Phantom Footsteps in the Chapel

Thanks to my husband, George, for this story about a haunted monastery in Connecticut!

Author’s Note: I have purposely not included the name of the monastery to protect the organization’s privacy.

Every fall, George goes to a professional conference that is held in a monastery in Connecticut.  Built in the 1950s, the monastery resides in a residential area on a property surrounded by woods.  It’s the type of place where you expect Big Foot to come lumbering out of the forest.  A labyrinth, statues of Mary, and the Stations of the Cross adorn the grounds.  All of his colleagues have reported odd sensations or strange experiences during their stays at the monastery.  Although a place of prayer that also rents out its rooms for various retreats, the monastery has a slightly unsettling atmosphere that can become eerie, especially after dark.

Most of the rooms in the monastery are small and include twin beds, a desk, and a crucifix adorning the wall.  George told me that one coworker had a spooky experience where she couldn’t sleep because she felt like someone was in her room watching her.  She has refused to stay overnight for the conference ever since.

One conference a few years back, George had arrived earlier than everyone else.  Like most Coed dormitories, the men and women’s rooms are kept separated from one another.  Being the only male that had arrived thus far, George was the sole occupant on his floor at the time.  He decided to set up his poster for the upcoming session that evening.

On the second floor is an old, masonic-style chapel with wooden chairs lining both sides of the room.  The chapel has two entrances that make it possible to use the room as a way to cut across to the other side of the building without having to go the long way around.  George carried his poster to the showroom without incident.  On the way back, he decided to take the short cut through the chapel.

It was a cloudy, rainy day.  The overhead electric lights were off and the illumination coming from the windows was dim at best.  As George was walking, he suddenly became aware of footsteps following him in the chapel.  “Click clack, click clack,” went the steps.  George was wearing sneakers, so he knew it wasn’t his shoes making the noise.  He paused and the sound of footsteps continued for a few seconds before fading away.  George had felt the presence of someone walking behind him, but turning around, saw that no one was there.  No one else had arrived for the conference yet.  After a few moments, George continued on his way, but thankfully didn’t hear the phantom footsteps again.

George is not one to spook easily and unlike me, he doesn’t purposely seek out ghosts, cemeteries, or haunted places.  He doesn’t have much interest in the paranormal.  Nevertheless, since this occurrence, George only uses the chapel as a shortcut when he is with a group of people.

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Lay Me to Rest

Thanks to Laurel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for this story!

It had been a year since Laurel’s grandfather had passed away.  It being Samhain, the Wiccan celebration of Halloween, she decided to hold a private circle to bless her ancestors.  Her grandfather had been cremated and his ashes distributed in vials among the family.  Gathering her supplies, she decided to bring one of her grandfather’s vials along to further include him in the ceremony.

Since it was such a lovely, fall morning, Laurel decided to hold the ritual outside.  At the top of a small hill behind her house is a beautiful grove of trees.  Sitting with her back against one of the trees, Laurel began the ritual.  She set the incense burning to cleanse the area around her.  She blessed the herbs that she had brought as an offering to the Gods.  Then she lit her candle and sat back to say her prayers and to meditate.  She had her grandfather’s ashes beside her.

Once she had closed the circle, Laurel began to collect her things.  Then she made an astonishing discovery.  The vial was gone!

“It couldn’t have gone far,” she thought.  “I had it right next to me.”

She started scrambling through the leaves, thinking perhaps that the wind had shifted some of them and hidden the vial.  She couldn’t find it anywhere.  Maybe the Gods were playing a Samhain trick on her?

She looked up at the sky.  “Okay.  I acknowledge that you’re there, but this isn’t funny.  Can I have my Grandpap back now, please?”

As if in response, another thought came to Laurel.  “Grandpap was a trickster in his own right.  What if he was the one who took his vial?”  Laurel felt comforted.  If her grandfather wanted to remain in this special spot by her home, then she would honor his wish.  She smiled, knowing he would always watch over her and her family from the grove on the hill.

 

Keep the Light On

Thanks to Stephanie from Massachusetts for this story!

Whenever I think of haunted states, the ones that come immediately to mind are New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts.  Maybe it’s because they are all from the original thirteen colonies and have so much history, but it’s not surprising to hear of ghost stories.  From houses to colleges to battlefields, almost everything is haunted.

Stephanie works the night shift in a residential home for children with extreme developmental issues.  Part of her job is to check on the children routinely throughout the night.  She does this about every five to ten minutes.  The house that she works in has four bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and a living room that functions as a common area.

Stephanie sits watch in the hallway.  The living room is behind her.  Two bedrooms are at the front of the house.  In order to get to the second bedroom, she had to walk around the staircase and pass through the living room.

Last October, it was a normal night like any other when things suddenly became strange.  It was about two or three in the morning.  The area by the craft table in the living room was dimmer than usual.  For some reason, Stephanie had forgotten to turn the light on in the room that night.

As she turned into the living room, the figure of a man materialized.  He had short hair, was muscular in stature, and looked to be anywhere from his twenties to mid-thirties.  It happened so quickly that Stephanie didn’t even have time to react.  One second he was walking beside her and the next, he had passed through the wall by the craft table and disappeared.  She only caught the side profile of his face and didn’t notice any particular details about his clothes.

Stephanie is a no-nonsense person.  She had a better reaction than most other people would have had in her situation.  Once the man was gone, she resumed her nightly duties.  Since that night, Stephanie always remembers to keep the light on in the living room.  The mysterious man is yet to make another appearance.

A Ghostly Interlude

This happened to me when I was a teenager growing up in the Bronx.  My family lived on Campbell Drive in the second floor apartment of a two-family house.  Built in 1942, it even still had the original glass doorknobs and other structural furnishings from that era.

From the beginning, Mom and I sensed that the place was haunted.  We’d see shadows moving out of the corner of our eyes.  The hallway lights that were activated by motion sensors would come on when no one was around.  Sometimes late at night, we’d get the feeling that there were people talking in the living room.  It was that kind of elevated energy vibe that you experience whenever you are at a party or in a restaurant.  The second we stepped into the living room, the atmosphere would return to normal.

One night, I was waiting for my mother to get home from work.  I was sitting on the couch deeply engrossed in a book when I suddenly heard piano music.  Before that moment, ghosts were the furthest thing from my mind.  The neighbors weren’t home, so it wasn’t a radio or someone else’s television.  The music was coming from our old, out of tune piano that we almost never played.

Steadying myself, I looked over to my left.  Just as I expected, the piano was closed and no one was sitting there.  I stared at it as the eerie music continued to flow beneath the invisible musician’s hands.  The tune was unfamiliar to me.  After another minute, there was a loud jarring sound as if someone had purposely banged on the keys, then the music stopped as quickly as it had begun.

I swallowed once or twice, the oppressive silence roaring in my ears.  Nodding, I got up and said, “Well, so much for watching the electric bill!”  Then I turned on the television, switched on all of the lights, and waited for mom to get home.

 

The House that Never Sleeps

Thanks to Renee for contributing this story!

On Englewood Avenue in Teaneck, New Jersey there is an old, white house with high levels of paranormal activity.  Renee states that her family has known very little peace since buying the house in 1960.  The spirits are particularly disturbing at night.  After everyone has gone to bed, you can hear doors opening and closing and sounds of a loud party going on downstairs.  However, if you brave your fears and check below, the noise stops.  Family members have reported seeing dark shadows walking around and incidents of waking to find ghostly figures standing by their beds.

Built in 1917, the house was part of Dr. Gaylord’s extensive property.  The original house included six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a powder room, and a kitchen.  Renee’s family built on additional rooms.  Most of the negative activity takes place in the newer parts of the house.

One account that Renee shared with me happened when she was a child.  She and her siblings were playing outside.  A little boy appeared and asked if he could join in their game.  After a while, Renee’s mother went into the yard and called for her kids to come inside.  They turned to say goodbye to their new friend, only to see him vanish.  They never saw him again.

A man resembling President Ulysses S. Grant has been said to appear inside of the house or on the grounds.  The scariest part is all that you see is his head floating by as if he is walking, but there is no body attached.  The family has found flags and bullets on the property.  While the former president could not have been in the house being it was built after his death, there is evidence that he knew the Gaylord family and perhaps had visited their estate before.

Big bursts of activity usually occur around the holidays.  One Thanksgiving, Renee’s sister saw the face of a red-headed man and she screamed.  Later on that same night, she was carrying a bowl of gravy when a portrait suddenly fell off the mantel, causing her to drop the platter she was carrying and scald herself.  Renee’s aunt was visiting and mentioned that she wanted to see a ghost.  The red-headed man must have taken this as a challenge because she woke up to see his face leering above her bed.  Unable to get back to sleep, she went to stay in a hotel.

Unlike other places where the spiritual phenomena fluctuate, this house continues to have a high level of activity.  It would seem that both the living and the dead residents are constantly vying for space.  Thankfully, most hauntings are not as intrusive as this one.

 

I Thought I was Alone: Marillac Hall, Part 2

I woke up early the next day to get ready for the start of Welcome Back Weekend.  My room wasn’t one of the suites, so I had to use the hallway bathrooms.  Gathering my things, I headed for the shower.  My dorm room faced the stair landing, so that I could see people coming up or going down the stairs.

I was still feeling a bit drowsy, when I noticed a young woman descending the stairs in front of me.  At first I thought her brown garment was a robe, but I quickly saw that it was actually a dress.  She was swaying back and forth as she glided down the steps.  “Gee, she’s going awfully slow!” I thought to myself.  If I had been more in a hurry, I would have tried to pass her, but instead I kept up my steady pace.

She reached the third floor ahead of me, but continued going down.  As my view turned the corner, I could see down into the next stairwell.  She glanced up at me before continuing on her way.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I reached the end of the stairs a moment later and stood on the landing.  An odd feeling made me look back.

She was gone!  I couldn’t even see her going down the stairs anymore and she had only been a few feet ahead of me.  She should have still been visible.  I lingered there for a couple of minutes before heading to the bathroom.

“If I’m the only one on the fourth floor right now, then who was that?” I mumbled to myself.  It was like she just appeared out of nowhere.  The woman hadn’t made a sound.  She had been wearing a long, dark-colored dress.  Her hair had been pinned up in an old-fashioned manner.  Staring into the bathroom mirror, it hit me.  I had seen a ghost.  More than that, I had just followed a ghost down the stairs.

I thought back to the words of Hans Holzer, a famous paranormal investigator.  He said that ghosts were people too and that it was important to treat them as such.  Be courteous, but honest about your expectations of sharing living space with them.  Taking a deep breath, I looked into the mirror and said aloud, “Listen.  You can’t keep popping up out of the woodwork like this.  I have to live here.  You know I can see you, but I won’t get much studying done if you keep spooking me like that.”

Thankfully after this incident, the rest of the students moved in and the ghosts were less noticeable.  Even so, every night that I had to stay up late, I would repeat my entreaty asking the peaceful, but strong spirits of Marillac Hall to stay hidden so that I could do my homework.  Fortunately, they were quite obliging spirits.  Well, most of the time…