Thursday, October 25, 2001

Things that go bump in the night

Published in the Current

Scarborough’s Black Point Inn plays host not only to visitors from out of state, but from the realm of the paranormal, employees say.

The hotel, the last of close to a dozen of the original inns in Prouts Neck, has a lot of ghost stories surrounding it, according to housekeeping supervisor Angel Bechtold.

One recounts that a kitchen worker lived in the employees’ dormitory above the barn, now the garage. When the man’s fiancée broke up with him, he hanged himself. Now his spirit, Bechtold said, haunts the room he lived in.

“I have lived in that dorm and have felt things in the dorm, right beneath the widow’s walk,” she said.

While living there, she said, she would make her bed in the morning and come back to find it unmade after work. Smaller items, like a hairbrush, would be moved around, too.

“It’s pretty haunted,” Bechtold said.

She said she has experienced various presences in the inn and its outbuildings, but mostly during the winter when fewer people are around. At busier times, she said, taking care of guests distracts her from any ghosts which may be around.

She said she has never felt unsafe in the inn, but has been unsettled a few times.

“It’s like a creepy feeling, but nothing scary,” Bechtold said. “Walking through you can get really creeped out.”

Because the inn is so old, she said, it is more likely to have ghosts in it.

One housekeeper, Bechtold said, hears whispers and a cat meowing in the attic, which is used as a storage area.

Several small children have talked of ghosts when on the third floor of the main building, she said, including the young child of an employee, barely able to talk, who pointed up at the widow’s walk and said “ghost.”

Whether it’s because of battles between whites and Native Americans in the 18th century, or ghosts from the area’s other hotels needing a new home after those inns were torn down, or events at the Black Point Inn itself, Bechtold said there’s something there, but only for those who believe in ghosts.

She said she knows people who do not believe in ghosts and they haven’t seen or heard anything they can’t explain.

“I think if you believe, it’s really there,” Bechtold said.

Cape Elizabeth is also home to a haunted house, the Gothic-style Beckett’s Castle, at 7 Singles Road.

Built from 1871 to 1874 by publisher Sylvester Beckett, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but not for being haunted.

Indeed, the current owner, Nancey Harvey, said, “The previous owners said it was haunted, but (the ghosts) have gone away with me.”

But if it is no longer haunted by ghosts, the house is perhaps haunted by its own former haunting. Harvey said she gets frequent calls inquiring about the house being haunted.

The ghosts which previously inhabited the house were said to be Beckett himself and possibly a child. Among their antics were creating cold spots in the house, removing sheets and blankets from beds, moving paintings and never allowing one door to remain closed, even when nailed shut.

Beckett built the house largely with his own hands, according to the building’s listing in the National Register, from local fieldstone. Its trademark feature is a three-story tower in the southeast corner of the building. It is a four-bedroom house with a parlor, dining room and kitchen. The house has a number of diamond-shaped and triangular windows.