Byline: Craig S. Semon
STURBRIDGE - "I'm gonna get married here in two months. So are you going to be harassing me all night?" asks Lauren E. Neslusan, as she sits in the dark confines of Room 40 at the Publick House. "I'm going to be here all day and all night ... just don't ruin my dress or my hair."
Not only is Ms. Neslusan a jumpy bride-to-be, she's an investigator, director and founder of the Killingly-based Quiet Corner Paranormal. And, one night last week, Ms. Neslusan and her team of experts in things that go bump in the night and send shivers up and down one's spine took refuge in the shadowy bowels of the famed historic inn, which was founded by Col. Ebenezer Crafts in 1771.
"The ballroom is supposed to be haunted by an apparition of a gentleman in Colonial garb. We believe the man in Colonial garb they see is Ebenezer Crafts, the builder of the inn," Ms. Neslusan said. "Up the stairs is the most haunted room, Room 40, which is the bridal suite. People have heard footsteps up there. They hear whispers. And several people have asked to change rooms" because of it.
Publick House's general manager Michael J. Glick said he has heard reports from some of his staff, as well as guests, of strange, otherworldly occurrences, including the apparition of a gentleman with a big, tall hat residing outside of Room 40, as well as doors opening and shutting at will, and the sound of breaking glass.
"Three guests that were in these three front guest rooms, all in the night, got awoken by the sound of breaking glass and china," Mr. Glick recalled. "They actually left their rooms, went downstairs looking to see what was going on and couldn't find anything ... We joke about it and say, `That's Ebenezer's ghost'."
Donn Fleming, a bartender in the tavern downstairs, recalls how, 10 years ago on a full-moon summer night, he glimpsed what he believes was Mehitable (Chandler) Crafts, the wife of the Publick House founder, in the Pineapple Room..
"We used to do inventory every Saturday night and it's usually very late, too, and the closing manager Kelly was sitting right here (in the tavern) totaling up all the sheets. Nobody else is in the whole entire house. So I take my bank bag and I walked down here and I see someone sitting there (in the Pineapple Room). What the hell is Kelly doing here?" Mr. Fleming said. "Okay. It's 2:30 in the morning. I'm tired. I'm seeing things. So I go back down (to the tavern) and Kelly is still sitting back at the bar. So...