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Journey through an exploration of the self,
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The Baleroy Mansion

The Balleroy Mansion at night

This mansion, built in 1911, is reported to be one of the most haunted homes in America. Phenomenon includes several apparitions, disembodied voices, ectoplasm that materializes, cold spots, a cursed chair and much more

Photograph of a Ghost?
       
View of ground level, from top of
a stairway. There appears the be
a white mist traveling across the
floor.

At least four deaths have been blamed on a cursed two-hundred-year-old blue upholstered wing chair in the Blue Room of this Chestnut Hill mansion. The Blue room is where the ghost known as Amelia haunts. A chair in the room belongs to her and she does not like anyone sitting in it. Anyone who sits in the chair, belonging to the ghost named Amelia, dies soon afterwards. A cold ectoplasm mist has been seen hanging in the doorway from the Reception Room into the Blue Room. Another nasty ghost, that of an elderly lady with a cane, has been reported hovering in a corner in the second-floor hallway. Friendlier spirits include Thomas Jefferson, seen near a tall clock in the dining room, and the figure of a monk in the second-floor master bedroom. Ghostly presences have also materialized at seances in this mansion, which contains possessions belonging to Civil War General George Meade and Napoleon Bonaparte.


History of Baleroy

Baleroy is a historic thirty-room mansion in the elite Chestnut Hill suburb of Philadelphia. It is a treasure-house of Early American furniture, paintings, and silver. It is also one of the most haunted houses in America.

Baleroy is the ancestral home of seventy-six-year-old George Meade Easby, known to his friends as Meade. A millionaire philanthropist and fine art collector, Meade has dedicated his life to preserving the treasures of Baleroy. Every room tells an important story in American history. In the Blue Room, there is the sterling silver that was used at the celebratory dinner attended by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The cannonball that felled his great-grandfather General George Meade at the Battle of Gettysburg has a place of honor in the Red Room. And in every room there are the ghosts. For the past seventy years, nearly everyone who has come to Baleroy has been haunted by the past.

Meade knew this place was special from the moment he arrived. He vividly remembers the day his family moved in. Meade was six, his younger brother Steven was five. The boys were immediately drawn to a splendid fountain in the courtyard. They leaned over the edge and Meade saw his own reflection in the clear water. He turned to look at Steven's reflection, but instead of the image of his younger brother, Meade saw a skeleton. "It shook me up quite a bit," he recalls today. "We saw a skeleton where his image should be, and shortly after that, Steven died."

Since his death, Steven has returned to haunt others at Baleroy. David Beltz, a restoration specialist, has worked for twenty years to preserve the historic home. He and a coworker saw Steven appear in an upstairs window while they were working near the courtyard fountain. "I noticed a person looking out the window at me, a young kid with blond hair. He had his hands on the sill and was looking down toward the yard. I said to my buddy, 'Look at that little kid.' Then it just faded off and my buddy said, 'Man, that was really strange.'" Beltz's coworker never worked at Baleroy again. "He would never come back. He was really scared. He just said that he felt somebody stare at him all the time."

David Beltz's son, Dave Junior, still works at Baleroy, but never in the basement. The last time he was down there, he heard a ghostly voice calling his name. "Dave… Dave…. Dave… it repeated. Dave Junior called up to his father, "Dad, is that you?" It was not. His father was working on the third floor.

Meade believes that his brother is not trying to frighten anyone, but that, like the child he was at the time of his death, Steven just wants a little attention every now and then. That's how Meade explains the flying portrait incident.

Meade was entertaining guests on the terrace when they heard a loud crash coming from the Gallery. No one was inside the house at the time. The party went to investigate and found a portrait of Steven lying on the floor. "The painting had come off the wall and flown fifteen feet across the hall. The nail was still tight in the wall. The wire was tight on the painting. There's no explaining how that could happen, but it did happen," says Meade.

Flying objects are nothing new to Baleroy. Meade recalls a party given in honor of a visiting minister several years ago. In the presence of more than twenty witnesses, a decorative copper pot flew across the room and hit the minister on the side of the head. Needless to say, the minister never returned.

Steven's apparition and his mischievous activity is only a small part of the hauntings at Baleroy. The ghost of Meade's uncle is ever present. His mother is seen and heard. There are loud footsteps, persistent knocking, and strange encounters in the night. "One night I was alone in the house, sleeping," Meade says. "I felt a pressure on the bed as though somebody was sitting there. I thought someone had broken in despite the elaborate alarm system. I felt something grab my arm, so I turned on the light. Nothing was there, but in the morning I noticed that my arm was black and blue. It wasn't a dream. It actually happened."

Meade's longtime confidant and fellow collector Lloyd Gross was skeptical about his friend's tales of a haunted Baleroy, until he experienced the phenomena firsthand. It was while guiding a reporter through the house that Gross became a believer.

"It happened upstairs in the East Room, in Mrs. Easby's old bedroom. The reporter had a little tape recorder in his hand and suddenly the thing flew in the air in a trajectory, not straight down to the floor," says Gross. "I said, 'Wow, did you burn yourself?' He said, 'No, something pulled it out of my hand.' He got so white we had to take him out on the terrace and give him a shot of whiskey."

Although none of the ghosts of Baleroy have ever been captured on film, there is photographic evidence of one inexplicable haunting phenomenon here. It takes the form of a strange blue fog. Lloyd Gross saw the fog while he was helping prepare the house for a charity benefit.

"I looked through the Blue Room doors and I saw what looked like blue smoke. I said to Meade, 'Look, it's getting cold out. You can see the atmosphere.' And he said, 'Oh no, that's not fog, that's the ectoplasm.'" Lloyd Gross was unnerved. "That pretty well scared him," Meade recalls. "I followed him out to his car and he said, 'Why did you hit me?' And I said, 'I didn't hit you, I'm way over here.' So at that point I knew something was following him."

Apparently something was. When Lloyd Gross got home that night, he thought his foyer was on fire. Then he realized that the ectoplasm he had seen at Baleroy was also in his own home.

Three pictures of the bizarre blue fog have been captured on film. It remains one of Baleroy's most persistent phenomena. The appearance of the fog seems to foretell a visit from the malevolent spirit Meade calls "Amanda." She is not a relative, and the reason why she haunts Baleroy is not known. What is known, however, is that where Amanda goes, death will surely follow.

For many years, a chair in Meade's study has been dubbed the "death chair." According to him, several people have been drawn to that chair by Amanda. She appears in the Blue Room and entices them to rest in the chair. Everyone who has seen Amanda and sat in the chair has died. One victim was Baleroy's former curator.

Paul Kimmons had worked at Baleroy for several years and had never experienced any haunting activity. He humored Meade and the other guests who had seen ghosts in the house. When Easby asked Kimmons to escort psychic Judith Richardson Haimes on a tour, he obliged, but was quick to let her know that he was not a believer. Moments later, Amanda appeared, flowing down the staircase. "Paul was quite frightened," Judith Richardson Haimes recalls. "He said, 'I see that woman. She's here.' He was very upset.

A few weeks later, Judith received a chilling phone call. "I'm not an hysterical person," Kimmons told her, "hut Amanda is following me. I look in my rearview mirror and she's there. I wake up at home and she's there. I'm walking down the street and I catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. She's scaring me to death. I think I'm losing my mind." The encounters took their toll. Paul Kimmons sat in the chair in Meade's study to rest. A month later, he was dead.

Since then, Judith Richardson Haimes has been a frequent visitor to Baleroy. She believes that her psychic power enables her to communicate with many of the spirits, both good and bad, inside the home. "I will never forget the first time I walked in the front doors of Baleroy. The first words out of my mouth were, ''My God, I can't believe how many spirits are in this house."

Judith believes that Amanda is not malevolent. "There are those who say Amanda killed Paul," Judith says. "I don't believe that was true at all. I believe that Amanda was there to lovingly help him cross over. Several times I have sensed Paul at Baleroy. I have sensed that wonderful warm energy that he emits."

Judith has also had several successful communications with the spirit of Meade's long-dead mother. In life, Henrietta Easby was prim and reserved, a Victorian lady of few words. In death, she is the same. Her appearances are subtle and infrequent, but when she does make her presence known, it's for a reason. Through Judith, Meade's mother has revealed many family secrets.

"One evening on my way to Baleroy, I kept hearing the name Longfellow," Judith remembers. When she arrived at the house for dinner, the echoes of "Longfellow" persisted. Then, she heard Henrietta Easby's voice saying "Children's Hour, Children's Hour. Judith asked Meade what it meant. He was stunned. "The Children's Hour" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was his mother's favorite poem. No one but him knew that. Later that night, retiring to the study, Meade's mother again made her presence known.

The study is lined with books from floor to ceiling, all neatly arranged in oak bookcases. But on this night, one book was mysteriously out of place. It was sticking out, almost ready to fall. Meade went to push the book back into place. It was a book of poetry. He took it down from the shelf and noticed an envelope inside. Turning to that page he felt a chill run through his body. The envelope said "To my son Meade in the event of my death." The poem on that page was "The Children's Hour" by Longfellow. The envelope was empty.

"From that point forward," says Judith Richardson Haimes, "it seemed as though Meade's mother wanted to use me to get messages to him." In a neglected storeroom, Judith discovered a pair of silver candlesticks hidden in the rafters by Meade's mother. In an Early American desk, the spirit led Judith to a secret drawer. Inside, they found the bullet-riddled flag that General Meade had captured at Gettysburg. It was as if Meade's mother couldn't rest until she had revealed the secret hiding places of forgotten family treasures.

Henrietta Easby also led Judith to an abandoned trunk in Baleroy's attic. Inside, Meade found important family papers, including a strange promissory note that seemed to indicate that he was the heir to a vast unclaimed fortune. "My great-grandfather was born in the Bonaparte Palace in Cadiz. His father was naval attaché to the court of Spain and loaned the Americans the money to buy the state of Florida from Spain. According to this note, we've never been paid back."

Whether or not George G. Meade Easby can claim the state of Florida as part of his multimillion-dollar holdings isn't the point. He feels it is the mere fact that his mother wanted him to know about this secret legacy that is important. What Meade's mother could not say to her son in life, she is revealing to him in death. According to Judith, "I feel I am being used as the instrument to allow mother and son to communicate so that everyone knows that death is not really the end. Death is a continuation of life."

In her most recent communication, Henrietta Easby led her son to an old desk. In one of its drawers, Meade found a letter from his father. M. Stevenson Easby had always told his son to believe in the here and now. He had never admitted seeing the ghosts of Baleroy, and he had taught Meade to only trust what science could explain. But in this letter written Just before his death, Meade's father told a different story. "I was brought up not to believe in ghosts," Meade explains. "But my father left me a letter to be read after his death, and he said he had seen the ghosts and for me not to be afraid."

Meade has taken those words to heart. He relishes the ghosts of Baleroy and knows that when his time comes, he too will return to greet the next generation.

 

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