The Mystery of Phelps Mansion – Stratford, Connecticut

Stratford is similar to a lot of towns in New England. It has a scenic sea front, a busy central street and at one time had a haunted house.

It was referred to as the Phelps Mansion, and was initially owned by George R. Dowell, who was a rich captain of a clipper ship. Starting from 1826 to 1849, Dowell and his spouse resided there happily until they passed on.

At this juncture the Reverend Phelps purchased the sophisticated mansion and shifted here with his family. Mrs. Phelps came from Philadelphia and was somehow taken aback at Stratford. She found it hard to get used to life in this small town.

Old Photo of Phelps Mansion Exterior
Old Photo of Phelps Mansion Exterior

However, despite this, everything was very peaceful. That is, until 10th March, 1850.

Strange Happenings

On this specific Sunday, Reverend Phelps and family came back from Sabbath and found their house in total disarray. Furniture was thrown helter skelter and lay in broken pieces. Cutlery lay scattered all over the floor.

The most disturbing discovery was different articles of women clothes in the main parlor which had taken a human shape. News spread fast and hoards of reporters and spiritualists set up camp in the exterior of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of the apparitions.

Interior Stairway inside of Phelps Mansion
Interior Stairway inside of Phelps Mansion

In the months that followed, voices and knocking was heard throughout the house and weird writing appeared on walls mysteriously. Objects also flew from one end of the room to another.

Different Theories

Theories on what was happening thrived. One spiritualist stated that important radiation coming from Phelps’s son who was 11 years old, made things fly across the room.

Reporters were doubtful even at this time and concluded that the haunting was a big hoax set up by Mrs. Phelps and the kids, as they were all disappointed with Stratford’s slow pace.

Even the history of the city describes it this way. In October of the same year when Mrs. Phelps and her children returned to Philadelphia, the haunting continued.

However, the story continues…

Years Later

Many years passed, owners changed and everything was calm on Elm Street. Then, about a century after the horrifying events, Carl Caserta and his spouse bought the Phelps’ mansion in 1947 and transformed it to a convalescence home. It was while they were owners that the supernatural came back to Stratford.

Mrs Caserta was carrying out chores in the basement one evening, soon after putting her baby son to bed, when the buzzer sounded. After the Casertas carried out renovations on the house, they installed buzzers on every floor to enable the residents to call for help.

Drawing of Phelps Mansion
Drawing of Phelps Mansion

When she heard the buzzing, Mrs. Caserta ran upstairs and did not find anyone who had rung for her on the initial two floors which were occupied by residents.

When approaching the third floor however, which was occupied by her and her family, she smelt smoke and rushed into her son’s bedroom. She found a blanket ablaze, which she had put over his bed.

Fast, she put out the flames and was overcome by emotion. But, who had rung the buzzer. The staff was with her, the patients, who were elderly, were all sleeping in their beds and it was not possible for her son to reach it.

Some years later, a similar occurrence took place when her son who was sleep-walking tried to leap from the landing on the third floor. He would have done so, had the phantom buzzer not sounded, prompting Mrs. Caserta to stop him.

The Casertas were unable to discover why the buzzer sounded, saving the life of their young son two times. Maybe the answer was hidden inside those walls, but it will never be available to us.

In 1972, this house was a victim of the wrecking ball. Nowadays, a parking lot encompasses the plot where the Phelps’ Mansion once stood.

However, the mystery continues…

Brown Palace Hotel – Denver, Colorado

There isn’t a hotel in the world, no matter how grand, that hasn’t had an unwanted or unwelcome guest at one time or another.

The Brown Palace Hotel, in Denver Colorado is a pretty grand place, and has been since 1892 when it was built by Henry Cordes Brown as his response to being denied entry to the Windsor Hotel; at the time Denver’s most renowned establishment, for being improperly dressed; he had come straight from his ranch and was still wearing his working cowboy attire.

Brown Palace Hotel Entrance

The hotel hasn’t closed for so much as a single day since it opened, and it has been the site of everything from the sublime to the ridiculous in that time.

It was here that the Denver Broncos were born; in the lobby of the hotel a prize bull was exhibited; it has been host to Presidents and rock stars and has taken everything the world has to throw at it, while still retaining its reputation as one of the finest hotels in Colorado, if not the entire United States.

However, even here there have been…and still are…a few unusual guests.

Socialite Ghost of Brown Palace Hotel

Room 904 was home to a famous Denver socialite for some 15 years, between 1940 and 1955. She was so well known that when the hotel started to offer tours to visitors, the room was included in the itinerary, with tourists being told of her life and her heartbreak over a lost love.

At just this time the switchboard started to receive calls from room 904. Nothing odd about that…except that the room was undergoing renovation at the time, and had no telephone line, no furniture and of course no-one in residence.

The hotel dropped the room and its tragic resident’s story from their tour, and the calls stopped.

With such a long and colourful history, the Brown palace has had its share of incident, and maybe some of the shades of its past still linger.

ghost of brown palace walking down stairs

There have been sightings of a man in an old-fashioned train conductor’s uniform crossing a hallway, then disappearing through a wall. The spot where this is reported used to house a railroad ticket office.

The service elevator is regularly occupied by a uniformed waiter, who is never seen to board the car or to leave it.

Children play in empty halls, and an infant can sometimes be heard crying in the boiler room.

Haunted Hallway at Brown Palace Hotel

And in the main dining room – now known as Ellyngton’s, but for many years called the San Marco room; a room which played host to big bands, and later to the San Marco Strings, who entertained diners and guests, a staff member recounts hearing strange noises coming from behind the closed doors of the room late at night. He went to investigate and found a formally dressed string quartet busy practising their repertoire.

He challenged them, saying “You’re not supposed to be in here”, and was given the reply “Oh, don’t worry about us. We live here”

The Brown Palace really is a wonderful hotel, full of wonderful stories and history and perhaps more than a few unexpected guests.

Atrium Interior of Brown Palace
Atrium Interior of Brown Palace