HistoryThe Curtis House Inn in Woodbury, Connecticut was originally built by the Reverend Anthony Stoddard. Built some time prior to 1736, it is the oldest continuously opened inn in the state of Connecticut.
The Reverend Stoddard (1678-1760) preached at a church in Woodbury, Connecticut. As compensation, he was paid 70 pounds per year, and given 115 acres of land. He was to divide the land equally into pasture, meadow, wood & tillage, and land for a house to be built on (which he would provide the glass and nails for its construction).
The Reverend Stoddard was a pillar of his Woodbury, Connecticut community. He did not only provide spiritual guidance to his fellow people, he also served as a lawyer, a physician, and a farmer. He was not afraid of hard work and had no quarrel with working the land with his own hands. The Reverend Stoddard was also known for keeping an eye out for his fellow neighbors. One story written in 1707, mentioned his bravery for keeping a young boy safe from an Indian waiting in the brush to attack him.In 1754, the Reverend’s grandson, Anthony Stoddard opened the home as an inn for travelers. He named it “The Orenaug Inn”, which is believed to be named after the sections of town where it was located. Since then, the Inn has reportedly been owned by at least 30 different owners.
The inn saw many changes over the years. Prior to the 1900s, the entire second floor of the inn was an extravagant ballroom; while the first floor was used for sleeping quarters. Later, the ballroom was converted to make way for additional sleeping quarters, as it was not used as often as anticipated. In the early 1900s, then owner Levi Curtis raised the roof of the inn to add a third floor with eight additional rooms. This was done in anticipation of a possible business increase due to the new trolley service. Finally, he renamed the historic Woodbury, Connecticut inn “The Curtis House”.
In 1954, Sterling Dunn (the owner at the time) was looking to retire from the business. He offered The Curtis House to Estella Hardisty, a woman who had worked as a waitress for him. Currently four generations later, it has remained a family-owned business by the Hardisty family.
The Curtis House Inn of today has 14 guestrooms 2 dining rooms and a pub. Additionally, a carriage house on the grounds was converted into a common room with 4 additional private bedrooms.
While much is known about the history of The Curtis House Inn, it is also steeped in some mystery. It was reported that the inn was the home of the Free Masons before their King Solomon Temple was built nearby. According to these reports, there is said to be a secret passage way along the perimeter of the inn that was used by the Free Masons. It has yet to be found.
There may have been a murder tied to the inn, as well. The innkeeper, Lucius Foot had been found dead on the nearby Church grounds following a card game that he had won. It could not be determined what his cause of death was because his body was found completely frozen. It took three days for his body to thaw out. Other wrong doings were rumored.
There have been reports of paranormal activity at Connecticut’s oldest inn, The Curtis House. People have reported seeing shadows or apparitions of former employees wandering around the grounds and inside the building. The kitchen has reports of utensils being moved. If utensils had been removed for use or changed around, they would be found placed back in their original spots. Room 16 has claims of cold spots and sheets being moved or even taken off of you. Room 23 has reports of someone standing over you while you sleep and the general feeling of not being alone.
Personal ExperiencesA few investigators from the Paranormal Research Groups in Connecticut had personal experiences while investigating the The Curtis House Inn. In the room that we had set up as our base camp, a butter knife kept jumping off the table onto the floor. It didn’t fall. It “flipped” itself 5 different times in front of different investigators who were watching the monitors. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch it on video as we weren’t specifically videoing inside the base camp room. By the time we were able to get a handheld video into the room, nothing would happen. That is of course, until the video recorder left the room again! Then the knife seemed to jump off the table again and again. Could it have been something natural? Of course. But it was definitely strange and worth noting.
Another investigator thought that he had heard whispering while in the pub and lower dining areas. He also felt as though he was being watched by someone from the basement area, which lies just a few hundred feet away. When he walked back into the rest of the basement area, the air was stale and thick; however that is not uncommon for a basement.
As it got later into the evening, each investigator picked a room to stay in for a while. Marci decided on Room 16 to see if she could experience any of the claims associated with that room. She set up her Zoom H2 digital field recorder and Sony camcorder to record in the room. She found the room quite comfortable and began to drift off to sleep quickly. About an hour later, Marci woke to find the covers being removed from her back. She also experienced a feeling like someone was lying in the bed with her, however she was still alone. Sadly, when Marci had checked her equipment, both devices had only recorded for several minutes before having the batteries completely drained. Both the audio and video recorders had just received brand new batteries before she had started recording.
Because of the Curtis House Inn’s busy schedule, we were only able to have one night to investigate. It was one of the only nights during the year that they did not have guests staying there. Due to the size and layout of the inn, covering everything in one evening with a small group was going to be extremely hard. Had we brought in a larger group, any findings gathered would certainly have been contaminated due to the acoustics and age of the old building. To be as affective as possible, we concentrated in specific areas of the Curtis House Inn that had the most claims. We also took some time in other areas throughout the evening that we felt might be beneficial.
Although our investigators had some awesome experiences on a personal level, we were not able to capture anything what-so-ever with our equipment to help document or explain the experiences. It seemed that anytime something strange had occurred, it happened when/where there was either no equipment in that particular area or only after the equipment we had for documentation had been drained of all power.
We hope to return to the Curtis House in Woodbury some time in the future. We would love the opportunity to follow up on the personal experiences the investigators had, as well as continuing to investigate these claims. Perhaps we will have better luck next time.