Ghost stories wanted: N.S. Heritage Association looks to document town’s paranormal activity

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Slatersville Mill, prior to its renovation and conversion into apartment units known as The Residences.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Do you hear unexplained bumps in the night, see apparitions or often feel like you’re being watched? Is your North Smithfield home plagued by phenomenon including strange smells, waves of cold air, or cliche horror movie electrical problems?

The North Smithfield Heritage Association may want to hear from you.

As part of its ongoing effort to document North Smithfield’s rich and storied history, the NSHA has begun seeking ghost stories from residents in town.

“Ghosts are part of our local heritage,” explained NSHA President Richard Keene. “We’ve talked with several people in town who claim they have seen a ghost or ghosts in their homes.”

The solicitation of such paranormal tales appears as a blurb in the organization’s monthly newsletter.

“Do you have a ghost(s) in your house? We would like to document it,” notes a brief in the January 2023 edition. “Please contact us right away.”

While Keene says the short note hasn’t brought in piles of ghost stories just yet, there could be much to explore. The neighboring towns of Burrillville and Glocester arguably have more than their fair share of famous spooky tales, but reoccuring reports in North Smithfield to date are scarce.

Abandoned mills, quiet forests and blighted properties may inspire the imagination, but it seems the town comes up short in terms of lasting legends such as those at Chepachet’s Tavern on Main or Burrillville’s internationally-known “Conjuring House.”

In North Smithfield, there is an alleged vampire grave at the Union Cemetery Annex, and Smithfield’s “ghost town,” of Hanton City may once have crossed over the town line. But paranormal enthusiasts won’t find many documented hauntings to investigate within North Smithfield’s borders.

Director Christian de Rezendes has spent more than a decade researching and documenting town history for his series Slatersville, America’s First Mill Village, and says nothing he’s encountered has risen to a level worthy of inclusion in the production.

“People have alluded to it, but nothing specific,” de Rezendes said. “There’s really nothing solid related to ghost stories or anything about that in the film, or anything related to that. It never pushed itself forward.”

The director said that people have told him stories about the mill at the center of the film, particularly from the 1990s when it was owned by Polytop Corporation – such as accounts of hearing people walking around when the property was abandoned.

And, like many in town, de Rezendes has heard of such stories from individuals – although he notes those are not his tales to tell.

“I know an amazing ghost story but it’s from a private home,” he said. “It’s a great story, and I firmly believe it.”

Keene notes that if enough residents come forward with such information, it could allow North Smithfield to take advantage of the type of, “ghost tourism,” that’s become popular in the neighboring communities.

“We’d like to document the stories,” said Keene. “Perhaps, we could do a ghost tour one day.”

Those in North Smithfield with their own ghost stories should contact the NSHA at nsha@nsheritageassn.org.

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