John Stone's Haunted Hotel
Stone’s Public House was originally a hotel built in the early 1830s by a man named John Stone in what is now downtown Ashland, Massachusetts. Stone, a militia Captain, farmer and astute businessman called his business venture “The Railroad House” and located it alongside the railroad tracks in what was then called Unionville.
He operated the hotel for less than 2 years before he began leasing it out to other inn keepers although he continued to live there. John Stone died in 1857, but many claim his spirit is still there. Patrons have reported seeing his apparition as well as smelling cigar smoke…when no one was smoking.
In 1868 another person bought the business but failed to maintain it. The hotel disintegrated into a state of disrepair and became a haven for drunkards and other seedy characters. It’s rumored several murders also took place there. The establishment remained that way for over a century until Leonard “Cappy” Fournier bought the property in 1976. He turned it into a bar and restaurant and renamed it Stone’s Public House. However, Fournier found there were a few guests at the former hotel, in addition to Stone, who refuse to be evicted.
Strange happenings began to occur after Fournier bought the place. Doors wouldn’t stay locked and lights turned themselves off. Fournier says the place is definitely haunted by several spirits. One is reported to be the spirit of a New York salesman, Mike McPherson, Stone had killed for allegedly cheating during a poker game.
McPherson had apparently had a run of good luck relieving his competitors of their cash and had retired to his room. The inebriated players became angry and concocted a plan to get their money back. Stone sent an attractive maid named Sadie to McPherson’s room to unlock his door. The cook and bartender then entered, beat him to death and recovered their losses. It’s said Stone and his 3 accomplices buried the body in the building’s basement. Many believe the ghosts of John Stone, Sadie, the cook and bartender still reside there.
In fact, people say there are many other spirits haunting the property. Employees and guests repeatedly claim being touched on the shoulder or neck. Bartender’s report water taps mysteriously turn themselves on and off of their own accord. Glassware has been flung by unseen entities and things keep being knocked off of shelves with no clear explanation.
One of the more often seen apparitions is that of Mary Smith, a ten year old girl who was killed while playing on the railroad tracks in 1862. She was unable to clear the tracks in time when she was struck by a speeding train. The tragedy was witnessed by several guests staying at The Railroad House. The dress she was wearing that fateful day is still said to be kept in the upstairs attic.
One story about the dress says a female employee actually took it home. Her household soon fell into chaos. Blaming the calamity on the dress, she quickly returned it to where she had found it and things returned to normal. Many have claimed to see Mary looking out windows in both the kitchen and attic and seen her ghost playfully peeking around corners trying to lure guests into chasing her.
Fournier knew he couldn’t keep the bizarre happenings at his establishment a secret for long, so he made it public knowledge. In no time paranormal investigation teams, psychics and ghost hunters were combing the grounds. Fournier said although more than one spirit was detected, all indicated one upstairs room in particular was haunted. All spirits were described as being “very sullen.”
According to psychic Lee Sonnenfeld, most of the spirits seemed to be male. She believes one may have been an alcoholic named Burt Philips who died there during the 1890s.
An assistant manager said he wouldn’t dare to be alone in the building at night after closing. One night after hours he said he was scared out of his wits when some birdseed fell through holes in the ceiling and landed at his feet where he was working.
Ralph Bibbo, a professional hypnotist and founder of Education Concerning a Higher Order (ECHO), visited the inn with his team of investigators and taped a session. Reportedly Stones’ spirit entered the body of one of the team members and angrily demanded everyone to get off of his premises.
Heavy footsteps have also been heard in unoccupied rooms and occasionally the building itself will shake strongly enough to vibrate dust off of the rafters. Obviously, there’s more than one kind of spirit at Stone’s Public House.