WATERBURY — Jack Barwick isn’t much of a believer in ghosts, but he admits there have been some unexplainable occurrences at the Stagecoach Inn where he has lived and worked the past 18 years. Sitting at a small bar in 185-year-old establishment, Barwick shares anecdotes that were more pranks and shenanigans than anything scary, but some incidents were beyond conventional reason. “The things that happened tested your sense of reality,” said Barwick, as he told stories about missing bottles of Scotch that would reappear the next day, or a fire alarm that was broken off the wall on the third floor when no one was in the building. Barwick said there were a couple of episodes that he still can’t wrap his head around. One night five or six years ago, Barwick was running the front of the inn by himself. Every room was booked for the night, but a late-night cancellation from the Room 3 guests meant Barwick could lock up and head to bed himself. In the morning, Barwick was preparing for breakfast when some guests he did not recognize ambled down the stairs. He stopped the couple and asked them if they were staying at the inn, or if they had just come in for breakfast, which was pretty commonplace. The couple said they had arrived well after midnight and had spent the night in Room 3. They said they were happy that they were able to find a place to stay at such an hour, and were grateful for the lodging. Barwick asked the couple who had let them in, thinking another guest may have heard the couple at the door and let them in, though only he knew that the Room 3 reservation had been canceled and was open. The couple said a nice woman had opened the door and told them which room to stay in. They described her as an older woman, wearing a long dress with her hair pulled back in a bun. Barwick said there was no guest staying at the inn that matched that description; and he made sure to ask every guest to see if indeed someone had let the couple in, but to no avail. There just didn’t seem to be anyone who had helped the late-night arrivals to their room. Perhaps it was Nettie? The inn has gained a reputation for being haunted by Margaret Annette Henry Spencer, who was born in Waterbury in 1848. “Nette,” or “Nettie” as she was also known, was an eccentric woman who married a wealthy man who died in 1907. As a widow, she returned from world travels to take up residency at the inn. She lived to be 99 years old and her final resting place is next door at a mausoleum just inside the Congregational Church cemetery. Barwick said the various unexplained happenings have waned over the years, but that guests do still request Room 2, which has a reputation for being the most haunted. “Not long ago a guest requested Room 2 specifically,” said Barwick. “Then the man said the last time he stayed in the room with his wife, he saw a ghost.” Barwick said the man told him a woman appeared standing at the foot of the bed. Barwick asked the man what the woman looked like and he told him that she was an older woman, wearing a long dress with her hair pulled back in a tight bun. The Stagecoach Inn is certainly not the only haunted building in Vermont, and Matt Borden, founder of Vermont Spirits Detective Agency. He has made it his mission to seek out ghostly places and look for signs of haunting. Borden began investigating the paranormal in 2008, and since then he has looked into more than 30 haunted places, including the Johnson House at the University of Vermont, an abandoned farmhouse in North Hero, and the Back in Time Bed and Breakfast in St. Albans. Borden uses high-tech devices like the K-II EMF Meter, which measures electromagnetic fields; ultra-sensitive thermometers, surveillance cameras, and digital recording devices. Borden said he has captured the voices of a whole family of ghosts on the digital recorder at the home in North Hero. “I asked questions at the home, and although you don’t hear any audible sounds, you can hear the sounds when you listen to the recording,” said Borden. In researching the haunted house, Borden said he discovered four children, all under the age of six, have died in the home. Borden said he’s never actually been frightened by spirits, but the sounds he captured on that recording are a little disturbing. Borden said he has also investigated paranormal activity at the Back In Time B&B and said he was pretty convinced the place is haunted. “The creepiest thing is walking around an inn by yourself at night,” said Borden. Pauline Cray, who has owned the business since 1999, said she had heard stories about the haunting before she made the purchase, but she fell in love with the building and doesn’t mind sharing the space with as many as four resident specters. “A lot of people say the ghosts are real happy with me,” said Cray. Cray said the house has quite a history, including being part of the Underground Railroad, the location of a suicide that took place in the parlor and the site of an unexplained death of a young girl. Along with the young girl, who has annoyed at least a few guests with her tricks, the house also hosts an elderly woman, a gentlemen who resides in the living room where the suicide took place and a spirit in the basement. Cray said there also was a menacing apparition that lived in the attic. She said the individual would appear with a head injury and was often unpleasant. “I had a psychic come in to help get rid of that ghost,” she said. Cray said that like Barwick, she has guests that come to stay just to see if they can experience an encounter with one of the spirits. At the same time, she also knows there are people who refuse to stay in the building in order to avoid just such an occurrence.

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