“I was awakened from a sound sleep and saw this figure of a Quaker lady surrounded by a gray haze. She glided by the foot of the bed and went out the door,” recalled musical actress Jane Morgan’s good friend Muriel Pierce to a reporter in the mid-1960s.
The newspaper man and his photographer had agreed to spend one a dark misty night in the farmhouse next to the foundering Kennebunkport Playhouse.
Photogenic believer Jane Morgan conducted a guided tour of the most haunted corners of the old house, stopping briefly to let the photographer capture her stunning silhouette in a dimly lit doorway that led to the attic.
“You go to bed with this door securely latched,” the starlet whispered, “and the next morning it’s wide open.”
Some of the ensemble actors at the playhouse slept in an adjoining room one summer and were spooked by the door that mysteriously unlatched itself. They nailed it shut and went to sleep only to be awakened in the middle of the night by crashes and thuds on the other side of the door that sounded like furniture being tossed around the attic. Performances at the theatre were plagued by lighting and scenery mishaps until the door was un-nailed.
Jane’s older brother, Robert Currier, founder of the Kennebunkport Playhouse, purchased the farm when she was just a little girl known as Flossie. That’s when she became aware of his two uninvited guests: a serene woman clothed in a long gray dress with a broad white collar and a restless uniformed soldier with a menacing countenance.
“I grew up with them in this house but I don’t think I could spend a night alone here,” Jane told the reporter. She believed that the soldier, whom she nicknamed Ned, had killed Nellie the Quaker lady when she did not return his affection. Nellie’s father then took revenge on the soldier leaving both souls to wander the old farmhouse for eternity. The reporter was not graced with a ghostly encounter but the newspaper printed a full page story anyway, about his memorable night with Jane Morgan.
Robert Currier, a gifted publicity instigator, recalled in a later interview that Mrs. Kenneth Roberts had been the first to bring the ghosts to his attention. She had seen the costumed apparitions in an attic window when nobody was home. Amused, he invited a psychic to the house who saw the same spirits the author’s wife had described.
With the help of a Ouija board, Quaker Nellie communicated to Currier’s cook that she was fond of Robert but that she would never rest until those dreadful actors vacated the premises. One of Robert’s friends, Darryl DiShurley, rented the haunted house for a while. Kennebunkport historian and storyteller, Barbara Barwise, reports that the Quaker woman Nellie once joined Darryl in the music room for a few moments. She sat quietly in a chair near the door and then vanished into thin air.
The old gray house was built sometime after 1754 by Gideon Merrill. His two sons Jacob and Abel inherited the property. Both sons fought in the Revolutionary war but both died as very old men long after having left the house. They are probably out of the running for the role of Ned.
Abel’s son Stephen acquired the house from his father and sold it to Samuel Lewis in 1830. Though he and his family lived in the house for only eight years, Samuel’s story was intriguing. His young son was one of the casualties resulting from the tragic wreck of the barque Isadore off Bald Head Cliff in 1842. Samuel was an undertaker who built glass top coffins for his clientele. A believer in the supernatural might speculate that Ned and Nellie each found their way into the house in one of those coffins and chose not to leave.
Issachar Wells purchased the haunted farm from Lewis who moved to a home on Maine Street. Allegedly, that house is also haunted. One of Issachar’s sons did serve in the Civil War but he survived to live a long full life in Massachusetts. The Wells family owned the house on River Road for three generations before selling it to Robert Currier in 1940.
After the closing the playhouse founder wandered downstairs to the basement. He was marveling at the intricate brick archways built into the foundation when he discovered an old coffin tucked under one of them. It was empty. Happy Halloween!