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The Eternal Patrons of Brown and Hopkins

By Thomas D’Agostino

Chepachet, Rhode Island, is known for its preserved beauty and rustic charm.  Historic taverns, homes and businesses lace both sides of Route 44, beckoning the curious to inspect what time and progress has failed to spoil. Along with these old structures are many remnants of the past; many of them ghosts still lingering among the antiquated walls of these edifices.

One such place is Brown and Hopkins General Store. In 1799 Timothy Wilmarth built the structure as a private home. Ira Evans purchased the home in 1809 and turned it into a general store. James Brown and William Hopkins owned the store from 1921 to 1964, when the Steere family took the reins. Several owners have made their mark in one of America’s oldest continually running store. In 2004 Elizabeth Yuill purchased the store keeping the tradition alive. B&H boasts old-fashioned delights; handmade items and many other products that bring the customer back to times when life was simple and slower.

With the building also came a few resident ghosts. The ghosts have a penchant for rearranging things. Staff at the store has opened in the morning to find certain items in complete disarray, such as scarves or hats that appeared to have been tried on during the witching hours of the night. Voices are often heard around the rooms that are uninhabited by humans and footsteps on the second and third floors when they should be otherwise empty. A few of the staff have heard people upstairs mulling around during closing but upon ascending the only staircase to let their customers know it was time to close, not a living soul would be found anywhere.

Arlene and I once encountered a few women coming down the stairs while we were going up to the second floor. One of them said, “If you are going up there, I’d be careful. We just heard someone talking and walking around in the old bedroom but there was no one in the room when we entered. I am not surprised this place is haunted.”

They continued to shop and acted as if they expected to see a ghost.

Several years ago, Arlene and I, along with Rich and Ally Allarie, were called in to investigate. One of the resident spirits likes to hide on the third floor, which, at the time was unoccupied. We left our cameras and recorders overnight to record any activity without our disruption. What we uncovered proved that the building has some permanent guests.

Although our cameras failed to pick up any verifiable visible evidence, our recorders captured voices of children, a mother calling her daughter, footsteps creaking on the stairs and other unexplainable sharp loud noises within the building. The ghosts seem to make their presences heard and not seen, but they are not harmful in any way-- just a part of the charm that makes Brown and Hopkins a place to visit over and over again.

Thomas D’Agostino and his wife Arlene Nicholson are seasoned paranormal investigators, authors, and co-organizers of Paranormal United Research Society. You can find out more about them by visiting www.tomdagostino.com.