; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Friday, March 05, 2010

Paranormal Mysteries at the White Inn

fredonialeader - At the end of a lengthy corridor lies a single white door leading to a room in which many mysteries await. A night behind this closed door might leave uneasy patrons nervous to return.

The White Inn is filled with mystery and many spooky rooms that attract numerous customers, not only for the food, but for the thrills that the Inn might bring. It all began in the early 19th century, when the property on which the Inn stands now fell into the hands of Dr. Squire White.

The first house to be built on the land was in 1868, when White erected a frame house and made it the permanent residence of the White family. Not long after, an unfortunate event devastated the White family when the house caught fire. Devillo White, Dr. White’s son, decided to rebuild a better, more substantial home. In 1868, The Second Empire brick mansion was constructed.

It wasn’t until 1918 that the history of the Inn would begin to develop. Murray Hill Bartley of Westfield purchased the property from the last remaining White family member, Miss Isabelle White. Bartley expanded the house considerably and opened it as a hotel to the public in 1919.

Since then, the White Inn has become a popular destination. With its 40 Victorian-styled guest rooms, a dining hall and of course, its mysterious “bump in the night” noises, the Inn remains a major icon within the community. Countless stories describing what these “noises” could be include those of several figures the White Inn has seen over the years.

One popular and captivating story is that of Jack Maloney and his wife, Helen. In 1968, Jack, suffering from depression, murdered his wife by clobbering her over the head with a book end. He then committed suicide by taking a shot of insulin. This tragic event has haunted the White Inn’s walls ever since.

Guests have reported smelling cigar smoke, possibly from Jack’s own cigars. One woman even claimed a female figure appeared at the end of her bed one night and talked to her. Room 272, where the murder/suicide occurred, is available; especially to all those who wish to try their luck at experiencing paranormal activity. As Rohan Patrick, the current manager of the Inn said, “If you seek it out, it will be there.”

Many staff members at the Inn claim to have experienced strange paranormal activity.

“Several staff mentioned that they have seen Isabella White in the kitchen, room 264 and her room where she actually resided when living here, 314,” Rohan Patrick, the White Inn’s most recent owner said.

Slamming doors, unexplained noises and ghost sightings have been reported from staff members regarding Isabella White. “It’s creepy,” said one staff member, “I don’t like being in the kitchen or really anywhere at night by myself.”

Supposedly, Isabella White was not very pleased to see her family’s house converted into a hotel. It is said she used to sit in her rocking chair on her porch next door to the Inn watching, with a disapproving glare, as her house was being completely changed. It is believed that her spirit wanders the Inn because of her unhappiness and unwillingness to let the Inn, which was once her home, slip away forever.

SUNY Fredonia’s own paranormal group, Paranormal Research Association of Fredonia (PRAF), decided to test out these claims and conduct a ghost hunt at the Inn. While they did not see any ghosts, the members of the group reported “feeling uneasy” in room 272 and 264. Jeremy Steincamp, president of PRAF described the room as “really uncomfortable.”

“There were so many weird noises. It’s an old building, so weird noises are normal. No one else was in the building, so the door slamming has no explanation. And the unexplainable EMF [Electro Magnetic Field] readings, that’s still a mystery,” Steincamp said.

Putting aside all the reports of what might be paranormal activity, Patrick focuses on taking care of the facility. When he became manager of the White Inn a year and a half ago he was not informed of the building’s paranormal history. However, as much as he does believe in the paranormal, Patrick tries to look at things optimistically.

The White Inn has had several previous owners, including SUNY Fredonia professors David Briant and David Palmer. These individuals spent 13 years refurbishing and renovating the Inn. Following the ownership of Briant and Palmer, Robert Contiguglia and Kathleen Dennison took over the Inn and kept the lodging and food services running.

Under the ownership of these individuals, the paranormal activity was used as an extra way to draw in guests and grab people’s interest. Patrick has a different approach.

“Previous owners played it up a lot. They liked the idea of the mysteries and haunting. It’s not that I don’t like it but I don’t play on it,” said Patrick. “I have a philosophy and it’s ‘let the dead rest in peace.’”

Although the belief in paranormal phenomena is not universal, many guests and staff have made it clear that what they have experienced is definitely out of the ordinary. Unexplained noises, slamming doors and unidentified ghost sightings are among the thrills and chills the Inn has already presented to its guests.

The White Inn is quite an impressive, historical attraction. Not only does it charm people with its delightful, welcoming rooms and suites, but it serves as a fine dining facility. And of course, we can’t forget the Inn’s additional feature: a home to the spirits of the White Inn’s past.


Innkeeper of The White Inn in Fredonia, Robert Contiguglia, is proud of the supernatural drama and history of his business. He feels the ongoing evidence of ghosts only enriches its continuing heritage.

The White Inn: Isabel White and Room 264

There are two parts of the inn, the old and the new. The old is the original structure dating to 1868 and includes Room 264. The new was added in 1919 and includes supplemental lodging, dining space, and the porch with stately pillars viewable from Main Street.

Isabel White was the last White family member to reside in the home. It is believed her spirit hangs around the inn due to her nostalgia for her childhood homestead. Though she favors Room 264, Isabel roams the entire inn. Room 264 is found in a narrow, dead-end hallway.

A pleasant couple rented Room 264 one evening in November 1993. In the morning, the couple proceeded to breakfast. Contiguglia greeted them and asked about their slumber. The couple said, "We had a little visitor last night." Embarrassed, Contiguglia immediately assumed they were referring to a rodent, but then the couple continued, "It was a young lady." Contiguglia, a non-believer at the time in errant spirits, became aghast at the notion of other guests helping themselves into others' rooms. The couple corrected Contiguglia, saying it was a ghost.

"She was a young lady in her teens. She had blonde hair and cobalt blue eyes - a nice complexion," the pair described. The ghost sat on the edge of their bed and told the twosome of ensuing milestones in their lives, including the birth of a baby boy.

Some time later, the couple returned as guests of the inn. They had two requests: Room 264 and a crib for their new baby boy. Eager to present their son to the she-ghost, they were disappointed she did not reappear.

On a separate occasion in July 1996 around 10:30 p.m., a man entered asking for a room. He was given the key to Room 264. The man explained he was exhausted after an eight-hour drive, and asked if the bar was still open. It was, so the man first proceeded upstairs to put his things in his room.

"It wasn't 30 seconds later when he came running back down the stairs," Contiguglia retold.

The out-of-breath man panted and demanded, "Do you have ghosts in this building?" The man told the innkeeper that as he was fiddling with his room key, he looked down the hall toward the dead end and saw a girl in her nightgown. The man assumed she was having trouble with her key, so he opened his room, set his bag inside, then turned to help her. The girl had vanished in a dead-end corridor. Exasperated, he tore down the stairs.

The man described the girl to Contiguglia as young, perhaps 15 years old, with blonde hair, alluring blue eyes and a peaches-and-cream complexion. To Contiguglia, it was an uncanny similarity to the description given by the breakfast couple. The shaken man took solace at the bar.

A bludgeoning

Contiguglia discerned his inn is inhabited by two entities. Isabel is one, the other is Helen and Jack Maloney, melded into one. The Maloneys were the innkeepers and restaurateurs in the 1940s through the '60s. Contiguglia described them as nice people, but gluttonous alcoholics.

One wintry evening, Jack came home inebriated. He trudged upstairs to the couple's room, in what is now the Presidential Suite located in the older part of the inn. He shut and locked the door. There was a struggle ending with Jack bludgeoning his wife to a bloody death. Then using a lethal combination of sleeping pills and booze, he killed himself, too. Contiguglia discussed the autopsy that described Helen's head as "crushed with a heavy object."

Fast forward to 1992 when a couple experienced "a major occurrence," as Contiguglia defines it. The innkeeper booked them in the relaxing Presidential Suite, an expansive two-room suite with extras like a fireplace, floor globe and jacuzzi. About 1 a.m., the couple awoke to a terrorizing racket in the common room. They heard the clamor of furniture moving and glass breaking. What seemed like an eternity may have only been three or four seconds, and then the suite turned stone silent. Getting up the nerve to open the bedroom door, the couple peeked in, fully expecting shambles. To their astonishment, nothing was out of place, wrong or broken, save for one thing: the globe was twirling on its own.

The two entities are never experienced together and take their cues from the general aura of the inn. When the inn pumps with positive energy, Isabel is thought to reign, and when swirling with negativity, the Maloneys are in charge. Whoever is at the helm, sightings remain unpredictable.