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The Ghosts of Portland
Portland , Maine


The most famous haunted houses in Portland are actually both haunted by the same ghost. They are now both parts of the Portland Art Museum, a portion of the museum itself and the Maine College of Art respectively, but years ago they were connected to a prominent Maine family named Clapp. It is the ghost of Asa Clapp who reportedly haunts both structures.

The Clapp house, located at the corner of Elm and Congress Streets, is a Greek revival style house that was built by Charles Clapp in the mid-1800’s. The house, as mentioned, is rumored to be haunted by Captain Asa Clapp, Charles’ father, and probably the most powerful ship and house builder in Maine at the time of his death in 1848. The story of the family is rather eccentric, because Asa’s ghost did not begin making appearances until more that 70 years after his death.

The haunting began in the 1920’s, when Asa’s wife died. In her will, she requested that the family’s beautiful mansion be torn down; that a marker be placed over the land and never used; that her huge four-poster bed be destroyed; that her Pierce-Arrow automobile be turned into scrap... why? Well, many believe that she felt her ghost would be trapped here in this world should any of her material possessions remain behind. It is not believed that Mrs. Clapp still walks the earth... but her husband does. Some have suggested that he has returned to guard what belongings the family has left.

Next door to the Clapp house is the McLellan-Sweat House, which was built by merchant Hugh McLellan in 1800. Asa Clapp purchased this house, which rests at the corner of Spring and High Streets in 1817, but he never lived in it, it had been for an investment only. He sold the house in 1825 to a man named Joshua Wingate. Wingate’s daughter later married Charles Clapp, the son of Asa, and the newlyweds built the previously mentioned house next door.

Now Asa Clapp is said to haunt both houses, perhaps trying to remain watchful over his family’s former property, or perhaps because he just never realized (as his wife did) that you just can’t take it with you!

Portland is located in the southeastern corner of Maine.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor

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