MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Before we say goodbye today, we head to the eastern shore of Maryland, which is home to all sorts of allegedly haunted and spooky spots, including a rambling old house just outside Salisbury and that's the topic of today's "On The Coast," in which coastal reporter, Bryan Russo, brings us the latest news and occasionally does a little ghost hunting on the eastern shore. Earlier this week, he visited the Poplar Hill Mansion, which, it's been said, is home to many thing that goes bump in the night.
MR. BRYAN RUSSO
Aleta Davis and I are standing in the basement of the Poplar Hill Mansion. We're looking at a room covered with cobwebs and filled with paint cans and ancient pieces of wood. This is the room where Davis says she began to believe in ghosts.
MS. ALETA DAVIS
She went to go through the doorway and she grabbed her stomach and hunched backwards like this and then I saw her start to go forward, she did the same thing and she said, they won't let me in.
The she in this story is a medium who came here a few years ago. There had been reports of weird moaning noises coming from the basement and unexpected occurrences happening throughout the 6,000 square foot home. Davis says things got even weirder after that, like a scene out of a creepy movie.
Then she started talking like she was somebody else, like she was, don't tell master, don't tell master. And she kept grabbing her stomach. The ghost investigators were there with all their equipment. She said, get out of my way. And pushed, get away from me. Very -- not herself at all. She says that there was a little group huddled back in this corner, like three or four men. They were -- some of them were hurt and they were cowering.
There are a few theories about who these ghosts were. Davis, who's the head of the preservationist group that keeps up the mansion, believes the most likely is that this house was used as part of the Underground Railroad and those spirits may have been stuck trying to get to the nearby river. Despite the potential tragedy underlying that theory, she says most of the ghosts here are quite happy and pleasant, except for Samuel.
He's the ghost of a young slave boy who believes he's the keeper of the estate. Davis says the medium found him just a few feet away from the spot where the wounded men who huddled.
He had been stuck down here and she released him so now he's -- apparently when she comes, he's at the door saying, ma'am, there are people here. There are more people here, ma'am.
Samuel apparently doesn't like strangers. He's scared off many a construction worker in recent years and he had to be convinced that Davis was okay, too.
And his problem was that people were coming down here, they were not family. He said, it's not the family. So she explained that we were caring for the house and that we were good people and he's been okay since then.
And Davis says Samuel told the medium something else she found quite astonishing.
He did say something about if he was around or he needed to take care of something, he would hum. If we heard a humming, that was him.
And humming is just one of the many sounds heard in the Poplar Hill Mansion. There are little things, the sound of brooms sweeping on the floor or singing or even big things, such as the sound of a crashing chandelier. Davis says she even ran into a ghost once, literally.
And I went to shut the window in the apartment, I thought maybe there was a breeze and I went up there and it was like a block of hot, wet air hit me. And I actually put my hands out and I actually backed up because the temperature change was so drastic. I was freezing. I had goosebumps and I go to shut the window thinking cold air's coming in. It's hot air.
Now, not all the rooms are haunted. There are a few where nothing has ever been reported, such as the living room, for instance, but...
When you go to the dining room, that's a different story. This room here, this Poplar Hill avenue that I said the slaves were seen walking down that road or hurrying down that road...
That's the same road I parked on.
Yes, well, good, maybe you'll take something home with you.
My wife would be so thrilled.
I know, company. This window here, when we've had photographs with orbs and rods, which are energy, the medium saw a woman dressed in a long skirt and her head wrapped in a cloth standing there looking out this way like she was watching Poplar Hill Road to see if we had more guests coming.
And what all the ghosts in the house seem to have in common is that they love this house and Aleta Davis knows this. So much so, she actually talks to the house.
If we're having an event, we tell the house we're having a big party tomorrow, you know, or we're working on the house to make it -- keep it looking nice because it's got some repair work that needs to be done. That's just common sense. You better -- you should say something like that.
And does the house respond?
With -- the best thing we know is nothing happens, but we have had events where we have big -- we've got -- we're in a rush or whatever, we weren't thinking, we're having a big -- some construction workers here or something and then we've had things happen.
And maybe that's the lesson here. If you find that you have ghosts in your 200-year old mansion, take a page from the playbook of the Poplar Hill preservation group, keep the spirits in the know, keep the place looking sharp and be sure to invite them to all the parties. I'm Bryan Russo.
And that is "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza, Emily Friedman, Jonathan Wilson and Bryan Russo along with reporter, Jonna McKone. Jim Asendio is our news director. Our managing producer and intrepid ghost hunter is Tara Boyle. Thanks as always to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts'' and "Turn Your Face," the theme for our new series, "The Location" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see a list of all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org.
And while you're there, you can find us on Twitter, you can like us on Facebook. You can subscribe to our weekly podcasts and you can even check out free transcripts of all the stories you hear on the show. We hope you can join us next week when we fall back with a little daylight saving and present a show all about time. We'll do some speed-dating of a most unusual and dramatic variety and we'll visit an 8th Street burger joint where beer prices go up and down in real time, driven by customer demand.
Maybe there's only 10 people in the bar. Someone ordering one Peroni may be enough for the price to tip, but we've got a full bar, it might take four Peronis to make it tip.
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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