Ashley House

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A former owner of a failed business likes to micro-manage the staff;
complete with consequences if work isn’t up to snuff.

He could also be a supporting presence.



The Backyard Bar & Grille has a casual American pub aura and atmosphere, and serves a variety of food, specializing in barbecue and beers on tap. They offer sports games on their tv monitors, entertainment live magic shows and Trivia Tuesdays. It is a dandy place to have parties and to celebrate holidays.

Formerly a private home for many years, known as the Ashley House, the Backyard and Grille Restaurant and Pub can be described as a two-story mix and match of both Greek Revivalist and new architectural styles, growing out of the whims of its old owners, from 1829 through the 1990s.

The structure that is seen today has been built around the original Ashley House. The first floor is home to the bar, inside dining areas and a latticed patio dining area. The basement has a fireplace and is used as a banquet hall and storage area. Most of the second-floor rooms are used for offices, but there is also a caretaker’s apartment located there.



The original 1829 era, Ashley House was the main manor mansion for the Charles Ashley family, who owned a sizable property estate called a homestead. The structure was built with a side hall and arched gable windows. The second floor was the place for family bedrooms, the first floor held common family and guest rooms like the dining room and parlor, and the basement and cellar were for recreation and storage, etc. The Ashly family enjoyed it for almost a hundred years until 1920, when the mansion and grounds were sold to people outside the family.

Because of the mansion’s location, it was perfect for commercial use. It stopped being a family home and started its transformation into a tavern and inn during the 1930s. New owners built onto the original structure, using the architectural styles that were popular then. Raunchy behavior was encouraged upstairs, that would’ve shocked the Ashley family. Customers could have sensual relations with prostitutes by going upstairs to the second-floor rooms.

Around 1945, this structure was remodeled into a family restaurant, called Matteoli’s Spaghetti House. In 1951, this structure was remodeled again, and became Vincent’s Steak House. Vincent put his heart and soul into his restaurant and maintained very high standards for both the food offered and for his staff’s behavior as well.

The next eatery was called The Piccadilly Pub. It offered a wide variety of food, from bar food like fish and chips to lobster. They were open until December of 2015. In January of 2016, Backyard and Grille Restaurant and Pub opened up for business. Little did they know that they had some spirit residents and a fussy quality control manager in spectral form to “help” or “lead” them.



People who have loved their homes in life, sometimes like to spend their afterlives in their favorite worldly places.

Moss Mansion Historic House Museum, MT (Members of the Moss Family still visit and reside here for a variety of reasons).

Morgan House, MA (The Morgans lived in the same place for five generations. They yearned to all be together in their forever home).

Joslyn Castle, NE (While alive, George, Sarah and Violet Joslyn loved their castle. They are still there, keeping an eye on things).

Ashley House: Backyard Bar and Grille, MA (An elderly spirit couple, members of the Charles Ashley family tree, still enjoy their traditional family home).


People who love their earthly businesses and work really hard to make them successful, sometimes want to continue to do so, without letting death get in the way.

Bullock Hotel, SD (The spirit of Seth Bullock is an active spectral owner who keeps close tabs on staff and employees. He performs his duties in a progressive way with enthusiasm and vigor. Watch out!).

Hotel Colorado, CO (The spirit of the first owner is still front and center, even correcting decor mistakes!).

Maumee Bay Brewing Company, OH (A former spectral owner is an enthusiastic helper).

Ashley House: Backyard Bar and Grille, MA (Concerning his employees and his business, Mr. Vincent ran a tight ship, expecting things to be done his way. Employees who did a good job were praised while those who didn’t got an earful from him. This same way of managing is applied to the living now).


If spirits experience what they think is an embarrassing failure, they are often determined to redeem themselves by helping or managing the living, and running their businesses, using what skills they have to make an impression on the living.

Liberty Hall, KY (Mrs. Varick, the aunt of Mrs. Brown, had looked forward to comforting her niece who had just lost her daughter. When Mrs. Varick died a few days after arriving, she decided to spend her afterlife helping the living, to lessen her disappointment).

Redwood Library and Athenaeum, RI (An upsetting theft by British soldiers of a rare collection of books still aggravates the spirit who originally donated them so long ago. Although many of the stolen books have been returned over the years, this spirit still feels responsible and has volunteered to help the living guard the collection).

USS The Sullivans DD57, NY (During WW2, all five of the Sullivan brothers joined the Navy together, and asked to serve on the same ship, thinking that if they stayed together, they would survive the war. However, their ship was sunk. The oldest brother George tried to rescue them but wound up dying himself. Disappointed, all five spirits decided to make themselves feel better, by spending their afterlives serving on the Fletcher Class Destroyer, USS The Sullivans DD57, named in honor of them).

Ashley House: Backyard Bar and Grille, MA (After selling his very successful restaurant, Vincent started a new restaurant in town against the advice of his business partner. When it failed, Vincent lost his restaurant and a lot of money. Mr. Vincent eventually died, but still had this failure on his conscience. Uh Oh. His spirit is trying to make up for it now).



The Elderly Spirit Couple

They are described as being a gentle, benign pair, always dressed in old-fashioned clothes of another era.

They like to stay in the basement banquet room and cellar, especially sitting in front of the fireplace that is located there.

A psychic/medium by the name of Ceil Leionchuk felt that they were members of the Ashley family.

Their Personal Appearances

An employee of the restaurant once went down to the basement on her break to have a smoke in the smoking area.

Before she lit up, she happened to glance through the door that leads to the cellar.

She saw a mysterious mist rising from the floor, collecting in the doorway. There was no physical explanation for it.

Ceil Leionchuk also saw the happy spectral couple sitting in front of the fireplace, and heard them discussing what needed to be done for an upcoming wedding in their family.

The Spirit of Mr. Vincent

His presence became active here after he died, trying to manage it the way he did in his successful restaurant.

A female bartender, in the course of her opening and closing duties, would find things in different positions than how she had specifically left them.

One time, when she came into the kitchen, the big dishwasher suddenly turned itself on, with the top open, which soaked her thoroughly before turning itself off.

His Personal Appearances

A chef who had worked for him, who was now working for the new owner, saw his detailed apparition in the dining room, at about five in the morning, while preparing lunch.

Another employee saw a “white wisp” float through the dining room, while yet another employee felt a tug on her shirt while standing in the dining room.

His Unseen Presence

When the restaurant was closed, and no one was downstairs, footsteps were heard constantly by the caretaking couple who lived in a second-floor apartment.

Upstairs in the business offices, Vincent’s spirit made his presence known as well.

People working in the offices on the second floor would hear the door open and footsteps coming up the stairs. But no one was ever there.

The adding machine in the upstairs office would on occasion turn itself on, and numbers would appear, which didn’t have meaning for the living.

Papers and invoices would move from where they had been originally put.

The Spectral Manager

The banquet manager spoke of using the Xerox machine and becoming aware that an unseen presence was with her. It would walk by and bump into her, like it was looking over her shoulder, studying what she was doing.

In the 1980s, the son of the then owner was working in an office that had been used by Vincent. He felt an unseen presence keeping him company, walking up behind him and touching his shoulder.

The Consequence Given

Whenever the staff or owners failed to live up to Mr. Vincent’s standards, Vincent’s spirit would take peculiar action.

In the foyer of the restaurant, where he used to welcome his guests, many have been exposed to an awful smell in this four-by-four-foot area.

The smell reminds people of rotten eggs, sweet tobacco, or sewage.

It is strong and persistent. Step out of the foyer, and there is no smell. Step back into this area, and it returns.


Because of all the paranormal experiences, the new owners called in psychic/medium Ceil Leionchuk to investigate who was haunting them and why.

Ceil knew that it was Vincent when she visited the second-floor storage room that still had many of his old belongings. When Ceil walked into this room, her throat felt tight and her stomach hurt, indicating Vincent’s presence.

She found out why he was micro-managing the staff and owners, and shared it with the living. As a result, Vincent became an accepted member of the staff.



Apparently so!

Despite the fact that Vincent’s stuff in the second-floor storage room was disposed of, on advice of Ceil Leionchuk, Vincent is still present, keeping an eye on the living, periodically appearing in the dining room. When not pleased with how the current management is running things, he still causes a foul odor to materialize. He is finding some peace in his efforts in this world, and is pleased that people appreciate his input.



1506 Riverdale Street
West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 363-1000

The restaurant and pub, Backyard Bar and Grille, is located in the old Ashley House on West Springfield’s Riverdale Road (Road 5). Take the Massachusetts Turnpike, and get off at exit 4, and proceed south for about a mile.


  • Haunted Places: The National Directory: Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, UFO …
    By Dennis William Hauck, Penquin Books, 2002

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Massachusetts