Alternate Perceptions Magazine, July 2019
Mason Cottage Mishaps:
An Anomalous Anniversary
by: By Barbara Mango, Ph.D
Cape May, New Jersey, is renowned for its spectacular beaches, imposing Victorian homes, and picturesque, tree-lined streets. Located at the southern tip of the state, it is America’s oldest seaside resort town. Originally built as a retreat for the wealthy, most of its grand homes have been converted to luxurious bed and breakfast inns. One such inn, The Mason Cottage Bed and Breakfast, was originally built for Edward Warne, a wealthy Philadelphian attorney and lawyer. The foundation was laid in 1869. The family moved into the home in 1871, as the summer season began.
My husband and I had always wanted to visit Cape May. We love the beach and quaint historic towns. What better place to celebrate our 20th anniversary when Sept-tourist season would be over, and we could relax and enjoy dining on the beach. After searching extensively online, I booked a three night stay at the Mason Cottage.
Before I delve into our very not romantic stay, I must regress a bit, and emphasize two points. First, I am a life-long experiencer of all things paranormal, anomalous, and high-strangeness related. I hold a Ph.D. in Metaphysical Science and analyze phenomena in a logical, grounded, and science-based manner. Thus, I am very careful and sometimes too skeptical while assessing anomalous occurrences. Additionally, I am a clairsentient, exceptionally sensitive to energy and electromagnetic fields. I have experienced moments of utter transcendence and beautiful, mind-blowing wonders. Yet, I also seem to be a magnet for negative energy. At times, I feel I have a sign hanging from my neck, saying “All Creepy, Negative Phenomena Welcome Here!” Rarely however, am I afraid of inexplicable phenomena. Rather, I am fascinated.
Secondly, I had neglected to do my pre-vacation homework. I had assumed Cape May was going to be a welcome respite from the daily grind, without incident. I had long admired its Victorian charm and pristine beaches. Little did I know that Columbia Avenue (location of the Mason Cottage), was the second most haunted street in, what numerous investigators consider, the most haunted spot in the country.
After five hours of driving, we finally arrived at Mason Cottage at 10pm. The outside of the Inn was lovely-identical to its flattering photos. “Good pick Barbara,” I silently congratulated myself. We trudged up the front steps with our voluminous “stuff” and lugged it into the parlor. That’s when the creepiness factor hit us-we were immediately enveloped by a thick, heavy, and negative “vibe.” We looked at one another, hoping this eerie energy was confined to the parlor. The owner checked us in and informed us that there was a “problem” with our room; thus, due to this undisclosed “issue,” we would be upgraded to the inn’s most luxurious accommodation, the Spa Suite. Ahhh, the spa suite-complete with sitting room, spa room with massage table and hot tub, full bath, and king-sized bed. Wow, maybe this trip was really turning around after all! That hopeful wish was immediately dashed as we climbed the staircase to our second floor room. Talk about an eerily disturbing, divided stairwell! (During the construction of the home, Edward Warne decided to divide the house, including the stairwell into two homes. Edward and his wife would occupy one half, while their son John and his new wife would reside in the other).
We entered our suite, grateful of its numerous amenities-especially the spa room. However, our appreciation soon turned into apprehension. As we passed the spa room (leading into our bedroom), the left corner of the massage table covering suddenly lifted, hovering momentarily at a 45% angle. My husband freaked out, while I resigned myself to the fact our suite was not the relaxing oasis I had imagined.
Tired and disappointed, I plopped down onto the bed, grabbing the guestbook from our night table. Skimming through the pages I noticed some unsettling entries…One in particular caught my eye: “My husband and I awoke in the middle of the night. A presence was sitting on our bed. It actually made an indentation in the bed. The next evening we saw a small child’s spirit walking across the room. It was very, very spooky.” I did not share this tidbit with my husband, who was recuperating from, as he called it, “the haunted massage table incident.” Oh well, I thought-par for my course. I popped a peppermint candy out of its wrapper (a bowl of mints was strategically placed on our dresser) and felt something crawling on my tongue. EWWW, gross, what on earth? I spit out the candy, and, to my horror, saw ants crawling out from the center of the candy. Every single mint had ants squirming under its wrapper. Of course, we tossed them out immediately. At breakfast the next morning we asked all of the guests if their mints were infested. The answer was a resounding “NO.” Quite apologetic, the owner opened a brand new package of mints to place in our room, and offered to exterminate any and all existing ants later that day.
I couldn’t wait to leave the Inn after breakfast. It’s heavy, negative energy had already exhausted me. You may be wondering why we stayed in the Mason Cottage for two more days. I would. Believe me, we tried our hardest to book a room at another Inn. Every single one of them was booked. Thus, we could drive home and lose hundreds of dollars, or tough it out until our anniversary. After all, maybe this was a one-time “freak” occurrence!
We were looking forward to a nice dinner out. However, I had been struggling with a brewing migraine the entire day. By evening, it had progressed nicely into a raging headache. I felt nauseous and exhausted. After ordering a take-out pizza, we went for an evening walk. I (mistakenly) believed I would feel better away from the inn, clearing my head with the fresh ocean breeze. Yet, no matter where we walked, the atmosphere felt heavy, smothering, and just plain unsettling. My headache and exhaustion refused to abate. Frustrated, we returned to our room. At this point, all I wanted to do was read and relax. However, little did I know the evening’s festivities were merely beginning. Trying to unwind, I threw on my pajamas, while my husband went to bed. However, I was restless, and couldn’t sleep. I brought a book into our sitting room and tried to unwind. Just as I opened the book, I heard a loud squeak, bang, squeak, bang, squeak bang. Stepping into the hallway, I realized a bedroom door within the inn was opening and closing shut-loudly. It was now close to midnight and I was wide awake. What on earth? Why not investigate? I had nothing better to do. Perhaps I could get to the bottom of this craziness. I grabbed my phone and robe, and traipsed through the myriad of hallways (remember, this had initially been 2 homes and was quite large), trying to locate the mysterious, thudding door.
I finally located the source of the squeak, bang, squeak bang-a room on the far, opposite side of the Inn. I watched in fascination as the door first opened, then swung shut in front of me, again, and again, and again. Tentatively, I pushed the door open. The room had obviously been occupied earlier that day. The bed was unmade, the room messy. However, I found it strange that the room hadn’t been cleaned or bed remade for future guests. After all, it was midnight, and check-out was 11am. Hmmm. Very odd. I took a deep breath, turned on the lights, and began my investigation:
1. I checked to make sure every window was closed and locked. The window sealant was tight-window casings solid-no drafts whatsoever.
2. The ceiling fan was off.
3. No breeze or airflow was coming from the hallway outside of the room.
4. The door hinges were solid, the door-frame straight.
5. The door was hung properly-I did not detect a tilted doorway, floor, or ceiling. Nothing was warped. Casing around the door was updated and solid, door-latch, fine.
To the best of my detective ability, everything checked out. I was unable to determine a logical explanation for this peculiar occurrence. I left the room, shutting the door tightly, very tightly, behind me. Yet, within 5 seconds, the door creaked and squeaked its way open. I did capture (on my iphone-yet accidently deleted it-sigh) a small orb hovering down the hallway, perhaps twenty feet from the door. Were the two connected? Perhaps. I was too tired to ponder further. The door creaked, squeaked, opened, and shut throughout most of the night. Needless to say, sleep escaped me. The next morning I asked the owner about the “haunted door” (as my husband referred to it). She replied “Oh, I didn’t hear anything-that’s odd. That’s never happened before. The door is fine. We are completely booked, so that room will be occupied today.” Her inability to meet my eye however, was not congruent with her words. The room remained unoccupied during the rest of our stay, and the door locked. Quite odd, for a “fully booked” Inn. I also reported that our newly replaced mints were once again infested with ants.
Finally, our anniversary had arrived. We had survived lack of sleep, ant-infested mints, negative energy, inexplicable door behavior, massage table mayhem, eerie stairwells, and orb sightings. What else could happen? It was our 20th anniversary after all! We spent the day at Cape May’s spectacular beach, and celebrated the evening with wine and a delicious meal. But then…..of course the best is usually saved for the last.
I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, when I heard my husband screaming from our bedroom, “OMG, there is a blue child sized shirt gliding across the room. GET IN HERE NOW”!!!! I ran into the room. The “gliding” shirt (approximately three feet above the floor) had originated from the closet on the right side of the room and was quickly moving towards the window on the opposing wall. (Note: this window had an a/c unit which was on, as it was quite warm). The apparition departed by floating through the window. Instantaneously, the air conditioner blew out. My terrified husband dove into bed, squeezed his eyes shut, pulled the sheets up over his head, and finally slept. I was simultaneously weary, fascinated, yet too agitated to sleep. Once again, I brought a book into the parlor, hoping to wind down. Settling into its narrative, I heard a slow, creaking, squeaking sound. Not again. Desperate for a good night sleep, I was not in the mood for more inexplicable door drama. Wearily, I grabbed my robe to begin investigation #2. As I rose to leave the room, I gasped. The doorknob in our room was slowly turning. Opening by itself. Squeaking and creaking. I slammed it shut-dragging a heavy chair in front of it. My heart beating wildly. I woke my husband. Barbara: LET’S GO NOW. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I NEED SLEEP, PEACE, AND QUIET. My husband: IT’S TOO LATE TO LEAVE. I’M TOO TIRED TO DRIVE. JUST TRY TO GO TO SLEEP. Yea, right. I tossed and turned all night.
Morning # 4
I could not WAIT to check out and leave Mason Cottage far behind. Forever. Yet, I felt an urgent need to investigate the history of this house. What forces lay behind the phenomena we experienced? My quest led me to the Cape May library’s historical section. There, I found a book detailing the history of Mason Cottage and it’s reported “occupants.” As aforementioned, the home was built on 623-625 Columbia Avenue, by Edward Warne. Shortly afterwards, it was divided in half. One side housed Edward and his wife, while the other was occupied by Edward’s son John and his wife. The family moved in during the 1871 summer season. On November 9th, 1878, “The Great Fire of 78” destroyed most of the town. Columbia Avenue was one of the few streets unscathed by the inferno. The grand Victorian homes were rebuilt, and the town recovered.
Meanwhile, the Warnes lived in relative peace for years. This changed, however, when stress grew between both families. Purportedly, John Warne’s children began tormenting their grandparents. Whether they were merely misbehaved, malicious, or perhaps anti-social children is unknown. Family tension grew exponentially, finally forcing the elder Warnes to sell Mason Cottage. The ghost of Edward Warne is often observed crossing Columbia Avenue, wearing a top hat, coat, and carrying a cane-refusing to leave his beloved home. Reportedly, he emits anger and negativity-a quite unfriendly character. Numerous witnesses have also reported seeing a boy, perhaps John Warne’s son, both outside and inside the cottage. He either appears as a glowing orb or ghost like figure wearing a brightly colored shirt.
Had Warne’s son glided across our room wearing a blue shirt? I believe so. Are the energetic remnants of the family’s anger, resentment, and maliciousness embedded in the home? As a clairsentient, I say absolutely. As a researcher, I can only assume. I can say with certainty that I was negatively affected by the heavy, foreboding, and draining energy of not only the home, but the entire town.
Why is Cape May considered one of the most haunted towns in the United States? To date, over 100 hauntings have been investigated. Paranormal experts have several theories. Certain individuals believe many spirits are those who perished in the Great Fire of 1878. Numerous investigators maintain Cape May radiates an extremely high energetic field and uphold that the presence of high EMF fields is the very cause of paranormal activity. Others propose a simple and relatable theory; ghosts, just as humans, are drawn to water, and especially, the ocean. Cape May is a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. And let’s not forget that Cape May was the first seaside resort town built in the United States. Its inhabitants were largely wealthy individuals drawn to the expansive beaches and tree-lined streets. Most reveled in the summer season, and relished their stately homes, social life, and fortune. Would you want to leave this idyllic life? Not me. Apparently, many of its original inhabits feel the same way.