Podcast 276 – The Broke-Neck Shadow Man

In December of 1894, a Lewiston, Maine, tenement house made the news for being so haunted.


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In Episode 276 Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Lewiston, Maine, to search for a house that’s “ridden with ghosts” according to the headline of a December 1894 local newspaper article. A shadowy man whose neck appears broken in a most unnatural way had been reported throughout the tenement house for years. Some believe he was a harbinger of bad things. But he’s not the only ghost reported here.

Read the episode transcript.

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CREDITS:
Produced and hosted by: Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger
Edited by: Ray Auger
Theme Music by: John Judd

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A clip from the December 22, 1894, Sun-Journal newspaper in Lewiston, Maine.

A clip from the December 22, 1894, Sun-Journal newspaper in Lewiston, Maine.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
*A note on the text: Please forgive punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Like us, the transcripts ain’t perfect.

[DRIVING]
RAY: Okay, we’ll make a right onto Bates Street.
[BLINKAH]
JEFF: Okay.
RAY: And we can park up here at the corner of Kennedy Park right in the middle of downtown Lewiston, Maine.
JEFF: This is as good a spot as any to begin our search.
RAY: Okay. What are we looking for?
JEFF: We’re looking for an old house. A tenement home.
RAY: Okay… there are tons of houses around here. Many of them look like they could be multi-family units. How do we know which one?
JEFF: Ray, we’re looking for a home with a shaking door. We’re in Lewiston, Maine, searching for a house they say is ridden with ghosts.
[INTRO]
JEFF: Hello, I’m Jeff Belanger and welcome to episode 276 of the New England Legends podcast.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger. Thanks for joining us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. We can’t do what we do without you. So please hit the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts, and please post a review for us. Tell a friend or two as well. You’re how we grow.
JEFF: Before we go searching for a Lewiston house filled with ghosts including a creepy and sinister character, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals!
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JEFF: They are.
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RAY: And we’re lazy, so that helps a lot!
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RAY: So we’re looking for a haunted house in Lewiston, Maine?
JEFF: We are. And there are a lot of houses here in the downtown area.
RAY: There are. This area of Lewiston, was originally home to the Abenaki and Androscoggin people.
JEFF: I’m guessing that’s where we get the name of the Androscoggin River that borders the western part of Lewiston today.
RAY: it is. European settlers came here in 1770 and the town incorporated in 1795. There’s still a few of those original settler houses that survive to this day.
JEFF: Nice! But those aren’t the houses we’re interested in finding today.
RAY: Given the nearby river, Lewiston grew up on water power. Various textile mills used the river to power their businesses. Today the population sits at about 37,000 people.
JEFF: Got it. So not the largest town around, but not tiny either. To find the haunted house we’re looking for, we’re going to have to stroll these side streets, head back to 1894, and grab a newspaper.
[TRANSITION]
RAY: It’s December 22nd of 1894, and the Sun-Journal newspaper out of Lewiston, has just put out its Saturday edition.
JEFF: People should be thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday, but there’s an article right on Page 9, that has folks around here a little spooked.
[RUSLTING PAPERS]
JEFF: Check out this headline, Ray.
RAY: Okay… it reads: Spook-Ridden. A Lewiston House about Which Queer Stories Are Told. The Man Who Carries His Head on One Side and Other Strange Happenings.
JEFF: Spooky, right?
RAY: Yeah.
JEFF: The reporter has offered to get us inside. But he swore us to secrecy on the location. So shhhhhh.
[WALKING DOWN STREET]
JEFF: The house isn’t far.
[KNOCK ON DOOR]
[DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES]
JEFF: I heard from the reporter that there’s a lot of turnover in this building. Residents come and go quite a bit.
RAY: Do you think the ghosts scare them off?
JEFF: Maybe. Or maybe that’s just the nature of this tenement. People don’t plan to stay long. But the most curious part is that the reporter mentioned how even though the tenants come and go, they share similar stories about the ghosts here. And these accounts got back many years inside this building.
[WALKING ON WOODEN FLOOR]
RAY: One tenant told me that they’ve seen a tall, dark-looking man moving through the house at night. He’s almost like a shadow, but he carries his head to one side—almost like his neck has been broken. The angle of the neck is… well… it’s unnatural.
[WALKING UP STAIRS]
JEFF: Here in the upper floor of the house, one tenant said she saw the shade of a woman entering her room at night and sitting on the bed. It’s always THIS room too. Other people have slept in here and experienced the same thing: a shadowy woman who glides into the room, and settles on the bed. You can feel her weight press down, and yet see right through her.
RAY: Let’s talk to more of the tenants. I have a feeling this could be a long night.
JEFF: Yeah.
[WALKING ON WOODEN FLOOR FADES]
JEFF: Oh wow… another tenant told me that three years ago and older gentleman moved into the house from a neighboring city. The old man knew nothing of the ghostly activity here. Shortly after moving in to the house, he grew ill.
RAY: Do you think the house made him sick?
JEFF: I don’t think so. Maybe it was just bad luck. So one day a neighbor comes over to check on him and was told that during the night, a strange looking man paid a sinister visit. The man was described as tall and dark, and carrying his head at a peculiar angle to the side—almost like his neck was broken. The sick, older gentleman said this peculiar shadow man carried a coffin into the room and set in on the floor near his bed. The shadow man then moved the coffin to various spots in the room… almost the way one sizes up moving furniture. This continued for close to an hour before it stopped. A few days later… the older gentleman died in his room.
RAY: That’s so eerie. So get this, another neighbor told me that a little boy once lived here with his parents. One day the little boy got very sick and he started seeing the tall shadow man with the broken neck moving from room-to-room within the house. The boy’s mother thought maybe he was having fever hallucinations, but when other neighbors told her the story… she wasn’t so sure.
JEFF: It almost sounds like this broken-neck man could be some kind of harbinger. Like seeing him is a bad omen.
RAY: The little boy didn’t die. He did make a recovery.
JEFF: A local Lewiston woman told our reporter friend that she used to live here when she was a young girl. She said she DOES NOT believe in ghosts, but her mother told her that when she was young, she sat up in her trundle bed and pointed at something in the room. She told her mother there’s a man with his head to one side looking at her.
RAY: All of the nearby neighbors seem to know something about this house’s ghostly activity. I just spoke to policeman who said years ago, this house sat vacant for a while. He’d walk by on patrol, and one night he saw lights flickering in the attic, so he went inside to investigate. He found all of the rooms empty, but there was a foul odor that hung in the air. When the policeman reached the attic, there was no light on, and the room was empty. Once the officer got back outside and locked up the house, the light started flickering in the attic once again.
JEFF: Some things can’t be explained. Like why everyone in this Lewiston neighborhood seems to know this house is haunted… unless the house is REALLY haunted. And that brings us back to today.
[TRANSITION]
RAY: I have questions.
JEFF: Yup. Me too. Before we get to that, let me say that everything we know about this story comes from the December 22nd, 1894 Sun-Journal newspaper from Lewiston, Maine. It’s our only source on this one. Okay… questions.
RAY: If this story is for real, why not give the address of the house? Isn’t that suspect?
JEFF: it is. So go ahead and read this part of the article.
RAY: Okay, it says Quote: “Why not locate the house?” You ask. Well, if you owned the house and were trying to rent it, you wouldn’t want it advertised as such.
JEFF: So that’s the reason the reporter gave. Could be a cop-out, sure. But read the paragraph after that one too.
RAY: This one says Quote: “A well-known lady, one who knows much of the world, told us that very early the other morning she saw the front door of this house shake violently three times. No one was there. In a minute or two the lady of the house came to the door in her wrapper as though she had just arisen from bed, and, peering out and seeing no one, went back to bed.
JEFF: So I guess the article implies that if you’re near the house, you may just figure out which one it is by the shaking door. But that was back in 1894. In truth, we don’t know which house this was, or if it’s still standing today. But we couldn’t resist a headline that starts with: Spook-Ridden.
[OUTTRO]
RAY: No we can’t. And that brings us to After the Legend which is sponsored by our Patreon Patrons. Our patrons get early access to new episodes plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. We depend on our patrons for help with our hosting, production, marketing, and all of the other costs associated with created this show each and every week. We appreciate this amazing group of insiders. If you can help the cause, please head over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends to sign up.

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We’d like to thank our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals, thank you to our patreon patrons, and our theme music is by John Judd.
Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.

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