North Stonington's Old Town Hall may be haunted

The creaky upstairs floor of the Old Town Hall in North Stonington is home to a conference room, a locked stairway to the attic, the Resident State Troopers' office and, according to current and former employees, and unidentified unearthly presence.

Over the decades that First Selectman Nicholas Mullane has inhabited Town Hall, many people have reported an "eerie feeling," the sense of a "presence" or an unexplained whoosh of air, he said, usually at night.

Others - including former state troopers - have reported nighttime footsteps or abrupt knocks on the door. That's startling to someone alone in the troopers' office, said Mullane, because they keep the building locked after hours and the old floorboards squeak loudly under the weight of anyone who "doesn't weigh 70 pounds and wears a thick pair of slippers."

He's been the town's first selectman for more than two decades and has spent "endless hours" in the building on nights and weekends, but Mullane has yet to experience an encounter with the ghost that apparently keeps him company.

"I think I'm criticized as a non-believer," said Mullane, who speculates that he may not have "sensitivity" to paranormal presences like other town employees.

Or maybe, he said, "the ghost doesn't relate to me."

But other Town Hall workers trade stories about their own experiences with the ghost, and often mention that past troopers - "big guys with guns," as one employee put it - have refused to work in the upstairs office at night.

Don Hill, who was a trooper in the early 2000s and is now employed by the town's public works department, said he was familiar with the Old Town Hall's "presence," which visited him before he was told about its existence.

He reported hearing knocks and footsteps while working in the upstairs office, usually between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

At first he thought someone was messing with him, but he never saw anyone else around Town Hall. Eventually he asked another employee if she'd ever hear noises upstairs, and she informed him about the ghost.

"I've heard things I can't explain," said Hill. The noises never seemed threatening, so they didn't bother him too much, he said.

"But (now) I don't go to Town Hall at night," he added, laughing.

North Stonington's bookkeeper Susan Henderson heard that Town Hall was haunted shortly after she joined the staff there in 2012. She was intrigued by the stories and listened closely during work hours but never heard anything unusual.

So one night Henderson decided to camp out in the troopers' office and see if the tales were true. It didn't even take five minutes for her to find out.

"I am definitely a believer. There is definitely a ghost up there," she said.

And the ghost, added Henderson, is "clearly a woman."

She didn't see anything, but she heard a female voice that spoke for about 30 seconds. Henderson couldn't make out exactly what she was saying, but said the tone was "matter of fact," not particularly angry or happy.

She looked out the windows, expecting someone to be standing outside the door to Town Hall or in the adjacent parking lot. The area was deserted.

Henderson worked at the New London Public Library, which is also haunted and prone to drawers that open on their own, she said. But drawers can be explained away - a disembodied voice, said Henderson, cannot.

"I have no idea who she could be," said Henderson, who said she's heard that Old Town Hall used to be a general store and was moved from its original location further up Main Street. She doesn't know whether anyone lived at the building's current location before it was moved, so she has few leads as far as the woman's identity.

But Henderson is sure that her spirit exists.

"I heard this woman speak. So there is no doubt in my mind. I'm convinced."

K.CATALFAMO@THEDAY.COM

TWITTER: @KCCATALFAMO

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