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7 Mar 2009



Spirits of the departed appear reluctant to check out of local B&B
By Alison Aloisio

STRANGE GUESTS--Chapman Inn owner Fred Nolte in Room 7, where most of the inn's paranormal incidents have been reported

Photo by Alison Aloisio

A young female voice emanates from an empty room.

Footsteps are heard from another part of the house, but no one is there.

A black cat leaves the room — through a solid wall.

During the 12 years that Fred Nolte and Sandra Frye have owned the Chapman Inn Bed & Breakfast on the Bethel common, their guests have repeatedly related such stories over breakfast.

The incidents are frequent enough to prompt a description titled “Come Meet the Spirits” on the inn’s website, along with a “Certified Haunted” designation for the house.

The home was built during the Civil War.

Regardless of whether the Chapman does in fact host ghosts along with mere mortals, the innkeepers clearly enjoy the entertainment speculation provides.

The lady in Room 7

Most of the strange occurrences have happened, Fred said, in rooms 7 and 9.

Room 7 is directly over the kitchen, and during the drafty days of the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the warmest spot in the house.

As a result, it served as a nursing room, the one in which people most frequently entered— and exited— this world.

“That’s where the most psychic activity takes place,” said Fred.

Sandra described a Room 7 experience related by a guest.

“A lady got up in the night to use the bathroom. While she was there, a woman appeared in front of her,” Sandra said.

The guest told her she was in the wrong room, but the stranger put her finger to her lips and said, “Shhhh.”

“She then vanished through the wall,” said Sandra.

The Noltes themselves have not witnessed “beings” firsthand, but they have noticed unusual occurrences such as indentations in what had been freshly-made beds, a rocking chair moving with no one around, items inexplicably being moved, doors opening and closing by themselves and cold drafts during warm weather.

Sandra said bottles of perfume were particularly prone to move from room to room by themselves.

Even the Noltes’ dog and cat (orange, not black) appear to get into the act, seemingly searching for beings that are not there.

Fred said he typically takes a scientific view of such things and is not caught up by them.

But, he said, he doesn’t rule anything out.

“There are too many unsolicited and isolated incidents reported by too many people,” he said.

As for Sandra, “I think anything is possible,” she said.

Two spirits?

Looking back at the history of the home, Fred said that a longtime owner had a daughter who was in chronically poor health.

The father brought a female companion into the house, who served as the child’s only friend and social outlet.

After the daughter passed away at age 16, the companion stayed on.

And even after the father’s death, the woman continued to live in the house until she died, in 1957.

Do the spirits of the daughter and her companion remain in the house to this day?

About a year and a half ago, due to the growing number of reported incidents, Fred called upon a Certified Paranormal Investigator to do an in depth study of the inn.

The investigator spent several days, utilizing all of the field’s modern and accepted techniques, including electronic detection and monitoring, Fred said.

As Fred writes on the inn’s website, “His summation indicated that the inn is definitely haunted, and almost certainly by at least two entities.”

“The investigator theorized, with good evidence, that even after death [the daughter] would not leave her only friend, and stayed on in spirit to be close to her.

“The investigator went on to state that there is very compelling evidence to indicate that there are two spirits who inhabit the inn. It is his professional opinion that the other spirit is that of the companion, who has also chosen to remain on this side, and that they will spend eternity forever united.”

Officially haunted

The Noltes now have a “Certified Haunted” certificate hanging in their kitchen.

They don’t think the ghosts hurt their business.

“I don’t know how many people don’t come because of it, but we do know how many do,” said Fred.

And it’s a significant number, he said.

The “haunted” tag draws both serious believers as well as skeptics who come just for the fun.

None has gone away terrified, Fred said.

Local residents who have heard about the inn’s growing reputation for the paranormal seem to be taking it in stride, too.

“I’ve taken some ribbing,” said Fred.


© 2009 Bethel Citizen


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