Many of the names and some of the descriptions in this blog have been changed to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Haunted Springfield

Things do go bump in the night in Springfield—and I’m not talking about cars going over potholes. Yes, there are supposed hauntings in this city, and below are four of them. Are you easily scared? Don’t worry. Count Floyd will guide you.

The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

A mummy isn’t the only dead body in the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in the Quadrangle: so are George, the museum’s namesake, and his wife, Belle (pictured below). Their ashes are sealed in a wall. Do their ghosts roam the building at night? This might explain the many bizarre occurrences there.

Last Halloween, WGGB-TV 40 aired several features on the museum, which a reporter and camera person visited with the team from Agawam Paranormal. “We’ve definitely had a lot of reports from the staff here of noises,” said Matt Longhi, director of publications and marketing at the Springfield Museums. Specifically, in the wee hours there are creaking floors as if someone is walking around. Security guard Tom Scorbett has heard weird sounds. “I’ve been here round the clock by myself in this building,” he said. “I think sometimes there are footfall that you hear when there’s nobody in the building.”

Scorbett has also heard toilets flushing and elevators that move on their own, as well as seeing a phantom shadow going across the sculpture hall and into a closet.

The TV segment shows an unattended flashlight blinking on:

There are also pictures of floating orbs, like this one:

They also have a FLIR thermal imaging camera showing two paranormal investigators in the foreground to the right and a tall image, appearing in the doorway behind them, moving to the left:

One of the Agawam Paranormal team members asks if a spirit is present, and the recorder picks up an answer: a whispered “yes” says the voice.

Theodore’s and Smith’s Billiards

Keith Makarowski, co-owner of Theodore’s Booze Blues & BBQ, along with Smith’s Billiards upstairs, was in the basement of Theodore’s one summer night when he heard footsteps above him. When he looked up and saw the floorboards move, he knew someone was in the bar despite the fact that he had locked up.

He ran upstairs with a broken pool stick, but no one was there. Besides, how do you hurt a ghost with a piece of wood?

There had been rumors of a ghost there for years, so in 2009, when Stephen Goncalves, one of the co-stars of the SciFi Channel TV series Ghost Hunters, called Makarowski about doing a show there, how could he refuse? Goncalves’ former band Po’ Boy and the Red Hats used to play at Theodore’s and he heard the old stories: mystery voices whispering, a chill in one part of the basement, the ghost of a small boy sitting on a pool table, the sound of pool balls falling into pockets, objects falling off walls and shelves, and perhaps the most bizarre of all: the sound of bowling balls rolling on the vacant fourth and fifth floors.

Actually, if you believe in that sort of thing, the bowling ghosts (the first I’ve heard of such a phenomenon) may not be that farfetched: there was a candlepin bowling alley in the upper floors of the building from 1905 until the late 1940s:

The eight lanes were removed and relocated to an alley in Connecticut:

Unfortunately, I don’t have any video link to that Ghost Hunters episode. To see it for yourself (on season four), you can order it on Amazon.com. I did read that the Ghost Hunters team claimed to see a “short, shadowy figure” run past the pool tables, and a thermal imaging camera recorded the shape of “an entity.” They also heard “unexplained sounds” in the pool hall and recorded a “garbled voice” in the basement. 


Are there more spirits—aside from the bottled kind—at Theodore’s? By all means, go over there, bend an elbow, look and listen. I’m not sure of their policy on bringing in Ouija boards.

The Tanguay Home

In 2005 the Ghost Hunters TV crew visited the home of Joesph and Denise Tanguay on Redfern Drive in the city’s Pine Point neighborhood. Yes, you usually associate haunted houses being large Victorian mansions, not small houses, but the Tanguays reported that their young son, Zachary, was being yanked by his legs and poked in his feet and head while he was trying to sleep. He also sometimes saw a face on the ceiling.

Denise (pictured below) had a problem as well: she often got nauseous in the basement.

But this visit turned out to be much ado about nothing. The team thought that Zachary’s experiences was due to the fact that he was a restless sleeper because he played video games before he went to bed. They also thought the heat kicking on and off was waking him up. Because the team got some high EMF (electromagnetic field) readings in the basement, they explain that Denise might be sensitive to this, and not some apparition.

Okay, the verdict on the Tanguay home?

Nope, not scary at all.

Van Horn Park

There is a legend that in the 1920s, two boys died in the pond in Van Horn Park and that park visitors can still hear them laughing and splashing—and see the water ripple—even though there is no one in the pond. Curiously, there isn’t much of an online presence or details of this haunting, and there are no reported drownings in the park in the 1920s, according to a newspaper archive search.

That is not to say, however, that there weren’t drownings in Van Horn Park: there were nine that I’m aware of. Two drowned in the 1990s: Keith Robinson, 31, on July 4, 1991, and 28-year-old Gerald O’Keefe on July 13, 1990. 

Prior to those tragedies, one has to go back to the 1970s and further: on June 11, 1973, 11-year-old Edwin Garcia of 18 Massasoit Street drowned in 15 feet of water. On May 12, 1970, Israel Rodriguez, 22, of 415 Franklin Street, died in the pond during a family picnic and fishing trip. On July 26, 1939, Ira J. Croteau, who was 11 and lived at 19 Cumberland Street, drowned in the park. On July 18, 1938, 14-year-old Henry Korets, shared the same fate. The pond was the scene of the presumed drowning suicide of Winifred Dillon, 25, on October 2, 1936.

The only double drowning fatality to occur at Van Horn Park were two young girls on March 19, 1932, when six-year-old Louise Musante and four-year-old Shirley Hannon fell through the ice (pictured below). Perhaps that is the source of the legend, although they were girls playing on the ice, not boys in the water. But you know how legends get twisted.

Anyone hear of the Van Horn park haunting or any other ghosts in Springfield? Leave a comment! These guys will look into it!

Seriously, leave a comment. I'm sure Springfield has many more ghosts than these!