For Halloween, N.W. Philly’s ‘Top 10 haunted places’
Northwest Philadelphia is a neighborhood steeped in history. From the first American protest against slavery in 1688 to the Battle of Germantown fought in 1777, plenty of significant events have occurred in our own back yard. With such a rich lore of history, it is no surprise that Northwest Philadelphia has its fair share of ghost stories as well.
This Halloween, I decided to visit local archives and residences to assemble a list of some of these haunted sites. After collecting data and personal testimony on several sites in the area, I compiled a list of what appears to be the “Top 10 haunted places” in Northwest Philadelphia.
The order was determined by the amount of archival references and vividness of personal accounts. While it certainly is not an exhaustive list of all the area’s ghost stories, the record can serve as a guide for ghost enthusiasts looking to explore our neighborhood’s haunted history this Halloween.
The most haunted places in Northwest Philadelphia include:
1. Baleroy Mansion: Built on Mermaid Lane near Cresheim Valley Drive in 1911 by George Meade Easby, the great-great grandson of Civil War General George Meade. A number of ghosts have been seen at the mansion including the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, a monk, an old woman and a girl nicknamed Amanda who supposedly causes a blue-colored fog.
2. Loudon: Built in 1801 as a summer home for the Logan Family at 4650 Germantown Ave. It has been cited as “one of the most haunted homes in the City of Philadelphia.” The ghost of Maria Logan can often be seen on site, and objects in her bedroom are often scattered about the house when nobody is around.
3. Grumblethorpe: The summer home of the Wister family that also served as headquarters to British General James Agnew during the Battle of Germantown. His presence is often felt and seen on site at 5267 Germantown Ave., as is the spirit of Justinia, a servant to the Wister family who lived in the home during the 18th century.
4. Daniel Billmeyer House: The home of Daniel L. Billemeyer is located at the corner of Germantown and Upsal. Billemeyer moved in during the 18th century to escape the yellow fever epidemic. He died the night before his wedding, and his spirit is reported to haunt “brides-to-be” who have lived in the house ever since.
5. Upper Burying Ground: A local cemetery behind the Concord School House where over 3000 bodies are buried, including Revolutionary War soldiers and members of the Rittenhouse Family. Recent visitors for a “Ghost Hunting” program at the cemetery reported strange feelings of a spiritual presence, and many claim to have captured eerie voices on a recorder.
6. Cliveden: The site of a 1777 Revolutionary War Battle located at 6401 Germantown Ave. During the skirmish, a British solider is rumored to have cut off the head of a local citizen. The spirit of that woman has reportedly been seen at Cliveden walking the grounds in search of her head. Several other Revolutionary War ghosts haunt the historic battlefield.
7. Concord School House: The Concord School House was Germantown’s first English language school and was built in 1775 at 6309 Germantown Ave. A paranormal investigation team recently brought into Concord believes that the spirit of a young brother and sister inhabit the site.
8. Cresheim Cottage Café: One of the first homes built along Germantown Avenue during the 1700s, it is located at 7402 Germantown Ave. Visitors today have reported sightings of a little girl dressed in Victorian clothing with curly brown hair. An attic door is also reported to open and close by itself on occasion.
9. Allens Lane: A historic road that extends from Germantown Avenue to the Wissahickon Valley. The ghost of a Colonial soldier is often seen galloping down the road on horseback while clutching his severed head that was lost during the Battle of Germantown.
10. Chestnut Hill College: A long-time all-girls college located at 9601 Germantown Ave. that was recently converted to co-ed use. Fournier Hall, a dormitory on campus, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl who attended the school during the 1793 flu epidemic. Students also report that appliances and electronic equipment frequently turn on without being plugged in.
Richard Fink is the education director at Cliveden, a National Trust Historic Site in Germantown. He also maintains a website, www.hauntedhistoryblog.com, which discusses the supernatural throughout history. His articles appear from time to time in Local Life.