The Old Yarmouth Inn, established in 1696, lays claim as the oldest inn on Cape Cod. Situated at the halfway point on the long day and a half journey from Plymouth to Provincetown, it became a welcome haven for the weary traveler in need of lodging, food and drink. In early colonial times it was very common to build taverns close to churches. After long hours in unheated churches parishioners would gather in front of a warm fire and enjoy refreshments provided by the innkeeper.
During the Revolutionary War, inns often served many purposes for the townsfolk: newsrooms for the colonists, barracks for the soldiers and sometimes even as hospitals. Because of a fire at the Town Hall where most important documents were kept, few papers survive to outline the Inn’s true history, but the Inn’s guest registry from the 1860′s survives as testimony to the hundreds of travelers that have come before.
The Old Yarmouth Inn continues to serve as a respite for weary travelers, as a gathering place for local townspeople and as a favorite dining spot on Cape Cod for friends and families.
The Ghost from The Old Yarmouth Inn – as seen on WCVB TV’s Chronicle.
The Ghost from The Old Yarmouth Inn
We suspect that there is really more than one ghost. The ghost(s) are not malicious or scary; rather he/she/they are mischievous and possess a good sense of humor.
We have heard many stories about the ghost s from previous owners of the building and from others who have heard stories from their parents and grandparents. The common tale about the ghost came from a woman who lived here. Her grandfather was a dentist and operated his business out of the first floor. He lived here with his family and died in one of the upstairs bedrooms. She is convinced that he is our ghost. Another common assumption is that a young woman killed in a smoky blaze while she was sleeping upstairs is the ghost. It is rumored that she was the mistress of the Proprietor of the Old Yarmouth Inn.
But the Old Yarmouth Inn has been home to many families and thousands of travelers over the last 3 centuries. There are no records of the number of travelers that arrived on the doorstep sick, and no record of those that may have died here.
When Althea Thompson’s family occupied the Old Yarmouth Inn it functioned as a boarding house for the teachers that taught and the Old school – now the fire station on 6A.
One day Althea was playing in the attic and found the hidden door that led to the secret room where it is assumed that the Old Yarmouth Inn hid slaves and operated as part of the Underground Railroad. If that is true then it can be assumed that the ghost could be a recently freed slave seeking shelter en route to a safer life.
The possibilities are endless, but we are convinced that there are two resident ghosts! Our first recorded sighting of one of the ghosts on Thanksgiving 1999. Carleton Davis, the former artistic director of the CapePlayhouse was staying in the room called QuissetHarbor. He woke at 4:00 in the morning to find a gentleman standing at the foot of his bed. Carleton told me that the “man” seemed puzzled that Carleton was in the room. Carleton was unafraid and was convinced that he was seeing an apparition. He described this “man” as a “jowly individual with big full cheeks and a calm manner.” He was dressed in late 19th century clothing with a flounced white blouse with large cuffs and full sleeves. As they stared at each other the man faded from Carleton’s sight. Fast forward to November 2008 when the Yarmouth Inn sign that hangs on the wall first returned. We had not yet anchored it to the wall and propped it up in the Red Room. Keri, Dani and Frupa were the only staff left in the building. Keri went to lock the front door and to her surprise a man stood admiring the sign! She stopped in her tracks, but when she looked back in – he was gone. Again, the style of dress was quite similar to Carleton Davis’s description. Then on Thanksgiving 2012 I had my first sighting as I was standing at the host station looking towards the door I saw the reflection of a man pass by the storm door in Victorian clothing!
In the summer of 2002 three gentlemen were staying here on a vacation from the British Virgin Islands. On of the men, Michael Blaize woke up to feel a “body” sit on the edge of his bed. He pulled the covers up over his eyes hoping he was dreaming, but the “figure” arose off of the bed and traveled to the foot of the bed and began caressing Michael’s feet. He was now fully covered in his blanket and comforter and begging for the morning to come, when he felt this ghost grab the 2 bed posts and began shaking the bed. This ended as quickly as it started and Michael got up, packed his bags and took his chances on the outside deck for the remainder of the night until the sun rose and he felt safe. The next morning we listened in stunned silence as he told the story. We exchanged glances of disbelief and wanted to laugh until Arpad’s 89 year old mother stepped out on to the deck and announced that she could not sleep because of the all the racket and banging coming from the room across the hall. We all believe that this ghost played on Michael’s fear of the supernatural and showed up to scare him, and entertain the rest of us.
There has been a lot of unexplained occurrences – we have felt cold drafts that cannot be explained. These are usually followed by bizarre reactions from Comet, our dog. On numerous occasions I have returned from a tour of turning off the lights in the various dining rooms to find all the lights back on again. There have been ashtrays that have slid down the bar and then tossed into the air. My sister Maureen, Arpad and I listened in disbelief as the window next to our table began moaning and rattling with out provocation and then fell silent Our bartender has had to hold glasses that slide all over the bar as she tries to pour drinks. One woman, who guffawed at the idea of a ghost, was soon a believer when the air conditioner cover fell off and defied gravity as it traveled 10 feet to graze the tip of her head. My own sister refuses to go in to the kitchen after hours since the time 7 years ago when our Hobart mixer turned on while she was making an early morning cup of coffee. Most recently the wait staff has begun hearing their names being whispered by an unknown source, and several of the staff have heard footsteps at odd times of the night.
During the fall of 2003 and we hosted a couple of Séances that were supposed to be nothing more than theatrical performances, but aroused our ghost nonetheless. There is a gas stove in the Dining Room we call the Red Room. On the stove was a glass Vase filled with silk roses and blue marbles. One morning during the time that the room was being decorated for the Séance, we came downstairs to find the vase split perfectly into laying on the brick hearth on either side of the gas stove. The blue marbles were laid out in front of the hearth and the roses were fanned out between the marbles.
I would like to blame my own absent mindedness of losing my keys or my glasses on the ghost, but this isn’t the case. But there are still an awful lot of strange things that just cannot be explained.
In 2013 I was getting ready to leave for the evening. Arpad said he was going to put our 2 dogs (Comet died in 2009) in the car. When I got upstairs the back door was open and the dogs were on the deck. I asked Arpad why he had left the door open on such a cold night, and he said that he did not do it. Upon watching the motion sensitive cameras, it became apparent that something opened the door. Indi came down the hall and stretched in front of an obviously closed door and then turned around and stared at the wall behind her wagging her tail and then disappeared down the hall. Roughly five minutes later she charged down the hall and sprinted right out the now open door with her sister, our resident watch /attack dog on her heels as happy as can be. Weezie would have never let another human being come down that hallway without making a ruckus and to this day we have no idea how a door, that is always locked, magically opened……