If you’re looking for a Vermont haunted house, you may very well find exactly that at one of Vermont’s best visitor destinations. Shelburne Museum located on Route 7 in Shelburne, VT, is definitely on Vermont’s best known tourist “must see” list. Each building is filled to the brim with Americana, history, artwork and artifacts from the distant past.
However, at least one of the old buildings on the museum’s sprawling grounds, the Dutton House, may contain something a bit more paranormal than historical.
A Vermont haunted house at Shelburne Museum?
In 1781, the Dutton family constructed the home in Cavendish, Vermont. The house has served as a store, an inn, a boarding house, and a tavern. More than 11 people passed away in the residence by the early 1900s, and it was abandoned for the following 40 years. It was donated and moved to the Shelburne Museum in 1950, making it the first building relocated to the Museum property.
From the outside, it looks like a charming, red New England colonial with a well manicured walkway to the front door. Once you walk inside, the musty scent of the past and the creaky floorboards quickly capture your attention. Perhaps there is more to this house than meets the eye?
It is said that the Dutton House contains a resident who refuses to leave, although he has been dead for many years.
The Dutton House was built in 1781. Staff at the museum have reported seeing what looks to be an elderly man strolling around the house over the years. The mysterious man and a young girl follow them around the house on tours, according to visitors. As a matter of fact, some frightened staff hesitate to work in the house at all!
One museum employee reports that on her first day on the job, as a tour guide, she went upstairs and noticed an older man with a white shirt and scruffy face hunkering down under the slope of the roof. Another museum tour guide mentioned that she has heard the sound of a little girl crying.
Reportedly, there are some employees who fear and refuse to enter the Dutton House. However, there are a number of people who make a beeline for the old house, hoping for a glimpse of it’s ghostly resident.
According to this VPR article with “Vermont Ghostmaster General” Joe Citro, no one is really sure who the ghost is:
“But here’s the odd thing: its ghost seems to have moved with it. No one is sure who the ghost is. Maybe it’s Salmon Dutton, the house’s builder. Or maybe it’s his wife. Possibly they’re both still there, wondering about all the people trouping through when the museum’s open. The ghost – whoever it may be – seems to favor the upstairs, where people have seen flashing lights or felt cold breezes blowing through the rooms on hot summer nights.
I recently spoke with a man who worked as a museum security guard: Mr. Burt Levitt. He told me about his nighttime visits to the Dutton House. Alone. He said he could feel the house charged with a certain mood. Sometimes it was comfortable. But sometimes there was a tension, as if he had walked into a room where an argument was going on. He’d check everywhere to be sure no one was hiding. Then, before leaving, he’d stop by the door and hear footsteps walking around upstairs. Footsteps in a room he knew to be empty. He’d go back to double check and discover the adult-sized cradles were rocking all by themselves.
Other security guards reported hearing kids’ laughter in the upstairs rooms. One guard saw a disembodied face at the window. The Dutton ghost occasionally takes a rest, it seems. And when he – or she – does so, they do it on a particular upstairs bed. That bed is often found disturbed in the morning, as if someone had been lying on it.
Over the years, many museum employees and volunteers have preferred not to work in this building alone – though it can be argued that no one is ever alone in the Dutton house.”
Haunted Investigations at Dutton House
Are there other haunted buildings at Shelburne Museum and the nearby Shelburne Farms?