An inn's haunted history

B&B is said to have some unusual visitors

Harford Recreation


To passers-by, there isn't any one thing that makes Spencer Silver Mansion in Havre de Grace stand out more than the other Victorian homes lining Union Street. The house was built in 1896, and has been restored by owner Carol Nemeth into a bed-and-breakfast.

On a first visit, most guests admire the beautiful woodwork and furnishings scattered about its spacious rooms. Others inquire about its past.

But even more intriguing than the history of the inn, which many area residents can recite, are little-known tales of unexplained events.

"This house is most definitely haunted," said Nemeth. "Strange things have been happening here since the day I moved in."

When Nemeth purchased the property in 1987 for $156,000, she knew that getting the house up to code would be a mammoth task, but her vision for the place went beyond correcting its disrepair.

"The house was a mess when I purchased it," she said.

One of the first tasks Nemeth began working on was trying to locate descendants of the Spencers or the Silvers. She identified Adelaide Silver Crocker and called her with an invitation see the old family estate. About that time strange things began to happen.

"I picked up the phone to call Adelaide, and there was no dial tone," said Nemeth. "I spoke into the phone, and she answered me. We had never spoken or met, but we called one another for the first time at the same time. It was very strange."

Then Nemeth selected an olive-green paint to use in one room in the house. She started painting, and, as she pulled the radiator cover out from the wall, she discovered the same color of paint had been used previously to paint the room.

"Adelaide said to me, `My God, how did you know?'" and I asked her what I was supposed to know," said Nemeth. "Her response was, `It's the exact same color my grandmother had in this room.'"

The same type of thing occurred when Nemeth pulled a mirror away from the wall, to discover that her careful selection of wallpaper had hung in the room a half-century earlier.

"It made me feel like I was the caretaker and meant to be here," said Nemeth.

The strange coincidences are only a few of the eerie events said to have occurred in the house.

"Guests in one of the rooms have come down and told me they saw a woman wearing a bun pacing in front of the upstairs window," said Nemeth. "The guests haven't been frightened by the woman. They say she doesn't scare them."

The only exception was a lawyer who stayed at the inn.

"He came down the next morning and told me that he knew there was something in the room - he could feel it," said Nemeth. "He said it was a woman and she stood over the bed, and if looks could kill, he said, he'd be dead. He asked to switch rooms. Everyone else has been calmed by her."

Another incident occurred when a woman claiming to be a psychic stayed at the inn.

"She came to me and told me she had psychic abilities," said Nemeth. "She went to her room and told me she was awakened in the night and woke up to find several men gathered around her bed in bathrobes. They greeted her and then vanished."

Nemeth said the interesting piece of the puzzle is that a physician by the name of Dr. Simon took care of war veterans in the house, eventually making it into a hospital. These people gathered in robes and chatted around the bedsides of patients.

Another incident reported to Nemeth involved a night in the next-door carriage house, which is also a part of the property.

"One evening a guest fell asleep on the couch in the guest house, which is designed for one couple or family at a time," said Nemeth. "She awakened in the night and could hear poker chips and cards shuffling upstairs. She was so scared she didn't go up to the bed. The interesting thing about her story is that few people in the area know that Dr. Simon was a big poker player. Every Friday night he and his buddies met for poker."

Perhaps the strangest of the incidents is Nemeth's own experience, which she says started with a dream.

The dream involved the son of the Jordans, the previous owners, who was killed when the tailpipe on the jeep he and his buddies were riding in got stuck in water, causing the vehicle to fill with carbon monoxide, killing them all.

Nemeth had always known the story, but it wasn't until this past summer that it personally affected her.

She had a dream in which a young man approached her downstairs in the house and asked her, "Do you know who I am?" She replied, "No." He then took her upstairs to the son's bedroom and asked, "Do you know who I am now?" Again, Nemeth replied, "No."

Next, the man and Nemeth were in a parked, running car, and he asked her again, "Do you know who I am now?" Nemeth again told him, "No." He replied, "If you need my help, just ask." And he vanished.

According to Nemeth, the next day she went to the room and checked everything and found nothing out of the ordinary. She knew who the man was, but in the dream she was too afraid to admit it.

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