Strange and unexplained activity at a downtown Sykesville business recently caught the attention of two psychic mediums who conducted a paranormal investigation and claim they discovered an unsettled spirit there.
The Patapsco Distilling Company building, located at 7609 Main St. in Sykesville, has been the subject of multiple paranormal investigations over the years, and was featured prominently the past three years of Sykesville Ghost Tours, over which time increasing paranormal disturbances were reported.
Jack White, curator of the Gate House Museum in Sykesville, said the building was erected in the 1860s and acted as a general store for a long time. In 1939, the store was sold to the Sykesville Fire Department and continued as a firehouse for 10 years before the fire company moved into its new headquarters.
“I haven’t heard anything about ghosts,” White said. “I’ve heard of lots of buildings in Sykesville being haunted but I’ve never checked into any of them.”
Running his business for about four and half years now, Scott Jendrek, owner of the distillery, said he learned early on that he was not alone.
Jendrek said he noticed a lot of harmless happenings — lights turning themselves on or off, the sound of footsteps from upstairs and customers’ dogs barking at empty stools.
“There wasn’t anything scary going on,” he said. “There were no flaming ghosts but it was just enough to send a shiver down your spine.”
His employees were well aware of unexplained phenomena, Jendrek said, and he makes sure no one closes alone at night “so they don’t get spooked.”
But earlier this year, the activity had started to become more of a nuisance.
“On the second floor, chairs and tables would be moved around, the footsteps became loud banging noises and doors were getting slammed,” he said.
He also said the temperature began shifting from very hot to ice cold, to the point where people could see their breath.
Jendrek started to become concerned about distilling equipment or glass bottles getting damaged or broken.
The Eckharts wanted to investigate and potentially solve the issues at the distillery.
In early June, they visited the space to determine whether this was a supernatural occurrence or something more earthly.
“We want to be clear that very few ‘paranormal’ encounters are truly paranormal, there are often very terrestrial explanations for the strange and uncanny … It’s more often a radiator or central air than a ghost,” Dan Eckhart said. “In this case, things were different.”
The Eckharts and their peers have seen a rise in reports of paranormal activity and hauntings as the pandemic lifestyle that had most people spending increased time at home comes to an end.
Both Dan and Kat were “hit by a negative energy on the second floor,” of the distillery, Dan said. “It was the first thing we noticed as mediums.”
Although the couple had initially planned to spend about 30 minutes in the space, four hours later, they decided to hold a séance and connect with whatever had decided to manifest itself in the building.
“We heard the banging and slamming sounds firsthand, we watched stacked boxes fall without being touched, and things culminated for us in finding the door to the attic open after closing it 10 minutes previous,” Dan said.
The séance, they said, revealed the spirit of a young woman named Harriet, who the Eckharts claim had become disturbed by the rapid changes to the space, including the sudden influx of patrons as regional restrictions lifted, and office renovations occurring on the second floor.
Dan said “there was an increase in liminal space and time within the building” so consequently, the activity increased, as “the spirit didn’t understand the changes and was seeking attention.”
Ultimately, he said, Harriet wanted her own space. Dan and Kat recommended the owners leave a bottle of bourbon for the spirit and keep a glass on hand on a shelf in the attic, which they’ve since done.
“It was really exciting to have that experience from the other side,” Dan said, explaining that when people abandon their structured daily routine, like many had to during the pandemic, paranormal phenomena can be triggered.
Almost two months later, Jendrek said shortly after Dan and Kat’s visit, the strange activity decreased considerably.
“It’s an interesting place to work,” Jendrek said of the distillery. “Even if you don’t believe, why poke a bear?”