Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Creeped Out at Greystone

  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to not only see the grounds of the famous “Greystone Manor,” but also to enjoy the privilege of a tour of the interior of the mansion itself. The grounds are open to the public, but tours are by appointment only.
  Completed in 1938, the elaborate mansion was a gift to Edward "Ned" Doheny, Jr., and his family from Ned’s oil tycoon father, Edward L. Doheney.

Construction underway in 1927
Nearly complete
Greystone Manor

  Tragically, under mysterious circumstances, Ned and his secretary, Hugh Plunket (with whom he was rumoured to be having an affair), were the victims of an apparent murder-suicide. Our tour guide filled us in on the whole sordid story, and it all sounded pretty fishy. Both Ned and Hugh were due to testify in the trial of Ned’s father in the Teapot-Dome scandal, for starters. Also of interest was the fact that Ned’s family held police at the outer gates to the grounds for an hour and a half after the shooting, telling authorities they “needed to compose themselves” before allowing them entry.

The main staircase
The main staircase

  There are also numerous discrepancies involving the murder weapon, a .45 revolver. No prints were found anywhere on the weapon, and it was found underneath Plunket’s body, reportedly too hot to touch nearly two hours after the shooting. There were also discrepancies with trajectories, powder burns, and Ned’s wife. She was in the next room over, yet testified that she didn’t hear the fatal shots. When local newspapers printed a diagram of the house, the room Mrs. Doheny was in at the time of the shootings had conveniently been moved to the other end of the house.

Tudor style ceiling

  But that wasn’t the end of the tragic history of Greystone. Two of the house’s female staff later committed suicide in separate incidents, and a child playmate of the Doheny children fell to her death from an upper window. It was also believed that a man was beaten to death in the basement.

Upper floor hallway

  There’s a lot more to the history of the place that I won’t go into here. Nobody ever lived in the house after the Dohenys, even though the property has changed hands a couple of times. Thankfully, it was eventually taken over by the park service and preserved.
  What was immediately noticeable was an odd, creepy vibe to the place- a weight, if you will. Being in the room where the murders took place was eerie enough, but there were other odd sounds and sights throughout.

The turret staircase

  The house has been, and continues to be, used in many film and television productions, and the ranger giving us the tour had a little fun with this at our expense. In one of the house’s original kitchens, he opened a large morgue-like freezer drawer which revealed the bare feet of a fake dead body. One unfortunate woman on the tour screamed at the top of her lungs and jumped. He explained to us that many productions had used the kitchen as a morgue set for its appearance. There were a few other surprises like that, but honestly, they didn’t need them. The real stories were scary enough.

The bowling alley

  Besides the creepy, heavy vibe, I also personally witnessed a very large, very heavy chandelier swing by itself and heard a large crash at the other end of the house when nobody was there. Along with the rest of the group, I heard an audio recording that I found most blood-curdling.

  A film production person had left their audio equipment recording during the night one time, to capture the creakings and groanings that typically happen at night when a house settles. Mostly, what they got was silence. Then, on one section of the recording, it sounds like increasingly louder bumps and bangs, as if a body is falling to the floor over and over. It sounds… angry.

A sitting area

  Another more faintly heard recording sounds like tortured screaming coming from the basement. The ranger told us of a time he had to go down to the basement by himself at night to turn the power on. He heard the same screaming, and left in an awful hurry. At least two other rangers have refused to work in the house.

  Could these things have been set up? Sure. Do I believe there’s evil in that house? Without a doubt.

  Visit. Judge for yourself.

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