What Rhode Island lacks in square footage it makes up for in haunted history! In fact, Providence has enough ghostly venues to fill up this list all by itself – there were at least 5 contenders that didn’t make the final cut.
In this week’s edition of Haunted New England, we explore the 6 scariest spots the Ocean State has to offer. These locales are not for the feint of heart and some are private property, so make sure you do your homework before embarking on your own Ghost Tour.
1. The Biltmore Hotel, Providence
The Biltmore seems to have been cursed right from the start. One of the financial backers for the construction was a Satanist named Johan Leisse Weisskopf. He is said to have used the hotel to perform his strange rituals and sacrifices – possibly human sacrifices.
During Prohibition the Biltmore became a hotbed of illegal action for cops, gangsters and the unsavory characters of the city. It seems that more than a few folks met their end during one of the hotel’s notorious booze fests.
Guests of the Biltmore have disappeared as recently as 2008 and others report hearing phantom party sounds in the halls and ballrooms. The honor of “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” was bestowed upon the Biltmore in 2000.
2. The Conjuring House, Burrillville
A young couple and their lovely children move into a new home in an idyllic suburb…Sounds like the start to about half the horror films you’ve seen, right? Well, for Roger and Carolyn Perron the nightmare was real. They are the actual couple who inspired the blockbuster hit, The Conjuring. It all started when Carolyn awoke in the pre-dawn hours to a terrifying apparition. She saw “the head of an old woman hanging off to one side over an old gray dress.”
Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famous paranormalists who also examined the Amityville Horror home, concluded that the spirit was Bathsheba Sherman, a Satanist who lived there in the early 19th century and murdered her own daughter as a sacrifice to the devil. She later hanged herself in the home according to Satanic rituals so that her spirit could haunt the place forever. Yikes!
3. Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter
The ghost of suspected vampire, Mercy Lena Brown is said to haunt the grounds of her final resting place. Mercy, her mother, and two of her siblings all died of consumption. Witchcraft and the paranormal were considered quite real in those days and rumors began to circulate that one of the deceased was trying to come back from the grave to claim the other family members.
When the Browns were dug up they were found to be decomposing as expected – all except Mercy, who looked just as she had the day she was buried. Her heart was removed and burned to keep her from returning again.
Visitors to Chestnut Hill Cemetery have seen Mercy’s spirit clothed in a torn black dress and captured EVP recordings of her pleading, “Please leave me to rest in peace.”
4. Performing Arts Center, Roger Williams University, Bristol
The 2 historic barns from the 1800s that became the Roger Willliams University Performing Arts Center, originally stood on the land of Thomas Whipple Steere of Glocester. Steere’s grandson is believed to have died in the corner of what is now the student theater. In honor of the ghost they call Banquo, a seat has been reserved in that very spot, referred to as the “haunted corner” by visitors. Are you brave enough to find out what happens when you sit in Banquo’s chair?
5. Rhode Island School of Design Campus, Providence
In the 17th and 18th century the people of Providence buried their dead in their own backyards rather than in cemeteries. As the city grew many structures were erected on top of these residential burial sites – a possible explanation for why Providence is so haunted.
The RISD campus is one such haunted locale with a dormitory that was once a morgue, buildings where photos develop with mysterious orbs, and others where ghostly hands reach out to shove you down the stairs. If you’re considering a degree in design, it might be safer to apply to the New England School of Art & Design instead!
6. Block Island
One of the many little islands off the mainland of Rhode Island (which isn’t an island at all, but I digress) is just a simple ferry ride across the Atlantic. It’s a lovely spot for tourists and vacationers with a historical lighthouse, scenic views and several quaint hotels and restaurants. Oh, and let’s not forget the ghosts!
Visitors have reported spying phantom pirate ships drifting off the coast. The lovely Southeast Lighthouse is said to house the specter of a murdered wife, pushed down the stairs by her husband. Apparently her vengeful spirit still taunts mail visitors to the lighthouse. Even a few of the historic hotels on the island are rumored to have their own phantoms.