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February 15. 2013 11:26PM

Unsettled spirits in Epping?


Epping administrative assistant Michele Murphy sits on the staircase leading to the clock tower of the old Epping Town Hall, below, where a janitor fell to his death in 1940. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)


Strange things have happened at the Epping Town Hall. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING -- It seems to happen when it's dead quiet.

The sound of footsteps crossing the creaky wooden floors. Doors opening and closing. A person whispering. Objects being tossed into the air.

"I hear things all the time. I expect it now," said Town Administrator Gregory Dodge, who wonders if the Epping Town Hall is haunted.

And he's not the only one.

A pen once flew out of nowhere and landed on the desk of town clerk administrative assistant Michele Murphy. She thought a co-worker had thrown it at her, but she hadn't.

"There was nobody there," she said.

Police Detective Marc Turner and other officers often heard footsteps late at night when the police department was located in the town hall's basement, until it moved in 2001.

"You could hear the footsteps. You'd go up there and search the building and nothing. That happened on many occasions," Turner said.

After so many strange occurrences experienced at the town hall over the years, officials say it may be time to let a professional ghost hunter in to confirm what many already believe.

"There are strange happenings there and selectmen feel that perhaps it's time to find out just how strange the happenings are," said Selectman Karen Falcone, board chairman.

Falcone has also heard the footsteps and doors opening and closing when no one's around.

"The selectmen do feel there are some unanswered questions that we would love to explore," she said.

While researching the history of the town hall built in the late 1800s, officials were able to confirm one death that occurred there. The town hall's janitor, Herman Lussier, fell to his death in 1940 after losing his balance while feeding pigeons from the clock tower.

Dodge, who was the town's police chief for many years before becoming town administrator last year, said he often hears the noises when he's alone in his office on the main floor after hours.

Last year he called the police to check things out after hearing the footsteps when he was alone in the building. Officers took a look, but found nothing.

He's also heard the sound of someone whispering.

"I get a sense someone's watching me or is around. If I get really creeped out I leave," he said. "There's just something weird."

When work began on the installation of an elevator and other renovations at the town hall a few months ago, Joyce Blanchard, the selectmen's administrative assistant, expected the activity to pick up.

"I figured that would start things up more, but it hasn't," she said.

Some believe the noises will be heard again once the construction work is finished, but not everyone is convinced there's a ghost lurking.

Joy True, curator of the Epping Historical Society, said she's heard nothing about the town hall being haunted.

"The town hall has bats. It's always had bats, but no ghosts," she said.

While she believes spirits exist, True said, "It doesn't mean that the town hall is haunted with spirits."

jschreiber@newstote.com


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