Listen up guys and ghouls! Neighborhood View’s Sam Baltrusis, author of the new book “13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts,” writes about the things that go bump in the night. He assembled a motley crew of the state’s most paranormally active in a show airing on MATV at 7 to 9 p.m. the last three Fridays in October.
He also penned a book perfect for the Halloween season. Score tickets to the book launch on Oct. 20 or Oct. 27. Here’s an excerpt:
Malden is a city with an inexplicably large number of wayward spirits and residual hauntings.
Sure, it’s not a typically haunted city and deviates a bit from the Lizzie Borden or Salem witch city norm. However, there’s a historical legacy that’s often overlooked by ghost hunters and para-celebs. It’s also an easy Orange Line train ride from Boston and my home in Somerville’s Assembly Row.
During the winter, I was covering an event in the old wing of the historic Malden Public Library. The well-preserved throwback to the gilded age was recently featured in the movie Ted 2, with Mark Wahlberg, and served as a creepy backdrop for a Travel Channel’s Dead Files episode called Dark Inheritance.
While taking photos for MATV’s Neighborhood View, I swear I spotted a chair move in the Converse Memorial Building as if an invisible force was taking a seat at the old-school library built in 1885.
“On its walls hang several of the paintings that were there when the building was dedicated in 1885,” explained the library’s website. “Most prominent is a full-length portrait of 17-year-old Frank Converse, in whose memory the library was constructed. On either side of him are his parents and the building’s donors, Elisha and Mary Converse.”
Was the spirit I encountered the ghost of the 17-year-old Converse teen? Digging through some historical research, it turns out that Frank Converse died tragically in what is believed to be the first bank robbery in America. The town’s postmaster, Edward Green, was desperate for money and on Dec. 15, 1865, he trekked through the snowy streets of Malden to the city’s bank located at 48 Pleasant St. Green was there to make a usual deposit but noticed the teen was alone. The soon-to-be bank robber returned from the post office with his recently purchased Smith and Wesson pistol.
America’s first bank robber shot Converse in the left temple. The boy fell to the ground and Green, who stole $5,000 from the Malden Bank, shot Converse again.
The murder made national headlines. Green confessed to the grisly crime two months after the boy’s body was discovered. Green was sentenced to death and was hanged in April 1866. Converse’s wealthy father, Elisha, became the first mayor of Malden in 1882 and erected the library three years later in honor of his slain son.
For the record, the murder occurred a stone’s throw away from the library, which is located at 36 Salem St. Others who visit the historic landmark claim to have encountered unseen forces move furniture and even reach out to creeped-out patrons. “The library has a basement that contains books in different languages. I once went [there] and was looking for a certain book. All I could feel is a hand on the back of my neck,” reported Vian on the Ghosts of America website. “It bothered me so much. As soon as I moved a little it stopped. Then after at least 10 seconds the hand went back on my neck and it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Yes, Malden boasts a bone-chilling assortment of ghostly hot spots rumored to be stomping grounds for spirits … and not one of those El Diablo concoctions at Ferry Street Food & Drink.
Speaking of the new restaurant formerly occupied by watering holes like Jimmy O’Keefe’s, the Shamrock Inn and No 9 Ale House, Ferry Street Food & Drink located at 118 Ferry St. made headlines in 2013 about a resident ghost rumored to still claim his bar stool in the afterlife.
According to lore, the left-behind ghost looked like John Candy’s “Uncle Buck” character. The spirit supposedly slipped and died in the basement when the space was Jimmy O’Keefe’s.
Shannon Ladd, Ferry Street’s co-owner, claimed that she recently had a close encounter with the Uncle Buck ghost. “Your timing is impeccable because (not) until last night did we have that hair-stand-up feeling, but nothing has happened,” said Ladd. “Then last night around midnight, for the first time I saw something move on the opposite side of the basement and I swore someone was there. But everyone had left except myself and Jason (Ladd’s husband) and Jason was upstairs.”
Ladd continued: “We took over the space in March, so maybe he was just shy until now. To be honest, I pretty much just ran up the stairs and got out of there! He hasn’t shown up on his bar stool just yet, but we do have bar stools stored in the basement.”
Sharon Santillo, a resident of the former Belmont School on Cross Street, says her fellow tenants encountered a ghost girl when they moved in 10 years ago.
“My condo building was converted from a school that had been built in the late 1800s and added onto in 1930s,” Santillo recalled. “All the tenants moved in around the same time and two people on the ground floor saw a ghost of a young girl. She had long dark hair and did not seem upset nor were they frightened by her.”
Santillo said the girl was spotted near the school’s former theater. “Someone who had been a teacher in the building told us the area where she was seen had been the stage end of the cafeteria back when the building was a school,” she said. “We made up a story about her that she had happily acted in school plays and came back to be in that place of good memories. But the conversion of the building took away that stage and the girl has not been back since those early months, that I have heard about anyway.”
Michael Baker, a well-respected paranormal investigator with Para-Boston and featured expert in my first book Ghosts of Boston, said Malden has several ghost stories including the “Lady in Grey” specter at Holy Cross Cemetery. “There is a ghostly hitchhiker that has been picked up several times only to disappear once she is inside the car,” Baker said. “I know that is a popular theme for cemetery haunts, but this one comes from the ’60s.”
There’s also the legend of the mad scientist buried in Bell Rock Cemetery, which has a gravestone dating back to 1670, known as the Walking Corpse of Malden. The scientist experimented with chemicals to keep his post-mortem flesh from rotting. “A group of people opened up the mad scientist’s tomb after several years and were shocked and amazed to find that his flesh had not decayed as expected,” according to the the legend. “A medical student impetuously decided to sneak into the tomb that night and try to steal the corpse’s head, but was tormented by apparitions and frantically ran out of the cemetery. He tossed the severed head into the tomb, and it is believed that a headless ghost walked the cemetery at night searching for its missing head.”
Baker says he heard several creepy stories about the now-closed Malden Hospital being haunted. “A nurse friend of mine who passed away a few years ago used to tell me about crying that she would hear coming from a room that was vacant on the third floor,” he said. “She told me that several other nurses noticed the nurse call light coming on from that room during the night shifts when the room was empty. She claims that she wasn’t the only one to hear the crying and described it as a cry of pain … sort of a moaning. “
Baker continued: “She also said that the freight elevator would sometimes take you to the third floor no matter which floor number you hit.”
The paranormal expert also overheard a ghost story at a store in the space formerly occupied by the Granada Theatre located near the corner of Pleasant and Main streets in Malden Square.
“I overheard a couple of the employees talking about a sighting of a man with a cape and a strange hat,” Baker recalls. “They were arguing about where they thought he was from. I then found out that what they were talking about was a ghostly apparition that one of the employees saw when they came in to open in the morning. The employee had to go home because she was so shaken up.”
The former pharmacy was in the exact 21 Pleasant St. spot that housed the former Granada. For the record, the allegedly haunted theater closed in the mid-’80s and was later demolished after two girls snuck in the building in 1987 and set a fire that destroyed the historic structure.
Yes, the show must go on … even in the afterlife.
What a fun way to learn pieces of Malden’s rich history. Ah! This is living history, so to speak!