A Beautiful and Haunted Museum

A beautiful and haunted museum sits next to the Connecticut River in rural Hadley, MA.  Situated on acres, amongst farmland, this c. 1752 Colonial-style house has been home to many of the same-family members over the course of a couple hundred years.  In 1949, Dr. James Huntington opened the home to the public and the Porter, Phelps, Huntington House Museum was born.

After such a long history, it isn’t too surprising that the house seems to be home to more than one family member who just didn’t want to leave.  Phenomena associated with the house are doors that open and shut on their own, footfalls walking the halls and rooms,  disembodied voices, and encounters with someone that quickly moves past visitors.  It seems that most of the activity is from a woman or two, and possibly a child who seems to like the staircases best.

Moses Porter constructed the house outside the Hadley village stockade on about 600 acres of fertile land and created a home for his wife Elizabeth and their young daughter Betty.  Things went well until the French and Indian War broke out and Moses was called to duty.  He was deployed to the Lake George area in 1755.  Capt. Porter was killed in battle and buried in New York.  One night, one of the Porter’s servants handed Elizabeth her husband’s sword from battle.  She knew then, he’d never be home again.  Elizabeth never got over the death of her husband.  The house experienced a long period of sadness and emotional distress that continued in a downward spin.

Eventually, the house was passed along to Elizabeth Porter’s daughter Elizabeth. Betty lived in the mansion with her husband Charles Phelps, Jr. and their several children.  After Charles died, Elizabeth hoped her son, Charles, would bring his family and come to the house to live with her.  He never did.  After Betty’s death, the house went to her daughter, Elizabeth Whiting Phelps,  who had married Dan Huntington, the parents of Dr. James Huntington.  The House is now managed by the Porter Phelps Huntington Foundation.

It has been purported that an impression in the bed can be seen in the front bedroom that belonged to Elizabeth and Moses….the place where Mrs. Porter got the devastating news her husband was dead.   We’ve toured the property on several occasions and on one of them a definite shape could be seen in the bed.  We’ve heard knockings, and there are definite shadows that can been seen out of the corner of one’s eyes.   I understand that the family themselves, and only among themselves, knew some of their relatives never left the property.

Who is the woman there?  It’s up for grabs.  It could be either Elizabeth Porter or Elizabeth Phelps.  They both seemed to have reason enough to stay on.  Maybe if you go and visit you can determine the source of activity…..and experience it for yourself.  There’s a prominent feeling of being both watched and followed.   I don’t think you could ever feel like you were alone in the place.  And the child?  Maybe one of the children who never reached adulthood and left this world at a very young age.

It’s worth a visit to this museum for it’s historical, architectural, and aesthetic value alone.  But, if you’re fortunate enough to have a family member visit you while you’re there – it’s an extra treat.

–  ashanta

ashantaofthelema@gmail.com

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A Most Haunted House

One of the most haunted houses I’ve ever lived in was in the Agawam, MA suburb of Feeding Hills.  I was so happy to find this small cape away from a lot of traffic and noise.  The yard was large, had great trees, and the neighbors were few.  I didn’t understand why this place had stayed empty for so long, but it didn’t take long to find out why.

We moved our things in and got settled.  My small daughter was in her new room fixing things up when she flew down the stairs and announced that she didn’t want to stay in that room.  She looked rattled.  So, I asked her why not.  She looked at me and said, “Because I don’t like the looks of that dead woman lying on the floor.”   Well,  alrighty then…  So, we went back upstairs to investigate.  There were no bodies to be found, but I do have to admit the energy in that room was far from peaceful feeling.

We agreed she could stay in my room, across the hall, for the night.  After being in bed for about half an hour, there were no bodies appearing on the floor, but the large black mass of a blob that entered the room and stood by the bed wasn’t comforting, either.  It was darker than the darkness in the room.  I commanded it to leave.  It responded by moving out the the hall. It retreated to the hallway, but stood in the doorway of the room.  I turned on the light and the blob suddenly disappeared.  Deciding to leave the light on for the rest of the night, we tried to get some sleep.

About half an hour later there was a series of loud bangs that sounded like someone  bashing their fists on the wall all the way down the stairs.  This was followed by footfalls throughout the downstairs.  Upon investigation, nothing and no-one was found in the house.  Needless to say, not much sleep was gotten that night.

Since there was an extra room downstairs, I decided to move the sleeping quarters into that room.  The upstairs obviously wasn’t very receptive to company.  The noises didn’t stop.  I left a hall light on and the bedroom door open.  You could see a black amorphous shape pass by the light  —  and cast a shadow!  It didn’t come into the new bedroom but it was never far away.

The activity in this house didn’t restrict itself to nighttime hours.  Things happened whether it was dark or not.  Objects would be moved.  Cupboard doors would open.  The doorknobs would turn. Footfalls could be heard everywhere. Lights would turn on and off by themselves.  And, the knocking and rapping up and down the staircase didn’t stop, either.

One day I was outside doing something in the back yard when a neighbor came over to talk.  She asked me if I liked the place.  Then she said, “You don’t sleep upstairs in there do you?”  I asked her why and she just said that from what she had heard she wouldn’t even want to go inside.  How neighborly and comforting!  That was all the information that she was willing to share.

Another day when arriving home from the store, we parked in the driveway to take groceries in through the side door that entered into the kitchen.  When we got to the door we couldn’t get in.  The refrigerator had been moved from a side wall to the side door.  It blocked entry, not allowing the door to open enough to get through.  That was the last straw.  I made arrangements for our things to be moved out – asap – and we stayed with my mom until we found a new place to live.

While we were there, I did try to find someone who would do an exorcism, but didn’t have any takers.  The place remained vacant for years until someone finally bought it.  The house was gutted and re-built.  Sure hope for them that did the trick!!

–  ashanta