Halloween Happenin’s and Haunted Spots

Fall! The crisp air, foliage, pumpkins, and Halloween! Grab some cider and turn down the lights…if you dare! Let’s do some farmgirl decorating and spin a spooky yarn or two. Did ya know Connecticut is chock-full of places supposedly haunted?


As soon as October  hits, out come the decorations.  I dislike gory, fake-blood-soaked ornamentation, preferring instead to create an ol’fashioned Halloween mood of days past, full of whimsy.  When it comes to Halloween, I’m still a farmgirl at heart!  Tucked all about the house, you’ll find a country-style witch or a sweet Casper-like ghost.

Halloween FrontDoor-Decor

The kitchen is the “hubof our home, and gets especially decked out.  The Anchor Hocking glass pumpkin jar is one of my favorite pieces.  My mom had one exactly like it in the 1970’s.

“Jack”, a flea-market treasure, greets guests in the kitchen. 

I love mailing vintage-inspired notecards to friends.  I found these at Barnes and Noble last year, keeping a few for myself as decorations around the house.

I’ve always loved Halloween, and good spooky tales. As a kid, my parents would host my Girl Scout troop to our ranch in the Texas hill country. We’d toast marshmallows in the old barbeque pit and tell ghost stories. Thirty years later, that pit itself looks spooky, now a small hole in the ground, old bricks, and a rusted grate.  Dad’s got a modern smoker, but my brother and I can’t bear him to remove the old pit…it’s historical!

Remember boxed costumes from the five and dime? Me, aged two, dressed as Raggedy Ann...a farmgirl from the start!

Halloween isn’t the same without watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.  My girl, age 2.

There’s so much in life to really fear…(pesticides in our food, GMO’s, rush hour traffic).  I think it’s why I  enjoy the fun aspects of Halloween, especially a good ghost tale.  Connecticut’s steeped like strong tea in old history, and rumors of haunted places fly about like dried leaves. Here’s a few I’ve been to. How’s about  a case of  the

Heebie-Jeebies? 

According to legend, the “White Lady Ghost”  lurks about Union Cemetery in Easton, CT.   I’m always fascinated by old, vintage gravestones from a historical point of view, and have visited  century-old graves in Denmark (some from the 1200’s or older) and  around the U.S.  I ponder how different the interred lives were from ours today, and what would they think if they knew someone in 2012 was reading their epitaph!   Union cemetery boasts graves dating back to the 1600’s, and is encircled by an old, black wrought-iron fence.  Many legends surround the White Lady Ghost, who wears a long white gown; one being that she mourns the baby lost when she died in childbirth.

We pass Union Cemetery from time to time.

Carousel Gardens, in Seymour, CT, was built in 1894 by the town’s first resident.  This large, Victorian Home had a front room in a circular shape with big, long windows, and in modern times was a restaurant.   If diners inquired about its haunted history, they were treated to a large scrapbook with photos of “orbs” floating amongst diners and along walls. Supposedly, the ghosts didn’t care for fur, and it was said  they’d tug at the bottoms of fur coats.  Ed and Lorraine Warren, famed ghost hunters from Connecticut, were regulars. (I met the Warrens accidentally in the early 90’s.  Both were quite pleasant, but I slept with the lights on for weeks afterwards due to some of their scary stories).  As for Carousel Gardens, the food was quite good;  many specialties featured heavenly Gorgonzola cheese.  Sadly, it closed and was torn down in 2010.

The front, circular-shaped dining room of Carousel Gardens. I snapped this photo when we ate there in 2007.

One of my personal favorites is right in my hometown.  Fairfield Hills was built in 1931. The red brick buildings and underground tunnels were once a state mental hospital,  closed in 1995.  The tunnels were removed, and some buildings were renovated to  state-of-the-art. Others still stand, frozen in time. Many town happenings occur here, including sports and various special events, and there’s a weekly Organic Farmers Market in summer and early fall. The site was once used as the set of the movie Sleepers, starring Robin Williams, and rumors abound that the old buildings are haunted.  The walking trails are so seasonally beautiful, but walk the trails when it’s not really crowded, and it can be a little creepy.

Is that a reflection…or something else?  Oooooooooo…

The empty buildings at Fairfield Hills are both spooky and beautiful.  All the photos above and below I took recently on the same fall day.

The walking trails are so peaceful and stunning.

In recent years, one of my favorite museums, the Mark Twain House, has had stories swirling around that it’s  haunted.  This amazing brick house in Hartford was the home of one of America’s most beloved authors, Samuel Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain.  I’ve visited more times than I can count, and never tire of going.  Sadly, Mark Twain’s daughter Suzy died in the house at 24 in 1896, and the  heartbroken family couldn’t bear to return.  The museum’s decorated as it would have been when the Clemens family were residents, with many of their personal items.  On one visit, I  and several others felt a cold burst of air near Suzy’s room.  Air conditioning or ghost? Who knows, but the Mark Twain house is a must-see for anyone who loves history or literature.

I took this on a visit to the Mark Twain House in the summer of 2003.

Any spooky places or tales from your neck o’ the woods? What about Halloween traditions? Share with me in comments!  (Know what else is scary? The amount of candy I’ll eat from my daughter’s trick or treating, even though it always starts as “Just One”)!

Any candy from last year in here?”

Happy Halloween!

*Keep your fingers crossed for us…”Frankenstorm Sandy” is headin’ our way.  Hopefully Halloween won’t be cancelled like last year! Wishing all of you facing the impending storm that you stay safe, warm and dry!

Leave a comment 9 Comments

  1. Adrienne says:

    When I worked as a graveyard security officer during the summer break at the University of Nevada Reno, there was a male residence hall supposedly inhabited by a ghost. Lincoln Hall was built in 1895-6 and named after Abraham Lincoln. In the top dorm room, a young man hanged himself. I never saw the ghost but I felt his presence every time I inspected the building.

    Adrienne, how spooky!  In Houston, there was a cool restaurant for many years called the Red Lion.  It was very old, and was decorated in Victorian style.  A man hung himself there, once, too.  Many said they felt his presence there late at night.  Sadly, it burned down. 

    I bet it was spooky being the graveyard security officer there in Nevada, but also very cool!  Happy Halloween! -Nicole

  2. name Beverly Battaglia says:

    Dearest Nicole,

    I am so grateful for your family that the big trees that fell missed your house and all of you. My prayers were answered.
    I love the picture of you in Raggedy Ann and the picture brings back such good memories. You looked so sweet looking out of that mask face.
    This is so interesting about the graveyard, and Fairfield Hills, and I remember eating at Carousel Gargens a few years ago, with you and feeling coldness under the table! Also, I think we were told that Suzy, Mark Twain’s daughter died while the rest of the family was in Europe. Her room gave me an eerie feeling! Also, the only picture on my camera that did not show up  was the one a stranger took of you and I in front of that old house in Woodbury that was supposedly haunted. With love, Mother

    Mom, I forgot about that photo!  Weird, wasn’t it?  Love you, Nicole

  3. JaneAnn Lahmann says:

    Oct 31 2012
    Nicole,
    Thanks you for the wonderful rememberance of ‘box costumes, fall pictures and Mark Twain’s home!!!
    And the spooky stories.
    I like to deck the house and front porch in whimsy too- not fond of all the blood and gore either.

    Like yourself, I enjoy vintage cards and have some rather old paper embossed cut outs of Halloween figures including cats, pumpkins, witches ,etc…
    We have a selection of carved fun and scarey faced pumpkins, ‘cobwebs’ and corn stalks to make it a bit spooky.
    Just up near the eves on the front porch I string up a green pine garland and clothes pin the cutouts to it, festooning with colored ribbons. It’s very festive.

    I hope your weather will be nice so you get all the trick or treaters you want…. it will be cool and wet where I am in the Northwest, but I hope to see at least a few cute costumes at least.

    Have a very Happy Halloween and All Saints day tomorrow

    JaneAnn, how festive your house sounds!  I can just imagine little trick-or-treaters coming to your door!  I love your idea of the garland with clothespins and cutouts!  Thank you so much for sharing and commenting.  We survived the hurricane and are very lucky, and making the best of what we can for Halloween.  Thanks for reading and writing in! -Nicole

  4. Patricia says:

    I LOVE all your posts, but this one has to be my favorite! Halloween is my favorite holiday.. While visiting The Birdcage Theatre in Tombstone AZ I spelled cigar smoke, at Kennesaw Mountain GA my brother and I felt a definite cold spot on the hiking trail (at midnight!), while a fog bank rolled in, when we left the trail the fog bank rolled right back out. I have had encounters at Gettysburg as well. There is a lot out there that we mere mortals don’t know about. (And maybe that’s a good thing). This is your farm girl "sister" in Indiana, the one with the colored water in the window. My prayers are with you regarding Sandy, take care.

    Hi Patricia!  Great to hear from you!  Love your comment, you gave me goose bumps! 

    Thank you for your well wishes; we survived a very close call, with huge trees that could have flattened where we were all staying.  Very lucky.  My prayers are with all of those who now have lost everything, including loved ones. 

    Hope you have a wonderful Halloween in Indiana!  Big farmgirl hugs to you! -Nicole

  5. Kristy says:

    My parents bought an historic home in North Haven CT in 1955. It had been built as the Rising Sun Tavern about 1738. It had both a ghost and a witch. The ghost is of a slave who was in the bar room when a drunk Patriot said he’d shoot any Tory on sight. The slave said he was a Tory and he was shot. The witch was the wife of one of the inn keepers who wore a red wig. This information came from a book called "Old Inns In Connecticut" and was published in 1922. It was a great house to grow up in.

    Nothing scary happened to us then, but I really am concerned that slavery existed all throughout the Colonies, and that people believed in witchcraft still, one hundred years after the hysteria in Salem. History itself is scary.

    I hope you weathered the storm well.

    Kristy, how interesting!  There are so many historical, spooky tales in Connecticut.  My back yard backs up to woods, and I often imagine Ichabod Crane riding through them, ha ha. 

    Love the comment, "History itself is scary", so true! 

    Thank you for sharing, and for your wishes.  We have indeed weathered the storm, and nothing I’ve been through was as scary as that!  -Nicole

  6. bonnie ellis says:

    Nicole. When I was a kid in the early 1940s We used to dress up and go to one house in the neighborhood after early trick or treating. That home had a party for kids so they wouldn’t be out when the scary big kids were out. We watched movies put out by the telephone company, now boring how a telephone works, etc. But because it happened every year it became a tradition. The other tradition was asking for money for poor children around the world with our little cardboard banks we put together at school.

    Bonnie, that sounds lovely! I’m sure you know how much I adore tradition.  Last year we had Storm Alfred, so Halloween was cancelled.  A few weeks later, I hosted a Halloween Party for my daughter and her friends.  They dressed up, danced to the Monster Mash, and went on a spooky scavenger hunt with poems I made up on the clues.  It was fun.  Then we watched "It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" on DVD.  Made me realize how much kids have changed when one girl didn’t know what Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty were talking on (corded dial telephone), another did not know what kind of car the kids piled into at the end (station wagon), and one thought it wasn’t "politically correct" when Woodstock ate turkey with Snoopy since Woodstock himself is a bird! 

    Farmgirl hugs,
    Nicole

  7. cr lagroue says:

    I remember your raggedy ann costume…it hid the she devil underneath..ha..halloween isnt what it used to be…your blog brought back fun memories of yesteryear…thanks for trying to bring back the old fun of this wicked holiday…the old fun is fading away for the kids of the future….

    Here in Connecticut, it is still a pretty fun, innocent holiday.  I read today online that Connecticut is the best state for trick or treat.  Even though Halloween was cancelled a second time this year, the town of Southbury offered trick or treating for the kids in the Kmart plaza.  I could not believe how nice it was.  Panera gave away cookies, and stores gave away candy, coloring books, and other treats.  It was fun to see both adults and kids dressed up. Nicole

  8. Valerie O'Sullivan says:

    Nicole,
    I really enjoyed your post. I was psyched to dine at the restaurant, and bummed that it was closed. The decorations were great. I loved the photographs. You out did yourself. This was my favorite.

    Thanks so much, Valerie! Yes, we were disappointed to learn the restaurant was gone.  The house was so neat and the food was great.  -Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  9. Kim Yates says:

    Hi Nicole!

    While living on the dairy farm upstate in Central NY there was a resident ghost, more like a ‘caretaker’ felt & seen many times walking the farm & around the barns. Most every evening while I was there, you could hear door open & footsteps heading to upstairs. (We were all snug in bed!!)I also felt cold breezes while canning in the kitchen on a hot summer day…so many other incidences…uneasy feelings but yet felt ‘protected’…

    Kim, Very cool story!  Thank you for sharing! I think if I was a ghost, what better place to haunt than a farm? 

    When I first moved to Connecticut, I was working in our store that we had.  It was a hot summer day, too, and I was the only person there with one other employee.  All of a sudden, the heavy glass door blew open, and the coldest burst of air came flying through the showroom, then stopped.  Funny thing was there was no breeze.  We both felt eery about it.  It looked like someone had opened the door and walked through.  I never forgot that incident.  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

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