Known as The Pettibone Tavern for almost two centuries, it recently became Abigail’s Grille & Bar after the previous owners had to sell the property following a fire in 2008. (This wasn’t the only fire to the tavern — according to its history, it was also burned to the ground by Native Americans in 1800, and rebuilt afterward.)
Originally constructed for Jonathon Pettibone Jr., it was a key stop along the Boston-to-Albany Turnpike as well as a meeting spot for discussing strategy and plans for the Revolution — George Washington, Ethan Allen and John Adams are just a few of the notables who have supposedly stayed at the tavern. Over the decades, it has alternated between being a local watering hole and a private residence.
As you might imagine, such a landmark structure has gained quite an interesting history. The most famous tale surrounds Mrs. Abigail Pettibone, who according to the stories, was the wife of a whaling captain who was gone for long stretches, during which time Abigail supposedly sought comfort in the arms of another man. One time, so the story goes, Capt. Pettibone unexpectedly came home early, caught his wife and her lover and immediately dispatched them with an axe. (Another Connecticut woodchipper murder?) They say if you look closely at what is supposed to be a portait of young Abigail with her mother that hangs in the tavern, you can see her likeness was once cut from the canvas. As such, it is speculated that Abigail’s ghost still roams the tavern. Her spectral figure has been repeatedly seen by patrons and employees over the years; others claim that on occasion you will feel a chill as you pass the ladies’ room on the second floor. Based on other experiences, some think that the spirit possibly haunting the restaurant may be that of a young child. According to various sources, the tavern is an alleged hotbed of paranormal activity: In addition to apparitions being seen, candles and fireplaces have relit themselves, wine bottles pop out of racks, furniture moves of its own volition and disembodied voices have been heard calling employee’s names. Quite a few paranormal groups have investigated the tavern, including the renowned T.A.P.S. team (aka “The Ghost Hunters”), who found absolutely nothing during their visit, even going so far as to prove that the acclaimed portrait of Abigail is actually of someone else. The team also recorded high electromagnetic fields in parts of the tavern, which may explain the odd feelings and experiences so many have had there. Abigail, a lost Pettibone child or just imagination run wild? A question that has been debated over many a mug of ale, and will continue to be.
Our Damned Experience: We stopped by Abigail’s in October 2009 to snap a quick picture or two, but unfortunately, were not able to stay too long. We didn’t even get to go in and have a drink, so it’s safe to say we didn’t see anything unusual. Next time, we’re going for the full experience — dinner, drinks and maybe a proper visit with Abigail.
If You Go: Abigail’s Grille & Bar is open to the public seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner daily and brunch on Sunday. It’s been in the same spot for the past 230 years, first happily serving patrons along the Boston to Albany Turnpike and now taking care of those visitors along Route 202 and Hartford Road in Simsbury. We don’t know if you’ll see any ghosts, but there are certainly plenty of spirits to be found here!
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