Meet Winthrop’s Own Ghostbusters

SPIRITS of New England paranormal investigators: Louis Gann, Jack Kenna, Sharon Koogler, Sarah Campbell, and Ellen MacNeil.

SPIRITS of New England paranormal investigators: Louis Gann, Jack Kenna, Sharon Koogler, Sarah Campbell, and Ellen MacNeil.

SPIRITS of New England, a team of paranormal investigators based in Winthrop, has traveled to New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Virginia on paranormal investigations. One of their favorite places to explore is the Deane Winthrop House. It is alive with unexplainable activity.

The investigators presented a lecture at the Winthrop Public Library on Oct. 24 to share their ghostly stories, and explain the various types of hauntings, such as residual, intelligent, and demonic. They described the equipment they use to document evidence, like digital voice recorders, video cameras, and K2 meters, which detect spikes in electromagnetic energy.

“You, as an investigator, are your best piece of equipment you have,” says Jack Kenna, who reveals that sensing the heaviness or chill in a room can be indicators of a supernatural presence.

Established in 2009, SPIRITS has become one of the most experienced and well respected teams in New England, with investigations ranging from private homes to historic locations. They have investigated and attended boot camp with members of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) from SyFy’s Ghost Hunters.

Ninety percent of evidence is electronic voice phenomena (EVP), intelligible voices of something not physically there captured on recording. SPIRITS documented a few EVPs during their visit to the Deane Winthrop House in 2009.

“This is one of my favorite places. The Deane Winthrop House was built in 1637,” says Ellen MacNeil. “It is the oldest, continuously lived in timber-framed house.”

The team reported smelling a tobacco pipe, seeing apparitions, and being cold to the bone. Photographs were captured of a moving mist that they speculate to be the figure of a woman holding a baby. As SPIRITS was packing up their equipment to leave the colonial home, a disembodied voice spoke, “Hello, Jack.”

There was K2 activity in the attic that SPIRITS believed to be Captain William Pierce, who built the Deane Winthrop House. To incite a response, Jack asked Captain Pierce if it bothered him that some speculate that he was a pirate. In a deep, stately, matter-of-fact tone, they heard, “Why, no.”

SPIRITS heard the story of a little girl who used to live in the house. Every night she would go upstairs, closing the door behind her. When her mother inquired who she was speaking to, the child answered that it was the ship captain telling her tales.

“What a wonderful thing to have the owner and builder of the house tell stories of his seafaring days,” Ellen said.

Another local building that SPIRITS investigated was Fisher College, Building 118, on Beacon Street in Boston. Students, staff, and security guards have reported seeing the apparition of a woman in the library late at night. They have heard voices, have been touched, and the heaviness in some of the classrooms makes it difficult to breath.

“We had students coming to the lecture hall saying, ‘I heard this, I saw this, the lights went out, this door flew open,’” explains Ellen. “There is a lot going on.”

Upon investigation, SPIRITS heard footsteps in the library and a woman scream. It is believed to be the ghost of Alice King, whose husband built the mansion for their family in the 1800s. There was a misconceived rumor that neighbors were not keen on Alice, and nobody attended her in-house wake. When asked if people despised her, an insulted female voice replied, “They liked me.”

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