Captain Daniel Packer Inne

PackerInnArt1-2-300x209Her ghost disappears at the first ray of light that illumines the gloom of the  morning. Captain Daniel Packer’s niece haunts the New England-style restaurant, built by Packer in 1756. She died of scarlet fever in 1873 when she was 7 years old. She most often plays in the stairwell and has been known to befriend children who come here to dine.

packer fireplaceThe Inne was built at its present site on the Mystic River over 250 years ago. Former square-rigger Packer purchased the land bordering Water Street in 1754 and completed construction of the building in 1756. From that time to the late 1970’s, the property remained in the hands of the Packer family and their descendants. The Inne was a welcome landmark between New York and Boston in the late 1700’s for weary travelers, who stopped for the night to rest and be served the hearty fare. Packer entertained the guest with his tales of adventures on the high seas. The next morning he transported them—their horses, stagecoaches and all across the Mystic River on his rope ferry. On the opposite shore, he bade his guests a fond farewell and safe journey, then welcomed aboard another group of travelers.

Roast lamb . . . hmmm

Roast lamb . . . hmmm

Restoration of this historic haunted landmark was undertaken in 1979 by proprietors Richard and Lulu Kiley. During the restoration, which took four years, preservation of the original fireplaces, mantles, beams and other structural details remained precious materials and were incorporated in the renovation.

Step back in time, and experience the fine fare and hospitality guest experienced over 200 years ago. The basement bar is original and busy with all those happy hour patrons. Tricky moving through the space, after all people were smaller then, so passages are smaller, ceilings are lower. It’s an experience. Don’t forget to look for Packer’s little niece.packerDPI-PUB-MARCH-2012-104

If you love history and good food and good ghosts, it’s worth a trip.

32 Water Street, Mystic, CT 06355 – (860) 536-3555


So, do you want to know why I blogged this place? The Inne is a historic landmark, I am a history buff. The building, even though renovated is quaint and is reminiscent of an Inne 250 years ago. The food is excellent, and I had hoped to see Packer’s niece, the resident ghost.

Gail Chianese, President of CTRWA, and Author of Bachelorette for Sale

sent me the story below and I asked if I could add it to my post.

Here’s the scoop: I actually heard that story through Courtney who runs the Seaside Shadows and does walking ghost tours in Mystic. There are several restaurants in downtown Mystic that are haunted: Daniel Packer, Ancient Mariner, Margaritas, Voodoo Grill, the Asian place next door, and Anthony J’s. I’ve eaten at the first four. I’ve never seen or felt anything while in them. Although, I have felt like I was being watched outside of Daniel Packer’s Inne and I do get weird feelings when I’m near Factory Square (which is where Margaritas, Voodoo Grill and the Asian place are).

I’ve heard a gentleman dining at DP did see the little girl. In Anthony J’s they’ve had Christmas decorations disappear and reappear a year later. In the Ancient Mariner one of the regulars who had passed away, his bar stool is frequently sitting on the floor in the morning when the rest are resting on the bar like they’d been placed at the end of the night.

There have been several unexplained fires in the town and there’s a few other places with interesting tells, like the former Emporium. If you’re in the area some night, book one of her walking tours. It’s an easy walk and Courtney is a natural storyteller. She also has a book out.


Mystic graveyard

Mystic graveyard

What can you expect from a Seaside Shadows Tour?
View on www.seasideshadows…
Preview by Yahoo



















Local barn

Local red roof barn

Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, and then there’s Putney. You probably know what state these towns are in. The town we visited was Putney. Putney is anything but a sleepy town in Vermont. But, this town has no supermarket. I couldn’t believe it. What, where will we buy our food? How can I prepare our meals if there is no food, where’s the supermarket, or grocery store or something? No worries. Tucked away around a corner was their Co-op that calls itself a grocery store.

The popular Captain getting his garden ready to plant.

The popular Captain getting his garden ready to plant.

The Putney Co-op is a full service, community owned grocery store and deli. It’s been around for more than seventy years. You can buy all kinds of fresh food, grown locally, delicious baked good and hefty sandwiches. A little pricy, but everything is fresh. Then, of course, just in case you can’t get to the next town Brattleboro, with their supermarket, seven miles or so away, there are staples of all types. The General Store and Pharmacy has all kinds of necessaries and first aid items like peroxide and bandaids and tweezers to get out splinters. Here there’s a store called “Basketville,” and known, obviously, for it’s woven baskets. It also sells necessaries, and handmade rocking chairs. And candy. And rugs. And toothpaste. This is what the brochure says about Basketville. A landmark store . . . a browser’s paradise, vast and barnlike, full of handcrafted items for the home. You never know what you’ll find down the next aisle. Whatever you find, it’s probably a bargain. They pride themselves on outlet prices, workshop direct deals, and frequent specials. The international basket collection includes exotic new imports from Africa and Cambodia. The store is100% solar powered. We were amazed at the selections. Fun. The drugstore, within another store, the general store, and the co-op all think they are cafe’s. There are sit-down areas to eat, drink and socialize. It’s all very strange.

Local waterfall

Local waterfall

There’s even a waterfall in town. It’s mini, like everything else, but it is a waterfall. Makes noise like a waterfall, feels like a waterfall, smells like a waterfall. It’s even wonderful to stand nearby and feel the cool spray as it pours into the canal.


Private tennis court in the middle of nowhere. Sigh

Private tennis court in the middle of nowhere.

For those of you who know, tennis has been part of my life, and Tom’s. Upon exploration, we found a private tennis court. There is enough land to grow several tennis courts, but this one was right near that red roof barn in the first image above, in the middle of nowhere. No, we didn’t invite ourselves. Perhaps, if we had our tennis racquets . . .

This trip to Putney, Vermont, was for a painting workshop for me. Since flowers are not always my first choice to paint, I opted for this workshop because the emphasis was flowers. You can figure that one out, can’t you?

Putney barn studio

Putney barn studio


Gail’s Pansy set-up

So here’s the interior of the Putney barn studio and flowers to select for our set-ups .

You are probably wondering where we hunkered down at the end of each intense workshop day. Our accommodations were right below this studio.

It was a busy week. There were seven of us, and our workshop leader standing in the middle of the studio, Stephanie Birdsall, an amazing artist and instructor. Google her if you want to know more about her work. We loved our workshop, and found new friends.


Gail's oil painting

Gail’s Pansy oil painting 9×12 using set-up above







Putney barn exterior

Putney barn exterior

In this barn, we had a lovely apartment on the first level just under the studio. It’s the first set of lower windows, We had a bedroom, full bathroom, sitting room, and full kitchen. Brand, spanking new, we were the first guests. It was comfortable, clean, lovely, and had full views of the vast landscape.

Here’s more images. Wonderful, not so sleepy town, Putney, Vermont. Do you have a favorite town in Vermont? putney 1200vt photo P1100007 P1090980 P1090871 P1090952

















Gail’s Begonia set-up

Gail's unfinished Begonias

Gail’s in-process Begonias using set-up above



Last week’s blog talked about the Harrisons arrival to America on one of those small wooden boats, carrying Puritans. (Not Pilgrims, who came on the first ship). That part of the Harrison saga to be continued. Here below is one of the characters in my story.

Major-General_Thomas_Harrison_(General)_in_Cromwell's_ArmyThe name Thomas Harrison has been duplicated throughout the centuries. The first one I know of was Major-General Thomas Harrison (1606 – 13 October 1660), henchman to Oliver Cromwell. He fought in Cromwell’s army to help save the people in England from a corrupt King. In 1649 he signed the death warrant of Charles I and in 1660, shortly after the Restoration, he was found guilty of regicide. Harrison was the first of the Regicides to be executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 13 October 1660. Harrison, who had pleaded not guilty, after being hanged for several minutes and then cut open, was reported to have leaned across and hit his executioner—resulting in the swift removal of his head. His entrails were thrown onto a nearby fire.

After the discovery of the Harrison family in Branford, Connecticut, we hoofed, well, flew in 1995, over to England, back to the city the Harrison’s originated, West Kirby. West Kirby is a town on the north-west corner of the coast of the Wirral Peninsula, in the county of Merseyside, England, at the mouth of the River Dee across from the Point of Ayr in Flintshire, Wales, in relative close proximity to west kirby & liverpoolPopulation: 24506
Area Size (ha): 758
District: Wirral
Easting: 323487 Northing: 386182
Latitude: 53.37 Longitude: -3.15
= West Kirby

We visited town halls to explore ancestry records between West Kirby and London. We climbed up to the top of the Tower of London to experience the doom of Harrison in his small stone space. It was at the Museum of London that we discovered the birthplace of this Harrison. And although he was someone of great importance, and a prig—we discovered he was NOT part of the Harrison’s we were researching. He was born in Oxford. No way could a Harrison born in Oxford be related to the Harrisons from West Kirby, the distance is 185 miles. I breathed a sigh of relief, but was disappointed at the infamous connection the Harrisons could have had. The Harrisons from West Kirby were not related. But, we didn’t despair, there are Harrisons related to the West Kirby folks that are quite interesting–

Seems there have been lots of Thomas Harrisons, and even a couple of Captain Thomas Harrisons. So how do you find out who the latest is in this twenty-first century?

Come back for more next week.



Titanic last dinner

Mrs. Anne Crain puzzled over the cheerful smell of coffee brewing as she lay in her cabin on the Cunarder Carpathia, bound from New York to the Mediterranean.  It was nearly 1:00 A.M. on the fourth night out, and by now Mrs. Crain knew the quiet little liner well enough to feel that any sign of activity after midnight was unusual, let alone coffee brewing.

Down the corridor Miss Ann Peterson lay awake in her bunk too.  She wondered why the lights were turned on all over the ship-normally the poky Carpathia was shut down by now.

Mr. Howard M. Chapin was more worried than puzzled.  He lay in the upper berth of his cabin on A Deck-his face just a few inches below the Boat Deck above.  Sometime after midnight a strange sound suddenly woke him up.  It was a man kneeling down on the deck directly over his head.  The day before, he had noticed a lifeboat tied to a cleat just about there; now he felt sure the man was unfastening the boat and something was wrong.

Nearby, Mrs. Louis M. Ogden awoke to a cold cabin and a speeding ship.  Hearing loud noises overhead, she too decided something must be wrong.  she shook her sleeping husband.  His diagnosis didn’t reassure her-the  noise was the crew breaking out the chocks from the lifeboats overhead.  He opened the stateroom door and saw a line of stewards carrying blankets and mattresses.  Not very reassuring either.

Here and there, all over the ship, the light sleepers listened restlessly to muffled commands, tramping feet, creaking davits.  Some wondered about the engines-they were pounding so much harder, so much faster than usual.  The mattresses jiggled wildly . . . the washstand tumblers rattled loudly in their brackets . . . the woodwork groaned with the strain.  A turn of the faucet produced only cold water-at twist on the heater knob brought no results-the engines seemed to be feeding on every ounce of steam.

Strangest of all was the bitter cold.  The Carpathia has left New York on April 11, bound for Gibraltar, Genoa, Naples, Trieste and Fiume.  Her 150 First Class passengers pre-Florida era; her 575 steerage passengers were mostly Italians and Slavs returning to their sunny Mediterranean.  All of them welcomed the balmy breeze of the Gulf Stream that Sunday afternoon.Toward five o’clock it grew so warm that Mr. Chapin shifted his deck chair to the shade.  Now there was an amazing change-the frigid blast that swept through every crack and seam felt like the Arctic.

On the bridge, Captain Arthur H. Rostron wondered whether he had overlooked anything.  He had been at sea for 27 years-with Cunard for 17- but this was only his second years a a cunard skipper and only his third month on the Carpathia.  The Titanic’s   call for help was his first real test.

When the CQD (morse code distress signal) arrived, Rostron had already turned in for the night.  Harold Cottam, the Carpathia’s operator, rushed the message to First Officer Dean on the bridge.  They both raced down the ladder, through the chart room, and burst into the Captain’s cabin.  Rostron-a stickler for discipline even when half-asleep-wondered what the ship was coming to, with people dashing in this way.  They were meant to knock.  But before he could reprimand them, Dean blurted the news.

Rostron bolted out of bed, ordered the ship turned, and then-after the order was given-double-checked Cottam:  “Are you sure it is the Titanic and requires immediate assistance?” “Yes, sir.” “You are absolutely certain?” “Quite certain.”  “all right, tell him we are coming along as fast as we can.”

Rostron then rushed into the chart room and worked out the Carpathia’s new course.  As he figured and scribbled, he saw the boatswain’s mate pass by, leading a party to scrub down the decks.  Rostron told him to forget the decks and prepare the boats for lowering.  The mate gaped.  Rostron reassured him, “It’s all right; we’re going to another vessel in distress.”

The iceberg, a pedigree

In a few moments the new course was set-North 52 West. The Carpathia was 58 miles away.  At 14 knots she would take four hours to get there.  Too long.

Many an iceberg has been identified as “the iceberg that sank the Titanic,” but this one has a better pedigree than most.  It was photographed near the scene on April 15.  The Chief Steward of the German ship Prinz Adelbert took the picture, not because of the Titanic-he hadn’t yet heard-but because a great scar of red paint ran along the berg’s base.  It suggested a recent collision with some ship.  White Star Vice President Philip A.S. Franklin was sufficiently impressed that he always refused to look at the picture. (Author’s collection)

This year is the centennial of the maiden voyage of the Titanic.  Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum, with whom I am affiliated and am art director, is the impetus of this blog.  We are running an art show, the theme, “The Titanic.”  Since Lockwood is sponsoring the commemoration of its maiden voyage, I researched tales to tell.  Last week the blog was about a tenacious amazing survivor, Helen Churchill Candee, this week talks about the nearest ship CQD (SOS) call to come to the aid of the sinking ship. In my research, I found this story in a 1955 book “A Night to Remember,” by author Walter Lord and published by Henry Holt and Company, New York. It is taken from Chapter IX “We’re Going North Like Hell.”

What would you think if you were sailing in balmy waters, suddenly becoming frigid?

To be continued…

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