Ghostly pursuit has spirit of charity

Michael Lazdauskas leads a group of ghost hunters through the Harley House on Saturday. (T&G Staff Photos/MARK C. IDE)

Harleys have lived at 909 Massachusetts Ave. since Henry Augustus Harley built the family home in 1898.

And paranormal investigators think some of the early Harleys may still be there from time to time. The evidence: audio recordings and sightings of spirits roaming the rambling building.

Professional and amateur ghost hunters and paranormal investigators from all over New England converged on Harley House for a ghost hunt this weekend. The event was a charity fundraiser to help a little girl from New Hampshire. Nine-year-old Bella Tucker of Londonderry suffered a bout with streptococcus pneumoniasepsis and survived five days in a coma at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, but all four of her limbs were amputated as a result.

The house got on the radar of the ghost hunters in 2009. Ghost Hunters International alumnus Shannon Sylvia of Leominster and her husband, Jeff, supped regularly at Harley House, now a bed-and-breakfast and restaurant, and asked owner Gayle Padula if they could bring their Para Rock Productions team into the building.

 “It was a few years before I agreed to it and gave them a tour of the house. The first time they were here they brought a psychic who began talking to this lady in the dining room,” said Ms. Padula. She is the great-granddaughter of Henry Augustus Harley, and lives in Harley House with her mother, Mary L. (Harley) Padula, a retired state representative and state official.

The team recorded audio responses to questions asked of the ghosts, and, after two extensive investigations, connected them to several members of the Harley family. The woman whom the psychic talked to was identified as Ms. Padula’s aunt, who was born in Harley House a few years after the family moved in.

“Based on prior investigations done in the past by my group and myself, we have produced over 20 EVPs, electronic voice phenomena, that are considered Class A, in just two nights; with a total of eight people in the building,” said Ms. Sylvia.

“I only told them about Mary’s side of the family,” said Gayle Padula, “but they contacted Leo, my dad, and he answered questions that only he and I would know.”

Although she has never seen any ghostly apparitions, she said some of her staff and customers of the B-and-B and the restaurant have reported seeing unexplainable events — a woman in old-fashioned clothing walking through the restaurant area, a rocking chair rocking and stopping, a child standing at the end of a bed and disappearing, papers being scattered off of a desk in the basement for no obvious reason.

 Not all of the attendees were paranormal investigators. Some were there as fans of the “Ghost Hunters” show on the Syfy Channel, hoping to meet and talk with former Ghost Hunters Ms. Sylvia, Brian Harnois, Dustin Pari and Lisa Dowaliby; some came because of inexplicable events in their own homes.

Sandra L. DeRienzo of Leominster came with her two friends, Jeanne St. Cyr and Mary Ann K. Guichard. She described growing up in a two-family East Boston home that was full of paranormal experiences.

“My mother told us about waking up in the middle of the night and something was hovering over my dad; she said, ‘That’s not Mr. B.,’ the owner of the house, and something wispy and cold flew by. My sisters and I have heard creaking stairs with no one on them and no matter what my father did, he even propped a chair against the door of my bedroom in the attic, that door would always be open in the morning,” said Ms. DeRienzo. She added that the family’s pets would whimper, cower and growl for no reason and then be alright in a few minutes.

After guest speakers, a raffle and an online auction, the ghost hunt was on.

About 40 guests, some armed with cameras and audio recorders, stayed until the witching hour of midnight to tour the house with the professional ghost hunters and investigators.

“I don’t think we heard anything, I think there were just too many people there, but I’m glad I went and it was nice to see so many caring people. Mary and Gayle donated their home and lots of food, Shannon and her friends donated all of their time and so many of the auction items, it just made my heart sing,” said Ms. Guichard, a self-admitted “diehard” fan of the “Ghost Hunters” television show.

The ghost hunt attracted approximately 130 people and raised well over $10,000 for the Tucker family.

By Lynne Klaft CORRESPONDENT - Telegram.com