The Ghosts of Everett Mansion


October is here, and with it comes pumpkin patches, apple cider, cooler weather, hills hued with shades of red and orange… and of course, Halloween. To the Westerners of the world, this means costumes, candy, and carving pumpkins; but the roots of this holiday run much deeper; the Celts held the belief that Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, marked the one day of the year when spirits of the departed could cross back into the world of the living. The only way one could protect themselves from the dead was to disguise themselves in regalia that would hide them from these wraiths. Considering such origins, it only follows that this holiday is marked by ghost stories and hauntings. Anyone who has taken even a modest peek in SVC’s history know’s that our school has its own tales of hauntings and mystery (to those who are unfamiliar with SVC’s haunted past can find the story here. In 2015, SyFy’s Ghost Hunters even came here to film an episode for their 10th season (here’s a link for the full episode, titled “Darker Learning ), and they actually were able to catch some pretty intriguing footage of an apparition stalking the third floor offices. Looking into SVC’s resident spirit in an attempt to reconcile the location’s history with the claims made by urban legend and heresy, introduces one to not only the Everett Clan, but also the anything but tranquil history of Bennington proper.

The history of the Everett Mansion begins in 1914 with the completion of, what was meant to be, Coke bottle and mason jar industrialist Edward Everett’s Vermont summer home. The sprawling 27 room mansion where we now whittle away the hours pursuing a collegiate degree, was originally meant to be little more than a millionaire’s seasonal refuge from the hustle and bustle of Washington DC. As many know, the, dare I say, eccentric Everett took full advantage of the agricultural offerings of Southern Vermont, planting a 500+ acre apple orchard, as well as various other fruits and berries to aid him in passing the summer months. Yet, despite his wealth, Everett was, by all accounts, a very pleasant man. He was fair, allowed his children to marry below their social class, and was the architect of several philanthropic organizations aimed at assisting orphans. As is often the case though, his personal life was not nearly as perfect as one might believe.

The Orchard House, as it was then called, was built for Everett to enjoy with his wife, Amy King Everett of Newark, Ohio, and three daughters. Legend has it that soon after spending a few summers here, Everett began an affair with the nanny, which pushed Amy over the edge into committing suicide in the mansion, and the nanny soon followed, hanging herself near the nursery. In the Ghost Hunters episodes, the former student interviewed claims that there is no documentation to prove or disprove the tale, but this is actually incorrect. Amy King Everett’s obituary was published in the Newark Advocate on March 21, 1917, stating she had died in her home in Washington DC due to the complications from an illness. The student does acknowledge the existence of this obituary, but if we examine the context of this obituary a little closer, several things come to light, least of all the date. Everett’s Vermont mansion was meant to be a summer home. Amy’s death occurred on the 20th of March, and as any Vermonter would attest, March in the Green Mountain State is about as far from summer as one can get. Even if the cause of death published in the obituary was meant to conceal the shame of suicide, it is extremely unlikely that the suicide in question would have been committed in the Vermont summer home in the middle of March (the full obituary can be read here. At the same time, claims of the nanny committing suicide are also unsubstantiated as the Bennington Town Office does not possess any death records pertaining to the suicide of a young woman during the time period she would have  even employed by the Everett Estate.

This does not mean that Amy isn’t the poltergeist of SVC. Her body was interred at the Everett Mausoleum at the OId Bennington cemetery, alongside her husband, and just because she did not die here does not mean that she did not return in spirit, especially when one considers that Everett had his second wife buried alongside her. However, her connection to the mansion seems to pale in comparison to that of his second wife, Mrs. Grace Belle Burnap Everett. As the decades passed and the tale began to evolve, some claimed Grace was the nurse of Amy leading up to her death from illness, though there is no proof to support this, and Grace came from a modestly wealthy family anyway, meaning she had no need to work. In the trial between Grace and Everett’s three adult daughters from his first wife following his death, her name had been dragged through the mud, her character decimated, and she was left almost penniless. It has been suggested the the Battle for the Bennington Millions, also known as the Second Battle of Bennington, left such an indelible mark upon the halls of the mansion that it called back Everett’s spirit, the bitterness of the trial recorded within the limestone on the property.

Interestingly, the first recorded claim of ghosts lurking our halls did not come until the 1970’s though, when the building became a place of learning. From 1952-1974, the property was a novitate for the Congressional of the Holy Cross, and served as a home to dozens of apprentices. Claims of hooded figures seen roaming the property at night seem quite credible, especially for those who do not know of the school’s time as a home for this holy secular sect. However, there is another, more insidious suspect, one that involves the town of Bennington, rather than the school.

Since the 1940s to the 1970s, there were whispers of secret cults scurrying around Bennington in the dead of night, performing rituals with everything from neo-pagan themes to satanic sacrifices. One blogger even drew a correlation between such alleged cults and the unexplained 1956 double-suicide of the Lundoff couple, just down the street from the SVC campus. Whether this is true or not, one cannot say, but quite a few people have claimed to have been “kidnapped” by robe wearing cultists for an evening in 1970’s Bennington. It is difficult to say whether or not these events have any connection to the ghosts roaming the halls of  Everett Mansion, but they certainly do nothing to damper the flames of the tales that make Bennington the most haunted town in Vermont.

If you have had your own paranormal encounter on campus, you can share it here. To read other’s accounts of ghostly encounters at SVC, click here.

The Everett Mausoleum in Park Lawn Cemetery in Bennington; the final resting place of Edward, Amy, and Grace Everett.