Haunted Tour raises Dover’s spirits

DOVER — There won’t be any zombies jumping out from around the corner, creepy things to touch or monsters with chainsaws wreaking havoc.

Instead, the Haunted Tour of Old Dover relies on folklore hand-picked from Dover’s 300-year history and ghostly stories are shared in a moonlit stroll around The Green that can send shivers up and down visitors’ spines.

Jan Crumpley, artist and owner/operator of Parke Green Galleries on The Green, said the public has pleaded for a ghost tour for several years, and now she has brought them back to The Green on Saturday nights throughout October.

Ms. Crumpley and Dan Beck, a former employee of the First State Heritage Park who serves as the tour guide for the ghost tours, are preparing for

Haunted Tour of Old Dover guide Dan Beck stands in front of the Delaware Supreme Court, the site of the old Chew mansion. Samuel Chew was the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware until his death in 1744. His ghost was said to have roamed the building until a funeral was held to eradicate the specter in 1745. (Submitted photo by Jan Crumpley)

their final round of ghoulish fun this fall with a doubleheader Saturday night.

The 7 p.m. Saturday ghost tour is sold out but they have added an extra tour that will take place at 8:45 p.m. Tickets, which are $10 for adults and $5 for children (6 and under are free), can be purchased at the adjoining Delaware Store at 325 S. State St. or at www.delaware-store.com/ghost-tour/.

“There’s a story at practically every door around The Green,” Ms. Crumpley said. “We tell a lot of stories. The tour takes about an hour and then we come back (to the Parke Green Galleries) for cider and cookies or something afterwards.

“It’s a really fun evening and we’ve been fortunate with the weather this month. We haven’t had any rain dates or anything like that. At night time The Green kind of has its own atmosphere.”

The Haunted Tour of Old Dover could be considered a Halloween party in itself for history buffs.

“They stories are all local accounts and they’re history-oriented, for sure,” Ms. Crumpley said. “It’s based in fact, in time, and place. Whether people believe in ghosts or not, it’s still a lot of fun. You don’t have to believe in ghosts, but it’s fun to think about it.

“There’s no people jumping out or creepy things to touch or anything like that. It’s not Fright Night. It’s just great stories about ghosts in a historic neighborhood … and it’s fun for the whole family.”

The haunted tour is based on the research of local historian John Alstadt and features, among others, tales of the ghosts of Judge Samuel Chew, Elizabeth Rilee the Irish Maid and Revolutionary War hero Col. John Hazlet.

Their stories will be intertwined along with tales of spirits that whistle, open doors, rearrange pictures and communicate with cats.

Ms. Crumpley said there has been great demand for ghost tours in downtown Dover and she was more than happy to make them a reality this fall.

“The reason that we’re doing it is because the First State Heritage Park, who I have a great relationship with, covers murders and things like that,” she said. “They cover history, but they refuse to do ghosts because ghosts are not good history, and there’s some belief involved. So it’s not scientific.

Jan Crumpley, relaxing in her Parke Green Galleries in downtown Dover with her dog Marcy, brought ghost tours back to the capital city with the Haunted Tour of Old Dover that has taken place every Saturday night in October. (Delaware State News photo by Mike Finney)

“A lot of people have asked us about the ghosts, so we’ve resurrected the ghost tour (from the late 1980s and early 1990s).”

As for Ms. Crumpley, one could say she is a believer.

She remembers a brush with the supernatural when she was moving her art gallery into the site of the historic Golden Fleece Tavern, which had been a hotel from 1742 until 1926 under different names at the corner of The Green and South State Street.

“This isn’t part of the ghost tour, but in the first year or so that we started renting this place for our art gallery and our gift shop I was moving things around in a room in an area that we hadn’t put stuff in yet,” said Ms. Crumpley.

“I was trying to hang something on the wall and it came off the wall straight out about two feet and then fell straight down.

“I went, ‘Well, did that really happen? I’ll try it again.’ And so I tried it again and this time it just went straight down. So I decided to just put a bookshelf there instead. That was my encounter.”

Ms. Crumpley has her own personal theory regarding ghosts.

“My theory is this — anywhere that you have a place that’s been a hotel for a long time, or a hospital or say a prison, where people come and it’s not their home and they die unexpectedly, then there might be some ghost activity,” she said. “I’m not saying absolutely that that’s the facts, but that’s where it tends to happen.

“Really, we don’t hear of too much going on down here (in the Parke Green Galleries), but in the apartments upstairs is another story. We tell a couple of stories about the apartment upstairs on the tour because there are some lively ghosts there, but they’re all benign. They’re no bad poltergeists.”

Nope, they’re just part of the historical haunts that dwell near The Green in downtown Dover.

 

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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