If they love a house enough, homebuyers are willing to overlook just about anything. Garish colors? We’ll paint over ’em. Tiny kitchen? We’ll blow out that back wall. Ghosts? Well, why not?
In fact, a 2018 realtor.com poll revealed that one-third of prospective buyers wouldn’t think twice about buying a haunted house if the price, location, and amenities were appealing enough. And 18 percent said, in effect, “Hey, a ghost is all the amenity we need! We’ll take it!”
While lawyers refer to haunted houses as “psychologically impacted” or “stigmatized” properties, a surprising number of people just call them “home.” I crossed the country looking for folks who consider ghosts to be part of the family. Surprisingly, they weren’t hard to find.
Understand, I’ve never believed in ghosts, and I’m pretty sure I still don’t. But how, then, do I explain the weird event that’s been haunting me for a couple of months now?
I was enjoying dinner with my wife, Carolyn, and her old friend, Mary, at a charming, century-old, Victorian home-turned-restaurant in historic Lewes, Delaware. The three of us were seated at a table with four chairs. Just as we began digging into our entrees—and you’ve just got to go with me here—the bottle of wine that we’d ordered started to slide, like a piece on a chess board, across the table toward the empty chair.
As we watched in silence, our forks hovering halfway between our plates and mouths, the bottle continued off the edge. But instead of falling, it rose over the tall back of the vacant chair, then descended gently to the floor and landed with a dull thud rather than a crash. There we sat, forks still frozen, mouths hanging open, our eyes darting back and forth.
We were still in that stunned state when our server rushed from across the room. As she replaced the bottle on the table, she muttered, almost to herself, “It’s the ghost.”
It turns out someone…or something…has been pulling otherworldly pranks like this for years at the establishment. It took some time, but the owner and staff eventually came to terms with sharing the property with an unseen entity. That seemed odd to me, but as I set out in search of haunted homes, I was surprised by how many people share that attitude.
The home of Salem witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin in Salem, Massachusetts, is reportedly haunted by people wrongly accused of witchcraft and put to death in 1692.
Photograph by Steve and Donna O’Meara, National Geographic
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