Phelps Mansion, CT

Story by John Zaffis
History by Bob Cahill

Phelps mansion in Stratford, Connecticut has been recognized one of the most notorious cases of poltergeist activity in recent history. In the 1840’s, psychic investigators came from all over the world to investigate the phenomena taking place within the home and many stories and articles have been written about the old Phelps home in the past 158yrs. The stories and legends continue, this is just one of the many:

In the 1970’s, the old house was turned over for use as a home for the elderly and shortly after its opening, the staff began complaining of strange things going on. The poltergeist was starting up again. Often, the emergency alarm would be sounded without reason, by unseen hands. Police and fire officials were called in to investigate the source of the alarms but were unable to resolve the issue. Ed and Lorraine Warren were then called in to investigate. They found no reason for the nightly disturbances, and shortly after that the home caught fire and was abandoned.

I still can remember going onto the front porch and going down the hallway with two of my friends. As we were walking, we suddenly heard a loud bang from upstairs. I can’t ever remember running so fast, not ever looking back, out the front door. Around 1974 the mansion was torn down despite all the efforts of the Stratford residents to save it. But the history of Phelps still intrigues people to this day. Reverend Eliakim Phelps was returning to his home on Elm street in Stratford after Sunday service on March 14,1850. With him was his wife, two sons ages three and eleven, and two daughters ages six and sixteen. When they entered the house, they found the interior in shambles. Furniture, food and expensive china had been strewn around the downstairs rooms, the Rev. Phelps first thought was that the house was burglarized, until he entered the dining room. He then concluded that demon spirits had entered his home. Displayed about the room were eleven life-sized dummies, carefully and cleverly woven from old cloth and wearing Colonial clothes. Most of the dummies were posed in a kneeling position on the dining room floor, as if praying to a hideous looking dummy, a dwarf one that was swinging from the chandelier. The town police were called in, but no one could explain the reason for such a macabre display in the home.

From that night on, the minister, with the help of friends and neighbors, stood watch over the room and family. Inevitably, when they dozed off during their vigil, the dummies would move around the room. Sometimes with new figures being formed. Skeptical newspaper reporters from all over New England came to witness candlesticks and fireplace utensils dancing about the dining room. "While I was there, objects lifted from the table and flew from one wall to another, in my very presence." A reporter wrote. The elder Phelps boy was carried across the room by invisible hands and gently deposited on the floor. Also, a supper table was lifted and tipped over when the room was empty of all people. A month later, while the Phelps family sat for dinner, they were pelted by fruit, vegetables, and kitchen utensils, until they were forced to leave the room. When all the family was present in the room, "strange noises came from the walls all around us." Said the reverend. "Like the rushing of wind, would force us to part company. These noises were especially strong when we were seated at the table."

From March through October, hundreds of dollars worth of furniture was smashed, including marble top tables weighing hundreds of pounds that were lifted from the floor, with not a person near them, then smashed into pieces as they were slammed to the floor. By October, 26 windows in the home were broken from objects thrown by invisible hands, and cloth figures were found hiding about the house most in praying or reading positions. Reverend Phelps said, "I have witnessed these manifestations hundreds of times within the walls of my home, and I know that in hundreds of instances, they took place when there was no visible power by which these motions could have been produced." After eight months of fear and agony, the family moved out of the house, never to return. Apparently the poltergeists did not follow them to their next home, but remained at the Phelps House.