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Paranormal News provided by Medium Bonnie Vent > A Ghost for the Harwinton House?

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15 Apr 2011


A Ghost for the Harwinton House?

HARWINTON—Everyone loves a good ghost story, and the so-called Harwinton House, which is currently being dismantled and prepared for the move back to Harwinton from its current location in New Canaan, may well have one.

“I think that is a great story myself. If that doesn’t spark interest in the house, what else would,” said Harwinton’s town historian, Roger Plaskett, in a phone interview Tuesday.

Mr. Plaskett relayed that Louis Paradise, one of the workers in New Canaan, reported seeing an apparition while working on the dismantling of the house last week.

“He spoke about a ghost that had appeared twice on the same day,” said Mr. Plaskett, who visited the home April 7.

The 1795 structure resided in Harwinton until 1931, when the Bristol Water Company bought the property, and more than 100 others, for reservoir and drinking water projects.

The 1795 center chimney Colonial was dismantled and moved to New Canaan. In early January, Mr. Plaskett received a call from the Preservation Alliance in New Canaan, asking if Harwinton officials would help seek the postponement of the issuance of a demolition permit, and support an extension of 90 days to see if there was some way of saving the house.

Harwinton First Selectman Frank Chiaramonte liked the idea of rescuing the house, and suggested using $150,000 in grant funds that had been awarded for the renovation of a town-owned house on the Wilcox Farm in Harwinton. The town had sought $425,000 for that project and could not proceed with the reduced amount in state funds.

The state approved the change of use for the grant funds in mid-January, and voters approved the project. However, resident Wesley Seixas has filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) complaint with the state seeking to void the March 15 town meeting approval based on a technicality.

The town still needs about $350,000 in grants and contributions from to create a foundation for the Harwinton House and get it in shape to be used as a museum.

Mr. Plaskett said that Mr. Paradise recalled that the apparition was wearing some sort of heavy blue flannel, but that in a blink of an eye it had disappeared. The apparition had appeared in two different areas of the attic, said Mr. Plaskett. Continued...

  Mr. Plaskett drew two conclusions on who the purported ghost might be—Stephen Graves, who was the original builder of the home, or Richard Henry Dana III, the grandson of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a famous Colonial revival architect of in the 1920s and 30s.

“The reason I suspect him as a candidate [is that] he oversaw the re-building and dismantling of the house in 1931 in New Canaan,” said Mr. Plaskett.

To satisfy his own curiosity, Mr. Plaskett got a hold of Randall Chilton, who now lives in Chicago and was the last person to live in the house in New Canaan. He moved out in June 2009. Mr. Chilton, Mr. Plaskett said, lived in the house for five years and had never experienced paranormal. Instead, he said the house had a feeling of safety and was a wonderful place in which to live.

The dismantling and moving of the house back to Harwinton is on schedule for a completion date of May 14. All the interior work is done, and workers are now taking off wall boards. Sketches of each room are being compiled to ease the resurrection, said Mr. Plaskett.

Mr. Plaskett said that Harwinton resident Fred Rondano, who owns Harwinton Drilling & Engineering Inc., volunteered to store the trailers that will hold the home on his property for free.

“It is really wonderful because storage would not be included in the funds we have. Our mission is to get this entire project funded without using local taxpayer money; we’re still committed to that,” said Mr. Plaskett.

When asked whether the appearance of a ghost would prompt a ghost tour for tourists, Mr. Plaskett said there are no plans for that, but the reports of an apparition certainly add to the lore of the house.

“I was happy to hear it. He is not there to scare anybody, he is overseeing something,” said Mr. Plaskett.

The Harwinton House Committee is in the process of applying for a Historic Preservation Technical Assistance Grant from the state, which the house qualifies for because it is on the state historic preservation register.

According to Mr. Plaskett, there are multiple host site candidates for the house in Harwinton, and the $10,000 grant would be used for a site feasibility study.

“We have three we have identified, the old Wilcox property on Hill Road, the town hall/library complex and the third location is a private citizen [who] has offered up a portion of her land to place the house,” said Mr. Plaskett. “That is on the entry way to the town hall/library complex.”

Mr. Plaskett said that the last two options are the leading candidates because the house/museum would be in a centrally located place, providing easy access for the public.

The pre-application for the grant has been approved and the committee has to submit the full application by May 1.   

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