Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Public House with a Sordid Past

October’s Haunted Establishments with “Spirits” Series

Stone’s Public House – Aahland, Massachusetts

The wind is rising, the leaves are changing and it’s time for our annual trek to check out some haunted restaurants and libation locations around the country. Today we’ll discover a public house with a sordid past; more than one death occurred under its roof …

Once known as Captain John Stone’s Inn, the current Stone's Public House is a hotbed of paranormal activity. In 1832, Captain Stone decided to build the inn next to the new railroad tracks in Ashland. When it first opened in September 1834, the inn was known as the Railroad Boarding House. Travelers and locals frequented the place for lodging, food and the latest news.

John Stone operated the inn for only two years before he transferred ownership to his brother, Napoleon Stone. He continued to live at the inn until he died in 1858.

Napoleon Stone ran the inn until 1868 when he sold out to W.A. Scott. Scott attempted to keep the inn running but slowly, over time, it fell into disrepair. During the next one hundred years, the inn became home to the seedier side of life, housing a brothel and known as a place where ne'er-do-wells could meet and plot in relative secrecy.

Leonard "Cappy" Fournier
It was not until the 1970s that an attempt was made to restore and refurbish the building. Leonard Fournier, better known as “Cappy” purchased the house in 1976 because he had heard that the inn was haunted and wanted to find out if it was true.

Fournier quickly got his answer. By 1979, psychics and paranormal investigators were coming from all over to spend time in the old building. Most felt that “something” was residing there; in fact, several spirits were identified as haunting the place including that of John Stone, the original owner.

The one thing all the investigators seemed to agree upon was an upstairs room that had a disturbing feeling about it. In the back half of the room, psychics, paranormal groups, and visitors alike, all felt distressed and uncomfortable. It was a menacing feeling of not being wanted in the room, as if visitors were intruding. Many claimed the spirits lurking here were male. Most estimated that between 6 an 8 spirits haunted the building, with most congregated in this room. When we heard the legends surrounding the house, things began to make sense …

A portrait of Captain John Stone hangs over one of the fireplace's and most claim that Stone is one of the ghosts that haunts the establishment. Employees and customers report the feeling of being watched when standing near the picture. Customers and employees have felt icy hands encircle their necks. Then there is the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the air although no one has been smoking inside.

But maybe the Captain has a good reason to keep a vigilant watch on his property, because some discoveries could be proof of a mistake rumored to have been made long ago …

Around 1845, during the time Stone resided here, a card game got out of hand. Captain Stone was playing along with a traveling salesman, and a few local men. Luck was not with Stone that night; he lost over $3,000 in a game of cards. The winner was the traveler from New York. Stone accused the man of cheating. A fight ensued with Stone hitting the man over the head with the butt of his gun. The salesman fell dead to the floor. Suddenly, Stone knew he had to act quickly to “protect” the reputation of the inn, and his own.

Dirt Floor
The other card players were local men who agreed to assist Stone in getting rid of the body. The men carried the traveler down to the cellar and buried him in a shallow grave. A pledge of silence was made between the witnesses and no one knew of the deed for years.

But it seems that the dead man is still trying to find retribution for the inhospitable treatment he received at the inn. Shadowy figures can be seen in the basement and odd sounds and voices can be heard. Maybe the traveler is seeking to have his name cleared of that questionable charge of cheating, all these years later.

Hidden Room
There are other ghosts that have been seen passing through the basement area. The building is said to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Some exploration has exposed a secret room - a place that could have been used to hide slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. It is quite possible that some slaves didn’t make it out of the basement, dying of injuries or disease and could have been buried under the dirt floor, although no skeletons have been found.

And then there are the spirits reported to be hanging around upstairs. People say that faces in the paintings on the second floor seem to follow you with their eyes as you walk down the corridor. Unseen phantoms tap customers on the shoulders, and faucets in unoccupied rooms turn on and off.

There are those who think the ghosts in the upstairs back room are the men who aided Stone in burying traveler’s body so many years ago, still trying to guard their secret, even in death. These men, who made a vow of silence during their lifetimes, may still be trying to keep their deed undiscovered.

Employees at the restaurant tell of a little girl named Mary who also haunts the upstairs. According to legend, it was during the late 1800s when Mary was playing on the railroad tracks and was struck by a train. She was taken to the public house where she died in an upstairs room. Her bloodied dress was taken to the attic where it has remained for over 100 years. People gazing up at the house have reported seeing a young girl staring forlornly out of an upstairs window as if waiting for someone who never comes.

Bar Area
Even now in the 21st century, employees report incidents that no one can explain. Doors that have been secured for the night will unlock themselves. Water taps in the bar area turn on and off for no reason. The restaurant and bar staff report beverage glasses have been thrown off the shelves, or simply shattered into pieces as they set on the bar.

Today, Stone’s Public House serves American pub grub, along with Irish food and drink. The restaurant opened in 2003 and occupies the downstairs floor of the building while offices and storage are located above. Stones Public House is located at 179 Main Street in Ashland, Massachusetts. Visit Stone’s Public House for more information.

The eerie atmosphere of the house is well earned; the bar is well worn with close to 200 years of use, old floorboards creek at random throughout the house as if someone is talking upon them, and then there are those solid wooden beams spanning the ceiling, which have born witness to years of loves, hates, and plans, made and forgotten.

And above one fireplace, the menacing picture of Captain John Stone still hangs, as he apparently keeps abreast of who or what continues to come and go at his inn …

~ Joy