Spirits in Granny McCarthy's Tea Room
Strange noises, smoky apparitions and mysterious water have been noted at Main Street landmark.
It seems that every shop on Main Street is being investigated by one paranormal team or another. Donegal Square and Granny McCarthy's Tea Room at 534 Main Street is no different and has attracted the attention of Rob Thompson and his crew from the Ghost Finders, Channel 16, WNEP-TV in Scranton.
“They set up lasers, they had so much gear, they kept saying that in the one room there was a man held against his will,” said Neville Gardner, the owner of the Celtic specialty shop and attached restaurant.
He says has never actually seen anything but strange things happen. Candles get relit and “as I was walking through the building, I felt something – a presence - it stayed with me all day.”
“My belief is that there is a whole other dimension that we can’t see. Your soul is your life energy and I believe that could be trapped if it is not fee to go on,” Garnder said. “Growing up in Ireland, it was common to believe in ghosts, banshees, and fairy folk.”
He tells the story of what could have been a disastrous opening for Granny McCarthy’s in September of 1997. “At about 6 a.m., I got a call from Ruth McNicholas. She was baking for the opening of the restaurant. She reported water coming through the ceiling of the kitchen," said Garnder, who rushed to the building.
“Water was dripping everywhere, he recalled. "There was no source for the water – no way to explain it.” When he investigated upstairs he found that the apartment carpets were completely “saturated.”
“The thing that blew my mind — I opened a drawer to the vanity and they were filled with water. To this day, I can’t explain where the water came from,” Gardner said.
A downstairs bathroom off of the café is where voices have been recorded saying, “Get out. Get out.”
Gardner said that the building has had “a lot of problems with water.” Recently he had to put a new roof on and the one room which was previously used as an apartment lost its ceiling to water damage.
Several years ago Bethlehem lawyer Fred Rooney was renting the apartment. Frequently away for long periods, Rooney allowed a young Nicaraguan woman to use the apartment. According to Gardner, “there was a ghostly presence in bed with her every night.”
Apartment #2 on the third floor also has a history of strange happenings. Jim Gaffney, a photographer, was renting from the previous owner. “He and his wife stayed in on New Year’s Eve, -- stayed in, watching TV, smelled cigar smoke, weird. They heard a champagne cork pop and violin music in living room,” said Gardner.
When they looked they could see a cloud of smoke in the living room.
Another New Year’s Eve, a dark silhouette of a woman in a ball gown was seen in the hallway. Gaffney had a one way conversation with the apparition but it disappeared.
Current resident of apartment #2 is Steve Bost said he has never seen anything. “I am a skeptic and can usually explain it away.”
Kelly Shay, chef and manager at Granny McCarthy’s, was present during the recent paranormal investigation. “Ghost Finders spent a good part of a night a few weeks ago. They reported the voices of up to 20 different ghosts. Apparently, there’s a girl. They think it might be Liesel,” said Shay.
The building was once the home of George Frederick Bechtel (1762 – 1872) and is famed as the place where the Marquis de Lafayette convalesced after being wounded in the battle of Brandywine in 1777.
Although the Sun Inn was set up as a hospital at the time, Lafayette's friend, General George Washington thought the private care of Bechtel’s daughter, Liesel, might afford a more efficient recovery. Liesel reportedly fell in love with Lafayette but, upon his recovery he went back to France and his wife. Her unrequited love is suspected to be the reason her spirit lingers.
But this history does little to explain the voices in the bathroom, the male presence or the New Year’s Eve apparitions. Maybe Ghost Finders will tell more. Their show appears on Channel 16, WNEP-TV, on Sundays at 1:00 p.m.