Melba Apartments which sits on the corner of the Common has a rich history. The site was originally developed by William Brown who was exiled from the country due to his leanings toward the Tory Party. Elias Hasket Derby would confiscate his property after the Revolutionary War and build his last mansion where Old Town Hall stands now. Off hand I believe the current house was built in 1808. There were some signs in the basement that it might of connected to the tunnels through a subbasement. After its first two owners sold it off it would become the place we know it as today with several units.
Throughout its time as an apartment building it has gathered a motley group of tenants. Some still remain there today. Even if they have been dead for decades. Many of these people did not have pleasant lives and have been trapped in the building.
I came across the building throughout my time in Salem. The first friend I knew in which lived there would work in the various haunted houses in October. In the 90’s I had various friends live in the building, but it was not till the year before it suffered its most current fire did I occupy it. My other friend was living with his girlfriend at the time and offered the space to me as a studio to write two books in. In fact I wrote the book on the tunnels during that tenure. It gave me a respite from dealing with roommates.
In the months leading up to Christmas my friend and I had felt the presence of a woman in white. He had seen her in the corner looking out at the Common. She would also be seen by the tenant above in the same corner. This woman in white was trying to communicate with us, but she found a very strange way of doing so.
See, I started having trouble with my aim in the bathroom. Only in this bathroom. No where else had I lost my marksmen badge. So one day I asked my friend if he noticed anything about the bathroom. He said his aim was off also. He was over aiming to the left and I was shooting to the right of the bowl. See, sometimes ghosts will find strange ways to communicate with us. In her case she was sticking her hand out in front of us blocking the bowl off.
Once I figured that out and confirmed it with my friend, I had a talk with her. See most ghosts do not know they have the power to be somewhere else. So I usually ask them where they would rather be than here. In fact the monk reciting the Tibetan Book for the Dead speaks to the recently deceased for 8 days to find out where they want to go inn the after life. Each day he starts off telling them they can go straight to Heaven, but many choose that they have not been worthy to go. Even on the 8th day before they are sent to hell, they are still offered a ticket to Heaven. So you need to get these souls to believe they deserve better than eternity in this house. Once you got that through they would think of where they had the fondest memories. Then my mind will hear a name of town, place, or city. I assure them they are welcome to go there and off they would go. It might be fun to harass me for a short period of time, but there is always something more enjoyable to be found.
Now I had mentioned Christmas earlier for a reason… See inn Salem we get caught up so much on Halloween we forget about other times of the year in which the veils are thin. Now try to remember the most famous Victorian ghost story. You know the one with the three ghosts? What time of year is it in the story? Yes, Christmas! In England, Christmas is their favorite time to sit around the hearth and tell ghost stories. So from November to January I would have 3 ghosts a day try to get my attention. They wanted to travel to Timbuktu to the most obscure little town in Pennsylvania. Off they went.
They would knock things off tables and desks to get my attention. The most embarrassing time was when I felt a presence of this large boxer from the 20’s. You know the type from Bugs Bunny. You know Muggsy’s muscle, the other guy that Bugs Bunny hid in the stove with the gas on. He had one of those shaped heads that criminal science used to think would always be on the head of a criminal. Well he was not smart enough to think up of his own way to get my attention, so he blocked my aim in the bathroom again.
By Christmas they were mostly gone. There might be some left though. See ghosts will only talk to people who they would of associated with during life. So if there was a ghost of a WWII vet who felt long haired people were useless slackers, he would not even give me the time of day even in death. So if you go into the Melbourne now, you might still find some ghosts laying around.
Now it being haunted is not the only strange thing about the building. Two months before it caught on fire again…the chimney was struck by lightning casting bricks as far as the yellow house pass the old inn on the corner. Then when it did catch on fire again in March, I just got back from a haunted school on Lafayette Street and was relaxing in a bath. Within the next hour or so the tub was going to overflow the bathroom. Not from the faucet, but the hoses. I heard a large bang that sounded like a car crash. I went to the the window with a towel on and seen the firemen go by. I dropped to the floor and crawled back to the bathroom. I did not want to get kicked out before I combed my hair, shaved, brushed my teeth, and dressed. Then I went around the apartment grabbing my computer and flutes I was going to need for the day. I knew this floor was not going to catch on fire, I just forgot about the water damage. So the illustrations for my latest children’s book got flooded away. Oh well.
So that is one of the many tales within our haunted city of Salem, MA! To hear more go book your tickets for the Salem Tunnel Tour today at www.salemtunneltour.com !