The Damned Story: Like so many venerable, old structures across the state, The Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington has its fair share of stories. Unlike some others, however, it's believed to also have its share of ghost stories.
Of course, that really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. The historic inn has been in operation for over century, and in that time, has seen thousands of visitors come and go, and with them, dozens of tales of curious shadows seen around corners and troubling bumps heard in the night.
For a detailed history of the inn, visit The Yankee Pedlar Inn's website.
For those who are averse to clicking on links, here's the abridged version: In November 1890, an Irish immigrant by the name of Frank Conley and his wife Alice bought the lot on the corner of Main and Maiden in downtown Torrington with the dream of building the finest hotel in the state of Connecticut. Over the next eight months they set about constructing their vision, pouring $40,000 into fashioning a Victorian showplace that featured marble floors, antique oak furniture, two spacious dining rooms and 52 guest rooms, each of which included hot water. The Conley Inn opened in July 1891, and as the proprietors had hoped, it soon became one of the finest and most successful destinations in the region, and remained so until the couple passed away in 1910. The Conleys' niece sold it two years later, when it was expanded; it then passed through various owners over the next few decades, continuing to operate as a hotel. In 1940, the Yankee Pedlar restaurant and bar was added, and in 1956, the entire operation was renamed The Yankee Pedlar Inn. The hotel continued its musical chairs of owners until the music stopped in 1997, when Anil and Dee Patel took possession. The Patels still run it today.
Over the decades, there have been various stories about mysterious figures and random odd voices pestering guests. One popular story is that the spirit of founder Alice Conley—rumored to have died in Room 353—still roams the halls of her dream hotel, checking on guests to make sure that their stays are pleasant. Apparitions and strange smells have been reported in Room 353, and Alice's favorite rocking chair in the hotel lobby has also been witnessed to rock on its own. (A sign dissuades guests from making themselves comfortable on it.)
Room 295 has also reportedly been a location with unusual activity; guests here has claimed to have experienced weird smells, felt invisible forces get into bed with them and seen the spirit of a woman. The ghost of a grey-haired gentleman in a black suit—believed to be Frank Conley—has been supposedly been seen in the inn's pub, using the old phone there.
Other paranormal-type events have been reported, including room lights going on and off of their own accord and doors opening and closing without any help. Employees and guests have also told of being pushed or tugged by invisible forces, while others have reported experiencing unusually heightened emotions and disturbing dreams.
Although there have invariably been various incidents in the hotel over the decades, no significant tragedies have been reported as having happened there.
Various groups have investigated the inn, including the Northwest Connecticut Paranormal Society, who captured a spirit orb photo in addition to having a few other weird experiences.
In 2008, horror film director Ti West stayed at the inn while filming The House of the Devil. After talking to the hotel's staff and hearing some of the ghost stories, he was inspired to make a movie revolving around the hotel and thus came The Innkeepers, a horror film released in February 2012.
From The Innkeepers website:
After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees -Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) - are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England's most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.
In addition to using the inn's actual name in the film, the lines between reality and fiction are also further confused as the production company has set up a clever viral site pretending to be a paranormal investigation portal chronicling the inn's supposed bloody history.
Art imitating life imitating art imitating ghosts ... I think.
The clerk at the counter was very friendly and told us we were welcome to explore the hotel. We wandered around, taking photos as politely as we could without intruding upon any guest's stay.
Infamous room 353 was occupied, so we couldn't check it out. We tried to take a few photos of the door, but maybe because it's at the end of a dark hall and we didn't want to disturb anyone so we didn't use our flashes, we couldn't get a decent shot of it.
We didn't experience anything unusual during our visit, but we were only there for an hour or so, and during the day. The place has plenty of ... "atmosphere," as Kate put it—creaky floors, worn carpets, chipped woodwork, etc. We wouldn't have been surprised if we turned a corner and saw twin girls at the end of a hall, a la The Shining.
Still, the inn is full of "Old World charm," as they say. We didn't get to stay the night this trip, but maybe another time. Certainly worth a visit.
If You Go: Unlike the premise in the movie, the The Yankee Pedlar Inn is not closing and is open to the public. Guests can stay in any of the 60 rooms, but as with any hotel, reservations are required (866.484.8247). Rooms start at $59/night + taxes.
Visitors can also dine year-round at Bogey's Restaurant & Pub, which "serves delicious New England comfort food in a cozy atmosphere."
The inn is located at 93 Main Street in downtown Torrington.
Click on any image to enlarge.