East Hartford Connecticut
Hartford Huguenot House Museum
During its restoration, spirits offered hands-on help for their forever home.
This lovingly restored, 1761 home is the centerpiece of the East Hartford Historical Society’s collection of three historic buildings, found in the East Hartford Historical Society’s Martin Park: the Goodwin Schoolhouse, Makens Bemont House, and the Burnham Blacksmith Shop. The Makens Bemont House is built in the traditional pre-Revolutionary home style, characterized “by its gambrel roof, vaulted dormer windows and central chimney.”
The home was built by 47-year-old Reverend Lieutenant Edmund Bemont, who must have served in the militia, perhaps during one of the French and Indian Wars. He and his wife, Abigail, had two sons: Makens (1743-1826) and Elijah (1744-1762). Makens married and lived there too with his family, making a lot of money working with leather, specifically saddles.
It is a mystery why the Makens Bemont House was known for years in town tradition as “The Huguenot House.” One wonders if it is tied somehow in its history to French Protestants, but no one living recalls the story.
The Makens Bemont clan managed to keep the cherished family homestead in the family, until the mid-1800s, before selling it to outsiders. Life in this era wasn’t for sissies! Lack of sanitation and medicine led to much death in families, due to diseases, contaminated water, fevers carried by bugs, and infections. Childbirth gone bad could also be a killer of women. Young men died in wars, as they have done in any era of human history.
While Makens made a great living, his personal life had a lot of loss to endure. He out-lived not only his parents and brother, but also lost two of his sons in their late teens; his oldest, Elijah and his youngest, Leanard, both in 1799. It is possible that they died in the Franco American War, as both were of military age. Their headstones don’t mention any military service, but the headstones are weathered and unreadable in some places.
Ambrose, the middle son, also had to endure loss and tragedy. He was married to Lovisa, which ended in 1826, when she probably died, perhaps in childbirth or disease, leaving him with their two year old daughter, Harriet, who died as well, five years later. A young relative of Ambrose, Meretta Bemont (c.1819-1836), the daughter of a Levi Bemont and Lydia, came to live with Ambrose and Lovisa and Harriet, suggesting that perhaps she was orphaned. She died young herself, at the age of 17. Ambrose found another love to marry, Clarissa. The two of them died in 1857, both in their 80s, a ripe old age for the mid-1800s.
Not much is known about the families that owned this home after 1857. The Makens Bemont House was sold many times, and was even used commercially as a boarding house for travelers. Sometime in the 20th century, The Rosenthal family bought this old fashioned house and made it work. A descendant, Adolph Rosenthal, in his later years, took advantage of a unique opportunity that fell into his lap that he couldn’t pass up.
An event that guaranteed the future of the Makens Bemont House was the formation of The Historical Society of Hartford, in 1964. It was formed with the purpose of “instilling into the townspeople of East Hartford a sense of the history of the town and to preserve for them this history, including physical properties remaining and the records of the past in the memories of the older citizens”.
The Society created a location for some of the historical buildings of East Hartford, in Martin Park. Adolph Rosenthal, knowing that his home was in need of a boatload of money to restore it, donated this now fixer upper opportunity to the Historical Society of East Hartford, in 1968, J.I.T.! He died soon afterward, hopefully enjoying the peace that comes with doing the right thing, in this case preserving a historic property.
The Makens Bemont House was moved from its original location, on the corner of Tolland Street, at 124 Burnside Avenue, to Martin Park, in 1971. While the EHHS raised funds, from the town and businesses, professional workmen and volunteers were busy building a new foundation, ”straightening the old home’s frame, rebuilding the square center chimney, carefully using matching antique bricks, and repaired the 1969 tree damage done to the most impressive gambrel roof.” Despite some set-backs due to vandalism by a few youth who broke some of the rare 18th century glass, The Makens Bemont House, now called “The Huguenot House Museum”, opened for viewing by the public, during the week long East Hartford Heritage Festival, in April of 1973.
By this grand opening, the EHHS had worked hard to raise the 30,000 dollars for the moving and restoration work by the opening day of this new historic house museum. The Society immediately started to seek more money to furnish this museum with period correct furniture. In 1982, the building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places, a big help for the home’s preservation and protection.
Full restoration took awhile to achieve, though. New white cedar shingles gradually replaced years of old layers of tar paper and asphalt roofing, in order to more closely resemble the original shingles put on by Edmund Bemont. The considerable restoration work done inside the very old interior of the Makens Bemont House was time consuming, a patient process that wasn’t finished until the late 1980s.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When a structure is restored and renovated, it can act like a huge environmental trigger, drawing spirits back into this world to hopefully cheer on, supervise, and help the living, so thrilled that their cherished structure is getting a new life!
When a structure is moved to a new location, it can cause spirits to come back into this world to reclaim it, or help, or supervise.
The entities of a loving couple contacted a psychic medium, who was a member of The New England Paranormal Research Team which visited a second floor bedroom in the house. They could be a couple from one of the three generations of the Makens-Bemont Family, as they had the most years as a clan living here.
Other possibilities could be any of the other people who lived here, and loved the home.
A strong female entity, known as The Blue Lady, likes the children’s bedroom.
When damage comes to a cherished item or structure due to human foolishness, or people are injured due to faulty construction or bad circumstances, this can also be an environmental trigger. Entities may take a protective attitude to a property, they may protest, or they may help or lead the living.
Some of the old 17th century glass was broken by some young boys one night, out for a thrill.
Henry James Stepanek was a retired contractor with a strong presence in the beginning of the restoration process of the home. Perhaps he hung around after he died, to watch the remaining restoration work. After the kids broke the windows, he may have vowed to help, watch for vandals and trespassers, becoming a spectral security officer of sorts.
The spirits of children who have died unexpectedly sometimes like to stay where they were happiest while alive.
Three child entities were present during The East Coast Paranormal Research Team’s investigation: two boys and a little girl. Children and the elderly are the hardest hit during epidemics, or accidents.
People who pass on can appear in any form that pleases them, often choosing times in their lives when they have the fondest memories. Childhood is often such a time, and entities frequently choose to appear as their child selves.
The obvious choices for who the boy entities could be, are the Makens’ two sons, who may have died together, in 1799. The little girl could be Harriet, Ambrose’s little daughter. But who knows? There is no proof one way or the other at this time for who these spirit entities are, but their identities may someday be revealed.
Paranormal activity was first noticed after the house was moved to the Historic Structures at Merit Park, and restoration efforts began.
By the time restoration was being completed in the 1980s, workmen and locals already considered the building haunted.
General signs of entities have been experienced by many folks, from the beginning:
Footsteps, disembodied voices
Sounds of doors opening and closing
Random rapping and scratching on items inside the home
Unexplained bangs and crashes
Odd-colored light forms have been seen around the fireplace
Entities thought to be present:
Loving Male and Female Entity, The Blue Lady, a strong Male Entity, and perhaps other Male Entities, including at least three child entities: two boys and one girl.
Stronger Female Entity
Could be any of the women who lived in this home.
(I think the most likely candidates would be Abigail Bemont, wife of Edmund and mother of Makens, or Pamela, Makens’ wife.)
She was described as having regrets about her motherhood. She has focused on a time when she hit her son in anger.
This female entity has appeared in front of the living, both inside and outside the house, wearing a blue dress, earning her the nickname, “The Blue Lady”.
Her apparition has been seen for years, looking out of various windows of the house, especially the children’s second floor bedroom window.
He could be Edmund Bemont or Makens, as he was the original builder of the home. Ambrose may also be the entity.
Another strong possibility: Henry James Stepanek. Thought to be a long-time supportive volunteer who helped in the restoration.
This Male entity is a stronger presence, who became active in the late 1970s – early 1980s time period. Henry passed away in 1975.
Any of these choices – Any of these entities named above:
A male entity or entities became very active, wanting to help the construction crew in restoring the home.
Perhaps to get their attention, to let the workmen and foreman know that he/they were present:
This entity or entities is suspected of moving their tools, causing things to fall and making noises, and causing “construction mishaps.”
Hammering was heard outside when people there were taking breaks.
When the construction workers realized that someone from the other side was keeping them company, and wanted to help, they recognized him, giving him the nickname “Benny”. Every morning, when they came to work, they called out, “Hi, Benny!” The foreman even made out a daily work list just for “Benny.” It made the male entity very happy to be included.
The Loving Couple – Male and Female Entity
Called themselves Charles and Hannah – Could be their real names, or just aliases to make the medium happy.
The Three Child entities
These could be the spirits of the Makens Bemont/Ambrose Bemont children who died young. Perhaps they like being near their mom or Grandma, “The Blue Lady”.
The three were standing together, noticed by a psychic medium, who was working with a paranormal investigation group.
Perhaps they are responsible for the rapping and scratching noises heard by the living.
Perhaps they like to move items around as well. (Saint Augustine Lighthouse )
Several paranormal teams have investigated the site, with interesting results.
One of these groups wasn’t liked at first: “Benny” was suspected of enforcing a no intruders rule.
Some investigators said they were firmly pushed down the stairs, escorted down to the common areas on the first floor.
Perhaps they were seen as uninvited folks just for coming inside and upstairs, into private family areas without permission.
Faces appearing in windows (Perhaps curious as to who was about to come in, or what was going on.)
New England Paranormal Video Research Group – Their visitwas held on September 7th, 2006. They had a successful psychic investigation, and caught a few things in hard evidence. This was an early encounter, before the spirits were familiar with paranormal investigation folks.
Working with a psychic medium, they gathered information about some of the spirits there; all fascinating stuff. They captured one very clear EVP, from the Blue Lady, “I have not forsaken you” and also caught light anomalies in the bedroom.
Four years later, the spirits are more forward, and more willing to talk to investigators, knowing that the museum people had accepted their presence in the home.
The East Coast Paranormal Research Team visited the Huguenot House several times in the same year, 2010.
They apparently were welcomed and liked by the Spirit Entities in residence. They were very successful in capturing quite a few great EVPs and one filmed segment.
They have posted a boatload of evidence on their website, caught over the space of two investigations: ecprt.com/huguenothouse.htm
Class A ghost box EVP – “Frank Soltys, friend of mine.” (second floor bedroom) Frank Soltys is the leader of The East Coast Paranormal Research Team.
Class A EVP – “They’ve been here watching” (In the main entrance of the home.) Perhaps an answer to an EVP question: “Is anyone here with us now”?
Class A EVP – “I’ll knock on this.” (upstairs bedroom) – Probably an intelligent answer to an EVP session question, such as, Can you make a noise so we know you are here?
Class C EVP – “Why not?” (upstairs bedroom)
Class C EVP – “Try and talk.”(upstairs bedroom) – Perhaps one spirit is encouraging another to communicate during an EVP session.
Class C/B EVP – “I wish you could help me” (Primary Stairway)
Class B EVP – (Female) “My Dad scorched the books.” (Male) “Burn the books.” (Female) “I did.” (Painting room).
Perhaps this was a traumatic accident that happened to a child’s school books; something she remembers still, even in spirit form.
Could this be a child’s excuse, for not having her books; Sort of like the age-old excuse. “My dog ate my homework!”
The East Coast Paranormal Research Team even caught some hard evidence of the male entity, who wanted to help repair the old home.
When all the investigators had left the house to regroup, a recorder was left running, and caught the sounds of Edmund Bemont unlatching the upstairs door, loudly clomping down the stairs, “4,5,6”, as he comes down the steps. Residual energy of Ed building his house was heard on tape – hammering and woodworking, getting his own work done, during an investigation break. He finished, and noisily went back up the stairs, with loud footsteps. The jangling of his tools on his belt was also picked up. He closed the latch to the door. This was caught on tape.
To hear the other EVPs from their second investigation, visit their website!
Yes indeed! The spirits that make the Makens Bemont House their home in this world, all have their reasons for doing so. They willingly share their home with visitors who come to see The Huguenot House Museum during the day, but have the house to themselves in the evening after closing time. They seem to be good sports when polite paranormal investigators come to visit.
307 Burnside Street
East Hartford, CT
Open to the public from June to August
The Makens Bemont House, called The Huguenot House Museum, can be found in Martin Park, the home for restored historical structures, projects of The East Hartford Historical Society.
The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide
by Rich Newman
Llewellyn Publications – 2011
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr