Jefferson County Historical Society Director and library director talk ghost experiences

Oct. 30—WATERTOWN — As spooky season reaches its peak today on Halloween, two local women said that they have had encounters with the supernatural at two of Watertown's most notable landmarks.

Toni L. Engleman, executive director for the Jefferson County Historical Society, said that the Paddock Mansion on Washington Street where the Jefferson County Historical Society and Museum is currently located was built between 1876 and 1878. Edwin and Olive Paddock lived there alone with no children.

Mr. Paddock died in 1909 and Mrs. Paddock died in 1922 and when she died, she left in her will that she wanted her old home to become a museum and a public garden.

Mr. and Mrs. Paddock both died of natural causes.

Ms. Engleman said that people have said they have seen Mrs. Paddock throughout her old home whether that may be looking out of her second-floor bedroom window, or some people say they have seen her specifically on the 13th step of the main stairs.

A lot of their artifacts and furniture are still at the building, including a broche that Mrs. Paddock loved to wear, that at one point went missing.

"It went missing for a while, and it's supposed to be in the safe, and they couldn't find it for a while," Ms. Engleman said. "They found it in her dresser."

Ghost investigations done at the Historical Society have been drawn to Room -8 on the second floor of the building, which is now a storage room.

"We don't tell people about Room -8 when they do the ghost investigations, (we) just see if people say something about it, and they have several times," Ms. Engleman said.

She said that room used to house Native American remains that have since been given back to the tribe.

"People pick up on something on Room -8," she said.

A portrait of Olive Paddock used to be hanging above the fireplace, but since the building is currently under construction and not open to the public, that picture had to be taken down.

Ms. Engleman said when they were about to take the picture down, she looked at the picture and said "Olive, you're going to have to come down."

As soon as Ms. Engleman said that the doors to the armoire opened up.

"I said 'Olive just for a little while, we're going to put you right back up when we're done,'" Ms. Engleman said.

While walking through the building on Thursday, and toward the armoire, Ms. Engleman said she noticed that the doors, once again, opened on their own.

The thought is that Olive Paddock is still around at the building to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.

"She gave this as a gift and if she's here I don't think she's trying to be menacing, I think that she's just popping in to see what we're doing," Ms. Engleman said.

The ghost stories don't stop at just the Historical Society. A familiar place to many across the street may be haunted as well.

Suzie C. Renzi-Falge, executive director of the Flower Memorial Library, said the building has always been a library and it was built to become one as a gift to the city from Emma Flower Taylor, who was the daughter of New York State Gov. Roswell P. Flower. Ms. Renzi-Falge said she has had her own experiences at the library with the paranormal.

She claims that she would hear "a blood-curdling scream out of nowhere," in the basement where she would shelve books when she was 16, and that it would "scare the crap out of you."

She said she would go look around to see if there was anyone down there with her and she said there was nothing there.

"One time I was in the very back basement like in our storage area, putting some stuff away and I heard the blood-curdling scream and it was like 7:30 at night and I had called my husband and I said 'I just need you to stay on the phone with me while I finish up what I'm doing down here because something doesn't feel right,'" she said. She added that the air felt "heavy, almost like staticy."

She also told the story that the same room that she heard the scream, the previous director went down there and she unlocked the door with her key, and when she went to leave she couldn't get her key out of the door. She had to call maintenance to help get the key out of the door and when they took the mechanism off to get the key out, the key was bent in half.

"All she did was stick it in and turn it to unlock it," she said.

Maintenance workers have been "creeped out" while working in the basement, Ms. Renzi-Falge said.

During renovations in 2017, Ms. Renzi-Falge said that when contractors were installing new lighting in the ceiling, they heard screaming and one contractor heard a child laughing and running up and down the aisles.

A ghost investigation done in August pinpointed Emma Flower Taylor's doll collection that is on display in the basement, indicating that a spirit may be connected to them.

"Not only did we see different lasers going on and off like someone running down the aisles, they actually caught a voice saying 'Have you seen my mommy?'" Ms. Renzi-Falge said.

Ms Renzi-Falge also said that a full body apparition of a ghost was caught on camera by a paranormal investigator.

"You can clearly see a face, and they're coming out of our north reading room," she said.

She said that despite having interactions with the ghosts, she still feels safe at the library.

"It's just kind of neat to know that 'Hey, the ghosts are here,'" she said.

Even after having multiple experiences and at least one ghost investigation, it isn't clear who still may be wandering the halls of the library.

For people that don't believe in ghosts, Ms. Renzi-Falge said that spirits never die.

"Energy is never created or destroyed, whether it's a good energy or a negative energy ... it's somewhere," she said.