HAMPTON FALLS, N.H. — When Methuen native George Blaisdell bought his dream home 17 years ago, he and his family didn't realize they may not be living there alone.
Blaisdell now believes there's another family and guests sharing the unique 12-bedroom, 19th century Victorian tucked away on Brown Road.
The only problem was that family, the Browns, supposedly died 100 years ago.
For eight years, the self-employed insurance broker admits he may have been living a life of denial.
He denied living in a house that could be haunted.
"There was just a lot of coincidences," said Blaisdell, owner of Blaisdell Insurance. "Things would be disappearing and moving."
There would also be unusual noises and occasional voices, even conversations, heard. Candle holders would mysteriously fall off a fireplace mantle.
Then, Blaisdell, 52, started seeing things — ghostly images of at least four human beings and cats as well.
Some of his family, employees and guests also reported seeing ghosts, he said.
"I didn't believe any of it at first," he said. "Now, I'm a believer."
Blaisdell, who has spent thousands of dollars renovating the house and nearby buildings, began inviting mediums and ghost-hunting groups to learn more about the spirits that allegedly inhabited his home.
The home, built in 1880 by prominent farmer and politician Warren Brown, became a hit with paranormal investigators.
Although nicknamed "The Governor's Mansion," no governor ever lived in the large, stately home.
An episode of the SyFy Network hit "Ghost Hunters" was filmed on the property — one of several popular television shows airing on national networks that focus on the exploits of ghost hunters.
Last month, "Haunted in New England" filmed an episode there as well.
The latest group to visit was a team from "Adventure Cam Paranormal" — a new series on YouTube.
It's a group of budding ghost-hunting sleuths made up of former Derry resident Rich Damboise of Goffstown, Christian Whitton of Chester and Haverhill native Jerry Seavey, who now lives in Salem, New Hampshire.
Seavey, 56, is perhaps best known as "The Candyman" a retired professional wrestler known worldwide for his trademark red-and-white striped outfit. But three decades of body slams took a beating on Seavey, who broke his nose, ribs, sternum and back.
Seavey is seeking a return to the fame he once knew, hoping the three can land their series on a national network. They recently filmed their visits to the Houghton Mansion in North Adams and the S.K. Pierce Mansion in Gardner.
So when Seavey heard about the Governor's Mansion, he contacted Blaisdell — not realizing the two first met during The Candyman's wrestling days more than 30 years ago.
The group decided to film their escapades at the 20-room home two weeks ago, bringing special monitors and recording equipment commonly used by ghost hunters. Several lights on the monitor would suddenly flash at once when it detected a change in the electromagnetic field, allegedly indicating a spirit was present.
They also brought small flashlights. Many supernatural investigators believe spirits can communicate through electronics, like flashlights, which the "ghosts" can turn on and off when asked specific questions. It's alleged they can also manipulate electronic energy, sometimes draining batteries of their power or giving them extra voltage.
Seavey and Damboise were joined by former Danville resident Meaghan Hull, who now lives in Hampton Falls. Whitton was unable to attend.
Blaisdell, who lives in the home with wife Michelle and their two children, gave the group and a reporter an extensive tour of the property and house.
What was once a sprawling 120-acre estate called Sunnyside, has since been subdivided into smaller, but still large plots of land.
A four-story mill, built in 1902, still stands. Other dilapidated buildings on the site, including the carriage house, were torn down and replaced by a guesthouse and other buildings.
Warren Brown, regarded as one of the most prosperous farmers in Rockingham County in his day, built the house on the site of his family's former home.
Brown was also a state senator, author, businessman, member of the Governor's Executive Council, member of Gov. Natt Head's staff, delegate to the Republican National Convention, state representative and presidential elector.
He and his wife, Sarah, raised four children on the farm but one — daughter Gertrude — fell ill and died on her 18th birthday in 1896, shortly before her graduation. Their hired hands, including a housekeeper and handyman, lived in the home as well.
Warren died in 1919 at age 83 while Sarah died at age 75 in 1917 — only three weeks after the couple's 50th wedding anniversary. One of Sarah's descendants has published books about the family, including her diary and recipes.
But Blaisdell insists Sarah, Gertrude, an unidentified handyman and a 5-year-old boy named Johnny — the son of the Irish housekeeper — still live on the property and often make their presence known.
Blaisdell said he's learned about the four ghosts, or spirits, through mediums that have visited the home and that his stories about them have upset the family's descendants.
But 83-year-old Jeanne Wright, who lived in the house for 29 years before she and her husband sold it to Blaisdell, said she wouldn't be surprised if there are spirits living there.
Wright, who now lives in Utah, said although her husband, David, refused to believe in ghosts, she wasn't ready to immediately dismiss their existence based on some unusual occurrences in the home. Neither saw any apparitions, though.
"There were some experiences we had," she said. "It was a very happy time for us. The ghosts could have been there — it depends who you ask."
Visitors to the home reported seeing apparitions and vowed never to come back, she said, including one man who said he saw a woman at the bottom of the stairs.
"He left and wouldn't come in there again," she said.
Another time, a man who came to tune the piano in the parlor claimed a female ghost wouldn't allow him to touch it.
Wright also said her daughter refused to go in the attic, but didn't take her seriously at the time.
"She said she wouldn't go up there because there was a ghost up there," the former owner said.
(Mostly) friendly spirits
Except for the handyman in the windmill, Blaisdell says all the spirits on the property are friendly. The handyman is believed to be an ex-convict who murdered the 5-year-old boy, he said.
"I won't go in there alone at night," Blaisdell said of the windmill. "Forget it. The windmill terrifies me."
That's where women have said they felt someone touching their hair. They included Hull during her recent visit — not knowing of the past incidents.
"I felt something just touch my hair," she said, as the ghost hunters stood in the darkened mill.
That's not all that happened when Seavey and his crew visited.
They heard strange noises, an occasional voice or two, and the former wrestler thought he saw a shadowy image and suddenly felt dizzy, losing his balance.
While visiting the windmill and several locations on the property, the sensor's multicolored lights would go on all at once as they detected some sort of presence and room temperature would drop suddenly as if there were a cold breeze inside the building.
But when a small flashlight went on and off by itself — dozens of times — when the "spirits" were asked about themselves, even the ghost hunters were a bit freaked out.
"It was unbelievable," Seavey said.
So was the fact the light of a flashlight could dim or become brighter whenever a different question was asked.
Two six-hour batteries used for recording were each drained in 34 minutes. When asked to turn off a flashlight, a video camera was shut off at the same time as well.
"All you can say around here is, 'Wow, wow, wow,"' said Damboise, 60.
Hull, 31, was also intrigued, but feeling slightly ill after believing something had touched her hair in the darkness.
"That was just amazing," she said. "I didn't know what to expect. I never expected to feel things or see things."