MS. REBECCA SHEIR
From Poolesville, we head east now to Annapolis, a city that is brimming with history, but here's the thing about that history, a few long-deceased residents of Maryland's state capital, seem to refuse to remain in the past, at least, according to Mike Carter and Julia Dray. They're coauthors of a new book called, "Haunted Annapolis: Ghosts Of The Capital City." Carter and Dray met with Jonathan Wilson to discuss the apparitions haunting Annapolis. And let's just say our usually intrepid reporter was glad they met while the sun was still up.
MR. JONATHAN WILSON
Mike Carter is the founder of the Annapolis Ghost Tour, which he's been running for 10 years now. He says tour goers often fall into one of two camps, eager paranormal enthusiasts or out-right skeptics of anything supernatural.
MR. MIKE CARTER
First and foremost, and I think it's extremely relevant, is I am a skeptic. That, I believe, is what makes our tour so great is because I view it through a skeptic's eye.
But Carter says there are also a few potential customers who fall into another category, those who are simply scared. Carter remembers one man seriously concerned that a ghost would follow him home.
And this is a big man. He had to be 6'4", 6'5", probably 300 pounds and was terrified of the idea of a ghost following him home.
And can you give him a guarantee that that won't happen?
We make no promises or guarantees of any kind when it comes to the paranormal.
With that feeble reassurance out of the way, my 5'8", 175 pound self asks Carter and Julia Dray, one of his tour guides and his coauthor on "Haunted Annapolis," about the ghost of Mary Reynolds, a well-known, 18th century hostess, who is said to still haunt the Reynolds Tavern on Church Circle. The tavern building has gone through several incarnations over the past few centuries, serving as a boarding house, a bank and then a public library.
MS. JULIA DRAY
And then in the 1980s they renovated it, reopened it as a tavern and they got themselves and invisible assistant manager along with the deal. She's, to this day, involved in running the business. She'll expose employees who are stealing by dropping their stolen goods. One guy had a backpack strap break and it hit the floor. And when it burst open, all the frozen filet mignons he'd popped in there went flying all over the room.
And Reynolds' ghost is watching more than just employees.
She keeps an eye on the visiting guest, as well. If you get drunk and disorderly, she'll shut you down any number of ways by spilling your drink in your lap, to dropping other people's food on you, to locking you in the bathroom.
From the Reynolds Tavern we move to the Maryland State House, famous for having the largest wooden dome built without nails in the country. It's a dome that played a role in bringing Annapolis the ghost of Thomas Dance. Dance was a plasterer who worked on the dome, but suffered a fatal flaw 87 feet to the marble floor below in 1793.
He's said to haunt the building, not because he died here--and he don't know whether he slipped, pushed or the scaffolding collapsed, but he's here because the contractor in charge of the building project kind of took advantage of his family, denying the widow and children the payment of a pension and some outstanding salary, as well as confiscating Mr. Dance's working tools, which meant his sons now had no profession.
Dray says Dance's ghost is blamed for lights flashing on and off, doors opening and closing and every once in awhile blasts of cold air strong enough to knock a person down. Dance is also the most oft-spotted ghost in Annapolis, sometimes seen walking on top of the State House at night and even seen at times inside the building.
People usually assume that he's a tour guide or a re-enactor or a living history person and will go to the security desk and say, hey, how do I get in the tour? What's the living history event? Do you know that there is a re-enactor in the dome who's smoking a pipe?
And with just two tales of haunted Annapolis history, Carter and Dray have peaked my interest. Carter says that's what his ghost tour aims to do, make history come alive or at least, undead.
To me, I believe that the paranormal side of it humanizes the history 'cause we're talking about real people who have, in a way, become immortal.
But back to that idea of simply being scared. Confession time, while I don't spend much time at all thinking about ghosts and ghouls, I'm not at all interested in wandering through a spooky Annapolis tavern alone at night. Horror movies are not my thing and darkness is only something I like if I'm trying to fall asleep. So I'd probably be scared to go on your tours. I'm guess I'm admitting that on radio and that's, you know, I'll have to live with that, but how do you convince someone like me who is a little afraid, but maybe interested in the history? Why should someone like me go on your tour?
Well, first of all, as far as I know, there's no demonic entity in town that's going to try to suck your soul down to hell. All right. So let's just get that out of the way.
Hum, as far as she knows. I guess that will have to do. I'm Jonathan Wilson.
"Haunted Annapolis: Ghosts Of The Capital City" is available now from The History Press. To see photos of Mike Carter and Julia Dray at some of Annapolis' more haunted spots, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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