so on friday night i am going to stay at a well-known abandoned haunted mansion called shard villa. my two best friends and I are going to make a documentary for senior project and i'm fucking scared already.
NO ONE COULD PASS SHARD VILLA IN SALISBURY without thinking, That house just has to be haunted. With its Italianate-Gothic-Second-Empire hodgepodge of Victorian architecture and its on-site mausoleum, it looks totally out of place in the Vermont landscape.
Quite obviously, Shard Villa is the product of a mind with a flair for the dramatic.
Its builder, a lawyer named Columbus Smith, made his fortune by selling or reclaiming European estates for clients who’d relocated to the United States. Shard Villa was constructed with money that Smith made arguing Mary Francis Shard’s holdings out of the hands of the English Crown. Legal proceedings took fourteen years and required six voyages to England. Supposedly Smith argued for forty days, during which his hair and beard turned white.
When he returned to Vermont in 1872, he began building his mansion. Shard Villa has three stories with thirty rooms full of frescoes and statuary. It’s dark, somber and imposing, an ideal setting for an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Or a ghost story.
It was within its cold limestone walls that Smith’s life turned from success to tragedy. His won, William, died at 14, victim of a neurological infection. A stone bears the melancholy inscription: "1881, June 13, Willie died." Salisbury historian Max Peterson relates, "The loss of his only son resulted in Columbus’s physical and mental decline…"
Perhaps the death of his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, sixteen years later finished him off. His health deteriorated to the point that he had to be confined to a wheelchair.
Irving Bacheller, the children’s tutor, recalled, "On one of my last visits to Shard Villa, its master had lost his health and reason. At night, I was awakened by a curious animal roar from the lips of the stricken man-[a] weird and melancholy sound ringing through the great house in which I had heard the merry laughter of children."
Today, some of that high strangeness remains. Though Columbus, his wife and their children are interred in the mausoleum on the premises, the Smiths may not be at rest.
At present-as was directed in Columbus’s will-Shard Villa is being used as a home for the elderly. And, as if the old place were a bridge from this world to the next, otherwordly events regularly occur.
Jean Seeley, a former director, has claimed to have seen Columbus Smith walking the halls at night. A housekeeper swore the old man’s ghost was in his bedroom whenever she went in to clean. Another employee saw flashes of light and a convergence of strange shadows.
Doors and windows mysteriously open and close. And things vanish in the house. A knife disappeared from a countertop next to the cook who was using it. One earring vanished from a set only to reappear later in another spot.
Cathy Blaise tells of an unusual happening in the second floor library. "I was sitting upstairs reading and this cold enveloped me. I couldn’t move."
Director Peggy Rocque was no believer in ghosts before she moved into Shard Villa. She brought her dog who never strayed from her side. But once in the house, it wouldn’t follow her up the stairs. It would just stand at the bottom and whine. Later, Rocque had experiences of her own. Lying in bed at night, she would hear glass shattering. But she never found anything broken. She also heard the piano playing downstairs, but every time she investigated, no one was at the keyboard. Once she discovered that the tub in an unused upstairs bathroom had been filled. This was especially odd because no one had ever been able to turn the rusty faucet!
Perhaps her eeriest experience was hearing a baby crying. Most of the staff heard it too-yet no baby could be found. In fact, no one could tell where the cries were coming from.
As far as I know, nothing truly terrifying has ever happened at Shard Villa. The presence seems somewhat playful, as if it’s toying with people’s minds and having some odd kind of fun.
And no one has been able to say if one ghost or many haunt Shard Villa’s shadowy halls. The identity of the ghost or ghosts remains a mystery. Columbus Smith? Family member? Employee? Maybe one of the residents of the community-care home? The crying baby seems especially strange because there’s no record of a baby ever dying there.
Some people have suggested the director try to contact the ghost through a medium or recruit an exorcist to evict the spectral tenants. So far, no director has wanted to do that. As Peggy Rocque says, "I’m…comfortable living with it the way it is. I don’t want to stir something up that would make me uncomfortable to live here."
any ideas for making the night extra insane will be taken... anyone ever stayed anywhere haunted? i've had a number of ghost experiences but haven't dived into something like this yet... should be fun.