Thursday, January 5, 2017

#Haunted Barnstable ~ Cape Cod History + Hauntings #CapeCod

I love old, spooky places, especially when there's some fascinating history involved.  My latest ghost story/romance, Haunted Souls, was inspired by a visit to the Old Jail, the country's oldest wooden jailhouse, built circa 1690 and considered actively haunted.  This historic gem is located in Barnstable Village, on Cape Cod, not far from where I live.

Over the summer, I was honored to be part of an author panel at a charity event which also included very big names in the industry: Mary Higgins Clark, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Sally Gunning, and Jacquelyn Mitchard to name a few!  It was an exciting night, and as you can imagine, these famous authors helped draw a large crowd.

During our panel discussion, I mentioned how the Old Jail House inspired my latest novel, and one of the audience members later came up and introduced himself as the County Administrator.  We discussed some of the other very old--and reputedly haunted--buildings in Barnstable, and he offered to arrange a private tour for me.  Needless to say, I was thrilled, and a few weeks later, I went on the tour, and, as an added bonus, I receive a copy of a paranormal report done on the buildings by the Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society.  According to the report, some incidents reported by employees included: hearing voices with no person present; objects being moved with no explanation; sightings of human figures that vanish; gray clouds moving up stairwells.  During the investigation, according to the report, an unseen woman was recorded coughing, and the scent of cherry tobacco was detected by several team members.  Temperature changes were also noted.

I'm sharing some of the photos I took, along with the stories, below.

The catacombs beneath the
BarnstableSuperior Court House

Copies of old records line one
shelf in the catacombs-
this is 1882-1886

Our first stop was the Barnstable Superior Court House, which was built in 1831.  A plaque inside notes that the building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the US Dept. of the Interior.  I've been here in the past for jury duty, but I had never known about the catacombs located beneath the building (for my visit to the famous Catacombs of Paris, see this post).  These catacombs were not filled with bones, thankfully, but the space did contain many old records and files, along with a very creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere.  
Many employees refuse to enter the space after experiencing or hearing about paranormal incidents here.

Many of the historical details of the old jail are
being preserved in the remodel - these bars near
the entrance are an example
From the Court House, we climbed the hill leading to the old Barnstable County Jail and House of Corrections - much more modern than the tiny 1690 Old Jail, but still an old, somewhat decrepit building full of history.  This jail was built in 1935 and abandoned in 2004 when the last of the prisoners were moved to a new facility.  Now, thirteen years later, the building is being renovated into office space, so I was very lucky to get to see this site before its destruction.

A central hallway is pictured below, with cells lining both sides.  Metal tables were once bolted in the middle of the hallway for prisoners to use for socializing.

Another area many people try to avoid is the former isolation cells, located on the right in the photo below.  These will be offices eventually.

The doors on the right open to isolation cells

Many of the cells are currently being used for storage, and someone clearly has a sense of humor.  I'm not sure what the skeleton was actually being used for, but it did make me jump!

Below is a photo of one of the two-person cells in another wing.

As I mentioned earlier, this old building is situated at the top of a hill, and many of the cells (which will now be offices) had the amazing view pictured below.  Apparently, when the building was new, the view and shelter made it a somewhat desirable location.  Fisherman who lived on their boats would often attempt to make it their winter home by purposefully getting incarcerated.  In exchange for their freedom, they received warm beds and free meals during the coldest months of the year, and their days were spent in work detail.  Not a bad trade-off!

The view of Barnstable Harbor from the hill top

I hope you enjoyed my summary of my personal haunted, historical tour!  For haunting fiction set on Cape Cod, try Gull Harbor or Haunted Souls ~ Steamy Romance + Spooky Suspense.

link HS and catacombs and MHC event

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