New Castle County’s Rockwood Museum mansion will star next week on national cable television, in a ghostly way just in time for Halloween.
The final episode of SyFy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” show – airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 – is about the county’s allegedly haunted Rockwood Mansion.
After peaking with an audience topping 3 million, the show will end its 11-season run with “Manor of Mystery,” promoted in a night-vision “sneak peek” at www.syfy.com/ghosthunters.
Note to the superstitious: It’s Episode 13.
The grand finale of the “Ghost Hunters” team wraps its recordings of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) efforts to confirm or debunk claims of supernatural activity at sites from homes and castles to ships and prisons, with no psychics, re-enactments or dramatizations.
“Our tremendous estate may be best known as the home of the New Castle County Ice Cream Festival and Delaware Shakespeare Festival, but many people have reported eerie experiences, unexplained sounds and sightings including a ‘ghost dog,’’” County Executive Thomas P. Gordon said. Built just outside Wilmington in 1851 as the retirement estate of Quaker businessman Joseph Shipley, the mansion and grounds later were given to the county for public use and enjoyment.
When TAPS and the “Ghost Hunters” crew visited last summer, Rockwood Museum Director Philip Nord was setting up an exhibit called “Victorians & Spiritualism: A cultural Phenomenon” about a religious fad that influenced American mourning customs, popularized seances and was embraced by wealthy, well-educated Victorians.
A leader of the museum’s popular monthly “Ghost Tours,” Nord – who says he saw the spirit of a former mansion resident wearing a red smoking jacket – raised concerns that the exhibit might agitate entities including spirits of a woman and boy thought to remain in the building from the Victorian era.
So is the mansion really haunted?
Watch the show. Or, better yet, decide for yourself by joining the museum’s “Ghost Tours” the third Saturday of the month -- Nov. 19, Dec. 17, Jan. 21 and Feb. 18.
“The Ghosts of Rockwood Mansion” runs 7-9 p.m. for ages 12+ with “The Professor” Phil Nord and “Doctor Lou” DiMieri. Cameras are encouraged, Nord says, and “if you don’t believe in ghosts now, you may become a believer after this.” Tickets are $35, discounted to $30 for New Castle County residents with identification.
More in-depth, “Ghost Tour Adventure” runs 9 p.m. to midnight for ages 14+ as Nord and DiMieri add exploration of the mansion attic and cellar, with a psychic or medium who may accompany the group. Guests must be in good physical condition, wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight, Nord says. Tickets are $55 or $50 for county residents with ID.
For the most-intense visit, Nord recommends “The Overnight Investigation,” held periodically and next scheduled for Feb. 25, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning. Geared for those with previous paranormal investigative work, this tour open to ages 14+ visits to other structures on the estate, time and weather permitting. Guests are encouraged to bring their own cameras. Registration is $110 or $100 for county residents with ID.
Registration for all programs is at www.rockwood.org. For more information, call (302) 761-4343.
Regular admission to Rockwood Museum includes the “Victorians & Spiritualism: A Cultural Phenomenon” exhibit, open through Oct. 30.
Exhibit tours are on the hour, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Museum admission is $10 for adults and $4 for children, but half-price for county residents with identification and free for active military and veterans with ID. School and groups tours of six or more are asked to call ahead to (302) 761-4340.
Rockwood Park & Museum has its own year-round gift shop and welcomes newcomers to its volunteer group. The mansion, grounds and carriage house also are available for rental use for weddings, meetings and other special events. The site’s farmers’ market, 3-7 p.m. on Thursdays, will close for the season at the end of October.
For GPS, Rockwood Park & Museum’s address is 4651 Washington Street Extension, Wilmington, DE 19809. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and holidays. The gardens and park, with free admission, are open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
For more information, visit www.rockwood.org.