Grab Your Spooks at the Providence Ghost Tours

By Jeffrey Folker

The Providence Ghost Tour: where orbs, shadows, specters, poltergeists and other things go bump in the night. You do not need any special equipment or ritualistic knowledge – no EMF recorder, night vision goggles, séances, Ouija boards or extra-sensory perception are necessary. All that is required is a pair of comfortable walking shoes, an open mind and a date to share a night on the town in Providence. Not interested in the supernatural? That’s ok too – with knowledgeable tour guides, the tour is a wonderful way for visitors to learn about the oft-violent, dark history of Providence.

Though I have never personally heard Marley’s chains rattling (that’s a reference to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, in case you missed it) I admit I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to supernatural entities residing in our world – if I do not see it, I do not believe it happened. While my family jokingly refers to our friendly household poltergeist (which we have affectionately named Harold, apparently Casper was too obvious of a name), I have never encountered anything that leads me to believe ghosts and spirits actually exist.  Then again, neither have I seen anything that definitively proves they do not exist, either. Either they do exist and I just have never seen them, or they do not exist and I have been correct all along.  Whatever the truth may be, it does not matter what I believe.

The tour begins at Prospect Terrace Park on Congdon Street at dusk (College Hill, Providence) ‘neath the statue of Roger Williams and the epigraph that reads “Here reposes dust from the grave of Roger Williams.” Why dust from the grave of Roger Williams and not the body of Rhode Island’s founding father, you ask? My question to the tour guide was not allowed to hang in the air very long: in the first of a series of frightening tales about Providence’s dark past, we learn that his grave and casket – originally located in Swan Point Cemetery off Blackpoint Boulevard – had been invaded by an apple tree looking for decaying flesh to use as fertilizer. Talk about a way to capture the interest of your audience.

Over the next hour and a half, the tour makes stops at the homes of famed Rhode Island Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft (think Seinfeld’s half-man, half-bear-pig, only substitute man-half-bear-pig for a man-half-octopus-dragon) and the site of one of Rhode Island’s unsolved murders; the Woods-Gerry house and its camera battery-sucking patio; Brown’s John Hay Library (I’ll leave this gory surprise for the tour guides); and Brown’s University Hall, which acted as a hospital (read: amputation ward) during the American Revolutionary War. Walking down Benefit Street, we stop at the Providence Athenaeum. Standing across the intersection from the oldest family house in Rhode Island, we search for the ghost of the drunkard and “goth before it was goth,” (to quote our wonderful tour guide Elise), Edgar Allen Poe. The climax of the tour centers on the corner of Benefit Street and Angell Street and the dangers of “furious riding” – you will have to take the tour to find out exactly what that is.

Providence Ghost Tours run every night from July 1 through November 16.

For more information and tickets, visit their website at www.ProvidenceGhostTours.com.

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