The nights are growing longer, the leaves are growing prettier, and the pumpkin lattes are growing spicier, which means Halloween is right around the corner. It’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the spooky places Hartford has to offer for a social-distance friendly visit.
ANCIENT BURYING GROUND
It’s the oldest European historic site in Hartford, and the only one left dating back to the 1600s. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous in the Fall and the stones boast some of the earliest artwork of their kind in the U.S. At present the Ancient Burying Ground is a relatively small plot of land, but at one point it was thought to have housed over 6,000 people. The land was gobbled up by various current and former commercial properties. Anyone want to guess whether or not there’s a Poltergeist situation going on under one of the surrounding buildings?
CEDAR HILL CEMETERY
One of the largest and most beautiful cemeteries in the entire state, you could literally spend hours exploring all of the unique stones and monuments housed here. Cedar Hill is also worth visiting for its array of notable inhabitants. The list includes Oscar-winning actress Katharine Hepburn and Samuel & Elizabeth Colt, among many others. Fans of the macabre will find several reasons to visit including the “handless angel” statue and the grave of inventor Horace Wells, which it’s said that when viewing at certain times of day and in a circular pattern it looks like the faces are ‘following’ you with their frozen glares. <Insert maniacal laughter here.>
CONNECTICUT'S OLD STATE HOUSE
Nearly 30 years before Salem, Massachusetts made itself famous, Hartford was the center of witch-hunting hysteria. The Old State House grounds on Main Street were the site of multiple hangings for those accused of witchcraft between 1647 and 1663. While the Old State House itself is temporarily closed, we suggest taking a stroll around the grounds while reading the warrants and indictments from one of the darkest of times in Connecticut history.
SIGOURNEY SQUARE PARK
This pretty, little green space is nestled in the Asylum Hill section of the city. There are lots of benches and play areas for the kids, and underneath a portion of it are the purported remains of 49 smallpox victims. Back in the day it was a pretty common practice to quarantine smallpox victims, even in death, burying them in remote sections or on the outskirts of town. The next time you are enjoying a beautiful, sunny day in the park pour one out for the unnamed souls tucked away in one of the corners.
ZION HILL CEMETERY
Tucked next to Trinity College, just off of Zion Street is Zion Hill Cemetery. It’s not the largest cemetery you’ll visit by any stretch, which makes their inordinate number of Civil War veterans so unique. Over 200 soldiers are buried here, many of whom died in battle. Everyone knows that cemeteries with a lot of war dead are the most haunted. (Ok, we may have made that up just now, but it sounds horror movie enough to us.)
BONUS: THE MARK TWAIN HOUSE & MUSEUM
What kind of post would this be if we didn’t at least make mention of one of Hartford’s most haunted hotspots. Unfortunately the COVID Times have cancelled their annual ghost tours, but stick a pin in this one for next year. They are simply not to be missed.