Historical Society will again lead popular ghost tours
By Alison Rooney
Mix in some gentle scares with Beacon’s rich history and you’ve concocted an in-demand potion. Ghost walking tours by the Beacon Historical Society were a hot ticket in 2017, the first year, and they are in 2018 as well.
Held over a single October weekend, the six tours offered in 2017 filled up rapidly and, though each tour was limited to 20 participants, 40 people turned up for the final one, pleading for a spot.
In response, the society this year expanded its “The Ghost in the Mist” tours to six on each of four consecutive Saturday nights, beginning Oct. 6. (Three of the 24 tours have already sold out.) The tours depart every half-hour beginning at 7 p.m.
The hour-long tour, which departs from the lawn of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post at 413 Main St., covers about a half-mile, and lantern lights are provided. The guides will lead each group through the dark streets of Beacon, sharing local lore and legends from the days before the American Revolution through the Victorians.
Costumed actors will tell a tale at many of the stops. The characters include Catheryna Rombout Brett (aka Madam Brett), who will speak from the homestead which her family owned for hundreds of years; Alexander Hamilton, who wrote the Federalist Papers in a rental home at Denning’s Point; and Nancy Lamont, a turn-of-the-century librarian at the Howland.
Robin Lucas, the BHS board member who came up with the idea of leading ghost tours, says the actors will share information that is, as much as possible, based on primary sources. “I love ghost stories,” she says, “and I had been on many haunted tours. I thought this would be a good way for the historical society to educate the community in a fun way, and raise funds, too.”
Emily Murnane, a BHS trustee, who researched and wrote the monologue for Madam Brett and portrays her, says she gets a kick out of occasionally being recognized when working at her mother’s Main Street store, Beacon Bath & Bubble.
“I love it when someone asks, ‘Aren’t you Madam Brett?’ ” she says. “There’s not a single kid who grew up in Beacon who hasn’t been on a school trip to the Madam Brett Homestead, so representing her is an honor.”
A corps of volunteers, including students from Beacon High School, Mount Saint Mary College and afterschool acting programs, pulls the event together, beginning in January. Some costumes are borrowed from the Madam Brett Homestead; others are donated by a collector of Victorian clothing or purchased.
“There are so many talented people who contribute in some way,” says Lucas. “It’s a great opportunity for people in the community to connect.”
Murnane, who is in her 20s and grew up in Beacon, says the tours are a way of making history attractive to younger adults. “This is a more accessible platform for them to discover local history,” she explains. “The word ‘story’ is in history for a reason.”
“And these stories are very inspiring,” Lucas adds.
How to Scare Up Tickets
Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors, BHS members and children ages 8 to 15. (Organizers say the tours may not be suitable for younger children, because they take place after dark.) Order online at beaconhistorical.org.
Participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes and rain gear; the tour will proceed in light rain. Strollers and pets are not allowed. Email [email protected] or call 845-765-9500 for information.