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Downtown: Spooky spots in the city

  • The Concord Public Library decorated the basement with crime scene tape and chalk body outlines. At least one person has died in the building.

  • Jennifer Kretovic shares ghost stories that have happened at Hilltop Consignment on Main Street in Concord (a former hotel in the HIlls Block) during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Frank Harvey shares ghost stories from the basement of Hilltop Consignment on Main Street in Concord (a former hotel in the HIlls Block) during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Sean Skabo explains the connection between the supernatural and water outside the former Concord Police State (now Margaritas) in Bicentennial Square in Concord during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. One of the former cells, which you can dine in, is supposedly haunted and visitors may feel the room temperature drop suddenly. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Tour volunteer Karen Crump of Ledyard (from left), Tony Karjagin and other members of the yellow group listen to Sean Skabo explain the connection between the supernatural and water in Bicentennial Square in Concord during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • A tutor at Parker Academy shares stories of haunting with the yellow group on Oct. 4, 2018, during the Upstairs Downtown tour. The building was the home of Lewis Downing Jr. and staff of the school say the attic light turns on without cause and that it feels like someone is watching you in the break room, even when you're alone. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Members of the tour look at the photobook “Haunt” in a study room at Parker Academy. The study room is said to be haunted.

  • Jim Milliken of the Concord Historical Society stands next to the State House statue of Franklin Pierce to talk about the “ghost of the White House.”

  • Jim Milliken, chairman of the Concord Historical Society, stands next to the statue of Franklin Pierce outside the State House to talk about the "ghost of the White House" during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Jim Milliken, chairman of the Concord Historical Society, stands next to the statue of Franklin Pierce outside the State House to talk about the "ghost of the White House" during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Members of the yellow group sit in the Concord Public Library auditorium to listen to Library Director Todd Fabian tell tales of the various library hauntings during the Upstairs Downtown tour on Oct. 4, 2018. Apparently there have been several experiences, but the ghosts respect privacy and stay out of the bathrooms. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Visitors check out the attic at Parker Academy on Thursday during the Upstairs Downtown tour. The building was the home of Lewis Downing Jr. and staff of the school say the attic light turns on without cause. Sarah Pearson photos / Monitor staff


Monday, October 08, 2018

It’s hard to feel spooked in Concord’s downtown nowadays.

With the shiny newness of the Main Street project becoming a more familiar sight and brighter signs making their way into storefronts, there are few opportunities for creepiness.

As Monitor opinion editor Dana Wormald pointed out in his stellar noir take on the city, “People don’t walk here now, they stroll. If you want to learn something about a place, pay attention to the way people move through and within it.

“Nobody takes their time in a dying town.”

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Concord has made efforts to get people more acquainted with its Main Street; the city’s economic development director and public information officer positions exist to spread the Good Word about Concord (they even have a podcast now); the various public-private partnerships, like the White Park skate house renovation; and the strong promotion of various events, like Intown’s Market Days, from businesses and the municipality alike.

As they say, familiarity breeds comfort. But that made taking Intown Concord’s Upstairs, Downtown tour last week even more fun.

For its 10th year, Intown tried something a little different, taking visitors to a few “haunted” spots in the city.

There was the classic mention of “George,” the ghost at the old police station and jail, now Margaritas in Bicentennial Square. And if you frequent the Barley House, perhaps you’ve been acquainted with the little boy, about nine years old, who likes to appear in the corners of the downstairs bar.

But it’s the stories behind the more mundane buildings that really settle under your skin.

For instance, did you know that Parker Academy on Pleasant Street used to be the former home of Lewis Downing Jr., of the Abbott-Downing Concord coach company? And that its attic, with rough planks and a collection of dusty mirrors, is not even the scariest thing about it? That belongs to the old woman who appears at closing time and just watches you lock up, according to employees.

But bar none, the creepiest place on the tour lies right beneath perhaps one of the city’s most innocuous locations – the public library. Kudos, first of all, to director Todd Fabian, who is a great storyteller.

But it’s hard to not feel a sense of dread down in the stacks, where the library keeps stored books. With long, close-together shelves stretching off into darkness and utility lights that take a few seconds to flicker on, it’d almost be unfair if there weren’t reports of whispers and a woman flying around the shelves, or paperclips disappearing and then flying past staff members heads days later. Great stuff.

Runner-up goes to Hilltop Consignment. City Councilor Jennifer Kretovic clearly had a good time telling visitors about the woman who walks through the walls to visit the next door CVS, but the real creep factor is what tours couldn’t see. Apparently, there’s an upstairs that used to connect to the Phenix Hotel, which burned in 1950.

Too bad it’s only accessible through a crawl space and a ladder, which, had it been available, would have made for A-plus horror material. Maybe next year.