One evening many years ago, a local family invited me into their home to experience what they described as a genuine haunting. 

The house WAS haunted, as it turned out. Not by ghosts, mind you, but by a family of imaginative and deeply dysfunctional souls. 

It was an awkward night and ultimately, a disappointing one. When I went in, I wanted to believe that strange apparitions moved about the home, slamming doors, moving furniture and causing ice cold waves of air that chilled blood and bone. 

I went in expecting to hear Toccata in D come groaning out of the pipes behind the walls as tormented spirits and unruly phantoms wrought their havoc in the shadow-plagued rooms of Lewiston’s Most Haunted Home. 

To put it as kindly as possible, the family failed to convince me in any way that their home was the scene of visitations by the dead. 

The planchette that was dragged every which way across the littered kitchen table turned into a farcical affair. The circle of people moaning and groaning their dark invocations around a single flickering candle produced nothing but awkward moments and a hot mound of wax. 


There was no response to their theatrical calling out to the spirit world. I failed to see the orbs they so desperately claimed were floating over us and not even in the deepest hushed moments could I hear the whispers the family swore arose from beyond the door of a locked closet. 

It was a surreal night, and almost comical in ways. I fully expected that at any moment, one of the family members was going to go running through the living room with a threadbare bed sheet over his head, wailing “woooooo…” and all that jazz as he went.  

It was a real razzle dazzle affair, and all the while, I pretended to take scrupulous notes in my notebook while actually just doodling puffins and lightning bolts, which is just about all I can draw.  

Maybe there WERE unsettled spirits with us that night and I simply wasn’t receptive enough to interact with them. Or maybe — just maybe — I had been seduced by a puckish and peculiar clan that used paranormal claims as a form of family therapy. This was a group who would claim to see ghosts one night, a UFO the next and perhaps Bigfoot on the weekend, and why not invite a local reporter with promises of a good time? 

Absurd, every minute of that goofy night. A more cynical reporter might have taken the opportunity to dismiss any and all claims of paranormal activity outright, but not me. Nossir. When it comes to tales of ghosts and poltergeists and the notion of long-dead teenagers hitchhiking along the creepy back roads of Poland, I remain agnostic. I neither believe nor disbelieve. 

But I sort of WANT to believe. 


So, for no particular reason — maybe it’s because of all the PREMATURE Halloween decorations going up out there — I recently started thinking about haunted houses again. Surely, I’ve been ruminating; surely there have to be at least one or two haunted locations right here in Lewiston and Auburn, even if their owners haven’t gotten around to inviting me in to investigate yet. 

Which shows what I know. It turns out the area is positively filthy with haunted houses. 

“I lived in one on Holland Street years ago,” one Lewiston woman wrote. “The place was so bad, we literally moved out within less than a year. My daughter was 3 at the time. She used to tell us the lady in the walls was trying to get her. We would lose stuff all the time, then they would just be in the middle of the floor. Walls would shake, doors would close. … It was pretty bad.” 

Now we’re talking. Unfortunately, that particular building has since been torn down to make way for a (probably haunted) parking lot. 

“A place on Spring Street in Auburn, not far from Hannaford,” another woman tells me. “Footsteps, things moved on their own, I felt like I was being watched. Turns out the kids had similar experiences but I never said anything about mine as not to scare them but… The building was a nursing home at one point in its earlier iteration. It never felt oppressive or sinister, more of a prankster type.” 

Yet another lady tells me about a visit to a former funeral home in Auburn. Now, this lady describes herself as sensitive to paranormal activity, so it’s not surprising that a tour of the old building turned chilling. 


“It was at the end of the tour,” the lady tells me. “We were in what may have been an embalming room or a receiving room. It was just storage by that point. So this person walked ahead of me and then I walked in. 

“I don’t know how to describe what happened,” she says. “I’ve thought about it so many times since, and all I can say is that it was like a vortex — like I had stepped into a vortex. It shook me up badly I literally jumped right back out of the room. And the person who was with me said, ‘when you stepped into this room, the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees.’ He’d felt it, too.” 

Still another woman — who wasn’t a believer at the start — tells me about her experiences at a haunted home on Winter Street in Auburn. She describes feeling — and sometimes seeing — former occupants of the house. 

“There was a young woman dressed like the early 18th century who had lived in the house,” she tells me, “and an older woman, maybe her mother. Then there was a young man who was a soldier, who always came up on my back porch, but he never came in. I couldn’t tell what era he was from, but I suspected he was the deceased son of my elderly neighbor. He died during the Vietnam War while on leave serving in Germany. I always got the sense he wanted me to keep an eye on his mother, which I did.” 

Several people talk about an old house near the top of Goff Hill in Auburn said to be haunted by spirits of the dead. Others talk about encountering spooks in buildings they’ve cleaned — cleaners see some stuff, I tell you. 

I talked to one lady who was cleaning the former Gates Formed Fibre in Auburn around 20 years ago when she began to hear a clamor in a nearby office — there was thumping and bumping and the sounds of furniture being moved around only — and tell me you didn’t see THIS coming — there was nobody else in the building at the time. 


The office in question didn’t get vacuumed that particular afternoon, she tells me. 

The same woman also once found herself interviewing at a car dealership on Center Street where she witnessed a drawer sliding out of an old-fashioned desk all on its own. 

“I didn’t want the job after that,” the lady says. 

These stories keep coming and coming. All at once, I find myself with a collection of haunted locations around the area where so recently I thought there were none. Laurel Avenue in Auburn? There are a couple haunted houses there to hear some folks tell it. Woodside Avenue in Lewiston? Nice area, but one of the houses is said to be badly haunted, and especially the basement. 

The stately Old Senator Frye’s house at Main and Frye streets in Lewiston? Absolutely filthy with ghosts, according to at least two local fellows. We’re talking items moving all by themselves, cold drafts and a unsettling variety of other phenomena. 

“Myself and several friends lived in the many small apartments there,” one man says. “The place is super active.” 


There were others, too, but I’ve run out of space. By the end of these vigorous conversations, I became convinced that I’m the only guy left in the Twin Cities who’s never been inside a gen-u-wine haunted house. 

Which, in retrospect, gives me a weird sense of gratitude for that family back in the day who at least TRIED to give me some kind of ghost experience. If only they’d put a little more effort into it, I might have been convinced. 

I mean, would it have killed you to don that bed sheet and maybe rattled some chains? 

Rap once for yes, twice for no. 

On second thought, don’t rap at all. I’m started to get a little freaked out. 

Mark LaFlamme covers the crime beat for the Sun Journal and can be reached at

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