Vermont Ghost Stories: VT Haunted Inns
High Spirits at the Highgate Manor Inn
History - The Highgate Manor was built in 1818 by Captain Steve Keyes along with The Manor Mayfair, which was located directly across the green from the Manor. During the period of the Civil War the Manor was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad with tunnels running from under the house to the river. These tunnels are still in existence today under the Manor.
The Keyes family owned the Manor until the year 1870 when the home was sold to Dr. Henry Baxter. As was the custom of the day, Dr. Baxter opened his practice in his home, The Highgate Manor. Bloodstains from his operating table are still visible on the wood floor in what is now the Library. It was during this time that the legend of the Highgate Manor started to grow. Many of Dr. Baxter’s children did not live past the age of ten and died of strange illnesses. The town’s people believed that the good doctor was using his children for experiments and that after their death they have since remained in the house to this day. Many photos of the Highgate Manor available here.
After the death of Dr. Baxter in 1898 the Manor was taken over by Philip Schmitt and in 1917 the Manor was turned into an exclusive vacation resort. With business becoming an incredible success, Manor Mayfair was again added as part of the Highgate Manor along with the Manor Annex, and a brand new dance hall. This hall was billed as the largest and best dance hall in the North. Due to the exclusiveness of the Manor Al Capone as well as many other high profile dignitaries frequented the Manor Estate and its speakeasy hidden in a cave beneath The Manor.
The Manor continued as a vacation destination during the 1940s. During this time Benny Goodman and other stars of the Big Band Era regularly performed in the Manor’s ballroom specifically added for this purpose. Unfortunately, on May 22, 1950 part of The Manor’s estate, the Manor Mayfair, was destroyed by fire set when a worker started burning leaves to close to the Manor.
Updated on 1/16/2013. The Highgate Manor was one of the most intriguing places I've ever visited. In fact, back in 2006, my web design company Alpine Web Media, LLC. completely redesigned their website with all new photos and a 360 virtual tour of all the rooms (yes, I still have all the photos, website files and even the virtual tour, some of which I have posted on Flickr for everyone to enjoy). At the time, I was working with Jill Protzman and did a lot of the photography myself. The Capone Bar was fascinating and the tunnels mysterious. Walking through the rooms, you felt immediately transported to years gone by. The exterior was being renovated at the time and the Highgate Manor was looking spectacular. I was really excited about the designing the website to match the new found ambience of the stately building itself. All was well for a year or so but ultimately, the owners Ben and Jill had problems paying for their web hosting bills. I worked with a lady who was their business manager and was a bit taken aback when she mentioned that the owners were having a tough time paying their bills. Finally, after a number of chances and notices the website was shut down. I hadn't realized the scope of legal issues that the owners had gotten themselves into. Several months later, I received a call from Ben Osmanson, the owner. He mentioned that a local TV station, WPTZ (see this video and the one below) was doing a feature on the Highgate Manor and requested that the website be restored to take advantage of the exposure. He paid his past due bill and it appeared that the situation was improving. Unfortunately, that was not to be and the grand future of the Highgate Manor fell like a house of cards. The rest they say is history as the Highgate Manor slipped back into disrepair and was eventually sold at a real estate auction. Although the ghost stories and hauntings are of interest, this latest saga is perhaps the most disheartening of all. It really was a gorgeous place. I have added some new photos here for your enjoyment of what it was like in 2006.
Guests often report a strange presence in the basement bar (named after past visitor, Al Capone). Ghostly voices have been heard and some believe that the ghosts of Dr. Baxter’s children still haunt the Inn.