True Ghostly Encounters: Can Home Renovations Wake the Dead?
The Beach House
Becky Parsons first contacted me in late 2017 with this account of a haunting that had been taking place in her vacation home. She explained that, on the surface, the little bungalow appeared to be a dwelling like any other. It was only after beginning a minor remodeling project that Becky would realize that she had stirred up more than dust in her home away from home.
A city girl all of her life, Becky had long dreamed of buying a place in either the mountains or somewhere near a body of water. After searching online for properties, she set her sights on a small cottage that was situated along the Virginia coastline. Not long after seeing the listing; she made arrangements to view the property.
Becky had fallen in love with the weathered looking house the first time she set foot inside the threshold. As she was being shown around, Becky could tell that the house had been vacant for a period of time. A thick layer of dust had collected on many of the surfaces and cobwebs could be seen dangling from the ceilings. It was small and certainly nothing fancy, but Becky knew that she need look no further; she was home.
The lady who had shown Becky the house told her that the previous owner was her aunt who had recently passed away. The elderly woman had spent several months in a nursing facility prior to her death, which explained its neglected appearance.
Becky remembers that she and the seller had gotten on quite well as they negotiated transferring ownership of the property. There had not been much haggling, since Becky had already made up her mind that she was buying the cottage regardless of the terms. In the end, a deal was struck that satisfied both parties.
Becky couldn't wait to make the place her own. She had already made a list of all of the things that would need to be done to the house in order to make it livable. She would soon discover that not everyone was as eager as she was to make changes to the cottage by the beach.
Becky had taken some time off from work in order to oversee the renovations on her new place. She had decided to hire contractors to tear out a wall that separated the kitchen from the living area. Since the house was small to begin with, Becky thought that this would open up the space and make the rooms appear larger. A fresh coat of paint and some minor repair work would complete the transformation.
She remembers that everything had gone according to plan on day one of the renovations. Even so, as she lay in bed that night, Becky began to sense that something wasn't right in the house.
Sometime before dawn, Becky was awakened by the sound of pounding in the living room area. She had given the contractors free rein to come and go as needed, within reason, but she hadn't expected them to show up before sunrise.
By the time that Becky had gotten dressed, the house had fallen silent. When she stepped out of the bedroom, she saw that there were no lights on in the house. As she navigated through the debris that was still strewn about from the previous day, Becky realized that she was alone in the house. Catching a glimpse of the digital clock on the stove, she saw that it was just after 5:00 in the morning.
Becky says that as she sat at the breakfast nook drinking her coffee, she felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she could not explain. As she gazed out the window, she could feel both anger and sadness welling up inside of her for no reason. She didn't know at the time what had brought on this sudden show of emotion, but she soon would.
The workers arrived hours later to find Becky still sitting by the window. She recalls that, by that time, a crushing sense of depression had settled upon her that had made it nearly impossible for her to move. It was only when she realized that she was in the way that she managed to drag herself into the bedroom where she sat on the bed and wept as work resumed in the next room.
Becky recalls that her emotional state had swung back and forth from boiling anger to devastating sorrow throughout the day. All of her plans to aid in the work on her house had been put aside as she tried, in vain, to pull herself together.
Later that evening, the man who was supervising the project asked Becky if she would like to see the progress that had been made. She followed him into the living room/kitchen area as he proudly showed off the transformation.
The wall that had separated the two rooms was now only a memory. Becky had to admit that the open space had added a charm to the house that it had previously lacked. Even though she was pleased with the final results, she couldn't get over the inexplicable sense of loss that was still weighing her down.
The contractor told her that they would be back in the morning to finish up the piece work that would mark the completion of the job. Before leaving, he made Becky aware that they had left the windows opened to air out the paint fumes. Since there were no screens, he wanted to make sure that she secured the house before nightfall.
Becky thanked the man before seeing him to the door. Overall, she was thrilled with the way the room had turned out. The contractors had followed her specifications to the letter, but she couldn't help feeling that something wasn't quite right.
She tried to eat a bite of supper, but found that she had little appetite. After tidying up the kitchen, she decided to take a hot bath in an attempt to calm her nerves. Becky had just settled into the tub when a series of loud bangs suddenly erupted from the living room. Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she slipped on a robe and cautiously made her way into the next room to see what was going on.
Becky wasn't sure at first what had happened. She didn't notice anything out of place until she stood in the middle of the floor and scanned the room. It was only then that the source of the noise became evident. Becky could see that all of the windows that the contractors had left open were now shut.
In a panic, Becky swept through the house looking for signs of an intruder. To her relief, she found that the front door was secure and there was no evidence that anyone else had been in the house. All the same, someone had forcefully closed all of the windows and it hadn't been Becky.
Later that night, Becky began to look over some emails that she had received from the contractor. He had explained to her at the beginning of the project that he liked to document the work that was done for his records. When she opened the email, she saw that it contained a series of 'before and after' photos that had been taken of her home.
At first, Becky hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary about the pictures. Upon closer inspection, she spotted something that resembled a patch of fog in the background of many of the photos. The image was vague, but she could see it in every frame of the pictures that had been taken after the renovations had gotten underway. Strangely, the wisp of white smoke was not visible in any of the 'before' photos.
Becky studied the pictures in an attempt to come up with an explanation for what she was seeing. The more she looked at the photos, the more the image jumped out at her. At first, she had assumed that it had probably been a result of flashback, but after viewing the pictures in sequence, it didn't seem likely. To Becky, it looked like the hazy form was deliberately moving from one area to another as though surveying the scene.
The range of emotions that she had been struggling with all day stayed with Becky as she prepared to turn in for the night. Try as she might, she couldn't get the image that the contractor had captured out of her thoughts as she tried to fall asleep. In time, she would discover that this was only the beginning of the mysteries that would be uncovered in the beach house.
She remembers tossing and turning most of the night. At some point she recalls hearing the sound of footsteps just outside of her room. She could not see anyone through the doorway, but their steady pacing was unmistakable.
Becky was afraid to get out of the bed and investigate the noises. Even though she couldn't see anyone, she was convinced that if she confronted the intruder it would not end well for her. Rather than risk a run-in with a home invader, she lay perfectly still and pretended to be asleep.
Becky could hear the footfalls becoming more and more frenzied. Whoever was just outside of her range of vision was obviously very upset about something. They seemed to be getting closer to her bedroom even though there were no visible signs of movement.
The relentless pacing had gone on for several minutes before abruptly coming to a halt in her doorway. She still couldn't see anyone, but the feeling of eyes boring into her was so intense that it sent shivers throughout her body.
As she lay frozen in her bed, the thing that still remained unseen unleashed a torrent of hateful words upon her the likes of which she had never known. Becky says that the voice was that of a male and that it seemed to be emanating from between clenched teeth.
Becky couldn't make out everything that was being said, but she certainly got the gist of it. The man had spoken very quickly and without any breaks as he seethed that he had warned her this would happen and she should have listened. He also told her that she had always thought that she had known it all.
Although the man was ranting at Becky, she had the impression that his words were being directed at someone else. Nothing about his voice or demeanor were familiar to Becky. She got the feeling that his angry tirade had been aimed at someone with whom he had a personal connection. Unfortunately for her, Becky just happened to be present when he unleashed his pent up hostility.
She recalls that he had peppered everything he said with expletives that are not fit for print. Becky didn't utter a word as the man had his say. Eventually, the house fell silent as he retreated back to wherever he had emerged.
As terrifying as that experience had been, it would prove to be the first of many visits from the angry man. Becky says that the verbal attacks occurred regularly after that night. Although the first occurrence had taken place at night, it was soon apparent that he could show up anytime he took a notion.
Becky claims that the angry whispering seemed to come out of thin air at all hours of the day and night. She never once saw the person who was speaking, but she never doubted his presence. The more she was assailed by his words, the more she became convinced that she was not the target of his anger.
The renovations to the house were completed within a week of the first manifestation of the whispering man. Becky had hoped that once the workmen were finished that everything would go back to normal. It was not to be. If anything, the incidents increased in frequency.
After many a nerve-wracking day and sleepless night, Becky was at the end of her rope. She wasn't sure what had happened to the house that was supposed to be her sanctuary; she only knew that she couldn't stay there any longer. With no plan of action, Becky packed up her belongings and headed back to the city.
Becky did not give up on her vacation home altogether, opting instead to let things quiet down there as she mulled over her options. She had spoken to several acquaintances about the strange goings on in the house, some of whom had offered up their opinions as to the source of the trouble.
Most of the people that Becky confided in suggested that the constant presence of men working in the house, coupled with the stress of the temporary move, had caused her to see and hear things that weren't there. She knew that they could be right. After all, she had been on the go ever since she signed the papers on the house.
Becky also admits that she is someone who is prone to anxiety attacks. She is also quick to point out that these prior episodes had never involved hearing voices or any other unexplained activity; those experiences only occurred in the beach house.
One of her more open-minded friends was the first to raise the possibility that the demolition and reconstruction that had occurred at the house may have stirred up something that had been resting until that point. Becky would have scoffed at such a notion under normal circumstances, but the things that she had encountered at the vacation home could hardly be classified as "normal."
The more that Becky mulled over the idea that she had awakened a ghost in her beach house, the more real the scenario had become. As she backtracked, the timeline fit that explanation to a tee. She remembered the feelings of loss and anger that had so overwhelmed her when the renovations had begun. Becky now wondered if the unexplained roller coaster of emotions that she had experienced had actually belonged to someone else.
Becky became consumed by the need to find out more about the previous owner of the house. She finally gave in to her curiosity and phoned the woman from whom she had purchased the home. The story that unfolded would further convince Becky that she had, unwittingly, awakened a malcontent.
Becky had only intended to ask the woman about the history of the house, but ended up pouring out the story of the angry unseen presence that had sent her packing. Becky was aware that the woman's aunt had lived in the house for decades prior to her death and inquired as to whether she had ever mentioned having any similar experiences.
The woman expressed to Becky that she and her aunt had not been close. If there had been anything strange to report about the house, the information had not been shared with her. She did say that, if the house was indeed haunted by an angry spirit, she had an idea as to his identity.
Becky learned that the home had originally been owned by the woman's aunt and uncle. The man had died several years before his wife leaving her the sole beneficiary of his estate. Apparently, he had been the main reason that the family was estranged from the aunt.
The woman explained that her uncle had been a difficult person to get along with, to put it mildly. He had ruled his home, and wife, with an iron fist. She was not allowed to do anything without his permission, including having contact with the outside world. The couple kept to themselves, preferring to stay inside the small beach house while the world outside passed them by.
After her husband's death, the woman's aunt remained in the house until ill health had forced her into a nursing facility. When the family had entered the home to gather her belongings, they felt as though they were stepping into the past. The interior of the dwelling looked as if it had not been changed in decades.
Becky and the woman both agreed that if anyone was haunting the house, it was the uncle. As far-fetched as it sounded, they had both come to the conclusion that seeing his house being ripped apart had been too much for the curmudgeonly spirit to bear. It appeared that, even in death, his controlling nature could not be contained.
The women also felt that the shows of temper that Becky had witnessed had been meant for the wife with whom he had entrusted his beloved home. They speculated that he blamed her for dying and allowing the house to be sold to an outside party. The words that he had spoken in his fits of rage certainly seemed to fit such a scenario.
Satisfied that she has unraveled the mystery of the beach house, Becky is holding onto the property for the time being. Her plan is to restore the house to its former self as soon as she can afford to do so. For reasons that she can't fully explain, Becky feels a connection to the house in spite of her encounters with the angry spirit who insists on sharing the property.
Becky hopes that the entity, who she firmly believes is the man who had previously owned the house, will be appeased when everything is returned to its original state. If her plan works, the man's spirit can rest and she will finally be able to enjoy her coastal getaway.
If the whispering spirit remains in the house despite Becky's unorthodox solution, she's uncertain of the next step. She has not ruled out some sort of clerical intervention. It is a bridge that will be crossed when, and if, she comes to it.
Becky still pays the occasional visit to the property, but seldom stays overnight. As of this writing, the house remains vacant.