They turn off lights, ride elevators, wander by old guard posts, search for weddings and silently watch over lighthouses.

They are the ghosts of Cape Elizabeth, and around Halloween, their legends are once-again retold.

Meandering through Crescent Beach and spooking visitors and employees of the Inn by Sea on Route 77 is the famous ghost of Lydia Carver, the Lady in White. She was a native of Freeport and the daughter of a prosperous Portland businessman, according to a small Inn by the Sea publication. In July of 1807, Carver, 23, was engaged to a young Maine man, and sailed to Boston in search of a beautiful wedding dress.

After visiting numerous Boston shops, Carver found her wedding dress. On July 12, Carver joined 21 passengers aboard the schooner Charles, in Boston Harbor to sail back to Portland. Just before midnight, the ship entered a settling fog off Richmond’s Island. The ship crashed into Watt’s Ledge, just 50 feet from Richmond’s Island.

Only six people survived. Lydia Carver was not among them. Her body was found the next morning on Crescent Beach, poignantly lying next to her trunk containing the wedding gown she had so carefully selected but would never wear. Carver’s body was buried at a graveyard near the Inn by the Sea and just off the beach.

Carver’s ghost, always dressed in white, seems to linger around the inn.

“I’ve seen the elevator going up and down late at night with no one getting off,” said Laura Gironda, training and recruiting manager at the inn, where she has worked since 1991. Visitors call about smoke detectors going off in vacant rooms and then going silent minutes later, she said. One staff member said she saw an orb moving through one wall and into a room and then through the other wall, said Gironda.

“It is nice property and I guess Lydia feels the same way,” said Gironda. One guest said a mother heard her kids talking to someone in an adjacent room, but when she entered, no one was there, said Gironda. When asked who they were talking to, the kids pointed to the bed and said a lady had been sitting there. The mother saw an imprint as if someone had been sitting on the bed, Gironda said.

“When I worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift,” said Gironda, “I just felt someone here.” She said she would say hello to Carver’s ghost when the elevator would open late at night with no one visible in it.

“She is not a fearful presence,” said Gironda.

It is believed Carver is waiting for her wedding. Visitors who most often report strange, surreal occurrences stay in or near the honeymoon suites.

Bill Thompson, a Kennebunk author, has written several books on ghosts in New England, including “Coastal Ghost and Lighthouse Lore,” “Lighthouse Legends and Hauntings” and “The Dead Still Whisper.” He said Lydia Carver has been restlessly walking along Crescent Beach ever since her untimely death, and there have been reports of strange events in the area for hundreds of years.

Footprints have been found on Crescent Beach that had no beginning and no end, he said. She walks back and forth, shaken by an unfulfilled dream, said Thompson.

Thompson said it is common for spirits to stay in the area where they died. He said he talked to many people who have seen spirits that can’t seem to leave a spouse behind. If one member of a couple that has been close for many years dies, Thompson said, it is not uncommon that the spirit of the one who has passed will linger until the partner passes on, too.

Michael Barry, who sells and signs his photography at Portland Head Light, said he overheard two brothers one day talking about a ghost they had seen years back at Fort William. The figure was a soldier dressed in World War I regalia. The brothers talked about coming down to the fort late at night. When walking around the ruins, they saw the apparition of a soldier moving about the fort. The brothers were stricken with fear and ran back to their homes, but never forgot the incident, said Barry.

Barry is still investigating the Fort Williams ghost.

According to Barry, there have also been sightings of a couple wandering Portland Head Light, busying themselves with upkeep of the lighthouse. Sightings of theses former keepers date back to the 17th century, said Barry.

Thompson said Celts and Druids celebrated an ancestral worship around the time of Oct. 31 that involved placing food on graves and contacting the dead. The Romans had a similar holiday around the same time of year, he said. According to Thompson, Pope Boniface IV, in order to bring together the religions under Catholicism, declared Nov. 1 All Saints’ Day in the 7th century. Laying food on graves remained part of the tradition. Thompson claims that around the 1840s, Irish immigrants brought the holiday to the Americas.

That tradition grew into the present-day trick-or-treating.

The grave of Lydia Carver next to the Inn by the Sea and Crescent Beach. Carver’s ghost is said to wander the area looking to satisfied her thirst for marriage.


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