the original woodwork was preserved. The steamship was rechristened and reopened in April of 1989. This now serves as a hotel and restaurant. There are 44 rooms, which have either city views or river views. The restaurant is named the Pilothouse Restaurant and is the original grand dining room of the steamship. There are also wedding packages available. And then there are the ghosts, Apparently there are several ghosts.

Guests and employees claim that spirits tip over glasses and glasses get broken randomly, drain batteries and bounce balls. A chair from the theater was found in the elevator and the theater had been locked at the time. One of the spirits is male and he appears wearing a light shirt, dark pants and a hat. This ghost tends to walk along the lobby wall, but before he goes through the office door, he turns, walks away and disappears. There is also the spirit of a little girl aged around 10 years old. She appears wearing a long dress and she has dirty blonde hair and sometimes she is bouncing a ball. Her disembodied giggling is heard and sometimes her footsteps are seen in the morning dew on the deck. Staff claim that when investigators ask what her name is, she can't remember and it is believed that she was raped and murdered by a crew member. A former crew member named Pierre is said to have lost his life in the engine room and his spirit remains. The theater rooms are probably the most haunted areas of the ship, although Room 436 gives them a run for their money. 

The blog Haunted Honeymoon reported, "Some strange occurrences happened in our stay. While we were talking to staff members in the lounge a glass cracked in the hands of one of them when she put ice in it. The glass was not warm when she did this. While we were having breakfast in the Pilothouse Restaurant a menu tilted, fell over, and knocked into a glass which broke. The wait staff came over to clean and reset the table and the same menu tipped again, and broke yet another glass. Our full camera battery also drained over the course of one night."

Paul Dale Roberts wrote on the blog True Ghost Tales (dot) com, " The employees that I interviewed on this gorgeous riverboat are Greg Costenson - Beverage Director, Alice Briggs-Ben, Stacey Sorokowsky, Karen Macias - Guest Receptionist. Greg has never seen a ghost, but he has heard all kinds of stories about the ghosts on this boat. While I was interviewing Greg, HPI Paranormal Investigator Debbie Talani was trying to gather some photographic evidence of paranormal activity on the boat. Debbie had an unusual situation happen while taking pictures. She took a picture of one of the employees of the boat and when she looked back at the picture, he was no where in the photo. This was quite odd! On this night, I had a date who does not want to be identified with this story and I sat her down at the bar, while I conducted interviews and Debbie did some lone scouting investigation...Greg brought over an employee named Alice Briggs-Ben and she tells me that patrons have heard a little girl playing or a man walking. Patrons have seen a little girl going down the hallway, or heard her singing...'ring around the roseys'. In the Suspect's Murder Mystery Theater and the Delta King Theater, there are stories of many entities that hang out in this area of the boat...

Another employee Stacey Sorokowsky tells me that one time at 2am, she went downstairs and she was locking up inventory, when all of a sudden the air in the room chilled with coldness. That was her only paranormal experience, but she was told by the server that he actually saw the little girl ghost. Now Karen Macias has been an employee for 8 years and she has experienced the presence of the little girl ghost 3 times and the man ghost 3 or 4 times. She has seen the man ghost with her peripheral vision, she saw him walk one way and then back another way quickly. She has heard the little girl laughing. One time a patron told her to keep the little girl from playing in the hallway, because he couldn't sleep, he didn't know she was a ghost. After 10pm is when the paranormal activity usually starts according to Karen. Karen tells me that there are more ghosts in the theater. Unfortunately, there was a play going on. Debbie and I, could not investigate this area. Debbie's digital audio recorder would not work for her tonight, so we couldn't pick up any EVPs. Karen shows me a book that Stan Garvey wrote about the boat, called 'King and Queen of the River'. This book details the history of the Delta King. The book was published in 1995. It's a hard book to find. In this book, I learn that the wood was cut in Scotland and assembled & launched to Stockton, where the boat was built. I asked Karen how old does she think the girl ghost is? Karen thinks the girl is anywhere from 7 years old to 9 years old. One employee saw barefoot footprints of the little ghost girl show up on the floor. He freaked out and quit his job instantly. I asked Karen what does the man ghost look like and she describes him as wearing a dark cap, white shirt and dark pants. One time Karen thought the man ghost was mad at her and he shifted all of her papers on her cabinets to the left hand side of one cabinet."

Sacramento is a city with many haunted locations and the Old Sacramento Waterfront seems to have a cluster of them. With a rich history dating to before the Gold Rush and an entire network of underground tunnels, it's not surprising. But are these locations really haunted? That is for you to decide!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

HGB Ep. 543 - Haunted Castles of the Netherlands

Moment in Oddity - Olmec Colossal Heads

Back in 400-1200BC the Olmec people resided near the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in the tropical lowlands of what is now modern-day Veracruz and Tabasco. Their society had some very unusual sculpted artwork, colossal heads. There have been 17 heads discovered so far. Each head has been carved from basalt boulders that were primarily sourced from the Tuxtla mountains, some traveling as far as 100km to their final resting place. The heads themselves average 3 meters high and 8 tons in weight. It is surmised that the boulders were transported using huge balsa river rafts as well as log rollers on land. The relevance of the heads is debatable due to no two heads being alike and each headdress on the statues have different designs on them. Some believe that the heads represent different rulers of the Olmec society, in part due to the very distinct facial features and details carved into the huge statues along with the difficulty and cost of their creation. The Olmec Colossal Heads can now be found in the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan Community Museum, Mexico City's National Anthropology Museum and Xalapa's Anthropology Museum. While the statues are quite impressive, ten foot tall stone heads dating back 2,424 years ago, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Medgar Evers Assassination

In the month of June, on the 12th in 1963, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was killed. It was just after midnight when the shot rang out in Jackson, Mississippi. Medgar was 37 years old when a bullet struck him in the back as he walked up the steps to his home and then collapsed. He was just returning home after attending a meeting of the NAACP. An army veteran, Medgar was one of many who decided to return home after the war and to continue their 'fighting', not in a war sense, but for change for black society. His first battle was to register to vote. He did so successfully, but when the time came to cast his ballot he was prevented from doing so by racist whites. In 1952, Ever's joined the NAACP and traveled around his home state, encouraging other African Americans to register to vote. While working for the NAACP for 8 years, Medgar investigated nine racially motivated murders as well as a number of alleged maltreatment cases regarding Black victims. He was heavily involved in getting witnesses and evidence for the Emmett Till murder case and many others. On the day of Evers' funeral in Jackson, the deployment of forceful police tactics could not quell the anger among the thousands of black mourners. Medgar Evers was awarded the NAACP Spingarn medal posthumously in 1963. It was a proper recognition of a man who had given so much to the organization and had given his life for its cause.

Haunted Castles of the Netherlands

Many people focus on visiting Amsterdam when they visit the Netherlands. The Red Light District is a place that paranormal enthusiasts may find a ghost or two. There's spooksteeg or "ghost alley" and Bloedstraat, which is Blood Street. But the really promising haunted locations are in the outer areas of the country, the castles. There are stories of Blue Ladies, screaming hunters, dancing ghosts and Faust. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the castles of the Netherlands.

The Binnenhof

The Hague is the capital city of the South Holland province of the Netherlands and here is a castle known as The Binnenhof. The Gothic castle known as the Binnenhof is among the oldest Parliament buildings in the world still in use and houses both houses of the States General of the Netherlands. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands also has his office here. It is believed that the grounds and homestead here were purchased by Count Floris IV of Holland from Meiland van Wassenaar in November 1229. Throughout the 1200s the homestead was expanded, adding a small keep, the Ridderzaal (or Knights Hall) and a court chapel. The Binnenhof was the residence of the Counts of Holland until the house of Holland died out in 1299. The castle was expanded even more and eventually was surrounded by buildings.

The Old Prison Gate was the only way to access the Binnenhof years ago and was originally called the Front Gate of the Courtyard. The Court of Holland would keep their prisoners here starting in the 1400s. The prison was expanded in 1428 with a courthouse and torture chamber added. Even with more cells added, up to fifteen men would have to share a cell. The cells were cold and dark and many prisoners became ill. The water prisoners were given came from a central watering pool where people washed their horses and dumped their waste. There were some prisoners who got better treatment and they were locked up in the Knights Room. Punishments were varied. Some prisoners only faced fines while others were branded for life, lost a hand or foot, were tortured in the Pain Cellar or were executed. Executions took place at de Plaats (de plots), which means The Place and the actual scaffold was called het Groene Zoodje (het hoon zoe edge), which translates to The Green because it was covered in vegetation that enjoyed blood apparently.   

The Binnenhof itself became useless under French rule between 1806 and 1810 and was almost demolished. The government moved back to the Binnenhof when the Netherlands became independent of France again. Demolition was floated again in 1848 as a new constitution was adopted and it was felt that destroying the old castle would symbolize a new era. Local residents fought to keep it. The Netherlands has a constitutional monarchy meaning that there is a monarch, but there is also a Prime Minister and a Parliament like Britain. The Dutch Government is housed in the Binnenhof. The Binnenhof is undergoing renovations until 2026 and will be inaccessible until then. Some of the features include the Ridderzaal, which has stained glass windows that depict the coats of arms of prominent Dutch towns and cities. The ceiling has 59 foot wooden beams that make it look like an upturned ship. Carved wooden heads along the walls were supposed to keep the assembly from lying. The throne of the monarchs of the Netherlands is here. This is a great hall known as the "Knight's Hall." A gilt Neo-Gothic fountain sits in the courtyard with a statue of King William II. The statue guards the Stadtholder's Gate, which dates from 1620. A Stadtholder was a medieval official that replaced a duke or count.

After 400 years, the Prison Gate was abandoned and nearly demolished before being turned into a museum in 1882. And people claim that it is haunted, which isn't surprising considering what happened here and the fact that the original tiles are still in the torture chamber. The chamber was covered in tiles because they made cleaning up the blood easier. On top of that, some of the original torture devices are still here too. Three ghosts have been seen here and are described as a limping boy, a man wearing a long, black cloak and the spirit of Cornelis de Hooghe, who lost his head because of treason.

Hoensbroek (Hoonsbrook) Castle

Hoensbroek Castle is located in the province of Limburg. This is one of the largest castle in the country and dates to around 1360. An earlier motte-and-bailey castle had been here before. The castle has 67 halls and rooms and has four wings around a rectangular courtyard. The main structure has two towers with union tops. Through the centuries, several reconstructions and expansions were done. The Lords of Hoensbroeck lived here with the last one leaving in 1787. The first lord was Sir Herman Hoen and that's where the castle gets it name. The castle fell into decay and then Count Frans Lothar owned it. He sold it to the Ave Rex Christe foundation in 1927 and they restored it between 1930 and 1940. War orphans moved into the castle in 1945 and the Carmelite Sisters watched over them. Today, the castle is a museum and one that is rumored to be haunted. The Blue Lady likes to haunt this place. She was Anna Catherina and she died in November of 1760. Two of her children died young and were said to have been buried inside the castle walls. Now she wanders the halls looking for her children.Workers claim to see her at night. A security guard heard chairs moving around in a room and there was no one in there.

Castle Rechteren

The German counts of Bentheim originally owned the land where Rechteren Castle stands. In 1190, there was a moated and fortified farm. This was located southeast of the town of Dalfsen, in the province of Overijssel. A knight named Herman van Voorst acquired the land in 1315 and he built the foundational castle that is still there today. In 1386, a man named Sweder van Heeckeren inherited the castle and he changed his name to Van Rechteren and that is what the castle is named after. The castle was expanded in the 15th century to add two extra floors to the round keep. Spanish troops occupied the castle during the 80 Years' War from 1584 to 1590. The castle lost its military purpose when the Prince of Orange acquired the castle. Several wings were added through the 18th and 19th century. Today the castle is a private residence. The interior features the vestibule, which has family portraits and there is a white salon designed in rococo style. Rococo is Late Baroque and was named for the French rocaille (Row Kigh), which features scrolling curves and elegance with light. Artificial grottoes with shell-covered rock work epitomizes Rococo. The dining room has paintings featuring images inspired by Greek mythology. The central hall contains portraits and arms of the Rechteren family. And there is a room that no one wants to go inside. The key sits in the lock, but no one ever uses it. The legend here claims that a local hunter was bitten by a rabid dog and as the disease progressed, he lost his mind. He was locked up inside this room and he would yell, scream and roar. The hunter did that for days and then it just went silent. And now no one wants to open that door for fear of letting out the ghost of the rabid hunter.

Grubbenvorst Castle

Also in the province of Limburg is the village of Grubbenvorst and it is here that Grubbenvorst Castle is located up on a hill. The village didn't become part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1815. The castle was built in 1311 by William II of Millen. It was a square castle with two wings, a small courtyard and on the south side a small and large corner tower. The castle was eventually destroyed in 1585. Ruins were all that was left and in 1944 these were blown up so that only two tower fragments remain. We're not sure why the ruins were blown up. The other thing that still remains is a legend. There was a young nobleman who discovered his girlfriend out in a boat on the Maas River with another man. He confronted the couple and this other man grabbed the nobleman and pushed him into the recesses of the ruins where he died. As the nobleman fell, he called out a curse on his girlfriend and said that she would never know peace and that her spirit would be trapped in these very ruins. The girl died three days later from a fever. And it would seem that her spirit is at the ruins. People claim to see an apparition wrapped in a white shroud. This spirit likes to dance with men and the lore goes that if she manages to grab a man, she will force him to dance with her until he dies from terror. 

Castle Singraven

Castle Singraven is in the village of Denekamp near the river Dinkel and dates back to 1382. This is a large estate with a Coach House, ancient watermill that has three wheels and the castle, which looks more like a large manor house. In 1956, the Edwina van Heek foundation acquired the property and they maintain it as a museum, event center and there is a park and arboretum. Part of the castle's history involves its use as a convent for about 10 years around the 1500s. A nun who was living at the convent was found to be guilty of not being chaste after a mock trial was held. It was decided that her punishment would be for her to be sealed behind a wall of the convent and she screamed for several days after this was carried out. The other nuns could barely take it, but she finally went quiet. The nun's spirit is not quiet though. She would appear as a pale, shapeless mist or sometimes her figure would be seen in a window. Her favorite place to appear would be above the moat's watermill. The nun brought bad luck to all the residents of Singraven. That bad luck has carried on even into the modern era. Recently, a man was trying to light a cigar after dinner and he tripped over an oil lamp and set himself on fire. He burned to death. People sometimes refer to the castle as "The Black House."

Castle Doorwerth

Castle Doorwerth was built in 1280 to take the place of a wooden keep that was burned to the ground in 1260. The castle sits on the river Rhine near the city of Arnhem and was originally the castle of the Van Dorenweerd (Doren veird) family. The castle was enlarged in the 14th and 15th century. In 1637, the bailey was rebuilt and has remained much like this up unto the present. By the 18th century the castle was basically abandoned and fell into neglect. Baron JAP. van Brakell bought the castle in 1837 and he refurbished the castle and modernized it. The Baron then died and the castle was neglected yet again. Retired artillery officer Frederic Adolph Hoefer bought the castle in 1910 and restored it and in 1913 it became a Dutch Artillery Museum. German bombing during World War II damaged the structure and repairs wouldn't be completed until 1983. At that time it was under the ownership of the "Friends of the Castles of Gelderland" (Gel Der Luhnd) Foundation and they continue to maintain it. The gatehouse was remade into a hotel and the main house is a museum with three sections: the Hunting Museum that features the history of agricultural developments from the medieval period forward, the Museum Veluwezoom (Vay Lou Zawm), which showcases the best artworks depicting the castle and the Pharmacy Museum Kisters that traces the pharmaceutical industry from the 1780s until today. The legend connected to this castle features a young maiden who starved to death in the castle and she causes some recurring phenomenon in the hunting hall in the north wing. In 2004, Most Haunted investigated the castle and it is said that they managed to photograph the ghost.

Castle Grunsfoort

The Castle Grunsfoort is just ruins today outside of the village of Renkum. This had been an important castle in the Duchy (Duh chee) of Gelre (Hell rah). One of the noblemen that had lived here was an unkind man who worked indentured servants mercilessly and didn't pay them. Villagers would be worked day and night and they had to be careful at night to make sure that they, nor any animals awakened the sleeping family. The nobleman's daughter was called "The White Missus" and she was just like him. Peasants would have to line her walk from the castle to the church with a white linen runner, so her fine shoes wouldn't get dirty. She was especially particular about the dirt from the graveyard at the church. She eventually died and nobody mourned her. Nobody really wanted to take responsibility for burying her either, but out of duty, six barons gave her a proper burial. The next day, a peasant was passing the graveyard and saw that the "White Missus'" coffin was sitting outside of the cemetery. As if it hadn't been buried. The local peasants took it upon themselves to rebury the coffin and they made sure to do it deeper. As though the coffin had wiggled its way to get above the earth or something. The next day, the coffin was outside the cemetery again. People started whispering that the graveyard was rejecting the woman because she hadn't wanted to touch it when she was alive. The peasants put the coffin on a cart and the horse bolted and whipped the cart around so that the coffin went flying off into the nearby river. The coffin disappeared below the water and it was left there. Legend soon claimed that when the moon is full, the water becomes white like a linen runner. The woman is sometimes seen as an apparition walking by the river. Stay away, she brings misery to anyone that comes near her. 

Waardenburg (Varden burr) Castle

The village of Waardenburg is located in the Gelderland Province of the Netherlands. Gelderland dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and is named for a German town. The province suffered heavy damage during World War II that can still be seen to this day. The village of Waardenburg is named after a knight who established the village and built a wooden castle where Waardenburg Castle stands today. His name was Rudolf de Cocq van Waardenburg. He was given the land in 1265 by Count Otto II of Guelders. Rudolf then built a wooden castle there in 1265 and he named that castle Hiern Castle. That building was replaced in 1280 with the castle that stands today. Well, at least part of it still stands today. It was designed in a unique polygonal shape. The walls are made from red brick and there are several turrets of varying size. Today, the castle resembles a horseshoe shape.

The castle stayed in Rudolf's family until 1401 and the name was changed to Weerdenbergh Castle at that time. Weerdenbergh translates to "washland hill." In 1568, the Netherlands began a revolution to gain independence from Spain. The war lasted until 1648 and came to be known as the Eighty Years War. It was during this war that the castle experienced its first damage. The castle was taken and pillaged. Much of the castle was destroyed in the process. The Spanish left only the heavy walls and the outer shells of the towers standing. The castle lay in ruins until 1627. A man named Johan Vijgh bought the property and began reconstruction, but this reconstruction also led to the demolishing of the south wing and entrance gate. Johan's efforts came to a stand still when his money ran dry. The castle proved to be too immense for him to maintain.

In 1895, Baron Jacob van Pallandt bought the castle and began more restoration. After the castle was restored, the Baron moved in with his two sisters. The castle would then suffer heavy damage again during another war. This time it was World War II. The Germans took the castle and pillaged it just as the Spanish had done centuries before. After the Germans were done occupying the castle, they bombed it repeatedly and today only a third of the original structure still stands. What is left is still quite large. "The Friends of the Castle of Gelderland" now own the property and use it as private offices not open to the public.

The legend of Faust has a connection to Waardenburg Castle according to the Gelderland Folk Almanac of 1842. As our listeners know, we take legends with a grain of salt and the stories that surround the life of Dr. Johann Georg Faust have taken on a life of their own. Faust was a man who really did live from 1480-1541. He was an alchemist and a practitioner of black magic who claimed to have sold his soul to the Devil to gain his powers of alchemy. He also was a pedophilic conman, so whether he was telling the truth is unknown. Martin Luther apparently knew of Faust and did claim that Faust had some kind of pact with the Devil. Faust could conjure wine from a table and when he was teaching at a university, legend claims he conjured the heroes from Homer's epics when he taught about them. He came to a horrible end when the Devil came to collect his soul. Legend states that Faust was torn apart by the Devil and that he left the remains on a dung heap and Faust's eyeballs stuck to the wall. In reality, it is believed that Faust blew himself up while experimenting with alchemy.

The Gelderland Folk Almanac claims that Faust stayed in a second floor room of Waardenburg Castle and that it was from here that he was taken by the Devil and destroyed and that blood stains near the window and on the pavement still exist today and cannot be removed due to this incident. As to the truth of these statements, we cannot be certain. Most historical accounts claim that Faust died near Wittenberg, which is some 315 miles from Waardenburg. Others claim he died in a hotel in a town in the German district of Baden-Wurttemberg called Staufen im Breisgau. What really happened? We'll never know, but the legend was made famous in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play "Faust."

Faust may just be legend when it comes to the castle, but reports of hauntings are not. Disembodied steps are heard regularly climbing up and down the stairways. Apparitions have been seen climbing the stairs. Objects disappear and then reappear. Whispering is heard in rooms where there are no occupants. Toilets flush on their own. It should be noted that the remains of bodies were found in the castle's cellar at one time. There is no historical record as to why this is the case. There are no deaths recorded at the castle either.

A Personal Haunting in the Netherlands

A personal haunting in the Netherlands as reported by Tricholoma: "Me and my family lived in a small house in a village near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. My parents bought it somewhere around 1979. At that time I was 2 years of age. The house was build somewhere around 1910 and as long as I can remember there was always something strange going on. As a young child I could frequently see strange shadowy figures upstairs and from time to time I heard someone, or something, breathing or scratching from inside the walls. I remember that at night I could regularly see these strange figures, whom looked like long black shapes, moving in a odd rhythmic way through my bedroom. And one scary thing I remember like it happened only yesterday. I was about 4 or 5 years of age and I began to notice them more often. Or let's say, I became aware of the fact that what I saw wasn't something normal and it really started to scare me. Every night it looked like they were moving closer to the edge of my bed and at a certain point they came so close that I hid myself under the sheets, so I could not see them. Of course that didn't help much, because now I started to hear them. They made a strange mumbling sound and as a child (or now as an adult) I could not make out what it was. But it scared me so much and after a few night I was so scared that kicked with my foot at the edge of my bed. To my horror I really hit something and it made a loud and eerie kind of scream.

A few seconds later my mother entered my room, asking me why I made such an awful scream. I told her what happened, but it was of no use. I could not convince her that it wasn't me, but one of the "monsters" near my bed. She tried to calm me and told me that there were no such things as ghosts or monsters. She told me that I was safe in my room and asked me to go back to sleep. It may sound strange, but from that moment on I never heard the noises again and I never saw those things again... Until 1989. In that year my mother suddenly died and left me, my father and two younger brothers to take care of ourselves. From that moment on the atmosphere changed in the house. I started to see the shadowy figures again and the scratching noises and the breathing came back. I could hear it all through the night. 

One day I noticed that our cats started to behave strange. They became very jumpy and nervous and refused to go into certain places in the house (one of these places being my room). It was like they could see things that we (well, most of us) apparently couldn't. What also spooked me was that some places in the house were freezing cold (for no reason). My father and my two brothers also seemed to be affected by whatever it was. My father kept telling us stories about ghostly appearances and a "woman figure" he had seen in our living room. My two brothers became very aggressive and violent and used course language all day through. It was like something dark (re) took possession of the house. At night things really got creepy. Something was constantly pulling my sheets away and made frightening noises from inside the walls. Downstairs I frequently heard people walking or moving things around. Our cupboards and closets were opened and shut all night through... And every time it happened I went downstairs to see who's there and every time there was nothing, but a couple of "scared" cats hiding under our couch. 

One day one of my brothers asked if I had heard the strange noises the night before. Of course I heard the noises, but I was curious about his story and asked him what he was talking about. He described all the things I heard every night. He thought that we had a burglar in the house and so he stormed downstairs to teach him or her a lesson. But there nothing there and angry and frustrated he went back to bed. In 1999 my youngest brother started to behave in such a bad manner that the authorities decided (with the consent of me and my father) to put him in a foster home. From that moment on he immediately changed and became a friendly and caring young boy. I think that whatever haunted our house had lost grip on him and therefore he changed. But I, my other brother and my father could not move elsewhere and had to deal with the house. In 2001 a friend of mine told me that whenever he came to visit our house he felt like something in our house was watching him. It made him feel uncomfortable. He also said that from the corners of his eyes it was like there were always strange black manlike shapes visible in, but also close around, our house. I had never mentioned this to anyone, not even to my father and brothers. I was shocked, but didn't have the courage to tell him what was going on. But we talked about it for a while and made some silly jokes about it.

That was a big mistake and that night I would learn the hard way. I do not recall the time, but suddenly my sheets were violently pulled off my bed. My room became freezing cold and the scratching noises came from all the walls. It was almost like something was rapidly moving through all the walls. And then I heard very loud breathing and something what felt like enormous hands grabbed me by the neck and threw me into one of the corners of my room. Apparently I lost my consciousness. When I came to my neck really hurt and it still was very cold in my room. I decided not stay there one more second and rushed downstairs. That night I slept on one of our couches, with the company of our cats. That gave me a safe feeling. Next morning father and brother had no clue what had happened that night. I asked them if they had heard something, but they both said no. They did ask if there was something wrong with my neck and I replied that I fell out of my bed and hurt my head and neck. I went to the bathroom and noticed a large bruise in my neck.

That same day my friend came to visit me again. He immediately noticed that I behaved strange and asked what was going on. I referred to our ghost stories the day before and told him that I have had the weirdest dream. That something attacked me and that I woke up in a corner of my room. Worried he asked what was wrong with my neck. Before I was able to respond he pulled my shirt up and he froze. I asked him what was there. "Do you want to know what's on your neck?", he asked. "You know that you have a bruise in the shape of a very large hand in your neck and on your shoulders." Now I really was afraid and that day I told him everything that was going. He immediately believed the entire story. My brother overheard my story and when it came to an end he told me that he was so glad that he was not going crazy. Unfortunately later that year my father's health rapidly worsened and he started to show severe signs of dementia. But now several people had noticed it and since we did not know what it was, we all decided to try to ignore it and most certainly to not to offend it anymore. That seemed to help a little. Things calmed down a bit. But we could still hear the noises and every night things still were moving around. The cold spots in the house remained and for several months I refused to spent the night in my room. But at a certain point I decided that this was ridiculous and I started to sleep there again. I don't know why, but it never bothered me again and I was never attacked again.

Somewhere around 2002 my father's condition worsened and he could not live in the house any longer, so we all moved out. I moved to a small apartment near my old house and my brothers moved somewhere else. The house was sold to our next door neighbor. He always wanted to buy the house, so he could make one big house of both houses. I moved in my apartment and for a while I feared that something had followed me to my new apartment. Again I felt like I was being watched and again I saw something but this was different. It did not feel bad. The cats (I kept them after moving out the old house) were not spooked and one day I saw something that was as clear as day. It was an old lady, a friendly looking old granny. I was not afraid of her and spoke into the room right at the exact spot where I had seen her. I said that I did not mean to intrude, but that it was now my house. That I lived there now, but if she wanted, she was welcome to stay. Immediately something changed in my apartment. Everything suddenly felt so serene and peaceful and I have never seen her again.

Later I heard from my new next door neighbor that an old brother and sister had lived in my apartment. The sister took care of her brother, but then the sister died and the brother couldn't stay there so he was moved to a nursing home. That was shortly before I moved in. The woman my neighbor described was the woman I had seen. At the same time my old neighbor had his own problems with the old house. Because he did not have the funds to immediately cost the renovation, he decided to rent the place out. Not a single one of his tenants stayed there for very long, but the most striking case was a young woman who rented the house. She told my old neighbor that she simply loved the place and even paid him two months in advance. A few days later my old neighbor came home from his work and noticed a large truck in front of the house and several movers taking her stuff out.  He wanted to know what was going on and one of the movers told him that the woman did not want to spent another minute in that house. She did not even want to get near to it and gave them the key. My old neighbor could keep his rent. The man could not tell my neighbor what had happened to her, but something scared the living daylights out her. Up to this day I still do not know what it was. Some of my friends say that it most likely was a poltergeist, another friend said that maybe it was a demon and one girlfriend even mentioned that maybe it was the spirit of my deceased mother, although I refuse to believe that. Things were already off before she died and I don't believe that she would ever turn to violence." 

The Dutch don't speak much about ghosts and such, but they clearly have some interesting legends connected to their beautiful and historic castles. A walk through any of them would be amazing. Is it possible that one might run into some paranormal activity at these structures? Are they haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

HGB Ep. 542 - Haunted Mystic

Moment in Oddity - Cooking Cicadas (Suggested by: Mindy Hull)

Every spring, most southern states east of the Mississippi River experience male cicada insects sharing their serenade 'love call' to female cicadas. Some people may describe their sound as 'relaxing', while others may choose the adjective 'annoying'. Most residents of these southern states however, would not use words like, scrumptious or delectable to describe this particular insect. Recently, Chef Tad Yankoski, senior entomologist at the Butterfly House in St Louis, Missouri, described cicadas in just such a way. Apparently cicadas, also known by the scientific order Hemiptera, taste just like shrimp. As a matter of fact, they can be substituted for the crustacean for any scampi, tempura or other shrimp recipe. Surprisingly, cicadas and shrimp are closely related enough that if a person has an allergy to shrimp or crab, that person should NOT consume cicadas for fear of a reaction. I'm not allergic to shellfish, but for the sake of this oddity I'm going to say that I am. The nutritional content of the insects is said to be high in iron and low in fat. Chef Tad prefers to cook with newly emerged cicadas vs ones that have molted and already possess wings. The latter, he states, are more chewy. Yankoski advises boiling the cicadas in water for two minutes before using them in any crustacean recipe one chooses. Maybe deep fried cicadas with a side of aioli for the dipping or cicada scampi with butter and garlic? Personally, I will pass. For Diane and I, regardless of how they are prepared, consuming crusted, crispy, cooked cicadas, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin Born

In the month of June, on the 7th, in 1848, French painter Eugene-Henri-Paul Gauguin (Goh-gahn) was born in Paris, France. As a Post-Impressionist, Synthetist and Symbolist, painter Gauguin is well known for his artistic relationship with Vincent Van Gogh. His father died when Paul was a year old and his mother died while the 19 year old was enlisted in the merchant marines. A business-man, Gustave Arosa, was given guardianship of Paul and his sister Mari. When Gauguin was released from the merchant marines he began work as a stockbroker and married Mette Sophie Gad. His first interest in art began with Arosa's collection of works by Camille Corot, Eugene Delacroix and Jean-Francois Millet (Mee-yah). He started painting and began studying at a studio where he learned how to draw from a model. In 1876, Gauguin's 'Landscape at Viroflay' was approved for the annual exhibition at the Salon, in France. From 1876 to 1881, Gauguin established his own personal art collection ranging from Cezanne to Pissarro and even Monet, just to name a few. Paul studied under Pissarro for a time and continued to develop his skills spending holidays painting with Cezanne and Pissarro. At this time he joined a social circle of avant garde artists comprised of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Manet. In the French stock market crash of 1882, Gauguin lost his job as a stockbroker, however he saw it as a favorable outcome due to it allowing him more time to paint. Unfortunately he was unable to secure work in the art world and his meager income was supplied only by odd jobs he would take. Gauguin's artistic style changed over the years, but he was only moderately successful during his lifetime. After his death in May of 1903, his art drew more success after the efforts of art dealer Ambroise Vollard who organized showings in two posthumous exhibitions in Paris. Fun Fact, according to art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, after examining police records, Van Gogh's mutilated left ear was actually due to a disagreement between Gauguin and Van Gogh and it was Gauguin who cut off Van Gogh's ear with a sword. The two men agreed to state that it was self mutilation to protect Gauguin.

Haunted Mystic (Suggested by: Jay Littman)

Mystic, Connecticut was a seafaring village in the early settlement of America. This was the scene of a horrific massacre that more than likely has left behind a negative spiritual residue. That residue leaves many believing that this is a cursed place. Based on the ghost stories and devastating fires of Mystic, we tend to agree. Join us for the history and hauntings of Mystic, Connecticut!

Mystic, Connecticut was originally spelled Mistick and was named by the Pequot tribe probably meaning a large river whose waters are driven into waves by wind. The Pequot tribe was very prominent here with several thousand in what would become Connecticut. Dutch and British settlers were the first Europeans to come into the area. It was shortly after this, a very dark time in Connecticut history took place. The Mystic Massacre took place during the Pequot War, which was waged from 1636 to 1638 between the Pequot tribe and colonists from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Plymouth. The colonists were joined by the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes and they defeated the Pequot, which caused the tribe to go nearly extinct eventually. Before the war, the New England colonists had traded with all three tribes, but tensions rose after a hurricane caused a scarcity of food. The massacre occurred on May 26, 1637 as retaliation for an attack by the Pequot on a small village where they killed nine unarmed men and women. Captain John Mason of the Connecticut Colony gathered some men and tribal allies from the Narragansett and Mohegan allies and they set fire to the Pequot Fort that had been established near the Mystic River. As people ran from the burning fortress, they were shot. Nearly all of the Pequot at the fort were killed. This included women, children and the elderly. The History Channel included this devastating action as part of their series "10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America."

It's not surprising that this first major event in the Mystic area would leave behind spiritual residue. The location of the massacre was at the top of Pequot Hill in Groton approximately a quarter mile west of the Mystic River. This was the highest hill in the area. No one knows where the hundreds of Native American bodies were buried, but more than likely in mass graves in this area. Curses were left in the wake and many attribute the devastating fires that seem to plague Mystic to the massacre. The Central Hall burned down four times, most recently in 2000. It wasn't rebuilt after that. The Avery Block has burned multiple times. Could these fires be the spirits reliving what happened to them before or is it some kind of spiritual payback?

Mystic grew slowly over the years. It was considered part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony until it broke away with the Connecticut General Court. There were many disputes and courts finally figured it all. Captain John Mason was granted 500 acres because of his service on the eastern banks of the Mystic River. An island was also given to him that bears his name now. A man named Captain John Gallup, Jr. moved to the east part of the Mystic River in 1653. Three villages grew up along the Mystic River and Mystic was one of them. Stonington and Groton became two sides of the village of Mystic, so Mystic itself is no longer a village. It's considered a census-designated place today. Regardless of what it is today, it clearly is a haunted place. A company named Seaside Shadows offers ghost tours. Courtney McInvale Reardon founded the tours and she is the author of "Haunted Mystic," which we will be referencing through this episode.  

For people who don't know, the Mystic Pizza movie was based on a real place. There is an actual Mystic Pizza. The 1988 film was based on the lives and loves of three waitresses, one of who was played by Julia Roberts. While the movie was filmed in Mystic, it wasn't done inside the restaurant because it was too small. Seven hundred Mystic residents got to play extras. The place isn't haunted but other restaurants are.

Voodoo Grill and Factory Square

The Factory Square is home to some of these restaurants, one of which is the Voodoo Grill that serves up Cajun food, of course. The building was originally built as an actual factory that made machinery that was shipped around the country. Factory workers here were from the working-class and some met with accidents and death in the factory. The factories were in business for nearly 200 years. The main piece of machinery made here was the cotton gin. Michael K. Stern of Stern Builders bought the building in 1978 and he renovated it into a commercial and housing space. There are both residual and intelligent spirits here. 

A female bartender at the Voodoo Grill would insist on not working any late hour shifts because of all the experiences she had. A patron was sitting at the bar when he noticed a wine glass moving forward on its own. He didn't say anything because he had been drinking and thought maybe it was the beer. But pretty soon he knew he wasn't just seeing things when the glass came off the rack, hovered for a few minutes and then fell to the ground shattering. Several patrons saw it happen. Courtney wrote of one incident the bartender experienced, "On that slow afternoon, one of the customers ordered his usual Tanqueray and tonic. The bartender provided him his drink and delicately placed the bottle back in its seat on the shelf. A couple minutes passed, and as she was chatting with her customer, there was a loud banging sound. They looked out the windows and around the restaurant, seeing nothing. It was almost like a car backfiring. Everything seemed steady. Moments later, in domino effect, the liquor bottles began to tumble off the shelves one after the other after the other. The bartender ducked for cover, and when the clamoring ended, she nervously peeked around her to see what mess had been made by the unseen force. Sure enough, every bottle was on the hard ground in front of her, but not one bottle was broken. Astonished and a little bit shaken up, she and some other staff began to clear up the mess. They simply could not determine what caused this. When the bartender finally reached to pick up the last bottle on the floor, she noticed it was the Tanqueray bottle she had utilized last before the liquor bottles came tumbling down. As she picked the bottle up, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There was a single hole going through the top of the bottle, yet seemingly no liquid had spilled out. It almost appeared to be a bullet hole. What could possibly have left that?"

A maintenance man was doing some deep cleaning around 4am when he looked up in the mirror and saw a group of men sitting at a table. He at first thought he had left the door unlocked and they came in for a late night drink. He turned around to tell them the bar was closed and there was no one there. The maintenance man looked back at the mirror and sure enough, there was a group of men at a table. He now saw that they were wearing factory clothes from probably the 1920s. Turning around again, he saw that the tables were all empty. When he looked at the mirror a third time, he saw nothing but his own reflection. He figured he was tired and his mind was playing tricks on him so he started cleaning again and suddenly the radio blasted on playing big band music. He went over and turned off the radio, but the music continued to blast on. He unplugged the radio and the music continued. The music eventually stopped and he finished up his cleaning.

Ancient Mariner Restaurant 

The Ancient Mariner Restaurant building at 21 W. Main Street was constructed in 1974 and it serves up some great seafood. It's owned by Anthony J. Torraca. He had a friend named John who had been a federal agent.When he would come into the bar, he would always comment before leaving that when he died, he was going to haunt the place. John died from a heart attack and his picture was set up near his favorite barstool. Six hundred oars line one of the walls and one day when the employees came in to open up, they found several of the oars turned upside down. John's picture was also askew. They fixed everything. A couple days later, the employees found the same stuff. Courtney wrote, "As if to give the owners and staff the confirmation they required to know for sure that it was their friend, yet another defining incident occurred. That very evening, a very telling object moved on its own. When the staff went to close the restaurant, they turned down all the lights, stacked up all the chairs, wiped down the tables and the bar and finally stacked the barstools on the bar. Everything was routine as usual. As they headed toward the door to depart, the owners, who happened to be the staff members closing that night, felt compelled to take one last look around the restaurant. As their eyes scanned the premise, one thing immediately caught their eye. The barstool seated by John’s photograph, his favorite barstool where he always sat when he came to enjoy the food and drink, had reseated itself. It happened almost as if to say, 'Yes, it has been me that has been moving the oars and the photo. I told you I was going to haunt the place. I’m not quite ready to leave you guys just yet.'" The barstool reseating itself is the most common paranormal activity here.

Anthony J's Bistro

The same people who own the Mariner Restaurant own this one at6 Holmes Avenue. Anthony J's serves up Italian food and seafood in a building that features gables roofs and shingled sides with aged wood. It's a very cute two-story building. This was a home originally and was built by Daniel Patrick in 1844. Anthony J. Torraca, whom everybody calls Skip, bought the home in the 1980s and opened AJ's Food Store, which eventually became AJ's Restaurant and now Anthony J's. Skip likes to put pictures of his loyal patrons up on the walls after they pass away. One of these people was named Rich and his picture is up behind the bar. Rich loved the place, except during the holidays. He thought the decorations that Skip put up were gaudy and tacky. The first holiday season after Rich passed away, the staff put up the hideous large ornamental balls that Rich despised and as they did it, they joked about how they wouldn't have to hear any complaints from Rich about them anymore. There was one ball that the staff couldn't find in storage anywhere. This decoration reappeared in the middle of the floor in July. They blamed Rich.

The Emporium/Port of Call Restaurant and Dive

The Emporium sat at 15 Water Street and ran for 48 years from 1965 to 2013. The building was built in 1859 in the Italianate style by Isaac Randall and Dwight Ashby who were involved in the whaling industry. This served mainly as a general store. This building had also been the Civil War office in Mystic and legend claims a brothel might have been housed here. The structure was restored in the mid-20th century by actor Lee Howard and artist Paul White. It then became a space for the Mystic Art Association. The association put the place up for sale in 2021 and today it is the Port of Call Restaurant and Dive. The inside is spectacular with an award-winning executive chef and live entertainment. The bar is in the shape of a horseshoe and made from wood slavaged from old ships. Dive is the bar in the basement where one can get a cold beer and a gourmet hot dog. People claim to catch anomalies on film regularly.

Haunting stories go back to the Emporium days. One of the owners was painting as they prepared to open and he heard someone come into the building. He thought he had locked the front door, but clearly he hadn't, so he hollared from upstairs that they weren't open yet. The response was the sound of footsteps, like someone wearing heels. The owner yelled again, but the walking continued. He started to head for the stairs when he heard someone climb the stairs and whatever this was, was heading straight for him. The heels clacking continued and entered his new paint job, which included the floor. He glanced into the room and saw the prints from high heels and even more incrdibly, he watched more of them form. Those heel prints were left and customers took to calling the spirit the "Lady Upstairs." People often feel uncomfortable upstairs, as though someone is watching them. Unfortunately, a fire erased them.  The spirits of two young boys are also thought to be here. People call them Willy and Billy. They are seen sometimes covered in soot.

Courtney McInvale told Damned CT about an experience a tour guest had outside the Emporium, "So one time before I was in the middle of telling my story, this young woman, she looked at me and said, 'Oh excuse me, you mentioned in your story that a manager at the store used to live in the building and I think she’s up there, looking down at you talking. I saw her—she’s got a bun in her hair . . .' and she described her in detail, pointy nose, etc. And her boyfriend said, 'Where? I don’t see her!' and she was pointing at her and the rest of the guests were saying 'I don’t see her, either.' And I had to break the news to her that the building had undergone renovations and there was no floor on the second floor, it was completely gutted, there was no place that anybody could have stood and the manager had long since moved out. The poor girl was terrified, but I thought it was a really cool experience to have because we always talk about at this location a lady upstairs, and I think that she probably caught a glimpse of her that evening without intending to."

Old Mystic Inn

The Old Mystic Inn was located at 52 Main Street. It's permanently closed now as the inn, but runs as an Air BNB with Mystic Vacation Rentals. John Denison built the house that became the inn in 1784. He quickly gave it to his son Nathan the following year. Nathan's brother-in-law John Baldwin obtained it in 1789. Lucy Williams owned the house in 1804 and when she passed , her will left people perplexed. It read, "From the north to the south 5 feet 11 inches wide to 5 feet 2 inches wide, then six people to have shares in the dwelling house to extend from the roof to the ground three feet three inches wide." The heirs really didn't know what to do with the house divided up in this way, so they sold and eventually the house came under the ownership of just one person. In 1839, a portion of the property was given to the Sixth School District in the village of Mystic and a school was built. This was the first school in Mystic and was the idea of a man who had thirteen children, so it makes sense. This started as a one-room schoolhouse, but eventually it was added to and became a two-story building with grades broken up. A newer school was built on the property later, sometime in the 1890s. The original schooolhouse then became a family home until a fire burned it down. The other school ran until 1959. That schoolhouse was replaced with a playground and there apparently are spirits that hang out in the playground.

The William Harvey family was living in the main house by the 1920s. A couple more families lived there, but by 1959, the house was turned into a business property. The first business was a bookstore and it operated for twenty-five years. Every room was filled to the brim with books. The bookstore closed in 1986. The house then became the inn it is today and since this had been a bookstore, the rooms are all named for famous authors. Old Mystic Inn opened in 1987 and a Carriage House was added in 1988. The Old Mystic Inn ran for 33 years before closing in December of 2019. For 20 of those years, it was run by Michael Stephen Cardillo, Jr. Shortly after becoming the new innkeeper, Michael had a terrifying dream that scared the crap out of his mother who was staying with him because he started screaming. She woke him up and he told her that he had seen a woman wearing a white Colonial dress standing by the wood pile he had stacked outside the inn. The woman had just stared at him in the dream.

Michael never saw any ghosts himself in waking life, but he had a friend named Robert who claimed to see spirits as did a psychic who visited the inn. Courtney wrote of one of Robert's experiences, "One morning, as he was standing at the counter preparing breakfast, his friend Robert, who had been assisting in the kitchen, caught sight of something shocking. As Robert moved to the side of the kitchen, a person appeared in his peripheral vision, stopping him dead in his tracks. What he saw was the silhouette of a woman in colonial attire with the traditional tight-fitted waist standing on the opposite side of the counter watching quite closely as Michael cooked. She appeared almost as if she wanted to get more involved herself in the food prep and cooking that was taking place. Robert stood there, mouth agape, and completely bewildered. At first, he was unsure what to say when Michael noticed him standing there and naturally asked why he looked so confused. “Are you kidding me, Michael?” Robert nervously laughed. How had Michael not seen her standing right in front of him? Immediately, Robert began to explain what he had witnessed. He described in detail that a woman adorned in colonial-style clothing, middle-aged or older, was standing there watching them cook. Michael tried to brush it off, not wanting to be scared in his own kitchen, yet it didn’t seem surprising to hear. He knew the history of the home was vast and there were always strange noises happening about. What if it was the lady in white from his dream? If so, he definitely knew who she was! Robert called his friend with psychic abilities so that she could visit the inn and perhaps pick up more information regarding the lady in the kitchen or any other spirits that may be there. When the psychic arrived in the kitchen, a smile overcame her face. She had immediately sensed the colonial woman’s presence. After focusing for a bit, the psychic let Michael know that the kitchen’s spirit had some culinary advice. She had wanted to use more fresh herbs and spices and put grated nutmeg over eggnog, and the list carried on. Clearly, this colonial woman—whose name is believed to have begun with H, according to the psychic-medium—had her opinions about proper cuisine and even had suggestions for the most well-trained chefs. On a more somber note, it was reported during the psychic’s contact that the colonial woman was waiting for a loved one to come home, yet they never could. Her loved one likely drowned in the Mystic River, as did so many hundreds of years ago when numerous people had no ability to swim. Before the colonial woman’s communication with the psychic ceased, she made sure to ask that a chair be placed back by the kitchen table rather than a hutch, as she would like to sit there."

Ghost hunters have reported that they communicated with a man who claimed that he had hanged himself in the inn and there are child ghosts, one of whom is named Hannah. She likes to sit on a stool and likes rolling a hoop around the property. A young boy who drowned in the Mystic River hangs out here as well. Investigators picked up an EVP in the playground area saying, "Help me! Help me!" When they asked if they could return before leaving, a voice answered, "No!" This wasn't a child's voice. An EVP in the house caught a woman with an Irish accent saying, "I thought Nathan was here." Other EVPs have said, "Are you a policeman?", "That's a vehicle" and "Come on in."

Captain Daniel Packer Inne

The Captain Daniel Packer Inne was built in 1754 with additions made in the early 1800s. Daniel Packer was both a sea captain and a Captain during the Revolutionary War. His service during the war entailed bringing supplies to the army. The Captain married Hanna and they had seven children. The inn was well known to travelers and as they dined, the Captain would regale them with tales of his adventures on the high seas. One set of guests that Packer journaled about included a traveling circus. Packer also ran a transport system across the Mystic River and he would ferry horses, stagecoaches and much more by using a rope ferry. The Packer family would hold onto the property for generations until the late 1970s. It was in 1979 that Richard and Lulu Kiley purchased the inn and began restoration, which took years.

Daniel's great-grandson Captain Charles Carroll Packer lived in the house with his wife Fannie and their children starting in the 1830s. His sister-in-law was "Muddie" Morse Clift and her husband Lieutenant Amos Clift had passed away leaving her and their daughter Ada alone. They were lonely and Charles invited them to come live with them at the inn since they had plenty of room. Ada loved the inn. Unfortunately, Ada became ill with Scarlet Fever when she was only seven and it took her life in 1874. And she may be one of the spirits that is here in the afterlife.

Courtney shares an unusual story in her book about a direct descendant of Captain Daniel Packer coming to the Kileys when they started renovations and telling them that she had a dream about the Captain and he wasn't pleased with what was happening to his inn. The Kileys reassured her that when they were done, he would be pleased. And that ended up being the case. The woman returned when they were finished and claimed that she had another dream of the Captain and he was indeed pleased. She added that he told her that he would be looking in on the place. Construction workers and staff members did claim to see a sea captain sometimes who would disappear when approached. These sightings have continued today. There are some who think this is Captain Charles Carroll instead. The inn has been protected from fire. This is how Courtney describes it, "Just a short time later, the night manager, who was trying to depart, felt stopped by an unseen force. She tried to exit the door and simply could not. The manager simply was not being allowed to leave. In a frenzied panic from such a strange sensation, the manager called the owner, and he arrived at the restaurant once more. Upon Mr. Kiley’s arrival, he and the manager went down to the bar area, where the smell of smoke was even stronger. It turns out that the wrong appliance had been turned off, and the wire had turned red hot. If left all night, a major fire would have been certain. When the correct appliance was unplugged, the unseen force let both individuals depart without hesitation."

Whichever of the Captains is haunting the place, he is a prankster. One night, a glass was removed from a glass rack above the bartender's head, went under the bar area, across three tables and smashed against the wall. The cool thing about this is that it was witnessed by several people. The bar door is slammed during quiet times, fires start themselves in the fireplace and disembodied boot stomping is heard. Patrons claim that Ada likes to play on the stairs. Two women ran into her on the stairs and they told the waitstaff that it was rude to let a little girl stand on the stairs, bouncing a ball while people were trying to get by. Another guest complained about a child running around near the bathroom who almost tripped her. The staff couldn't find any children near the restroom.  

Courtney may have experienced her when she visited the inn to talk to Allie who was the Kileys' daughter. She thought she saw a small person run behind Allie and then there was a giggle before the girl ran off to the kitchen. Courtney thought that a staff member may have brought their child to the inn. She then heard a giggle again. Her husband and Allie heard and saw nothing. Allie told Courtney about a friend who visited with her daughter to help Allie set up for a party. While the women worked, the daughter ran around and seemed to really be enjoying herself. She came over to her mother after a bit and told her that she was playing hide-and-seek with a little girl named Ada who she could hear, but she couldn't seem to find her anywhere.

Whitehall Mansion Inn

Captain John Gallup, Jr. had moved here in 1653 with his wife Hannah and they built a home near where the Whitehall Mansion stands. They raised seven children in that home and then eventually bought the land where the mansion would sit. The Gallups' son William built the first Whitehall Mansion. He and his wife Sarah raised six children in the home. William was a representative of the government and a friend to the Native Americans. Members of the Pequot and Mohawk tribes attended his daughter's wedding. The house passed down through the family and Temperance Gallup sold to a man named Colonel John Williams in 1760. He then sold to Dr. Dudley Woodbridge. Dr. Woodbridge was born in 1705 and he graduated from Harvard College in 1724. He married Sarah Sheldon in 1739 in Groton, Connecticut and the couple would have nine children. The doctor tore down the original mansion and built the second Whitehall Mansion in the late Georgian architectural style. The house was 2.5 stories with a gambrel roof and a large central chimney plan. The interior featured parlors on either side of the chimney and there was a winding staircase. Woodbridge also represented Groton in the state legislature. He died at the age of 85 in 1790. His wife Sarah followed in 1796. 

The Rodman family was related to the Woodbridges and they inherited the house and they lived in it from 1825 to 1850. The mansion was then sold to Joseph and Mary Wheeler in 1852. The Wheeler family would hold it until 1962 with their youngest daughter being the last resident. A local highway project threatened the mansion with destruction, so it was moved and then restored by Florence Grace Bentley Keach. She donated it to the Stonington Historical Society and they opened it as a museum. In 1993, the society received permission to move the house again to a different area of the property so it was more visible and it was converted into a bed and breakfast in 1996, which is what it is today, located at 42 Whitehall Avenue. There are five bedrooms to rent named for the Woodbridge family and many guests who have stayed have shared their personal unexplained experiences in journals.

One couple had settled in for the night when they were awakened by the raucous laughter of a woman. They tried to get back to sleep, but the woman continued to make noise. they didn't want to make trouble, but they finally had enough and called the front desk to see if they could call the neighboring room and get the woman to shut-up. The receptionist checked the log books and saw that no one had rented the room that evening and explained to the couple that there wasn't anyone in that room. The guests insisted that they be allowed to check out and go to another hotel and the bed and breakfast obliged.

Courtney wrote, "The sound of others in the inn seems to be a common complaint. Children are not allowed to stay in the inn due to the older nature of the floors and the building itself not really being conducive to housing playful kids. Therefore, it is mostly couples and sometimes the lone traveler who stay in the inn. Another couple again heard laughter, but this was not that of a woman. They distinctly heard children running around giggling as if playing in the inn. Wanting to inform the hotel staff of the disturbance, the couple grabbed the phone in their room and tried to ring the front desk at the Residence Inn. To their dismay, their phone was dead. Though they thought it strange, they decided to call from their mobile phone, which could not be found anywhere. After much searching, they found their mobile phone under the center of their bed. Repeatedly, they dialed the phone to no avail, and they kept getting disconnected. After dialing three times, they finally were connected to the desk. When they finally reached the attendant and found out that they were the only guests staying in the inn, they, too, promptly ran over to the Residence Inn, leaving the room in disarray and requesting more modern and ghost-free lodging."

A staff member was staying in Betsey's room below the attic and he reported hearing sounds above him all evening. There are legends that claim that the mansion may have been part of the Underground Railroad and some people wonder if these are residual sounds from escaped slaves who had hidden in the attic. Housekeepers report doors opening all on their own, even after they have been locked. Guests have reported tables and chairs that move across the room after the guest has left the room for minute, either to use the bathroom or visit other areas of the inn. Sometimes the bedsheets turn themselves down. We don't recommend eating any chocolates left by spirits on the pillows.

One Halloween, Courtney got to take a tour group through the mansion and she wrote of an experience they had, "Everything seemed calm on the front in our pre-tour walk-through, and the tour itself was going quite smoothly. When we went to enter Lucy’s room, the door was a bit hard to open. It wasn’t all the way open, as we had left it. When we entered, we realized a table had been pushed almost up against the door. Before the guests came in, I asked our friend and employee of the inn if he had noticed that the table had moved or if he had come back up in the room. He looked at me for a second, kind of puzzled, and assured me that he had not moved that table and that he could vouch that it wasn’t there before. We, of course, excitedly and nervously shared the story with our guests and admitted that we never quite expected in our ninety minutes within the home that the ghosts would grace us with such an active display of their antics."

Pig Man

The weirdest bit of folklore about this area involves a Pig Man. Pretty darn creepy. So apparently, this dates back to the 1970s. A couple of teenage boys claimed that they were walking around downtown when they heard a woman screaming. They thought the sound was coming from down by the river, so they ran over to see if they could help. When they got there, they saw what they described as a man with a pig-like face and he looked like he was trying to drown the woman. Both the Pig Man and the woman disappeared below the water and the boys didn't see either of them resurface. They reported what they had saw and indeed, a woman had gone missing. When the boys were later shown her picture, they said that she was the woman they saw the man trying to drown. They even said that the Pig Man had made vocal noises that sounded like a pig. A Reddit user shared the story this way, "The Mystic Pigman was a story of some kids biking across the drawbridge and seeing a fat dude with a pig face drowning a woman to death at the boardwalk before dumping her body and jumping in himself without resurfacing." No one saw the Pig Man ever again.

There are some interesting legends and haunts connected to Mystic. Are any of them true? Are these places in Mystic, Connecticut haunted? That is for you to decide!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

HGB Ep. 541 - The Hotel Chelsea

Moment in Oddity - Skeletons Under St. Augustine Winery (Suggested by: Justin Rimmel)

After hurricane Matthew hit St Augustine, Florida in the fall of 2016, there was an interesting discovery in the following months. Under the flood damaged flooring of a restaurant and taproom located in Fiesta Mall, skeletal remains were found. Archaeologist Carl Halbirt only had to remove a few shovels full of dirt before finding human bones. The skeletons were believed to date back to some of the earliest colonists of St Augustine, which was the first established settlement of the United States. Halbirt believes that the bodies were buried under the floor of the Church of Nuestra Senora de los Remedios. This was the earliest documented parish church in the United States. In total, seven skeletons were uncovered within a 6 by 12 foot area. Despite their discovery, the remains were reburied under the floor of the A1A Ale Works restaurant, which leaves this location on a short list of 'must dine' locations in one of our favorite cities. Enjoying a nice meal and good brews while seated over early colonists' graves, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - The Gaspee Affair (Suggested by: Emily Petrarca (Puh traar kuh))

In the month of June, on the 9th, in 1772, American colonists attacked and burned the HMS Gaspee after it was grounded on a sandbar. Known as the Gaspee Affair, the Royal Navy customs schooner was tasked with enforcing the Navigation Acts and other unpopular customs laws imposed by the British government on American ports. The HMS Gaspee had been chasing a smaller, lighter vessel called the Hannah when it was stranded due to low tide. After hearing that the Gaspee was beached, the colonists who were frustrated with the taxes and zero-say in legislation, organized over a dozen smaller vessels to row out to the stranded schooner. Remarkably, no one was killed. The entire crew was safely evacuated prior to the ship being set ablaze with the vessels' Captain, Lieutenant William Dudingston having only been wounded in his leg. This act of treason was one that would begin the events that led to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Today, the Gaspee Affair is remembered by an annual reenactment of the burning of the HMS Gaspee, a colonial encampment, along with a block party, local craft fair and of course a parade.

The Hotel Chelsea

The Hotel Chelsea refers to itself as "A Rest Stop for Rare Individuals" and indeed, it has hosted some famous creatives. Today it is a luxury hotel, but when it began, this was one of the first forays into attracting the upper class to rent apartments in New York City. The interior was grand and the upper floors were specifically designed to attract artists. The hotel has stood for nearly 150 years and has not only provided housing for some unique people, but it hosts many spirits. These include punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Join us for the history and hauntings of the Hotel Chelsea! 

Patti Smith summed up the Chelsea best when she said, "I loved this place, its shabby elegance, and the history it held so possessively...So many had written, conversed, and convulsed in these Victorian dollhouse rooms. So many skirts had swished these worn marble stairs. So many transient souls had espoused, made a mark, and succumbed here." And as we have found through our research of the ghost stories, many have decided to stay. The Chelsea sits at 222 West Twenty-Third Street in New York City. The hotel was named for the neighborhood and was conceived by the Chelsea Association. Construction began in 1883 under architect Philip Hubert who designed it in the Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Gothic architectural styles. When completed in 1884, it stood twelve stories with a high mansard roof and featured red brick, flower-ornamented iron balconies and 100 apartments. Innovative features included electricity, steam heating and hold and cold running water. There were three passenger elevators and two steam-powered freight lifts. The structure was grand, the tallest apartment building in NYC at the time, and quite different from the furniture store that had stood on the lot previously.

The interior originally had marble flooring that has been replaced with mosaic-tile floors today. There was also mahogany wainscoting and an elaborate fireplace and mantle in the lobby. There were three dining rooms for residents that were decorated with stained glass and carved gargoyles. A reception room had plush-and-velvet carpet and white maple. A central staircase was topped by a skylight and had art and photos lining the walls with marble stairs and iron railings. The first floor not only had this lobby, but there was a restaurant and four storefronts that included a barbershop, fish-and-meat shop, grocery and bakery. We're not sure what the original restaurant was, but in 1930 it became Batchelder's Restaurant  and then in 1955 it became the El Quijote and remains that today. The walls featured murals inspired by the book "Don Quixote" and had red-vinyl booths, marble terrazzo floor and chandeliers. The restaurant could originally seat 220 people, but it was greatly reduced in a recent renovation to just 65, so its an intimate dining experience now. The Chelsea added the Cafe Chelsea bistro in 2023.

The Chelsea started out as apartments and was one of the first apartment buildings to offer penthouses. This was a housing cooperative and many of these were meant to attract something other than the working class and several were built by Philip Hubert and called Hubert Home Clubs. This would be his most successful. Apartments ranged from 800 to 3,000 square feet with the penthouses featuring as many as 8 to 12 rooms depending on what source one uses. Bigger units were on the outside, while smaller units for unmarried residents were inside near the stairs and elevators. Every apartment had its own bathroom and most were ornately decorated with onyx and marble. Sixty-seven apartments had their own kitchens. Several apartments on the ten and eleventh floors were duplexes featuring living space on the first level and studio space on the second, so they were reserved for artists. There was no issue with filling the apartments. Two-thirds were owned by Chelsea Association stockholders and the other third were rented out and there was a long list of people waiting to get in. 

Things were good for several years, but the theater district moved away and houses were being built in northern Manhattan, attracting the middle-class further out and the 1893 economic crash hit the co-op hard. By the early 1900s, the Chelsea started accepting more short-term residents or visitors. It was officially converted into an apartment hotel in 1905 with 125 units. Some of the short-term guests that stayed here were survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The Co-op leased the hotel to Knotts Hotels in 1921 and this company split up some of the apartments and added kitchenettes to those that didn't already have them. They closed the dining rooms after that was completed. Knotts Hotels held onto the lease until 1941. Over time, more apartments were split and that left 300 rooms available.

In 1941, the Chelsea Association went bankrupt and the Chelsea Hotel Company bought the hotel and they hired a syndicate of Hungarian immigrants to run operations. They updated the electrical and plumbing and once it was reopened, it entered a bohemian era. The old glamour was gone as linoleum was laid for floors and the walls were painted and the skylight above the staircase was covered. By the 1960s, the neighborhood around the Chelsea was filled with cheap bars and low-rent office space. People started referring to the Chelsea as the Dowager of 23rd Street. Stanley Bard managed the hotel in the 1960s and he made a real effort to attract artists to the hotel. He was easy going and charged rent according to how much he liked a tenant. Stanley would accept artwork as payment and he would let residents combine apartments. It was during the 1960s and 1970s that rock musicians would start joining the artists at the Chelsea. By this time, there were 400 rooms and the interior was falling apart. The late 1970s, the hotel had an open brothel running and drug dealers running the hallways. Crime was rampant inside and fires broke out, one of which killed a resident in 1978.

The punk subculture arrived in the 1980s and the building continued to fall into decay, even losing a balcony that injured a couple of passersby. A third generation of the Bard family took over managing. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, most of the people staying at the Chelsea were long-term residents. In 2007, the hotel's board of directors ousted the Bards and BD Hotels were hired to manage the hotel. They opened a basement lounge and restored the ballroom on the 12th floor. Managing the hotel was really difficult with owners evicting tenants and tenants harassing management. BD Hotels was fired and Andrew Tilley was hired. He lasted seven months before quitting. The hotel was sold to Joseph Chetrit in 2011 and he prepared for extensive renovations. he bought the hotel for $80 million and got an $85 million loan for renovations. Residents were unhappy and filed several suits over the next two years. King & Grove Hotels managed the hotel and in 2016, BD Hotels was back. There were more lawsuits, more stalled renovations and no one could have imagined that eventually this building would become a luxury hotel. A soft re-opening took place in March 2022 and by mid-2022, the hotel was completely opened. There are still a few permanent residents living here, but most of the Chelsea is a regular hotel.

The list of famous creatives that have stayed here is lengthy. The journalist Pete Hamill characterized the hotel's clientele as "radicals in the 1930s, British sailors in the 40s, Beats in the 50s, hippies in the 60s, decadent poseurs in the 70s." The names of the famous include Mark Twain, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, Dylan Thomas, William S. Boroughs, O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Harry Smith, Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Dee Dee Ramone, Dennis Hopper, Bette Davis, Jane Fonda, and Madonna. The Chelsea inspired many songs as well. There's Leonard Cohen’s song "Chelsea Hotel #2." One of the refrains goes, "I remember you well in Chelsea Hotel, You were famous, your heart was a legend, You told me again you preferred handsome men, But for me you would make an exception." The "you" he was singing about was Janis Joplin. Lou Reed wrote "Chelsea Girl" in 1967. Jefferson Airplane recorded "Third Week in the Chelsea" in 1971.  And there was also Joni Mitchell’s "Chelsea Morning." Andy Warhol shot the film "Chelsea Girls" at the hotel in 1966. Ethan Hawke directed "Chelsea Walls" in 2001. 

Dee Dee Ramone wrote the novel "Chelsea Horror Hotel" in 2001. The description of the novel reads, "Dee Dee Ramone doesn't quite know what he's getting himself into when he and his wife Barbara move into the Chelsea Hotel with their dog Banfield. The room he's staying in might be the very room where his old friend Sid stabbed Nancy. Dee Dee spends most of his time trying to score drugs and walking Banfield, with whom he can magically communicate. Meanwhile, he can't stand his neighbors and though he shies away from violence, he wishes everyone were six feet under. Dee Dee gets involved with the transvestite lover of one of his gay fellow addicts. When Barbara finds out, things get out of hand. All the while Dee Dee is tormented by the living and dead demons that plague the hotel, along with the ghosts of his old dead punk rock friends Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, and Stiv Bators. And that's when the Devil himself decides to join the party." 

Here's some crazy stories reported about the hotel. Composer George Kleinsinger wanted to turn his studio into a jungle so he imported twelve-foot trees from Madagascar and Borneo. He added exotic birds, a monkey and an eight-foot-long snake. Dancer Katharine Dunham liked to hold dance rehearsals in her studio and one day she decided she wanted to add some realism to her Aida rehearsal and she brought two full-grown lions up in the elevator. She was invited to get out of the hotel shortly after that. 

There is a lot of dark history and several deaths that have lead to Chelsea being haunted. The Chelsea’s dark history goes back to the early 20th century. In 1912, Titanic survivors were briefly put up there, given the hotel’s relatively close proximity to the Chelsea Piers. The New York Times reported in 1908, "WOMAN DIES IN HOTEL; TOOK DRUG FOR SLEEP; Miss Almyra Wilcox Leaves Affectionate Letter Telling of Her Sufferings. NOT SUICIDE, CORONER SAYS Believed She Was from Castleton, Vt. -- Had Jewelry, Furs, and Fine Clothing." Artist Frank Kavecky took his own life in 1909 after being robbed of funds belonging to the Hungarian Sick and Benevolent Society. A rich silk merchant's daughter named Etelka Graf cut off her hand with small sewing scissors and threw it under her bed and jumped from a fifth-floor window in 1922. She landed on a third floor balcony breaking her ankles and left arm. She survived. (Daily News From New York March 6, 1922)

Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet. Many of the listeners are probably familiar with his poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night": Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Thomas stayed in Apartment 205 on his last three visits to the United States. The final stay would be his last as Thomas collapsed outside the White Horse Tavern in New York’s Greenwich Village. Rumors claimed he had slammed 18 shots of whiskey, but that may not be what killed him. He was taken to the hospital and never came out of a coma and when he was admitted, he was suffering from pneumonia. The pathologist found three causes of death: pneumonia, brain swelling and a fatty liver. Playwright Arthur Miller was living at the Chelsea in 1962 when Marilyn Monroe died. Edie Sedgwick set her room on fire in 1967 while she was high on a speedball. Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide there in 1968. A photographer named Billy Maynard was beaten to death in his room in 1974.

And then there was Sid and Nancy.  Sid Vicious was born as Simon John Ritchie in Lewisham, London in 1957. His father, John Ritchie, abandoned him and his mother Anne and she made money selling marijuana. In 1965, Anne married Christopher Beverley, but he died of kidney failure six months later. Anne and Sid moved around a bit. By 1973, Anne was addicted to heroin and Sid was attending Westminster Kingsway College and torturing and killing cats on the side. Sid was going by his middle name of John and he joined up with three other guys who were all named John to make a group named The Four Johns. It makes sense that they decided to take on nicknames to differentiate themselves. Sid was bitten by one of the John's hamster who was named Sid, so they started calling him Sid Vicious. That John's nickname became Johnny Rotten and another John became Jah Wobble. Johnny Rotten and Sid started busking for money and then in 1975, Rotten formed the Sex Pistols with Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook.

Sid co-founded the group Flowers of Romance in 1976. He was doing an assortment of drugs by this time. In 1977, he took the place of Glen Matlock in the Sex Pistols. It was said that "Johnny Rotten was the voice of punk and Vicious was the attitude." Vicious' first gig with the Sex Pistols was in April of 1977 and it was shortly after this that he met Nancy Spungen who was an American groupie living in London. She was also a heroin addict. Nancy made money as an exotic dancer and drug dealer and once she and Sid got together, it was nearly impossible to separate them. This wasn't a match made in heaven. The couple fought often and many times it became physical. Vicious often lived up to his name and beat her. There was a two-week US tour in January 1978 and Nancy was blocked from coming. The band broke up on January 14th and Vicious flew from San Francisco to New York on January 19th.  By the time the plane landed at JFK Airport, Sid was passed out in an alcohol and drug coma. He went to the hospital, got out and immediately hooked up again with Nancy. The two went to Paris and then London and returned to New York where they holed up in Room 100 at the Chelsea. Sid performed in a side band he formed and the couple continued their drug use. 

On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found stabbed to death in Room 100. The night before, Sid and Nancy had hosted a party in their room and Sid took enough drugs to leave himself comatose. Around 11am the morning of the 12th, Sid was wandering the hallways and Nancy was found dead on the bathroom floor with a single stab wound to her abdomen. The murder weapon was identified as a Jaguar K-11 hunting knife, a knife Nancy had bought for him a few days earlier. Sid at first confessed that he killed Nancy and later said that he couldn't remember what had happened. Later, he claimed that Nancy fell on the knife. Sid was arrested and charged with second degree murder. Nancy's murder remains a mystery today. The knife had been in plain view and could've been used by a party guest. Lawyers for Sid put forward the idea that Nancy caught a guest stealing their money from a drawer where they hid it. While out on bail, Sid tried slashing his wrists with a smashed light bulb and when that didn't work, he tried to jump out a window. 

As dysfunctional as his relationship was with Nancy, he really seemed to love her and just wanted to die so he could be with her. He did die on February 1, 1979 of a drug overdose. Sid's mother said the Sid and Nancy seemed to have had a suicide pact. She found a note in his leather jacket that read, "We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye." Sid couldn't be buried next to Nancy as she was buried in a Jewish cemetery. His mother asked if his ashes could be sprinkled on Nancy's grave and the answer from Nancy's family was a resounding, "NO!" Rumors claim that his mother sprinkled the ashes there anyway.

There seems to be many spirits walking the halls of Hotel Chelsea and with all that the building has witnessed, it is no wonder. A night security guard who worked in the building was named Timor. He shared a ghost story about a sex worker named Victoria who had died at the Chelsea from AIDS. She liked to dress like Betty Boop and wore her hair in a similar way. Shortly after Victoria passed, a woman staying in her former room asked Timor if she could get a different room. She told him that she had been looking in a mirror and saw Victoria staring back at her, Betty Boop bangs and all.

Another story goes back to the Titanic survivors who stayed at the Chelsea. One of them was a woman named Mary who lost her husband and she was very depressed about that. The story goes that she hanged herself on the fifth floor and now people claim to run into her on the western end of the building. Mary likes to look at herself in the mirror, so people have nicknamed her the Vain Ghost. The Chelsea Hotel Blog wrote in 2010, "On Sunday’s 'Celebrity Ghost Sightings' program on the Bio Channel, Michael Imperioli revealed that he had been visited by a ghost named Mary while staying at the Chelsea 14 years ago. This led us to wonder if anyone else had encountered Mary, apparently a rather old ghost, during their time at the Chelsea.  We asked one of our sources, a huge fan of the Chelsea who keeps up to date on all the happenings—past and present, natural and supernatural—at this deeply weird hotel, and it turns out she had already been contacted about the show.  She writes, 'Hi, folks. Someone who saw the television show about Mary the Chelsea Hotel ghost sent me this question: Do you know anything about the young woman named Mary that was living at the Chelsea? She lived on the 8th floor and hung herself when her husband died on the titanic. I guess she has been seen there. I forwarded it to the friend who visited the Chelsea -the one who spoke with the spirits there--and asked her whether she recognized this one. Here's her response: I think yes-she was in front of a mirror-checking out herself-mirror was not in this world-elaborate-she in hat with plume-hair large and Gibson girlish-she seeing if she was looking ok-and acting like we were disturbing her boring self absorbed nature...perhaps? I remember my friend describing this person at the time, on the 8th floor. Then, my friend said she was looking in the mirror forever--never stopping. She described her as very vain."

And here is what Michael Imperioli shared on Celebrity Ghost Stories: Michael Imperioli had lived in the Chelsea for two months when he had his paranormal experience. He lived on the 8th floor and he was riding the elevator up to it one night around three in the morning. He stepped off the elevator and noticed the light in the hallway was dimmer than usual. Michael said that he then heard the sobbing of a woman coming from the opposite direction so he turned around and looked at the end of the hallway and saw the figure of a woman in the corner kind of hunched over with her head down and she's crying. The woman was wearing a very long black dress that looked like something from a 100 years ago. He asked her if she was okay and then he heard a loud pop behind him. The light bulb in the fixture behind him had popped. Now half the hallway was dark. Michael turned back around and the crying woman was gone. After he told a couple neighbors about the incident, they told him about Mary and the Titanic. 

Nadia is another ghost that guests sometimes see roaming the halls. She had jumped from a window to her death. Nadia came from one of the rich families that lived at the Chelsea. Nadia met a good-looking songwriter and decided to elope with him. That man turned out to be an alcoholic and he eventually left Nadia alone with their two children. She came back to the hotel with her tail between her legs and begged her father to allow her to move back in. He said she could as long as she did chores around the house and got a job to help bring in money. Apparently, he must have been having money troubles? Nadia eventually couldn't take it anymore and ended her life. She's not only inside the hotel, but people sometimes she her on the sidewalk on 23rd Street and they know she's a ghost because she is transparent. There are stories on the Internet that mix Nadia's story with Etelka Graf and say this is the Severed Hand Spirit, but Graf didn't die.

Paula wrote in 2010, "I have stayed in the Chelsea pretty regularly (including a 3 month visit in late 2003). Of course you can feel the history of the place everywhere, but in August 2008, I stayed for a week. I had to move rooms for my last night, and was put in room 624. I could not sleep there; I could barely move or breathe. SOMETHING was in the closet. As I lie in bed in the middle of the night, I neither saw nor heard a ghost. But somehow I felt like there was something in that closet. In a half-dream state, a strange feeling came over me and suddenly I knew what the spirit was: A man, a writer, who had hanged himself in the closet and was FURIOUS at the Chelsea for not including him in the publicized list of artists who had died there. Around dawn, I tried to open the closet door and the knob would not turn; it was not broken - it was as if someone was holding it from the other side. I have done some research and come up with no info, but I will never forget that terrifying night. However, it hasn't scared me away from the best hotel in NYC.

Artist Jennifer Elise Schaperow reports, “There was definitely something going on, on the 10th floor. I could feel the energy. I’ve had some moments where my hair just stood up and I knew I had to run and get off that floor. One time [circa 1997], my roommate saw the ghost of a man standing in our kitchen in the middle of the night, around two in the morning. It was crazy. It scared me.”

Dylan Thomas might be haunting the place. Wales Online reported in November 2009, "A TERRIFIED tourist has reported seeing the ghost of Dylan Thomas – in the haunted New York hotel where he fell into his fatal coma. The horrified guest at the world-famous Chelsea Hotel, scene of the poet’s alcohol-fuelled final days, claimed she saw the poet’s bug-eyed head floating in front of her bedroom mirror. The guest’s chilling complaint, which followed a sleepless night punctuated by phantom footsteps and a creeping sense of fear, was posted on Chelsea Bloggers, a website dedicated to the 125-year-old inn. “I suddenly looked up and right in front of the bedroom mirror, I saw a head in mid-air,” said the woman, identified only as “Anna”, "The head seemed to grimace at me, and I will never forget the eyes staring me down, almost bug-eyed. The face seemed to be wearing some kind of theatre make-up, bright red lips drawn on very carefully, white face paint, and ear-length tightly coiled black hair. I have an idea of who this man was after looking at images of the famous that lived there and departed to the afterlife. The picture I observed made my stomach sink… it was the same face, that same grimace, and those same sad and large eyes. It looked like Dylan Thomas’s face.”

And Sid and Nancy have both been spotted in the hotel. Matthew Swayne's "Haunted Rock & Roll" pg. 102-104.

The Hotel Chelsea has been made new again and more than likely has lost much of its bohemian charm, but that doesn't mean that something from the past doesn't still remain. Is the Hotel Chelsea haunted? That is for you to decide!