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The Old Wedderburn Mansion

By Thomas D’Agostino from “Haunted Rhode Island”

Some legends come from a time or place that cannot be traced. In Narragansett, Rhode Island, sits the remains of an old estate that at one time revealed wealth. Some have attributed this next story to that relic but the actual location of this story, if at all true, remains a mystery.

Japheth Wedderburn was a successful merchant who lived in a four-story mansion by the shores of the Narragansett Bay. His only companion, servant Huldy Craddock, cared for the immense home when the captain was away at sea.

One day the captain returned to his mansion from a trip overseas with a new bride by the name of Donna Mercedes. The woman, not able to speak English, kept to herself. Her new husband was soon off to sea, leaving his bride to sit and stare out the windows of the mansion. The local residents often saw the petite young Spanish woman in her black lace mantilla dress with a tortoise shell comb for her hair staring through the panes watching toward the sea in hopes her husband would soon return.

It soon became apparent she missed her family back in the homeland and wanted desperately to return there. When Captain Wedderburn returned from a journey, it is said he agreed to sail his bride back to her own country and all would go back to the way it once was.

Two years later he returned from the long voyage telling all the townsfolk that she was again living with her family. This would have been the end of the story except people of the town began to see the diminutive figure of a woman pacing to and fro in the windows of the great hall and heard the sobbing that they had come to recognize as that of Donna Mercedes herself.

Even after the death of Japheth Wedderburn, the new owners of the house heard the sobbing of a woman and witnessed her apparition on the third floor overlooking the ocean. In 1925 renovations were being done in the house. When the hearthstone in the library was removed underneath lay a small wooden coffin. When they pried it open, to their astonishment, they found the skeleton of a woman in a tattered and rotted black lace mantilla. At the top of her skull was a great tortoise shell comb.

How she died is still a mystery. Did her husband do away with her or was it a jealous housekeeper who may have had a thing for her boss? The truth went to the grave many years ago. Apparently so did the house.

The mansion was supposedly located on Front Street in Narragansett. No such road exists in the state maps. The ruins of the aforementioned mansion are off of Ocean Drive near the shoreline. Could Ocean Drive have once been called Front Street? No historical records indicate either way. If you hear cries coming from the remains of an old mansion on a moonlit night you might be in the right place.