16 min read

Ghosts in the Museum (Haunted Scranton)

Stories of the haunted Everhart Museum, a former hotel, a historic home, and a pub in Scranton, PA. Plus a couple cool urban legends about a stone couch and a lady in black.
Haunted Scranton, PA

Stories of a haunted museum, a former hotel, a historic home, and a pub in Scranton, PA. Plus a couple cool urban legends about a stone couch and a lady in black.

Highlights include:
- a nun psychopomp
- a child who followed a ghost into the basement
- a ghost that sneaks up on people in a storage closet
- a mannequin that moves on its own

Listen to the episode here or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Check out the others episodes in this series about Haunted Scranton:

Episode Script

DISCLAIMER: I'm providing this version of the script for accessibility purposes. It hasn't been proofread, so please excuse typos. (Especially because I use dictation software for a lot of my script writing!) There are also some things that may differ between the final episode and this draft script—some of this transcript may feel a bit incomplete. Please treat the episode audio as the final product.

Main source for this episode: Haunted Scranton: After Dark in the Electric City by A.C. Bernardi

Everhart Museum

  • Inside Nay Aug park, there is also a museum. I have no idea why I didn't go inside the museum, since I spent a lot of time just hanging out at the park two of the days that I was at Scranton. I can only say that I wasn't really thinking clearly and was feeling exhausted, so while I walked around museum and took pictures of the outside of it, it didn't even cross my mind that I could go inside. Go figure. I guess part of it too is that both times I had my backpack, I wasn't sure if they had a coat check or not. And I was just feeling too exhausted to figure any of that out.
  • But the museum is the largest public museum in all of northeastern Pennsylvania. It apparently has artifacts, and stuff relating to natural history, science, and fine art. It also has a library.
  • The museum was founded by one Isaiah Fawkes Everhart, which is a name for an eccentric 19th-century academic if I've ever heard one. He was a medical doctor who lived in Scranton, and he was also a taxidermist, because of course he was. I guess the taxidermy birds in the collection came from Everhart's personal collection of taxidermy birds. Everhart apparently had this dream of collecting specimens of Pennsylvania's nativebirds, and so he built one of the finest and largest collections in the United States, according to Wikipedia.
  • The museum opened in 1908, and at the time there were no other museums in Northeastern Pennsylvania. When the museum first opened, it was mostly just Everhart's stuffed birds.
  • there's this huge bronze statue out in front of the museum of Everhart. Weirdly, five days after the bronze statue was dedicated, Everhart died. And apparently he died inside the museum. I've read that he fell to his death, but I haven't been able to find details about that.
  • This is what the Everhart Museum website says:

On April 14, 1911, Dr. Everhart slipped and fell on the floor on the Museum fracturing his right hip. He died of complications of this injury at his home on Franklin Avenue in Scranton on May 26, 1911.
- https://everhart-museum.org/dr-isaiah-fawkes-everhart/
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Fawkes_Everhart
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22048038/isaiah-fawkes-everhart

  • And of course, the museum is supposedly haunted by Everhart himself
  • Ghost walk tours highlight Scranton's weird, grisly history By: Nissley, Erin L. Times-Tribune, The (Scranton, PA). 07/06/2010. (AN: 2W62060597568):

Other stories on the tour included the bizarre murder plot hatched in 1900 by the son of Scranton philanthropist and naturalist Dr. Isaiah Everhart, who donated the museum at Nay Aug Park that bears his name. Mr. Jaye said Dr. Everhart's ghost wanders the halls of the museum.

SCRANTON — A spooky flashlight tour Saturday at the Everhart Museum at Nay Aug Park shed some light on myths and superstitions surrounding various subjects in the building’s collections.

Staff created a special tour for Halloween exploring some of the objects in the museum’s galleries, including rocks, minerals and birds that generally have links to superstitions or myths, said Stefanie Colarusso, the museum’s director of programs and events.

Tours of parts of the first and second floors ended with a presentation in the basement by John and Keriann Balucha of Wyoming Valley Ghost Tours, discussing their paranormal investigation of the museum conducted in the summer of 2019.

John Balucha showed video images from an infrared camera set up overnight inside the museum. At one point during the night, clicking noises accompanied the battery power of the camera waning and the video going dark. Later, the camera wobbled, tilted and tipped over onto the floor, where Balucha found it the next morning.

The Baluchas enjoy trying to identify such phenomena.

“I think it’s important because a lot of people obviously are afraid of death, and I think there’s some comfort — if we could find some evidence of afterlife — I think that’s comforting, to a degree,” John Balucha said.

**Colarusso can’t say for sure whether the museum is haunted. But she has her suspicions.

“There’s some fun little tidbits, ghost stories, I guess you could call them, and a little bit of activity,” Colarusso said. “I am not scared of the building personally. You get a funny feeling, occasionally. I’m here a lot at night, so you know. We definitely have older artifacts that could carry some different energy, I guess you could say.”

Chrissy Grunza, a member of the museum’s summer program staff who volunteered as a tour guide Saturday, said she has heard knocks and once saw a penny inexplicably fly out of a DVD player and across a room in the basement.

“When our classroom used to be downstairs, every time I would say Dr. Everhart’s name, somebody would knock on the back wall,” Grunza said. “Nothing upstairs, it was mostly downstairs in the basement. But I tried to convince myself this is just myself playing mind games.”**

The Hotel Jermyn

  • located at 326 Spruce St.
  • this is a Romanesque style building, which was built on the site of the Forest House hotel, which had been built in the 1850s. Forrest house was named after the woods that were in the area, and which were cleared in order to build the building. It was a boardinghouse at first, and then they added a 4th floor to it and it became really popular as Scranton became more popular.
  • So then they built the Hotel Jermyn. They started construction in 1894, and it took about two years to build. But on April 20, 1895, a carpenter named Charlie Weiss fell down 80 feet from where he was working and died. The hotel opened on April 8, 1896, about a year later and it was a really grand opening. It sounds like 10,000 people visited when it first opened. And the hotel had 250 rooms for guests to stay in. They were really modern rooms, with hot and cold running water, steam heat, electric lights, and gas. In 100 of the rooms in the hotel had private bathrooms.
  • it was such a grand place that Eisenhower stayed there once. There are also used to be a nightclub called the Omar room which had a 26 piece orchestra ensemble that played there
  • eventually, the building was converted to become apartments for elderly people and disabled people, and that still mostly what it's used for.
  • At one point, the Electric City Theater Company, which no longer exists, turned one of the hotel ballrooms into a theater, and they would perform plays there. And, as many theaters tend to be, they discovered that their theater was haunted.
  • There are of course a lot of theater traditions, including having a ghost light lit. And they did have a ghost light in the theater.
  • Apparently different mediums, psychics, and sensitive people have detected ghosts there. Supposedly the carpenter who died has been seen there, as has a local priest and actor who had a heart attack while he was performing there.
  • But the most famous ghosts there is someone named Eleanor. Now, even before the theater was there, people in the building had seen Eleanor, including the elderly people who live there and people who worked in that part of the building. Eleanor is supposedly an actress or some sort of performer from the 1920s or 1930s who died while staying at the hotel. Supposedly she had fallen from one of the windows on the six or seven floor. There are different legends about her death, some claiming that it was an accident, and some cleaning that was a suicide. But then of course some people think it was a murder.
  • The story goes that Eleanor was a beautiful performer who often went to Scranton to perform in the theaters there, and a wealthy, important man in Scranton was into her, and even though he was married, they had an affair. But then Eleanor found out that she was pregnant, and told him, and he pushed her out of the window and she died when she hit the sidewalk below. However, there is no evidence of this story in the historical record.
  • I can't help thinking about how similar this sounds to the story of one of the ghosts at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, which I covered in a previous episode [https://www.buriedsecretspodcast.com/haunted-grove-park-inn-asheville-north-carolina/]
  • however, when people in the theater have talked about Eleanor, strange things have happened, like lights turning on and off for flickering. Eleanor also supposedly would take small items that belonged to the actors or to the productions, which resulted in things like missing props. There is a story about an actress who lost an important prop, and then ended up asking out loud for Eleanor to give the prop back, because she really needed it, and then of course a couple minutes later, she found the brush sitting on the lid of the trashcan in the room, which she had specifically looked at previously, when she opened the trashcan to see if it was there.
  • there's also a story about a particularly sensitive 7-year-old girl who has actually seen Eleanor. Apparently she saw her in a mirror, and her clothing sounded like it was probably from the 1930s or so
  • there was also story about an actress who came in from out of town and was going to star in a high-profile production, but she got a really bad vibe there, feeling fear and dread and general uneasiness there. She also sometimes saw a woman standing by herself in the back the theater. And she ended up breaking her contract because she felt too uncomfortable there

The Catlin House

  • located at 232 Monroe Ave, which is on the University of Scranton campus
  • it's a Tudor revival building
  • it was built in 1912
  • it was a 16 room house for the Scranton lawyer and banker George Catlin and Helen, his second wife
  • George Catlin was a lawyer in New York City, but then he decided to move his family to Scranton in 1870. They don't know why he did it, but it was probably because Scranton was having such a big boom. So he switched from law to finance. However, his wife did have family in the area (this is his first wife, Mary Woodrow Archbald)
  • after Mary died, George married Helen and they built the house. George never had any kids, but they would hold a lot of parties and stuff
  • George died in the house on June 8, 1935, when he was 90. He died of a brief illness
  • Helen died in 1942, at her sister's house
  • the building is now the headquarters of the Lackawanna Historical Society
  • the house was left to the historical society
  • some people think that the home is haunted because of all the historical items that are now held there
  • members of the historical society say that they have experienced uneasy feelings, and sightings of full-body apparitions
  • the phenomena have happened throughout the whole building, from the basement to the third floor
  • a lot of people are kind of scared of the basement, where people feel drafts and cold spots that appear and disappear randomly. They've heard disembodied voices, felt feelings of dread and feel like they're being watched by someone who they can't see. Some sensitive people have said that the spirits of the workers who built the house are in the basement, but it's not clear why
  • there are no documented tragic accidents or strange things that happened during the house's construction. To their knowledge, no one is buried underneath the house.
  • Some people say that the second floor has a "heaviness." The old servants quarters used to be there, and now it is a tiny office and there are rooms that contain costumes and mannequins
  • an adjacent room, also on the second floor, "the fashion room," has lots of displays of old dresses and clothes. A lot of people have felt uncomfortable in there, especially inside a large closet in the room. One volunteer was putting boxes in the closet and suddenly felt like he wasn't alone anymore. When he looked behind him, no one was there, so he went back to work. After a couple moments, the man felt someone watching him again, but he didn't turn around because it seemed like the person was in the closet with him. When he looked up, one of the antique gowns that had been hanging suddenly seemed to be filled by the form of a body, with no legs or feet. The volunteer ran out of the room
  • another time, a volunteer was sorting clothing in the same closet and suddenly had a sense that she had been transported back in time. She heard the whistle of a steam engine. The author the book theorizes that this might've been some sort of time warp, where the past and present overlaps briefly
  • one volunteer has said that at the annual holiday open house, when the house is decorated with lots of holiday decorations, the volunteer, who said that she was sensitive to spirits was sitting at a table in the back room on the first floor, which is the office for staff. She was talking to a few friends and then she saw two women dressed in elaborate early 1900s gowns, who suddenly appeared near the back door way. They walked past the table that she was sitting at through a hallway that leads to the library room. The woman said she didn't remember hearing the door to the outside open, and she also didn't feel the cold air from the door opening, and the closed door that the figures walked through was totally blocked on the other side by a bookshelf in the library room. Nobody else saw it, but the woman believe that she saw two ghosts that are tied in with house's history.
  • Another volunteer had something weird happened in the second-floor bathroom, which is right next to the fashion room closet. The bathroom looks like it did when the family was still living there, and it's not a working bathroom. It's just a display. There is a mannequin that's dressed in old timey clothing. As this woman was walking by the bathroom, she felt like someone was looking at her from in the room. So she stopped and looked into the bathroom, thinking she was probably just imagining things. But then the mannequin's head seemed to slowly rise, and like it was looking at her.
  • Article with info about the Scranton After Dark Paranormal Investigative Team:
    • Paranormal investigators look into downtown Scranton By: Falchek, David. Times-Tribune, The (Scranton, PA). 10/18/2010. (AN: 2W6911873147)

The group's leader, Tony, discussed the Electronic Voice Phenomena, EVP's, recordings the group collect which, after later examination, include sounds that appear to be human voices. Tony goes into a location with a recorder, trying to cajole a spirit into talking or making a noise. In examples collected from the Catlin House, home of the Lackawanna Historical Society, a voice says something Tony has interpreted as "a horse length...this one goes first." Another appeared to say "I'll let you know," when Tony asked to speak to it. He said EVPs are often from "unintelligent" spirits, echoing past conversations. Some sound human, but appear to be in foreign languages. They have never found one speaking backward.

The Banshee Pub

  • 320 Penn Ave.
  • this is supposedly one of the most haunted buildings in Scranton. It's a three-story brick building
  • the pub is supposed to be haunted by the spirits of some people who had lived in Scranton and died of the Spanish flu, because bodies might have been stored in the basement, because funeral parlors couldn't keep up with the demand for space because of the amount of people who were dying. Now, it has not been confirmed that the dry goods store that was at 320 Penn Ave., Eisner and sons, was actually used for this purpose. People just think it might have been. Also, it's worth noting that the Scranton private hospital was right behind the building back then, and a lot of people who had the Spanish flu were treated there. There also used to be a funeral parlor near there, so it seems like 320 Penn Ave. would've been a convenient place to store bodies
  • apparently the pub has a really vintage vibe, and they were able to salvage a bunch of wood from the original interior when they first open the pub in 2000, so it has a lot of the innards of the building as it was and I guess it also has a bit of a creepy vibe
  • unsurprisingly, people had uneasy feelings and just got a bad vibe in the basement area
  • people have said that they had seen shadows appear and disappear in the basement, moving across the walls, often in people's peripheral vision. But sometimes they have been seen straight on.
  • One worker had an unsettling experience in the basement, when she went down there in the air suddenly got very very cold, and then she felt a intense pain in her shoulder and ran back upstairs. And when she told her coworkers what happened, they saw that her shoulder was turning red and the pattern of the redness looked a lot like a human bite
  • both workers and customers of the pub have said that they'd seen apparitions on the buildings first and second floors. They've also seen a tall man wearing an old looking black overcoat and a top hat standing at the bottom of the staircase in the first floor. He looks like he is in his 30s or 40s, and he just looks out in the main bar area, seeming kind of confused, and then he disappears
  • there is a scary story about a woman and her eight-year-old son who went to the pub to have lunch, and the woman was talking the waitress, who was an old friend, and she didn't notice that her son had disappeared. She looked around and saw that he was going down the staircase that went down into the basement. So she and the waitress followed him and they saw him standing alone next to a wall. She asked why he left and he said that a man in black who was carrying a rope asked him to follow him. But they didn't see any man in black there
  • there's also story about a ghostly young girl who's maybe four or five years old, who wears a white dress and is often seen in the banquet room on the second floor, or the staircase to the third floor. Some people have heard her laughter when the bar is closing or about to close and is mostly empty. People also said they've heard her footsteps walking down empty staircases. There doesn't seem to be a theory about who she is, but people say she's friendly
  • another thing worth noting is that according to the 1879 to 1880 edition of the Scranton city directory, there used to be an undertaker whose business was at 320 Penn Ave. The undertaker's name was R. Schoenfeeld. His business also sold furniture and coffins
  • Per the Food Network: "In 1910, the building housed a wholesale dry goods company and, because of its proximity to area hospitals, was also used as a temporary morgue space during the 1918 influenza epidemic. ... Staff have felt hands on shoulders despite no one being behind them, seen glasses randomly breaking and heard tables moving on the second floor (despite no one being there)," Food Network wrote. Scranton restaurant named most haunted in state By: Heaney West, Caitlin. Times-Tribune, The (Scranton, PA). 10/18/2019.

Bonus urban legend: the "Stone Couch" and "Lady in Black" in Hazleton

  • 'Stone couch' rock formation in Luzerne County believed to be haunted site By: Whalen, Jill. Times-Tribune, The (Scranton, PA). 10/28/2019. (AN: 2W61513169657)

There's a curious rock formation on the road from Eckley Miners' Village to Buck Mountain that folks call "The Stone Couch."

Some believe the rocks were intentionally put there, while others think they're a natural formation. Whatever the case, the position of the rocks resemble a couch.

"Old folklore has a woman with a sick baby waiting on the stone couch for a stagecoach ride to take the baby to a doctor and her baby dies," said Freeland area resident Charlie Gallagher. "The grief-stricken woman then killed herself there. At least that's the story I was told."

And rumor has it that at night, you can hear the ghost of the woman crying for her baby.

To take it a step further, urban legend holds that if you sit on the "couch" once, you will get scratched. If you sit on it twice, something bad will happen to someone close to you. If you sit on it a third time, you will die.

That's also what Jeremy Petrachonis of Hazleton has heard.

"I have heard that rumor/story about the 'death couch,' and I know a few people who have done it, and none of them died, but one got the flu shortly after, so I guess that was some bad luck," said Petrachonis, a haunted history buff.

He also heard about a ghostly presence at the former St. Joseph Hospital in Hazleton. He referred to it as "The Lady in Black."

"Legend has it that there was a nun many years ago, who was always at the hospital, especially to serve Last Rites to dying patients. She primarily belonged to the Diocese of Scranton, working with the St. Joseph parish," Petrachonis relayed. And as the story goes, the nun also spent much time in the hospital's chapel.

When the woman died, patients and staff began seeing a "dark shadow" or silhouette in the hospital's rooms and halls, he said.

Petrachonis, a member of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church and former altar boy, guessed that some shy away from talking about the sighting because it was a Christian hospital -- and religion and ghosts don't go hand-in-hand.

By the time he had heard the story, the hospital had closed.

"So it doesn't go too far, except as an urban legend, but I would love to know if anyone else has physically seen 'The Lady in Black,'" he wondered.