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