The mansion known as Baleroy was built in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia in 1911 and was sold a few years later to the father of the present owner, George Meade Easby. Easby is proud of his mansion, and rightly so. The thirty-three-room structure boasts a domed turret, a mansard roof, and ornamental decoration along with other unique architectural features. But the house is also believed to be one of the most haunted houses in America.
When George came to live at the house, he was six years old. He and his five-year-old brother, Steven, enjoyed watching their reflections in the grand fountain in the foyer of the house. One day, the boys were looking at their reflections when, to George’s horror, Steven’s face was replaced by the reflection of the head of a skeleton. For a few seconds the boys saw the skull, and then it was gone. Later, George came to believe that this was a portent of his brother’s brief existence. Less than a month later, Steven died of a childhood disease.
To this day, George believes that Steven has still not left the house. George may be correct, because there are indications that a young boy haunts Baleroy. Years ago, a contractor was working in the yard when he and his partner looked up and saw a young boy with blond hair observing them from a second-floor window. Told that there were no children in the house, they were shocked to learn that the child they had seen was looking out of the window of Steven’s old room.
One evening, George was hosting a dinner party when the sound of a loud crash from the gallery startled the group. A picture of Steven seemed to have ripped itself off the wall without breaking the wire that held it in place. The hook remained in the wall, but somehow the picture had been tossed across the gallery. George shrugged off the incident because he had grown used to his brother’s ghostly pranks throughout the years. It was just Steven having a bit of fun. Steven is not the only ghost haunting this venerable structure.
George believes that his mother, Henrietta, also inhabits her former home. George invited psychic Judith Haimes to visit the mansion and received more than he bargained for. Over time, they became friends and one evening Judith informed him that there were a number of spirits visiting the mansion at the time. She began to describe a woman who was repeating the name “Longfellow” over and over again. This meant nothing to Judith, but George perked up. His mother had been fond of reading Longfellow to him when he was a child. Judith told George that the woman also kept repeating the phrase, “the children’s hour.”
Again, George understood. “The Children’s Hour” had been one of Longfellow’s poems that he and his mother had read together many times. After the evening was over, George was puzzled. Why had his mother taken the time to contact him, only to remind him of an old poem? After the last of his dinner guests had left, George retired to the study to read. While he sat resting, he noticed a book that was pulled out from the shelf. He started to push it back in and froze when he read the title on the spine. It was a collection of Longfellow’s poems. George pulled out the book, obviously not opened for years, and brushed away the dust. Written on an old envelope which fell out were the words, “To my son Meade in the event of my death” in his mother’s fine script.
With shaking fingers he opened the missive, but it was empty. What did it mean? When Judith returned to the house Henrietta made her presence known again. Through Judith, she told George that she had stashed away some antiques throughout the house and she wanted to tell George about them. George found a set of silver candlesticks in the rafters of the storeroom, just where she had indicated. Then Judith informed George that his mother wanted him to know about the secret drawer in an old desk in the house.
George located the desk and found the drawer. Inside was an incredible find. An old, gunpowder-smudged Confederate flag lay there. George realized that this was a Confederate flag that his ancestor General George Meade had taken during the Battle of Gettysburg. Now Henrietta, on a roll, exposed one more secret: there was a chest in the attic that the pair must find. Inside they found papers showing that George’s great-grandfather, Richard Meade, had loaned the young American government $5 million in 1819 to help it purchase Florida from Spain. There was also a promissory note for repayment of the loan with interest—more than 170 years of interest by now! George began work on having the government honor the debt to his family.
It is little wonder that the house, filled with ancient artifacts and historic pieces, houses several spirits. George has seen an old woman hobbling through the building using a cane. A monk in tan robes was also seen and this is believed to be an ancestral spirit from the family homeland. Baleroy’s grandfather clock seems to house the spirit of its former owner, Thomas Jefferson. The ghost of the Founding Father has been seen near the clock. The one ghost at Baleroy that George does not trifle with is Amanda, who is known to haunt the Blue Room.
Amanda’s spirit seems attached to an antique chair in the room and she is not a pleasant spirit. In fact, George believes that she has caused several deaths. George first began to suspect that there was something wrong with the chair one night when he felt someone grab his arm in a painful grip while he was sleeping in it. In the morning, he found fingerprint bruises on his arm. George was convinced that it was Amanda’s vengeful spirit that had grabbed him in his sleep. The first victim of Amanda’s wrath was Paul Kimmons, a dear friend and employee of George’s. Kimmons had worked for him for years before George was first approached about showing the house to Judith Haimes, the psychic. Paul agreed to show her around, but he did not believe in ghosts, and he told her so.
As they walked through the house, Paul told Judith tidbits of history about its various objects. Suddenly, Paul froze. Judith, following his gaze, saw a blue mist coming down the front stairs. The mist dispersed before reaching them, but Kimmons seemed very upset. Judith’s reassurances about his first paranormal experience fell upon deaf ears. A few weeks later, Judith received a phone call from a very upset Kimmons. He insisted that Amanda had followed him home in his car the day he had seen the blue mist. Looking in his rearview mirror he saw her sitting in his backseat, but he could not see her when he turned around.
Then, he encountered her in his home, and she awoke him when he tried to sleep. He saw her standing in crowds, and wherever he was she suddenly appeared near him. For the next month George Easby watched as his friend grew more and more haggard and disheartened. He lost weight and no longer seemed concerned with earthly matters. One day George found a very depressed Kimmons slumped in Amanda’s chair in the Blue Room. Kimmons was asleep and seemed to be having a bad dream. George left the room so that Kimmons would not be startled awake. It was the last time he saw his friend alive. Two days later, Paul Kimmons was dead.
George’s grief was tinged with anger, for he believed that Amanda had hounded his friend to death. Thinking back, he realized that, including Paul, the last three people who had sat in that chair had died suddenly. He was sure that there was a connection. Was Amanda causing the deaths of those who sat in her chair? George had the chair roped off so that no one could sit in it again. Today the chair is often referred to as the “death chair.” George has encountered folks who want to dare Amanda, but they are not so eager to tempt her after hearing the fate of the last three who rested in that chair. Fortunately, the blue mist does not always presage disaster.
One day a skeptical reporter visited the house. Not only did he see the mist, his tape recorder was grabbed from his hand and flung more than twenty feet by invisible hands. The reporter was so badly frightened that he left the house without finishing the interview. Another friend of George’s, Lloyd Gross, also had a run-in with the blue mist. Gross was a self-professed skeptic but he always listened good-naturedly to George’s tales. However, one day when he was helping George at the house he saw the blue mist for himself. It was a thick mist that drifted out of the Blue Room. Gross pointed out the mist and said that it must be getting cold out. George turned to see what his friend was referring to and realized immediately what they were seeing.
He told Gross that this was a manifestation of the ghost. Gross grasped for a logical explanation but couldn’t find any, so he let the matter drop. When Gross left, George couldn’t help but worry that seeing the blue mist might cause Gross trouble. That night Gross returned for a charity event at the house and after it was over he stayed with George for awhile. As the two men were walking down the driveway, Gross suddenly spun and demanded to know why George had struck him. Both men realized at the same moment that George was too far away to be the one who had just hit him. Now George was truly concerned for his friend. Was Amanda at work once more? Later that night, George received a frantic phone call from Gross.
He told him that when he returned home he found the blue mist in his front room. Angry and frightened, Gross confronted it and it faded away, but he was still terribly upset. Fortunately for Gross, this was his last experience with the mist. Apparently, Amanda chose not to pursue him. Baleroy is home to yet one more strange haunting. It is said that a phantom car haunts the long driveway. People have heard a car pulling up to the front door only to find that no one was outside. Other folks claim to have seen a long black car from the 1930s pulling past the front windows. When they ran outside, there was nothing there. Why the car returns is yet a mystery but there may be many more mysteries and ghosts at Baleroy.