Wanna buy a ghost? Chip and Barbara Masemore will be happy to sell you one. And, as part of the deal, they'll even throw in their historic Cape May inn, the John F. Craig House.
Built in 1866, the inn was the former summer home of John F. Craig a wealthy sugar importer from Philadelphia who bought it in 1892. The ghost, by all accounts, is that of Emma Craig, who started out as John Craig's nanny and ended up as his wife.
"We think it's Emma," says Craig McManus, a psychic medium who has conducted numerous séances at the inn over the years. "I've sensed her presence all over the house, most often in the back part, where she lived when she was the nanny."
McManus can only offer an educated guess as to why Emma's spirit has remained in the house.
"Ghosts are basically souls that have unfinished business and some of that business can be attached to a house," he says. "Emma must feel very strongly that she loves the house and she wants to hang around."
McManus has never been frightened or threatened by Emma's presence.
"I've never felt any negative energy in there," he says. "I don't think she's trying to get rid of anyone. But from what I've been told she used to rule the house with an iron fist and maybe she just wants to watch over it."
John Craig died in 1926. It's unclear when Emma passed away, but the Craig family owned the house until the late 1950s, when it was sold and converted into summer rental apartments. It's been a bed and breakfast since the 1980s.
The Masemores, who previously operated a B&B on Jackson Street, purchased the Craig House in 2002. It stands on Columbia Avenue, a block from the ocean in the heart of Cape May's historic district. The inn is actually two houses that were joined together. The Carpenter Gothic style structure built in 1866 and an older house that may have been moved from another location.
"We think the older house was where the help lived," says Barbara. "And the help still lives there because that's where my husband and I live."
With its wraparound front porch and tricolor paint scheme of burgundy, teal and cream, the three-story Craig House is fits in well with the neighboring Victorian homes. Originally built as a summer "cottage," it features original random width plank floors and includes eight guest rooms, each with a private bath, electric fireplace and a flat screen TV.
The remodeled kitchen, one of two in the inn, has granite counters, tile backsplashes and new cabinets. There's also a sitting room with a fireplace, a large formal dining room and a library. The inn is furnished with antiques, some of which have been in place for more than a century. Barbara says the bedroom set in a second floor guestroom may have belonged to John and Emma Craig. A chair that is now in the dining room can be seen in an old photo that hangs in the foyer. The photo shows the Craig family (including Emma) seated around the dining room table in the early 1890s.
During his séances McManus has encountered other ghosts including an occasional visit from John Craig himself. But he suspects many of the spirits he comes in contact with are just passing through.
"The Craig house is located in a part of Cape May where there's a lot of paranormal activity," he says. "When I do these séances it's not just the house ghosts that show up. I'll sense ghosts from other buildings in the area."
The ghosts don't just show up for the séances. Barbara says guests have heard doors opening and closing by themselves, and footsteps going down stairs in the middle of the night.
"You can hear their voices," Barbara says. "You can't understand what they're saying but you hear them."
Barbara and several guests have even experienced physical contact with a ghost she thinks is Emma, whose portrait still hangs on the sitting room wall.
"Sometimes she'll gently rub your shoulder," she says. "It's not frightening but it's weird."
After more than 20 years as Cape May innkeepers, the Masemores have decided to sell the inn. But it has nothing to do with the ghosts.
"I love Cape May and I love inn keeping, but age caught up with us and it's time to stop," says Barbara. "We're moving to Philadelphia. We bought a big old stone house that was built in 1927. My husband is already working on it."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $1.59 million call Barbara or Chip Masemore at 609-884-0100.
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