There’s something spooky going on at the Glen Cove Mansion.
For years, guests and staff members have been describing peculiar incidents — inexplicable noises, doors closing on their own, lights and a jukebox turning off and on randomly. Two months ago, for no apparent reason, three boilers shut down at once; a technical impossibility, says chief engineer Didi Tezha.
Then, there are the apparitions. Shirley Jimenez, front desk supervisor, says once while working the overnight shift, “I saw a man walking by wearing a brown suit. I said, ‘May I help you?’ ” The figure continued walking and Jimenez screamed for help. Another staff member described the same form elsewhere in the building the same night, yet no one was found during a search of the property.
There have also been sightings of an elderly woman. In her book, “Ghosts of Long Island, Stories of the Paranormal” (Maple Hill Press, 2006), author Kerriann Flanagan Brosky interviewed many mansion employees who reported seeing a female figure in the former servants’ wing, now Pub 1910 Restaurant & Lounge at the hotel and conference center, and in the second-floor Magnolia room, a conference room that was once the bedroom of Ruth Sears Baker Pratt.
A woman who made history
In 1904, Ruth S. Baker married John Teele Pratt, son of Standard Oil industrialist Charles Pratt, who founded the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After Charles and his wife Mary Helen passed away, John Pratt built Manor House, today’s Glen Cove Mansion. A Republican, Ruth Baker Pratt was the first woman to represent New York City on the Board of Aldermen and the first woman to represent New York State in Congress. Her active political career included introduction of the Pratt-Smoot Act, signed into law by President Herbert Hoover in 1931. The Act provided funds for what became Books for the Blind. Mrs. Pratt died at the mansion on Aug. 23, 1965, a day before her 88th birthday.
To determine if Mrs. Pratt’s spirit is in the house, Brosky recently revisited the site along with her paranormal investigative partner, Joe Giaquinto. Giaquinto says he’s a clairaudient medium — he hears dead people. While he takes ghost hunting seriously, Giaquinto playfully refers to himself and Brosky as the fictional FBI agents, Scully and Mulder, of the TV show “The X-Files.”
The pair is equipped with digital voice recorders and digital cameras to capture data, plus dowsing rods (two L-shaped metal poles) to sense energy, and a gizmo literally called a Ghost Meter, which picks up electromagnetic fields.
The investigation begins in the Magnolia room, and then continues in other rooms that have hosted sightings. In each, after sensing energy fields with the Ghost Meter, Brosky snaps digital photos. She’s hoping for orbs, translucent balls of light that might appear randomly in pictures said to indicate spirit activity.
“Look at this,” Brosky says suddenly in Pub 1910, pointing to photos she’s just taken of two pool tables. Indeed, several orbs appear in many of the images.
As for Giaquinto, in case a spirit is actually hovering, he asks questions into a microphone connected to his digital recorder, then waits in silence. The recordings aim to capture electronic voice phenomena (EVP) — comments or responses.
Looking for sound bites
“In a typical two-hour ghost investigation, where human conversation and other ambient noises are occurring as we do our walk-through, we are trying to locate a two-second sound bite,” Giaquinto says.
“It’s a needle-in-the-haystack search. After recording EVPs from an investigation, I analyze them with special software that removes the white noise,” he explains. “The theory is that what remains . . . would be the spirit’s communication. In addition to a voice, we can also pick up singing, music and sound effects,” he says.
Here’s a link for you to listen to recordings made at the Glen Cove Mansion.
Many people are skeptical of ghost hunters. And, of course, no one has proved that orbs in photos are spirits. But this is what these particular ghost hunters believe. Brosky took a number of digital photos consecutively of the same area where the two pool tables were, and several had orbs but never in the same position, seemingly ruling out concerns over a defective camera. As for the EVPs, Brosky told a story of her first interview in a haunted house. She went back home and was transcribing the interview from a digital recorder when, she says, she heard clear as day the voice of a little girl on the recorder saying, “Hug me.” She ran around her house, having everyone listen to it because she thought she was crazy.
At the Glen Cove Mansion, Giaquinto says he recorded “Ghost hunt” “How?” “Thank you” and “Bad dog” EVPs, in various voices. Really?
“We’re not here to prove or disprove anything,” Brosky says.
Mrs. Pratt once remarked, “I happen to be one of those people who like people, people of all sorts and conditions.” Perhaps that includes these ghost hunters, Glen Cove Mansion guests and employees.