14 Apr 2011
Footsteps when no one is there, the ghostly laughter of children… Is America’s oldest house haunted?
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:53 PM on 14th April 2011
It's the oldest timber frame house in America, lived in for generations by the same family and lovingly kept just as it was in its early Colonial days.
But what the Fairbanks House lacks in modern facilities it seems to make for with ... strange spirits.
The house in Dedham, Massachusetts, was built between 1637 and 1641 by English settlers Jonathan and Grace Fairbanks.
Today the house is a museum, but it could very well one of the most haunted houses in America.
Is it or isn't it? There is a movement on to see if one of America's oldest houses, in Dedham, is haunted
Justin Schlesinger, one of the museum directors whose ancestors built the property, said: 'There’s always been weird things happening in the house, from the doorbell going off a million times to flashlights never working.'
He added that there are sometimes footsteps heard on the stairs when no one is there. Also, a newly-installed alarm system went off every night for several weeks with the alarm company unable to offer an explanation.
If there are such things as ghosts, he said, 'this would be the logical place for them to be.'
For decades now, throngs of visitors from all over the world, from school children to distinguished architects, have toured the house, entranced by its authenticity.
A gentler age: Portraits and china bring a dash of colour to the living room
Over the centuries, there must have been some deaths in the house, museum business manager Lee Ann Hodson said.
There's even been a shocking murder. In 1801, one of the Fairbanks sons, Jason, was convicted in the killing of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Fales, in a nearby pasture. She had apparently spurned his marriage proposal.
He was hanged from the gallows on Dedham Common in one of the most sensational murder cases of the time.
On a whim last year, Mr Schlesinger, 25, asked a ghost-hunting group, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or TAPS, to come in and see what they might find.
A house full of history: Tools and items from the early Colonial days litter the property
GHOSTLY RIVALS: FIVE OF AMERICA'S MOST HAUNTED HOUSES
Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
The ghosts of Andrew and Abby Borden are said to roam this house, now run as a bed and breakfast, where they were killed in 1892.
Mr Borden's daughter, Lizzie, was accused of hacking him and her stepmother to death with an axe.
Now she is remembered by children across U.S. with the skipping rope rhyme 'Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks'.
LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans, Louisiana
This house became famous in 2007 when it was bought by actor Nicolas Cage.
It's reputed to be haunted by the victims of Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a socialite who inflicted horrific punishment and torture on her slaves.
The horrendous truth was uncovered when a fire ripped through the house in 1834. Rescuers discovered slaves who had been whipped, mutilated and imprisoned wearing spiked iron collars.
Franklin Castle, Cleveland, Ohio
This Gothic house couldn't look more haunted if it tried, with its tower, turrets, balconies and gargoyles.
It was built in 1860 for a German immigrant, Hannes Tiedemann.
But soon after he moved in, four of his daughters died in as many years, including three babies, leading to speculation Tiedemann had a hand in their deaths.
Visitors say they have heard footsteps, doors slamming - and the sound of babies crying.
Sprague Mansion, Cranston, Rhode Island
Two ghosts are said to haunt this house, once owned by one of the town's most prosperous families, the Spragues, who owned a textile mill.
In 1843 Amasa Sprague was found shot and beaten on the road from the mansion to the mill. According to lore, his ghost returned to the house and can be spotted prowling the wine cellar.
Visitors say they have also spotted 'Charlie the butler' descending the main stairway.
Myrtles Plantation, St Francisville, Lousiana
This spooky-looking plantation home is populated by a whole family of ghosts. In 1808, a young slave named Chloe, jealous of the plantation owner's family, baked a birthday cake for one of his children, filled with poisonous oleander leaves.
His wife, Sara, and two of his children died. Chloe confessed to the murder - but her fellow slaves hung her and threw her body in the Mississippi.
Now she is said to haunt the garden, where she tends her plantings, while the spirits of Sara and her children are said to be trapped inside a large mirror.
He spent a a night in the house with the TAPS investigators.
'We heard footsteps in the beginning,' he said. 'Up where the children used to sleep.'
The TAPS group made audio recordings all night in an effort to detect anything out of the ordinary.
They told him after reviewing the tapes that they did record some sounds.
'They thought it was kids, because they got some laughter on the recordings.'
Schlesinger admitted that he didn’t get much sleep that night while the group camped out on sleeping bags in the house’s tiny parlor, especially when his cell phone went off in the middle of the night and began playing organ music.
'I don’t know if scared is the right word,' he said.'Maybe startled or confused.'
The ghost hunters told him not to worry, that if there were spirits in the house, they were likely his own family and wouldn’t harm him, thebostonchannel.com reports.
He said the TAPS team told him spirits like to 'mess with electronics,' which might explain why tourists’ cameras often stop working as well.
'There is so much history living in this house,' he said.
The TAPS group returned last weekend for a second round of testing armed with their electro-magnetic field detectors and audio recorders.
Team leader Traci Boiselle, 38, described the outing as 'awesome.'
'This time, the house had a very different feeling,' she said. 'We had lots of knocking and moving sounds.'
'My take is that definitely there is some paranormal activity in the house,' she added.
But Lesley Haine, one of the house’s tour guides who was raised in Dedham, said that while it’s hard to keep flashlights working there, she’s never personally noticed anything too odd.
'If there are spirits out there, they are good spirits,' she said.
'There’s nothing bad. They’re happy spirits.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1376699/Fairbanks-House-Massachusetts-Is-America-s-oldest-house-haunted.html#ixzz1JXcpZzTJ