Home Guru: A Spooky Story

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imgres-1Only after years of writing about homes and what happens in them do I feel confident enough about how readers may regard me to tell a spooky story that I repeatedly placed on the back burner for fear that I would be perceived as crazy.  Halloween is as good a time as ever to share it. Do the energies of deceased souls stay within a house after their physical presence is gone? In other words, are there spooks living among us?

According to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll, more than 45 percent of the population believes in ghosts or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations. In an Associated Press poll a while back, 23 percent reported that they have actually seen ghosts or felt their presence in a room. I am in the latter category

Here’s my true story that happened when my wife and I bought our former home, an historic 1826 house in BrooklynHeights. We felt it was an ideal investment property because we wanted to sell antiques and the house had an already established antiques shop on the first floor, an apartment for us on the second floor and a rental duplex apartment on the two floors above that.

We didn’t meet our newly acquired tenants, Helen and Lou, until we took up residency. When we did, the first thing Helen asked was, “Did Terry (the former owner) tell you that the house is haunted?” In response, my wife and I exchanged glances of alarm that we were sharing the premises with a crazy woman.  However, we were proved wrong.

Skeptics may scoff at paranormal activity in the house during the five-year period that we lived there, but it can be corroborated both by my wife and my daughter who was born in the house.

Some nights we would hear several babies crying at once as though in an echo chamber, when there were no babies in our building or anywhere near us;  there would be strange smells, both pleasant and unpleasant that would suddenly come and just as quickly disappear; there would be footsteps overhead when no one was above us; and in the case of my wife and Helen (but not Lou or me), there was the sensation of an icy hand covering their own hands on the banister of the hall staircase. The climax of our creepy experiences came to me one day with an apparition when I was alone in the house.  It was on Columbus Day when my wife had to work and I didn’t.

I was in the antiques shop vacuuming the floor in preparation for our weekend sale.  Above my head were the footsteps pacing back and forth, loud enough to override the hum of the vacuum. Annoyed, I remember punctuating my question to the air, asking, “Who ARE you and what do you want?” Within an instant, a shadowy figure appeared on the other side of the room, slowly coming into sharp focus: a rotund man dressed in 19th century garb, a black suit with vest and a chain for a pocket watch and wearing a bowler hat.

I could see the expression on his face, oddly one of surprise as I must have registered in return. Without speaking, I communicated to my visitor, “Whoa, I’m not ready for this!” The visitor then gave me a knowing smile, and I sensed that he responded, “Quite so, quite so.” He then turned and walked right through the wall into the entrance hallway.

After my daughter was born, we became more concerned about the spirits, both seen and unseen, with whom we shared the house. By the time my daughter was two years old, we sometimes could hear her squealing with delight in her room where there was a toddler’s indoor jungle gym with a sliding board. Frequently, she would point to the sliding board and say, “Look, look at the boy! Where did he go?”

I asked her to tell me about the boy on the sliding board. She reported “he has long hair like a girl, but he is a boy.” Then she pointed to a mid-19th century Currier and Ives print on her bedroom wall of a young boy with long curls saying his evening prayers and said, “He looks like that!”

Having spent my early career as a reporter, I was not about to let these experiences go without investigation. I set out to learn who the rotund gentleman was and why there were spirits of babies and young children in the house.

I found the answers, but space limitation requires me to complete the story next week, along with legislation regarding so-called stigmatized housing.

In the meantime, rest assured that I am the most understanding of realtors whenever a buyer prospect asks, “Has anyone died in this house?”

Bill Primavera is a Residential and Commercial Realtor® associated with Coldwell Banker, as well as a publicist and journalist who writes regularly as The Home Guru. For questions about home maintenance or to engage him to help you buy or sell a home, he can be emailed at or called directly at 914-522-2076.






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