Stopping by a Haunted House: The Walloomsac Inn

September 22, 2012 — I’ve been known to get the spooks here and there, but the last time I really Scooby-jumped into somebody’s arms was when I saw the Walloomsac Inn…from the outside, in broad daylight.


If you’re in the town of Bennington, and you don’t live or work there, then you’re probably heading for Old Bennington Cemetery behind the Old First Church to see Old Robert Frost’s grave.

The idyllic white church is located at 1 Monument Circle, but directly across the circle, a mere couple dozen or so steps away, is this massive, decay-gray building that was once the Walloomsac Inn. The edifice is three stories of cracked windows, crooked shutters, and rotting boards, making the close arrangement of the two buildings the architectural equivalent of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.


Such an obviously haunted and tragedy-filled house shouldn’t be set so prominently in the middle of the town’s top tourist spot like it is. It should be on the outskirts, down an overgrown road past a cemetery and a swamp. But there it stands, like somebody dragged the town skeleton out of its closet and found out it was made of two-by-fours.

The inn was built in 1771 by a Captain Elijah Dewey, who was the son of one of the ministers at the Old First Church. From there, it got passed through a few families where it was added onto and given its current name. The last owner was Walter Berry, who bought it in 1891. They say presidents have stayed at the inn, the ones most often cited being Rutherford B. Hayes and William Henry Harrison, as well as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who stayed there before they were presidents.


But stuff rots. And sometimes stuff rots in the middle of town. That’s not the astounding part. Nor is the fact that the Walloomsac Inn is still privately owned (although obviously not maintained), when you’d think that such an historic structure would be owned and maintained by the town. But here’s the kicker. People live there. Cannibals, I assume. Or at least the characters from that Home episode of The X-Files. Walking by, we saw a few fresh plants and a nice blue birdhouse adorning the porch. From what I’ve read online, the ones who still live there are the descendants of Walter Berry himself.

Unfortunately, “what I’ve read online” is oddly sparse. I figure that a structure as prominent, historic, and startling as the Walloomsac Inn would have multiple in-depth fan sites dedicated to it, and that the local paper would be running daily articles chronicling its deterioration.

That said, it’s an enigma I don’t really want solved. Because I like it as a spooky, mysterious pile of wood. I wish we would have documented it better on our own visit, but we were there for Frost’s bones and his neighbor here took us completely by surprise. I even forgot to get my picture taken with it. I've never done that before.




29 comments:

  1. I now want to go on a road trip from Tennessee just to see this house! Great pictures!

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  2. I would so film a low budget horror movie there! Great article, and awesome pictures!

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  4. We have a similar house here in Cleveland, Ohio. It's called Franklin's Castle. Very gruesome things happened in the house. Very evil things as well. It's made of stone and is dark. We have a street called Millionair's Row which this home sits on. I will be doing a blog about it just in time for the Season. I wanted to be a follower on your blog but you don't have a Google Friend Connect Widget on your blog. Please stop by my blog and follow! I love Halloween and things of dark history. Keep In Touch!

    Annamaria

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  5. Terrific job identifying this building! We drove past it ourselves earlier this year and I posted a couple of photos on my blog -- http://www.papergreat.com/2012/07/creepy-and-dilapidated-structures-of.html -- but didn't do the same level of legwork that you did to uncover the historical information. ... I'll put up a new link to your work and photos here.

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    1. Ha. Legwork. That's the best euphemism for Google search I've ever read...

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    2. LOL. I'm usually pretty good at the Google searches, and I did make an effort to find out about this place. You fared much better than I did. ... Still, as you note, it's interesting how little info is available on this historic structure.

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  6. Have you read "We have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson (one-time resident of Bennington, VT)? I believe it was set in a town based on Bennington. This house is exactly as I pictured the house in the story down to the looking empty but lived-in description. If you have not read it, do so now.

    Also her "The Haunting of Hill House" was in a house like that...

    Thanks for posting this. I must visit Bennington. I tried to get my daughter to to visit Bennington College on her college tour, but she was not interested even though she loves Shirley Jackson's books.

    Jackson's books on raising her kids in Bennington are quite humorous.

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    1. Yeah, definitely. My overarching purpose for visiting Bennington when I saw this was to see some Shirley Jackson sites for the New England Grimpendium.

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  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to capture this wonderful glimpse of opulent history. The degradation of the structure is enhanced by the precarious fire escape on the left. Haunting.

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  8. Ha! I never knew! I drove by this a few times while visiting Bennington College, but I just assumed it was the usual run of the mill creepy VT building. Thanks!

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  9. Very cool, and good information. That's also the same town as R. John Wright has his workshop in.. I think my father now has a reason to go there besides doll collecting lolz!

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  10. Wow that Inn looks so completely and utterly forlorn and haunted- it's as if a Hollywood set designer specifically built it that way. I MUST get to Bennington (and New England in general) someday. I actually get all my plates from there.

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  11. Pretty cool, indeed! Amazing that people still live there. Doesn't even look remotely safe to be occupied. Must be a strange place to enter. Would love to go in and have a look around.

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  12. Pretty cool, indeed! Amazing that people still live there. Doesn't even look remotely safe to be occupied. Must be a strange place to enter. Would love to go in and have a look around.

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  13. Don't trash this incredible historic building or the amazingly sweet woman who lives there. I've lived in Bennington my whole life and I've been inside, and it is very nice. Don't judge a book by it's cover, sir. It is her house, and rightfully so. The town was built around this building, we obviously didn't place an old decrepit building in the middle of town, I'm sorry that bothers you. But fortunately, your opinion matters little to the people of Bennington.

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  14. I used to live in Bennington and I always wondered what it looked like inside The Walloomsac Inn.

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  15. Did you miss the Monument up the hill from the Inn? OK, it's a Revolutionary War monument, but you can go inside, and I always found it eerie inside. The Inn is an eyesore, and should have been preserved and maintained, but the Bennington Battle Monument is 306 feet tall and is often lit up at night. It's a much bigger attraction than the Frost grave.

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  16. I drive by this place at least a dozen times a year. It is still at least partly occupied and mail is delivered there. I have seen lights on at night.

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  17. This landmark is a treasured site as I travel on Route 9 to visit family that have moved to upstate New York. I hold my breath each trip hoping that the old building has survived. When I was a kid I used to think an old house set back from Route 9 in Wilmington, VT was haunted. It was large with leaded windows and grand architecture. I imagined a witch lived in it. On one trip my Mom and I noticed a light on in the house! The next year you could see repairs had been made. For many years afterward each trip brought a new joy as the house was visibly shaping up. I hope this happens one day for the Walloomsac Inn.

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  18. We stayed in Bennington many years ago for a weekend. I was astounded at this house/Inn. I have pictures of it. I am glad it is still standing, it is a magnificent spooky looking place. I live in NC now and too old to travel north. But I will never forget that place.

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  19. See this place quite often, it's really cool looking, would love to see the inside myself. Someday maybe :)

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  20. I have been by this Inn many times enroute to my ski vacations in central Vermont. It always reminded me of the house on the old TV show "The Addams Family". Never knew it's history. Bennington is a really neat town with a ton of history and folklore. Are any of you familiar with the stories involving "The Bennington Triangle"?

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    1. The book "Weird New England" has a feature on the Bennington Triangle.

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  21. I have passed this many times during my youth in New York. We took Sunday drives to Bennington and I always admired this.I am in North Carolina but hope to see it again when visiting NY. Love it just the way it is! I never know about Robert Frost being buried so close...will definitely check that out as well. Thanks for the information.

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  22. We drove by this today on our way back to Syracuse, New York from the Keene, NH Pumpkin Festival. Still looks like somebody's living in the front part (facing the church), but the side/back (the part on the bend heading west out of town) must be closed off inside as it is fairly collapsing. Have half a mind to contact the Bennington Historian. Will start with a colleague, though, whose great, great, etc-grandfather was a minister at that church.

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  23. Why do you all want to pretty things up? It's lovely the way it is! I was married in that church and my 3 children were baptized there. Bennington is a wonderful town to live in.

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  24. Unbelievable! I have lived in Vermont, a few hours north of Bennington, for over 27 years and I have NEVER heard of this wonderful Inn! Grabbing my daughter and husband next weekend for a visit!

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  25. I spent my honeymoon there in Sept . 1978. It was fall and the leaves had turned. A yellow lantern hung in a large tree in front of the inn and got my attention. I stayed in the car and could view my husband thru the wavy original glass in the window .He was at a desk and behind him were all those key slotts and the inn keeper. It left a print on my brain as it was like stepping back into history. Years later I bought and restored an old home in Richfield Ohio. I knew from day one of the restoration I would put historic glass into all the windows . And so Farnam manor in Richfield Ohio now has wavy glass imported from Germany from Benheim glass. Lost the hose after NAFTA hit but I can never loose my memories. Ms. Susan

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