Review by Erica Bellonte
Special to NFP
Saturday, Oct. 26, was the last run of the Marble Orchard Ghost Walk until next fall. The Lewiston Ghost Walk, also known as The Marble Orchard Ghost Walk, is put on every year by The Lewiston Council on the Arts. The walk ran every Saturday night in September and October this fall thanks to a volunteer cast, whose members, of course, dress in character as townspeople from the 1800s.
Each walk is about 90 minutes long. The cast leads the walkers up Center Street. They begin at the old Frontier House, which, back in the day, used to be a hotel where many famous people have stayed (including Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and James Fenimore Cooper).
Despite the dreary, cold and rainy weather on closing night, there was a great turnout for the last Maple Orchard walk. People gathered around, many wearing raincoats with coffees in hand. The weather did not stop them.
Eva Nicklas, artistic director at the Lewiston Council of the Arts, runs the Ghost Walk and also plays one of the lead characters, Sally Tryon. Nicklas shared her enthusiasm with the audience, and talked about her passion for these walks and the history of the town.
She mentioned that, one week this fall, nearly 200 people showed up for a walk, which was her "most memorable ghost walk."
Upon being asked if she has ever seen a real ghost, she replied, "Well, of course I have seen real ghosts! One time, a ghost walker took a picture of a window on the walk and, clear as day, (I) could see two ghosts."
Tim Henderson, another actor from the show, said, "A couple of Saturdays we've had a lot of rain, and we still get many people. There is no such thing as a fair-weathered ghost-hunter in Lewiston."
Henderson has played the character of Josiah Tryon for about 20 years. "Tryon was an abolitionist and a local conductor of the underground railroad. We talk about the legends and stories we've heard." Henderson loves to get into character, and does it well.
Another cast member of the walk, Kathryn Serianni, shared, "I can relate (to my character, Catherine Hustler) because I have been a bartender and a business owner in real life, just like my character."
Her most memorable ghost walk was the time where she saw a ghost in the cemetery.
"One night, a character who plays the part of Judge Piper was standing in the cemetery. He wears a large white noose around his neck, and I saw him standing there. Later, I was informed that Jerry, the cast member who plays the judge, could not make it to work that night. I knew it was the actual ghost of Judge Piper."
The coordinators of the Lewiston Ghost Walk say there are, in fact, ghosts in the Frontier House, which can be seen "dancing in the ballroom." One of the ghosts they mention is "Morgan the Mason," who is said to still haunt the historic building.
This is one of many of the buildings the Ghost Walk visits. The walk highlights the main historic buildings where the most prominent ghost stories take place. Stops include the Hunt Real Estate building (formerly a funeral parlor), the Little Yellow House, and the Barton Hill mansion. The actors explain Lewiston was burnt down during the War of 1812 and was later rebuilt, which explains for much of the sightings and ghostly activity in the town.
The walk winds up at the First Presbyterian Cemetery, where many of the tombstones date back to the 1800s. There, participants will continue to hear the tales of Judge Piper and many other legends of Lewiston.
The Maple Orchard Ghost Walk is a great event for the fall season, and provides fun stories about the Village of Lewiston, which is so abundant with history. The cast provides a theatrical twist on the walk, which makes it exciting yet informational.