This is the first in a series of posts regarding supposedly “haunted” New England hotels and inns, for those readers interested in sleeping with “ghosts”. We begin with the charming 18th century Colonial House Inn, on Old King’s Highway in Yarmouth Port, MA.
According to Ghosts Myths and Legends, a book written by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, the Cape Cod landmark was built in 1730 by the Josiah Ryder family. The original structure was two-story federal style hip roof building, and was later renovated in the nineteenth century by Captain Joseph Eldridge. At that time, a carriage house with a prominent widow’s watch was floated over from Nantucket and added to the back of the property. The Captain and his wife, Ellen, had nine children, four of whom died in the house as babies. When the Captain died in 1856, he left the house to his youngest son, Dr. Azariah Eldridge. Sadly, Azariah’s only child died at a young age, so having no heirs, Azariah Eldridge and his wife left the house to the First Congregational Church upon their deaths.
Since that time, the home has seen many owners and a fair share of history. After falling into disrepair, the home was purchased in 1979 by the current owner, Mac Purna, who turned it into the beautiful inn we see today. The Colonial House Inn is now a registered historic landmark, and features a Fine Food restaurant and lounge, 21 rooms with private baths, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, canopy beds, and plenty of antiques. Surprisingly, the inn also features a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi, so feel free to take a warm dip before settling in on a cold night. In the off season, Mac hosts murder mystery weekends at the inn – a fitting backdrop for a dark and twisted tale.
I had a chance to speak with Mac about the many paranormal claims surrounding the inn. In the thirty years since he opened the inn for business, the overwhelming quantity of strange experiences interests Mac, but he remains skeptical. “The jury is still out on that,” Mac said, when asked if he believes in ghosts. “I don’t believe in them, and I don’t NOT believe in them.” In particular, Mac is impressed by the similarity between the paranormal claims of different guests, despite making sure he doesn’t fill their heads with preconceived notions. Mac avoids discussing specific room numbers associated with paranormal phenomena, to avoid introducing bias to the experiences of those who stay there.
Mac told me he has never experienced anything strange for himself, but then again he doesn’t live on the property. His night managers are the ones who put in the long hours during the graveyard shifts, so Mac isn’t surprised he hasn’t seen or heard anything for himself. With an open mind, Mac says, “I can’t say I’m a non-believer,” probably a major reason he has allowed numerous paranormal investigations of the inn.
In the spring of 2006, a paranormal research team called SERT (Spirit Encounters Reserach Team) conducted an investigation at the Colonial House Inn and recorded several electronic voice phenomena (EVP). They claim to have captured sounds of children’s voices and the sound of footsteps running up and down the stairs in the widow’s watch. In addition, the group claims to have captured a child’s voice saying “Hello” in the same stairwell.
Recently, in January 2010, Boston Paranormal conducted an investigation of the inn, and reportedly obtained several recordings of EVP in various locations around the property. In one recording session downstairs, the group captured an EVP that supposedly mentions the name “Ann”, and while in the widow’s watch, they recorded another phenomenon that sounds like children’s voices. The inn was also featured by The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), on the hit television show Ghost Hunters.
In addition to paranormal investigators, vacationing guests have had many “ghostly” encounters at the inn, and Mac was happy to share some of their experiences with me. Out of respect for Mac’s habit of not mentioning specifics, I will omit any room numbers associated with these accounts. It’s important to note that none of the experiences have been negative, and guests seem to show a genuine appreciation for the peaceful “haunts”. First, two guests in July of 2009 claim to have captured a visual anomaly in the following photo:
The guests who snapped the photo seemed excited and happy to have stayed in such an interesting landmark inn:
We just left the Inn this morning! Tim and I had a great stay in room ___. He wasn’t able to sleep much, but I think that was probably because he psyched himself out! I slept like a log… As for a testimonial, The room was beautiful and clean, the area was perfect, and the food was incredible. As for a haunting, if there are spirits “living” at the Inn, they are very peaceful, and do not care much for interaction with the living. So no one should ever worry about meeting an angry apparition with a bloody hack saw! I loved the Colonial House Inn. We plan on coming back.
Further, many guests in a particular room report having a rocking chair turn to face a wall where there used to be a window. Interestingly, it seems to happen even if a different chair is placed in the room. Another guest claimed to have been awoken in the middle of the night by someone tapping on their shoulder, only to see a thin, transparent figure of a woman in nineteenth century attire.
The Colonial House Inn on Old King’s Highway in Yarmouth Port, MA is a beautiful example of a Cape Cod historic landmark. Almost three hundred years of history have passed before those walls – history filled with tragic deaths and many lives well-lived. Owner Mac Purna has truly transformed this piece of Americana into a comforting mix of living history and modern luxuries. Whether your a paranormal investigator or vacationer set to explore Cape Cod, The Colonial House Inn will offer you a chance to catch a glimpse of history – perhaps with a few “bumps” in the night thrown in for good measure.
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Be sure to check back soon for a summary of results from our upcoming investigation of the Colonial House Inn!