Ghosts of Sun Inn Help Keep Historic Site Alive
SyFy Channel paranormal investigators will profile the historic inn in December.
Built in 1758 by the Moravians, the Sun Inn at 564 Main Street offered a restful night sleep and a hot meal to such famous travelers as George and Martha Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin among others.
“No other Inn has housed more signers of the Declaration of Independence,” said Inn Keeper Bucky Szulborski. The Sun Inn boasts 10 but, this fact is overshadowed by the attention the Sun Inn gets for the guests that haven’t checked out.
In December, the Sun Inn will get national television exposure on the SyFy television series Ghost Hunters, which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
“One ghost hunter said that there is more activity than in the Eastern State Penitentiary,” said Szulborski, “They are happy ghosts; they love to talk.” In January of 2009, the Lehigh Valley Research and Investigation in Paranormal Activity caught 15 electronic voice phenomena (EVP).
This same Lehigh Valley Group took the famed picture of the ghost in the window donning a white apron suspected to be Hughetta Bender.
Hughetta Bender founded the Sun Inn Preservation Association and in 1971 began to restore the Sun Inn to its original glory according to the blue prints in the Moravian archives. Hughetta died in 1995.
Szulborski said that he didn’t believe at first but, the more “proof” coming from these paranormal investigations, the more his skepticism subsides.
“R.I.P.A. (Research and Investigate Paranormal Activity) took over 200 shots to try to reproduce it and they could not,” said Szulborski. “No one has been able to reproduce it.”
Not true says Kenneth Biddle, author of Haunted Lehigh Valley and former “boss” of the now defunct Paranormal Investigators and Research Association (P.I.R.A.). Biddle said he has visited the Sun Inn on two occasions by invitation through P.I.R.A. and the other on the 2010 Ghost Hunting event.
“They are attributing the white reflection to her apron," Biddle said. "Unfortunately, it’s simply a distorted reflection of a fireplace that sticks out from the wall to the right, which is not in the image.”
As a professional photographer, Biddle says that this image and many of the images capturing orbs and vortexes can be explained by natural phenomena like the reflection of light or shadows.
“Sometimes, I think people believe what they want to believe when they are on the ghost hunt and anything that happens they attribute to the spirits,” said Szulborski. “We have enough evidence that shows there is paranormal activity going on in the building.”
When R.I.P.A. investigated the building, they found a chest and got some EVP’s recorded when they opened it: “We’re watching you.”
According to R.I.P.A., an elderly man sits in the green chair by the fireplace of the Great Room. When asked his identity, he responded “William” on EVP recordings. Indeed a man name William Jones, the Secretary of Navy under President Madison, died in 1831 at the Sun Inn.
The ghost with the most paranormal support is that of Sarah, the spirit of a little girl still happily playing with toys in the third floor attic.
“It’s the floor with the most paranormal activity ... people bring [Sarah] toys and clothes,” said Szulborski. He showed me a doll seated on a miniature chair that he said drew the attention of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the team of ghost hunters that star in the SyFy television series Ghost Hunters. It was the creepiest doll I had ever seen and my camera jammed twice when I tried to take pictures of it.
Under the chair was a aged piece of paper that had been scotch taped to the bottom. The inscription read “Sarah ... daughter of Inn Keeper ... Bethlehem.” Also taped to the bottom of the chair was a photo of a man holding the same chair. A doll collector traced the doll's origin to Dresden before 1850.
A woman on the 2010 public ghost hunts said good bye to Sarah and her recorder picked up the EVP: “Don’t go.”
“On September 20, T.A.P.S. investigated the Sun Inn and the Hanoverville Road House,” said Szulborski. “They found a lot of activity here -- something on every floor. EVP’s in the basement and first and second floor, thermal images on the third floor.”
Szulborski said that ghost activity has increasingly become a source of income for the preservation association, which continues to struggle to find the resources it needs to keep the inn open.
“The Inn has been a challenge with the ongoing maintenance and funding. We work with grants because museum admission doesn’t do it. Our ghosts have been doing it,” said Szulborski.
In fact, the Sun Inn is hosting a ghost hunting dinner tonight with a $70 admission price and an overnight ghost hunting stay on Saturday.