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
a stairway. There appears the be
a white mist traveling across the
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
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
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
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
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
"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.