Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is The Mark Twain House really haunted?

Shortly after I arrived at The Mark Twain House & Museum a year ago, I received an inquiry from the Smoking Gun Research Agency (SGRA), a CT-based paranormal group. Having received seven reports of suspected ghostly activity from visitors who had attended tours of the house, they were requesting the opportunity to conduct an investigation of the Clemens Family home.

Being new to the historic house museum business, I was not aware that these requests are a fairly common occurrence. I asked around if we previously had allowed paranormal investigations in the house. The answer was “no.” I then asked if the house was thought to be haunted. The answers ranged wildly. Some of the staff have reported no experiences whatsoever. Several employees do not believe in ghosts and think it is all bunk. Surprisingly, however, there were a substantial number of historic interpreters (a.k.a. tour guides) and security staff who had experienced the unexplained. Twain’s daughter Susy did die tragically in the house and many believe she never left. Some think the Clemens Family’s butler George Griffin is still looking after the home.

We agreed to allow SGRA into the house for a one-night investigation in August 2009. Although the house did not come alive that night with the full array of paranormal activity that people report experiencing – knocks, bangs, full-body apparitions, spectral voices, articles of clothing being tugged, cigar smells – SGRA did feel the house was “energetically active.” This Saturday, June 12th at 2 p.m., they will offer “Haunting Twain,” a free public presentation of their investigation at ParaCon 2010. Their program is open to the public and will occur at the Howard Johnson Conference Center in Milford, CT (visit for details).

In September 2009, we welcomed SyFy’s hit television show Ghost Hunters for a much more comprehensive investigation of the house. They sent three teams into the house at different times. They were armed with infrared cameras, video and audio recording devices, EMF detectors, and more. Their episode aired in December and revealed knocks, bangs, EMF spikes and shadow movement that could not be easily explained.

In March 2010, we were visited by SyFy’s Ghost Hunters Academy for a follow-up investigation. They conducted a two-night investigation involving several teams of cadets all vying for one coveted spot as a member of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society). If you want to find out the results of their investigation, you will have to watch our episode, which airs Wednesday, June 16th at 9 p.m. The Twain Team will be gathering at Woody’s Fish Tank (915 Main Street in downtown Hartford) to see and hear the TAPS Team findings. Please join us that night starting at 7 p.m. for a fun event.

So, ultimately, is The Mark Twain House haunted? The skeptics are still skeptical. The believers are even more convinced that there is something floating around in the house. Me? I haven’t experienced anything, but I’m open to the possibility. We invite you to make up your own mind by taking our Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours which start up this summer on Friday, June 25th. These hour-long nighttime guided tours of the dimly lit Picturesque Gothic mansion are by reservation only, so call (860) 280-3130 to reserve your spot. You can review the evidence, hear spooky episodes from the Clemens Family history, discover Victorian traditions surrounding séances and death, and maybe, just maybe, you might hear something that goes bump in the night or see something that will make your hair stand on end.

- Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications

No comments: