Article By: Sam Baltrusis
Paranormal activity in Provincetown? Adam Berry from “Ghost Hunters” and his husband Ben Greissmeyer say you can’t throw a rock down Commercial Street without hitting a haunted hot spot. “You’re looking at one of the oldest places on the Cape. Is Ptown gay? Yes, it’s haunted,” muses Berry when asked if the resort town is chock full of spirits . . . and we don’t mean the kinds that come in a chilled martini glass.
“Provincetown is where the Pilgrims first landed. It’s where they set up shop. It has to behaunted,” says Berry, who co-founded the Provincetown Paranormal Research Society (PPRS) with Greissmeyer in 2006. “If you think about all of the shipwrecks in Provincetown, Wellfleet and Truro, there’s got to be something here.”
Greissmeyer echoes Berry’s belief that Provincetown is a hotbed of paranormal activity. “The inspiration to develop the PPRS came purely from the amount of tales, legends and ghost stories that had piled up since we first summered here in 2003,” Greissmeyer explains. “Over the years we heard things about the old Lancy mansion on Commercial Street and how it’s haunted by an old woman [who died in the late 1800s] and due to the frozen ground couldn’t be buried. Her son kept her propped up in an open window all winter long. Also, there are tales of the Martin House ghosts and also the ‘Black Flash’ of Provincetown– a grim reaper type beast that would snatch children away in the 1930s that perked our interest in starting PPRS.”
In fact, Berry and Greissmeyer took their passion for the paranormal to the alter. They recently tied that knot at one of the Lower Cape’s more-haunted locales, Provincetown’s Town Hall. “It used to be an old jail and the people who work there say that the offices downstairs are haunted,” Berry says, adding that Town Hall’s former jail once housed Marlon Brando who spent the night in the drunk tank after playing bongos on the street. “I don’t have proof but people say that it’s active. During construction employees claimed that tools and ladders were moved [by an unseen force] and that you could hear disembodied voices, which makes sense because construction usually brings up activity.”
With Halloween creeping around the corner and our appetite for spooky stories kicking into high gear, here’s a list of Provincetown’s most haunted:
Atlantic House, 6 Masonic Place—Built in 1798 by Provincetown’s first postmaster, Daniel Pease, the A-House was the last stage-coach stop until 1873 for commuters coming in from Orleans. It was also a regular watering hole for America’s more infamous turn-of-the-century writers including Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. According to several accounts, the off-limits quarters upstairs is a hot spot for paranormal activity.
Black Pearl Inn, 11 Pearl St.—Berry says that at least two of the rooms in the 1830s-era inn are haunted. Animals refuse to enter Room Six and there are reports of a full-bodied apparition and inexplicable bloodstains in Room Seven. Zeke Cabal, who was known for his drunken shenanigans in the 1920s, is rumored to haunt the building and hide behind the corner desk in the inn’s living room.
Christopher’s By The Bay, 8 Johnson St.—Built in 1843 for ship caulker Stephen Mott and his wife Eveline, the Victorian bed and breakfast boasts a female presence on the second floor. There are also reports of two children haunting the house and patrons in the guestrooms claim that books mysteriously fly off the shelves.
Crowne Pointe Inn, 82 Bradford St.—The 140-year-old restored estate which stands as an eerie sentinel on a Bradford Street hill has 40 rooms and a resident, salty-dog spirit. “The owners believe their establishment is haunted by a sea captain who used to own the place,” Berry says.
Lancy Mansion, 230 Commercial St.—Built by Benjamin Lancy for his mother in the late 1880s, the mansion was designed to emulate a Beacon Hill brownstone and towers over Commercial Street behind Cortile Gallery. Passersby have spotted a lady in black, who reportedly peeks out of the mansion’s cupola. It’s allegedly the spot where Lancy propped up his dead mother during the winter as they patiently waited for the cemetery’s ground to thaw.
Martin House Restaurant, 157 Commercial St.—Built in 1750, this now-closed restaurant was a stop on the Underground Railroad and its hidden brick room, known as “snug harbor,” allegedly hosts a family of spirits cowering in the corner. Also, patrons have spotted mysterious shadow figures reflected in mirrors and people claim that the third-floor loft boasts a malevolent poltergeist. “It used to be a restaurant and now it’s a private residence, but I really want to get in there and investigate,” explains Berry. “A friend of mine who claims to be psychic, says there are three entities in that house.”
Provincetown Library, 356 Commercial St.—Formerly the largest Methodist church in the country, the Provincetown Library’s 1860-era building originally boasted a 162-feet-tall steeple (but was shortened to 100 feet after the Portland Gale). The half-scale replica of the Rose Dorothea schooner in the library is rumored to be haunted by captain Marion Perry, who won the Lipton Cup in August 1907. Employees find clocks, which oddly resemble the ship’s old-school compass, inexplicably lying on the floor when they open.
Unitarian Universalist Meeting House (UUMH), 236 Commercial St.—Used as morgue during the great plague, the UUMH was built in 1847 and is reportedly one of Provincetown’s more active buildings. “People say that they’ve seen women in full Colonial garb walking across the sanctuary,” Berry explains. “They also hear singing when no one is there. When I was doing a fundraiser in the building one night, I heard distinct footsteps walk across the church’s pulpit.”
Whyday Pirate Museum, 16 Macmillan Wharf—The recovered treasure from the pirate ship Whyday, which sank in a violent storm off Cape Cod in 1717, is rumored to be enchanted by “Black Sam” Bellamy. Apparently, the notorious pirate captain is still protecting his booty, which includes over 10,000 coins and 400 pieces of Akan gold jewelry.
Journalist Sam Baltrusis was recently a guest on Paranormal Insider Radio as an expert on the hauntings of Boston. He freelances for various publications including Boston Spirit magazine and STUFF. He teaches writing and journalism classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE). His blog, Loaded Gun Boston, is an online destination focusing on the latest crop of made-in-Boston films, showcasing the behind-the-scenes buzz surrounding Hollywood East as well as the people, places and products featured. As a side gig, he moonlights as a tour guide with Haunted Boston, highlighting the city’s historical haunts. In the past, he’s worked for VH1, MTV.com, Newsweek, WHDH.com, ABC Radio and as a regional stringer for The New York Times. Currently living in Somerville’s Davis Square, Baltrusis shares a home with a mischievous, female spirit with an affinity for sharp objects. He jokingly calls her “Scissor Sister.” His first book, “Ghosts of Boston: Haunts of the Hub,” was released in September 2012 and was featured on the Biography Channel’s “Haunted Encounters: Face to Face” as Boston’s paranormal expert. His second book, “Ghosts of Cambridge,” is slotted for release in June 2013. Check out www.BostonHaunts.com for details.
You can listen to Sam’s interview on Paranormal Insider Radio here.