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The Black Swan Inn

By Thomas D’Agostino

In February of this year, Arlene and I, along with our friends and fellow investigators, Bob and Vickie Hughes, had the opportunity to stay a night at the Black Swan Inn located at 354 West Main Street in Tilton, New Hampshire. We were invited by owners John and Trish Basiliere to not only investigate the possible paranormal events that transpire in the Victorian mansion but to discuss events that may include the public.

The Black Swan Inn began as the home of Tilton Tweed manufacturer Selwin Peabody, later becoming the manor of Arthur S. Brown, whose Tilton Endless Belts were used in the Model T automobile. Friends of Arthur Brown included Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison. 

Today this significant history lives throughout the property, and is echoed in the oak and mahogany paneling, stained glass windows, Chickering & Sons grand piano, formal gardens, and classic breakfast service. It seems a few previous owners have never left the mansion.

Rumors of the inn being haunted have long circulated and the innkeepers were excited about holding a ghost hunt weekend where guests could investigate the property with us. John and Trish are also paranormal investigators which makes the ghostly events of the inn more credible. The manor and stables are home to a few spirits that linger among the living. Trish reassured us, “They are quite harmless. They just go about their business as we go about ours.”

One of the ghosts is thought to be Isabella Brown, Arthur’s wife and player of the Chickering piano. The keys of the piano have resounded on several occasions when no human form was near to affect them. The piano is located in a formal parlor near the front door. During our investigation, Arlene stood near the instrument and asked who was standing to her right. The dowsing rods she was holding swung to the right and a voice was recorded answering, “Bertha.” We are not sure who Bertha was, but she may have been a guest, friend, hired help, or neighbor.

Arlene, using tarot cards, asked if the family was happy. At that moment, the KII meter and EMF meter began to flash and a voice said, “Yes.”

We ascended the stairs to the bathroom, a most curious creation designed by Mr. Brown. The room was outfitted with a surgical table and other medical accouterments in the event he or his wife would require emergency surgery at home. It was never implemented, and the room was never altered from its original design, even to this day.

The second floor is where guests have seen figures looking out the windows at them as they exited their automobiles and descended upon the stairs leading to the front door. Footsteps in the hallway are sometimes heard in the night but upon checking, the area is void of the living.

Trish uses a small sewing room for her other vocation, message therapy. There is a small “secret” staircase leading from that room to their bedroom just above. One night John and Trish experienced a strange shaking vibration in their bed. They thought someone was right below them in the message room but when they checked the room out, it was empty and locked. I asked the spirits if someone was in the room or on the stairs at the time and we recorded a voice that said, “Bedroom.”

We spent the night in one of the stable suites. The spirit of a former stable hand is thought to still reside there tending to his duties. Arlene and I held a vigil in our room and at one point, Arlene asked if the horses were still cared for. A sound much like a horse neighing and grunting broke the silence. Later we joined Bob and Vickie for a wrap up of the evening and some dinner at another haunted place in town. We came out of the investigation with no doubt that spirits still tenant the bed and breakfast. If you would like to experience a paranormal weekend at the Black Swan, stay posted to their website or go to for details on when the event will be held pending the pandemic and all efforts to stay safe.

The Swan also presents several weddings and private functions each year. With nine spacious guest rooms, suites, and parlor space, the Black Swan is the perfect venue for intimate gatherings, bridal showers, memorial luncheons and corporate events. Even the formal gardens and Arboretum have the touch of the Olmstead brothers who were famous for creating Central Park in New York City. Come for a stay and go back to history as it was. Rates are very reasonable; the atmosphere is incredible and John and Trish are fantastic people. It is no wonder why some have stayed on after others have long checked out.

You may contact Tom D'Agostino at