She was striking, self-assured and strong when she was alive. Dead, she still wasn’t about to put up with any shenanigans either.
Her maiden name was Myrtle Sage, born sometime around 1900. “According to Myrtle’s neighbors, she had a reputation of being a showstopper when she walked in the room,” says Greg Latimer, Research Director for Mysterious Destinations, a destination travel company that allows participants to investigate local hauntings in Maine and abroad. She was likely still in her late teens when she met a successful real estate and insurance mogul in New York City named George Gascoigne and married him in 1919. She had three children and when the outbreak of polio threatened the neighborhoods of New York, the couple fled to Maine and set up house in Newcastle. Gascoigne put the house in Myrtle’s name, which was unusual at that time. When he died, that purchasing power allowed her to buy two more antique stores, one of which is now the Newcastle Publick House, the other a Thomaston gallery. She married again, some say happily this time, to her second husband, George Schroder.
Latimer has learned many fascinating tidbits about Myrtle’s life and afterlife. According to him, manifestations of Myrtle’s ire have made themselves known in dramatic ways. Four years ago, the previous owners of the Tipsy Butler B&B were discussing redecorating the rooms when a hair brush flew from the dresser across the room at one of the owner's head. Ducking, she managed to escape injury and held Myrtle responsible for the incident. Clearly, Myrtle didn’t like the woman’s choice of colors. Says Latimer, “Myrtle is also very specific about how the style of the inn is kept up and what kind of style is being maintained, so the owners have taken care to listen to whatever Myrtle seems to be reacting to and go out of their way to make it an environment that pleases her.”
The current owners of the Tipsy B&B have told Latimer of other incidents, most of which tend to revolve around Myrtle’s issues with alcohol. As the story goes, Myrtle was not only a “partier” in her day as a young woman raised in the early 1920s, but she was also on the receiving end of alcoholic domestic abuse. As the current owners maintain, there will be times when bottles of wine, spirits or individual drinks will mysteriously upend themselves and crash to the floor without anyone around.
The staff at Newcastle Publick House also maintains that Myrtle regularly haunts their tavern, particularly their basement.
“The manifestations there have been a bit more extreme,” says Latimer. “At one point, they believe she took an entire, heavy stainless steel shelf and knocked it over, crashing hundreds of dollars of expensive liquor to the floor. This freestanding, commercial restaurant shelf was solid, about five shelves high. I personally went over and tried to move it and it was too heavy,” he recounts.
According to Latimer: “There are also a number or employees who refuse to go down into the basement because they feel a presence. Recently, an employee who came on board there hadn’t even known of Myrtle when she went downstairs. She came back up out of the basement visibly shaken and said she was never going back down there again. She didn’t want to talk about why.”
Mysterious Destinations is an offshoot of Midcoast’s Red Cloak Haunted History Tours started five years ago by educator Sally Lobkowicz, who directs both businesses and hosts special haunted tours of Camden, Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Boothbay Harbor and Bath. Both tours focus on areas where the history and sightings of the paranormal are rich.
Coming up on Saturday, Oct. 29 and Monday, Oct 31, participants of the “Visiting Myrtle Tour” will dine at Newcastle Publick House and conduct a paranormal exploration with investigative equipment of the basement area, then retire to the Tipsy Butler B&B where the owners will give a first-hand account of their experiences with Myrtle’s life, death and continued presence. After that, participants will be allowed an additional paranormal exploration of the entire house. Each participant will sleep in a room with an electromagnetic field (EMF) detector.
The paranormal detection equipment they'll use includes electromagnetic field detectors (EMF devices), video and still cameras, electric voice phenomenon (EVP) recorders, and temperature gauges. Since of evidence of paranormal activities has been caught in these establishments on several Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, everyone is hoping to find more on these particularly charged nights.
“We go through a very careful process with photographic evidence,” says Latimer, a former Los Angeles area police evidence reporter/photographer. “Because of my former line of work, I look over the photos very carefully. There’s some I’ve been looking at for several months are of possible paranormal activity, yet, as I am still determining their veracity. We don’t claim to be paranormal experts or investigators, but we investigate and learn from manifestations that occur around here."
As for the woman whose forceful presence might make itself known?
“This is speculation obviously, but based on what I’ve learned about Myrtle, I feel that it was very important to her that things be just so, at her house and at her antique stores,” says Latimer. “And some part of Myrtle might be staying behind to make sure that her wishes are followed.”
For more photos and evidence on Myrtle, the Tipsy Butler B&B and Newcastle Publick House visit mysteriousdestinations.com or redcloakhauntedhistorytours.com.
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.