When they bought the Wenom-Drake house in Kimmswick, Ken and Abby Peck knew they were purchasing a piece of history. And a part of that history includes the question of whether the original residents, the long deceased ones, are still hanging around.
Rumors about ghosts haunting the 119-year-old house were probably inevitable, Abby said.
“I suppose if any house is unoccupied long enough, people will imagine things,” she said.
The history of the house started out pleasantly enough. It was built in 1877 by John Wenom, a successful businessman who along with his wife raised seven children in the house. Wenom’s descendants sold the house to Fred Drake in 1918, who in turn sold it sometime in the 1930s or 40s. It was owned or rented by successive tenants after that, finally becoming vacant for about 15 years. Tours were begun at the house in 1974, and the Pecks purchased it in 1992.
The ghostly stories probably stared with a true tragedy. Nadine Garland of the Kimmswick Visitor’s Center, who gave tours of the Wenom-Drake house for part of the time it was unoccupied, said there was a murder in the home decades ago. Legend has it that a domestic argument turned violent, leading a woman to kill her husband.
So, does the ghost of that dead husband haunt the house? Garland says no.
“I don’t believe in ghosts,” Garland said, “ but one of the people who gave tours before me used to say ‘the ghosts here are more noisy than the one in my house.’”
Abby Peck also heard of a mysterious set of footprints that appeared on the stairs. She said one of the people who came to clean the house before a tour saw two sets of footprints in the dust on the staircase, an adult’s and a child’s, but only the adult footprints came down.
She also said one previous owner allowed a group to hold a seance in the house at one time. Apparently the ghosts weren’t interested in talking to them.
The Pecks converted Wenom-Drake into a bed and breakfast. Abby Peck said she doesn’t believe in ghosts either, and while she hasn’t experienced anything ghostly, one couple who stayed the night at the bed and breakfast created their own little haunting story.
“Once a couple said they heard a knocking sound in the night, like a carpenter working on the greenhouse in the side yard, but he never worked on it at night. The couple was thrilled to hear that there were supposed to be ghosts here. They figured it was a friendly ghost they heard.”
The couple went on their way before Ken Peck could explain the real source of the knocking: the furnace blower had made the vents flap a little.
Two local children were evidently ready to believe the ghost stories when they came to call one evening.
“We were wallpapering and had moved all the furniture to the middle of the room and covered it with sheets,” Abby said.
“They peeked in the window and saw all the different shaped objects in sheets and ran down the hill to their mother.”
Abby said the mother brought the children back and they showed them the sheeted furniture. But it was too late; they had already unwittingly added yet another legend of ghost sightings to the Wenom-Drake house. Abby said she understands why people might enjoy legends, even if they aren’t based in truth. “Really, I think there have been many more happy years than tragic in the house,” she said.
So if you happen to be driving by the Wenom-Drake house some evening and see a mysterious apparition strolling the grounds, please remember, he’s probably lost.
Abby and Ken Peck say they’re not boarding anyone from the Great Beyond at present.