Ghosts do not wait until October to come to Jameson Tavern.
They reside here year round. Many people have seen these ghosts as they walk through the tavern. The following article appeared in the Community Leader on October 28, 2004 and is reprinted with the permission of the Coastal Journal.
Tavern Ghost Tales
225 - year-old tavern is legendary host to ghost.
by Alex Lear, staff reporter
FREEPORT- A building as old as the Jameson Tavern is perhaps expected to have at least one ghost story. This building, built in 1779, has more than its fair share, and with Halloween approaching, what better time to tell them?
In her eight years as the dining room host, Carol Preney has been privy to a number of tales, and has a few to tell herself.
"It’s just things all the time," she said calmly while showing off various areas of the tavern, where legend says papers were signed declaring Maine independent of Massachusetts in 1820, and when abnormal sights, sounds, and feelings have become the norm “At least once a week something happens.”
For starters she pointed down the hallway facing guests as they walk in, leading from the restaurant area to the bar: It is there, between double doors, that two different psychics have described seeing a tall man standing there in a top hat.
While he has seemingly never moved from that spot, various guests and employees, including Preney, have spotted the trail of a little girl’s dress mysteriously slipping around corners in the dining room.
This is believed to be the ghost of Emily, a child who lived in the building while it was used a residence in the early 19th century. She lived in what is now the attic, perishing there in a fire.
Not long ago, Preney recalls a little girl playing by herself underneath a table in the dining room. When it was time for her to leave the girl said “Give me back my ball Emily,” sending shivers down Preney’s spine. Neither the girl nor her parents knew anything of Emily’s story Preney said.
Emily has also been seen running between rooms upstairs, where the restrooms are located. “I think she’s just playful,” said Rick Levesque, one of the Tavern’s waiters. He has had at least two close encounters with the establishment’s mysterious guests.
“I heard so many stories, and I never believed it,” the six-year employee noted, saying that he continued to feel that way until he too had stories to tell”.
Almost a year ago he went up to the barn to retrieve a Christmas tree for the upcoming holiday season. “I got like a playful feeling,” Levesque said, noting that he was then faced with a white figure of a little person, whose face he could not make out. Then suddenly, with a gust of wind, “I saw the image move away quickly.”
One time having been last to leave the night before and the first to return the next morning, Preney found two pictures of a blonde little girl sitting on a podium as she walked in. They appeared to be photographs of the same painting taken from two different angles.
“I just didn’t have the heart to throw them away,” Preney said. As a result they are placed on a hearth in the dining room area, with no clue to their origin, or the girl’s identity. Perhaps Emily knows.
Another of Levesques’s encounters was more direct. While he was speaking with a customer near the building’s front entrance, a glass jar of toothpicks flew off a nearby counter and hit him in the side. With no one else around, the customer was as surprised as Levesque, saying she hadn’t touched the jar, which Levesque knew to be true.
“Is this place haunted?” she asked. “They say,” Levesque affirmed with a smile.
The house’s tales have inspired widespread interest. Bobby Flay of TV program “FoodNation” included the Jameson in his Maine Restaurants episode, highlighting not only its food but its ghostly residents. Pete Wagner of Portland-based Ghosts R Us said he continues to take photographs in the building noting he would probably be able to make out white orbs, delineating a ghostly presence.
A Portland medium visiting the Tavern once told Levesque he could sense that he, too, had felt the presence of a child in the building, and that the child didn’t know she had passed on.
He noted that mysterious events seem to happen the most around the holidays. Preney recalled how, one night when she was hostessing, one of the dining rooms exuded a strange aura, causing many first-time guests to ask her if the place was haunted.
“I don’t feel that every day,” Preney remembered. “You could almost feel a presence around you,”
One night just two weeks ago, she and the bartender where the only people left in the building. Hearing a loud clanging downstairs, Preney went to investigate and found every pan that hung there had suddenly fallen to the floor, while their hooks remained affixed to the wall. “I just ran upstairs and said:” We’re not staying, “and we got out of here, Preney recalled.
Still, it’s an aspect of the establishment that the staff has come to accept.
“I’m hoping I see something again,” said Levesque. “I’m comfortable with it, I’d like to find out what it wants.”
Amy Harris, who has worked there two months and hadn’t heard any stories before last week, said that she doesn’t believe in ghosts. “It doesn’t faze me,” she noted, although adding that “Probably now I’ll think about it.”
“I never thought twice about going up there again,” Levesque said of the barn, “I don’t think it’s evil. It’s a playful entity.”
So when you visit the Jameson Tavern, you may find you get more than dinner or a drink. And if you think you have one other worldly guest at your table, you may want to pull out an extra chair.
Written for the Community Leader 10/28/2004