PROCTORSVILLE, Vt. – The Cavendish Historical Society’s Margo Caulfield led about 20 brave and adventurous souls on a Christmas Ghost Walk during the evening of Sunday, Dec. 12. The walk started near the Proctorsville green and stopped at several noteworthy ghost-hosting homes along Route 131 and Depot Street, and ended with a bonfire on the grounds of the Golden Stage Inn – one of the most well-known and documented haunted inns in Vermont.
The clear and cold winter’s evening began in front of the old Proctorsville war memorial with our group listening to Caulfield’s introduction across from a street lamp that kept going out, plunging the group into darkness. My cell phone was also malfunctioning, requiring me to restart it for the voice memo-recording feature to work – both creating an eerily ironic start to the tour.
The memorial is flanked by two adjacent buildings, one is an old brick building known originally as the Eagle Tavern and is now home to apartments, Black River Tax, and Village Clippers. This building has several bricked-up windows and an empty attic. It was once a Masonic lodge that held séances with reports from elderly residents recalling seeing pianos levitating down hallways when they were children.
On the other side of the memorial is a completely renovated home, which sits directly below the Proctor cemetery. It is haunted by a male spirit who appears at the foot of the bed, according to recent renters.
Just down the road on Route 131 across from the Proctorsville Fire Station is an old home built in 1869 with the unique distinction of have the inhabiting ghost written into the deed of the house. “Lena” has the right to the parlor and the front bedroom. The current owners have heard talking and voices when no one is there and is used to having Lena move and hide objects throughout the home.
The Proctorsville Fire Department itself was also a long-serving host to a ghost they called “Homer.” Homer would turn lights off and on and would flush toilets and run water. According to Caulfield, he hasn’t been around for the last five years or so.
Several stops along Depot Street included stories of three children ghosts who inhabited the old Opera House, now Crows Bakery; an old Abenaki ghost tale retold from their lore; and reports of ghostly inhabitants in the basement of what was once a brothel but later the old Proctorsville Inn.
The final stop settled our group warming around a generous fire on the grounds of the Golden Stage Inn, enjoying hot cider and fresh cookies while Golden Stage innkeeper Julie Wood told several stories relayed from past innkeepers, a smattering of personal experiences, and reported ghostly encounters from guests. The most recent sighting involved a casperesque cat walking along the foot of a bed and atop the tucked-in feet of a guest. A separate encounter inflamed a different guest’s feline allergies, though no visible cat was around and none live there.
The charming evening ended after Wood finished one last “tall tale,” which was borrowed from a fictional storyteller. Tour guests then walked the short distance along a well-lit Depot Street back to their vehicles in the crisp, cold night air.
For more information on other planned events by the Cavendish Historical Society, follow the Cavendish Connects website at www.cavendishconnects.com.