Top 10 Haunted Places In Nantucket
Located off Cape Cod, neighboring Martha’s Vineyard, lies the small isolated island of Nantucket. As remote as it is, the island is a summer destination because of it’s beautiful dune-covered beaches. Known primarily for its history as a whaling hub, another thing that attracts folks are the haunted places in Nantucket.
Tuckernuck Island is a very small island that sits west of Nantucket. The island has no electricity and no paved roads, but it’s still a tourist destination. People enjoy the quietness of the island and the step away from the busyness of life.
What makes this tiny island of only about 195 square feet, aside from the feel of roughing it, are the tales of a strange creature lurking on the island. Tuckernuck is the home of the Yoho, a griffin-like creature, according to William Alexander’s book “Haunted Nantucket Island.” Native American tales of the Yoho said that it would steal away bad children – but there haven’t been any reports of children going missing from the island, though it may have made a great tale to keep kids in line. There is a statue of the part lion, part eagle creature on the island in tribute to the Yoho, even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the “real” monster.
The Silk Factory
In the mid-1830s, silk was a big commodity, and Nantucket wanted to be part of the craze. William H. Gardner, William Coffin, Samuel B. Tuck got together to create the Atlantic Silk Company. They built a massive building on Academy Hill. Unfortunately, the business of silk on Nantucket Island was short-lived. Silk making requires White Mulberry Trees, which are the dining preference of the silkworms required for making silk, but the trees didn’t thrive on the sandy island.
Silk was out in 1844 on the island, and in the mid to late 70s, the building became a combination of rental rooms and a private residence. One resident, according to Blue Balliett’s book “Nantucket Ghosts,” began experiencing strange things when she moved in in 1978. She heard knocking on the apartment door when no one was there, saw a ghostly woman, and felt as though she was being watched even when she was alone.
The Old Mill in Nantucket is a wonderful tourist attraction in its own right. The Holland-style windmill was built in1746 by a sailor named Nathan Wilbur. It’s known as the oldest functioning mill in the country and is the only survivor of four mills that once stood in Nantucket. It’s a unique tribute to times gone by that still serves an important function.
According to “Nantucket Ghosts,” there’s at least one former mill operator who has stuck around to watch out for operators who followed. One worker reported that when he’d get too far away from the “helm,” the mill would pick up speed, forcing him to head back to where he was supposed to be operating the system. Perhaps it’s the ghost of Timothy Swain, a mill worker who died of natural causes inside the windmill, still looking over the mill and the people in charge of it.
The George C. Gardener House
While the George C. Gardner House has had a facelift in recent years, as you can see on the Nantucket Preservation Trust’s Instagram account, it once faced demolition due to its status of ill-repair. It’s also spent many years being referred to as a haunted house. The keep-out signs on the gates blocking people from the home before it was remodeled may have assisted with people’s thoughts on the eeriness of this once and now beautiful home.
Because a bitter divorce left the home to fall into ruins in the 1990s, some people decided the place was cursed. Those residing in the house before it was left an empty shell of itself experienced ghostly footsteps and rattling silverware, just to name a few strange occurrences. It could be that the ghosts in the home didn’t like when tenants did renovations. Perhaps the house was to blame for the bitter end of a marriage.
The Original Cottage Hospital
The original Nantucket Cottage Hospital was founded in 1911 by Dr. John S. Grouard and Dr. Benjamin Sharp. Sometime after going out of operation in 1957, the three-building hospital became a couple of private residences and a condo, and once inhabited apartments as well.
It was in one of those modern apartments that the ghost stories of the old Cottage Hospital began, according to an account in “Haunted Nantucket Island.” A renter who wasn’t a believer in ghosts had some experiences she couldn’t discount as being paranormal. The ghost liked to hide things from the couple, including their keys, which would disappear and then reappear where they knew that had left them.
Jared Coffin House
A house with “coffin” in the name may seem ominous, but the surname is one well-known on the island. The Jared Coffin House was erected in 1845. Jared Coffin was an extremely successful whaling ship owner. The landmark survived a fire that took out a third of the town, but something else survives inside the home.
Jared Coffin built his three-story mansion for his wife, but she decided she wanted to live closer to Boston. They didn’t live in the house long, but some believe that Mr. Coffin returned to the home as a spirit. There’s a rocking chair that reportedly rocks on its own whenever the fire is lit in the fireplace.
The Wauwinet Hotel
The Wauwinet Hotel opened in 1875, and while it remains a stunning vintage delight for vacationers, it has a frightening side. What makes it so scary is the rumor that the building was erected on top of a Native American burial ground. If you’ve seen “Poltergeist,” you know that’s a bad thing.
Aside from sitting atop a gravesite, the Wauwinet has some specters that are seen by many, including a floral perfumed female ghost who flies around from room to room. While the general spooky events like sinks turning on and lights flickering that you get in many haunted houses happen here, guests have also reported hearing disembodied voices.
The Whaling Museum is a popular destination for those wanting to learn about the history of both whaling and its association with Nantucket. But, there seems to be something more paranormal going on within the museum walls.
One visitor to the museum had a strange experience when looking at a portrait hanging on display. According to “Nantucket ghosts,” the woman became mesmerized by the image of a man. She fell into a trance that her sister had to actually shake her out of. The woman felt as though she’d known the man in the picture, maybe in a past life. She later learned that there is a strange story behind that picture about the gentleman being in love with a mermaid!
Unitarian Universal Church
The haunting of the Unitarian Universal Church revolves around the story of Seth Freeman Swift. Swift was the first minister presiding over the Second Congregational Meeting House Society and served from 1810 to 1833.
The thing is, even after Swift passed away, he stayed at the church. People spending time alone in the church have heard footsteps, and boys causing mischief often caught a glimpse of the ghost who had no tolerance for their nonsense. Swift’s story is told in Barbara Sillery’s book “The Haunting of Cape Cod and the Islands.”
The quaint little inn known as the Ships Inn may look delightful, but it’s home to at least a couple of ghosts. The inn was built in 1831, another creation coming from a whaling captain, Obed Starbuck. Ships Inn has rooms named after the different ships in Starbuck’s fleet. It’s an attractive place to stay, and the restaurant also brings in guests who may hear tales of the ghost haunting the inn.
More interesting than the origin story of the inn is the fact that Starbuck may still be roaming the halls of his creation. Some guests have been warned that when night falls on Nantucket, they just might see the ghost of the Captain walking around the halls or entering their rooms.
As one would expect, many of the ghosts roaming the island of Nantucket spent some time on the sea. From ghostly captains to island founders, spirits are roaming about many of the older homes and hotels. Expect to hear some bumps in the night when you visit.