WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — A Gothic Revival mansion built by a prominent Wilmington family in the 1850s has long since become a county museum, but ghost lovers sense the mansion’s former residents remain.
“Welcome, Meisha, to Rockwood Park and Mansion,” said Carey Lockman Corbin of the New Castle County Department of Community Services. “This is an English country estate in Delaware. Joseph Shipley built it in 1854. He had no heirs, so it was left to his family and his nephew actually bought the house.
“We’re going to see this beautiful mansion, and then we’re going to learn about some of the people who lived here, and some of the people who we say are still within the walls,” Carey said.
“Do I dare?” asked CBS3’s Meisha Johnson.
“Absolutely, absolutely. They’re nice,” Carey said.
Inside Rockwood Mansion, you get a glimpse of this wealthy family’s life in the late 1800s: its furniture, textiles, clothing, artwork.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said, “The county acquired this property in the ’70s, and it’s very important to us that we retain the historic character of it.”
He added, “There are ghosts here. I encourage people to come, and you’ll find stories of your own.”
Meisha went looking with Louis DiMieri, otherwise known as Dr. Lou, parapsychologist. He showed Meisha a portrait of four former residents, part of the Bringhurst family: Mary, Edward, Bessie, and Edith.
“Is Mary the one that a lot of people say they see?” Meisha asked.
“Yes,” Lou said. “She died at the age of 100 here in the house in 1965. Sometimes you’ll smell lilacs, which was one of her favorite perfumes.”
“Oh my goodness,” Meisha said.
Mary’s old room “gets cold. Mary’s not real overly happy late at night to have people in the house,” Lou said.
“I just got goosebumps,” Meisha said.
In the drawing room, “people take photos of themselves in the mirror,” Lou said, “and on occasion there will be someone else standing beside them that was not on the tour.”
“I’m going to do that before I leave,” Meisha said. Sadly, there was no ghost to behold, this time.
Lou guided Meisha downstairs to the basement and its long corridor. “This is so creepy! But I love it,” Meisha said.
“The basement is one of the more haunted areas,” Lou said. “Also, this is where one of our most ghostly apparitions appear, The Shadowman. I provided a photograph to your photographer that we had taken of him.”
“Have you ever seen him?” Meisha asked.
“I haven’t actually seen him,” Lou said, “but I have felt his presence.”
As for the rest of Rockwood Mansion, visitors report on “a lot of ghostly things that happen here. People see individuals looking down from the upper railings. People hear people walking up the steps.”
“Well, thank you for letting us spend time with you, Mary,” Lou said as they left.
“Bye, Mary,” Meisha whispered.
Rockwood Mansion (also known as Rockwood Museum) is in Rockwood Park at 4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, DE 19809. The museum offers general tours on the hour, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 3:00 pm on Sundays.
Occasional ghost tours of Rockwood Mansion are offered year-round. You can find out more at http://www.nccde.org/679/Ghost-Tours or by calling (302) 761-4343.