Ghostbusters sought for haunted lodge

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    MONROE-At about four o'clock on a brisk, fall afternoon two years ago, Michael Weiss and Claude Horstmann were discussing Masonic history at a dining room table in the Cornerstone Lodge #711 F & AM on Stage Road when the unexplainable happened. Weiss sat facing Horstmann. Just off to the right, in his peripheral vision, he could see the archway to the Masonic Historical Society's library. Suddenly, out of nowhere, appeared the silhouette of a tall man gliding past the archway. Brother Weiss bolted from his chair as if struck by lightning. "What's the matter?" asked Horstmann, president of the Cornerstone Masonic Historical Society. He could see that "Michael was visibly shaken" and wondered what could have caused him to leave his chair and their conversation so suddenly. "We're not alone," Weiss responded, keeping his eyes glued on the archway. Horstmann had not seen or heard anything. But he went to the door to look outside. There was no sign of anyone, just the breeze on the horizon which sailed across his face. They were alone. The ghostly tall man So why had Weiss looked so amazed? Maybe someone was having fun at their expense. Maybe Weiss' mind was playing tricks on him. Well, no one was playing tricks and his mind was fine. He definitely saw something, but exactly what he did not know. Could it have been an apparition? A lost soul? A ghost? Weiss didn't get a good look, for it had vanished just as quickly as it had appeared. Weiss chuckled as he recently recounted what happened, with as hint of apprehension in his voice. "It was the shadow of a tall man and it just walked by, on the other side of the archway, and disappeared into the wall. It did not turn toward me and I really can't give any further description." Although this encounter only lasted about two seconds, it was the first of several mystifying incidents. Within a three-month period during this same time, doors opened in front of him, without "human" assistance, and another silhouette slithered by him as he read. "It gave me goose bumps." At least other three people have seen the "tall man" of the Cornerstone Lodge. Robert W. Adams, Master of Cornerstone Lodge, is one of them. He recounts what he saw while rehearsing a play. "I saw a tall man with a dark coat and long hair. It was possibly a wig," he said. Horstmann, a self-proclaimed skeptic, neer saw the silhouette while seated across from Weiss, but does not doubt him. "I have been in the house, alone, and heard loud footsteps coming up the stairs. There was no one in the house except me," he said. Several others have also experienced these unexplained footsteps. "I am not aware of anyone actually dying in the house, so I don't know who this man might be," he said. Three knocks Other occurrences were just as chilling, but did not include the "tall man." The Junior and Senior Masters of Ceremony, along with two new Mason candidates, were changing into their Masonic regalia in one of the bedrooms upstairs. According to Horstmann, they complained that the room became inexplicably icy cold. To date, this, too, remains a mystery. Brother Leo Laurence, a journalist currently residing in California, experienced several incidents during a visit just last month back to the lodge in Monroe. In a telephone interview and through an e-mail exchange with The Photo News, he wrote: "I was told on arrival that the building might be haunted.... I stayed in a large bedroom on the second floor.... On my second night, at exactly 3:20 a.m., I heard three, distinct, loud knocks, like someone knocking firmly on a door. (Three knocks on a door are especially symbolic in the Masonic ritual.) Instantly I was half-awake. But, in my sleepy state I thought it must be something that fell in an adjoining room. The sound clearly came from behind the head of the bed. "Suddenly I sat up, wide-awake because I realized there was no room behind the bed. I was puzzled. I was convinced the three knocks were of human origin, and not caused by some rat or other animal. "But, how? "I looked out the window. The nearest tree was a good distance away. There was only a gentle breeze and no branches were hitting the side of the very old house. Running water "Just before going to bed, I had carefully gone through all the many rooms, closed all the doors and turned off every light. While trying to comprehend the knocking I had just heard, I also noticed the sound of running water coming from the adjoining bathroom. The cold water faucet had been turned on. I walked from the bathroom onto the second floor landing to try to get my senses back. But, when I looked up to the third floor (used by Masons from 1813 to the 1820s as their secret lodge room), I noticed the lights had been turned on. "Nothing happened for several more days. One late evening I was using the washbasin in the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom. Everything was quiet in the building. "Suddenly, I heard two knocks on the large window to my left, a few feet away. I found nothing. "I called a knowledgeable authority in California to report on my ghostly experiences. I was told that I had probably experienced paranormal communications from not one, but three, spirits. "I was assured that I wasn't in danger. ‘They are being playful with you.'" Ghostbusters wanted Horstmann remains skeptical. "Brother Leo called a paranormal group out in California and was told to open the doors and windows so the spirits could go through them freely," he said. The past Master of the lodge, Douglas MacKenzie, has been a member for 38 years, but has never experienced anything he would consider mystifying. He, too, is cynical when it comes to what others have encountered. "I've never seen or heard anything out of the ordinary." The Cornerstone Lodge meets in what used to be McGarrah Inn. This historic building, located at 300 Stage Road, was originally owned by John McGarrah and dates back to the early nineteenth century. "We would like to see someone come in, like they do on that ghostbusters program on television, and tell us what's going on in this house," Horstmann said. Ghostbusters and visitors may schedule tours by contacting Horstmann at (845) 782 4845 or Do so at your own risk.