Behind Locked Bars: The Spirits of the Cohasset Town Hall

The historic town hall building in Cohasset center is proven to be inhabited by the supernatural.


Town Hall Opening day, 1857. From Cohasset Historical Society.

Shaw Hutton, Contributer

“Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.” -Arthur C. Clark.

The Cohasset town hall, a symbol of what was considered high elegance and prestige, has perhaps become a museum piece inhabited by the undead. What lies beneath the knob and tube entangled facade lies a prison brewing with paranormal activity.

The original building was first completed in 1857, and was far more simple. It had only two floors that had the purpose of a courthouse and offices. The cellar underneath served as a prison cell, at the end of the catacomb-like maze basement. Unfortunately over the course of the twentieth century the building was massacred with renovations in 1928 and 1987 which deformed the original layout of the building that included three additional floors. The cellar however had already been converted into a jail cell in 1869. Prisoners held there were at the mercy of the court above. One prisoner, presumably in the 1870s, had perished in the cell as he froze to death. The presence of this man who had died is still seen and felt throughout the building presently including unidentified spirits that seem to move the air in the dark grotto in shapely ways.

In fact, sightings of the prisoner’s spirit and other entities have been spotted in rooms located throughout the building. Claims by town hall employees report doors unexpectedly slamming in the board of health office and eerie feelings in particular areas of the auditorium and the four vault rooms. Others report footsteps being heard above the stage and in the attic area, which hasn’t been renovated in over 160 years. Teams of paranormal investigators since the 1950s have been hired by the town hall to investigate any supernatural existence in the building. The Enfield Paranormal Society even recorded the door slamming in the office and a voice of a man in the cellar, justifying a presence in the building. The impetus behind the monetary investment validates the eerieness that people experience.

While ghosts themselves aren’t a physical being, there are scientific explantations for why people sense and experience paranormal phenomenon. The spirits themselves are theorized to be composed of photons, which are light reflective particles, or made up of atoms surrounded by many electrons, and also plasma. Light on the electromagnetic scale mirrors from the photons and thus creates an image, yet this theory can only explain why people can see the spirits and not why they sense them. Electrons however leave a body once dead and the electrons can travel throughout the building and are able to pass through objects. Those electrons can intertwine with a living human’s electrons and initiate a reaction. Electrons too, cause an EMF reader (a ghost hunting device) to detect a spirit. The particles also have the capability to linger in an area which is why some places of a building and even objects are ‘haunted’ due to a place of possible death. The last theory, plasma, combines electrons and ions that is categorized as an “ionized gas” that glows once many of the electrons are collected within a space. Plasma itself can reflect light and is also reactive on the electromagnetic scale. Therefore plasma suits a logical explanation for the representation of a spirit.

The town Hall of Cohasset in its frail state is the caretaker of centuries of history, information, and its haunting past. As the possibility of a newer renovation comes henceforth, the spiritual history that lurks the building establishes a stronger connection to reality with the possibility of an exposure to the older town hall. While the future of the town hall remains somewhat uncertain in terms of modernization, the spirits of the town hall remain stubbornly unremovable. If the new walls could speak.

The town hall photographed in the 1920s.


The prison cell in the cellar of the town hall.














Jason Federico, Town Hall Field Engineer.

Marge Goodwin, Admin, Assistant to Director of Public Works.

Jennifer Oram, Assistant Director Planning, Permits & Inspections.

Pat Martin, Member of the Cohasset Historical Society.

Charles, Louis. “What Are Ghosts Made of?” Angels and Ghosts, 2004,

Seltz, Johanna. “Teams Track Ghost Sightings in Cohasset.”, The Boston Globe, 10 Feb. 2008,

White, Nancy. “Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghost Hunters Investigate Cohasset Town Hall.” Waynesboro Record Herald – Waynesboro, PA, Waynesboro Record Herald – Waynesboro, PA, 2008,