Rumored Haunted Mansion in Camden Goes From Spooky to Spectacular
A historic mansion from the 1800s, once rumored to be haunted, has gone from spooky to spectacular and you have to see the amazing transformation.
Casey Cook grew up two blocks from the old W.H. Dorrance house in Camden, New York that turns 150 years old this year. She walked by it every day on her way to school, admiring the architecture before it fell into disarray. "I kind of have an obsession with the Victoria period and always wanted to buy a Victorian home to restore it."
In 2015, Cook did just that. She's spent every available moment over the last several years bringing the home back to its glory days with the help of some family members and a few contractors. The exterior has been almost completely restored with new clapboards, shingles, paint, a new porch, and fixing the leaning turret.
The 1-ton turret was jacked up and a whole new foundation was set underneath the wrap-around porch. The turret was actually leaning towards Church St. approx. 8 inches. It has since been leveled back into place.
The community has helped bring life back into the old mansion, providing Cook with photographs and documentation. WH Dorrance’s 92-year-old great-granddaughter toured the home she once lived in for a few years with her grandparents until the family lost their fortune in bad investments. "She told me many wonderful details and still recalled a lot of architecture as we took the tour," said Cook.
"The late Jack Plumley tried to sell the home for years and after his passing, his family came across the original blueprints from the 1880 expansion."
Hidden in the Walls
You never know what you're going to find hidden behind walls or under floors. Cook says while installing some electric outlets on the porch her contractor came across a very fragile scroll tucked into the wall cavity.
It was the original builder blueprints from 1873. I have since secured them in acid-free plastic sheets. Very interesting how the layout changed during the 1880 additions.
The WH Dorrance house became an internet sensation with rumors of ghosts haunting the mansion after a photo showed mysterious handprints in the upstairs window. Cook doesn't believe the stories though. "I can confirm 4 deaths that have occurred within the house. I think they are friendly souls because I am keeping the place alive with their spirits."
As for the handprints on the window. They didn't come from a ghost. "They were created by some naughty kids who broke in and left them using paint," said Cook, who plans to keep them for now. "I guess without them the house wouldn’t have been a viral internet sensation."
Once most of the interior work was complete, Cook moved in full-time and she doesn't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. "I will live there until the day I die."
The projects will continue long after Cook lays down her roots. She has plans to build a garage to match the architecture and possibly install a pool area. After that? Maybe a whole new project.
People ask me what I am going to do when it's all done. I say there are plenty more houses out there looking for a girl with a vision and a desire to save the past.
You can see the entire restoration of the WH Dorrance House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on Facebook.